Our curriculum is best understood through the answers to the following three questions:
1. Intent: why do we teach what we teach?
2. Implementation: how do we teach what we teach?
3. Impact: how do we know what pupils have learnt and how well they have learnt it?
Intent: why do we teach what we teach?
Our curriculum is designed to ensure that from the moment each of our pupils sets foot into our Nursery, we take their individual starting point ‘on the mountain’ and make sure we have mapped out their path through our whole school to prepare them for success at university and beyond when they leave us at 18.
Our curriculum is therefore the body of knowledge we know our pupils need to learn as they progress from one year to the next. They need to know more, and remember more at each and every stage. They can only do that if we embed the right habits for learning through listening, speaking, reading, writing and maths.
Many of our pupils arrive at Ark Paddington Green well below national expectations for their age. We have to teach them how to learn first. As such, we prioritise social and emotional development and listening and attention in the EYFS curriculum. Throughout both the primary and secondary school, we invest a lot of time and energy into teaching pupils habits for discussion focussing on learning how to listen actively, how to speak with voice, in sentences and with precision and then moving on to sharing thinking and building on others’ thinking so as to ensure we are all learning with and from each other as one team and family.
Reading is at the heart of our whole curriculum. Phonics is sacred time in the Infants School. Each year group has a big question to answer over the course of the year which is broken into a question for the unit and critical questions for each week. The themes are purposefully epic in scope: from “what does it mean to belong?” in Year 1, to “what is trust? in Year 6. We have chosen six high quality rigorous texts to hang our English and humanities curriculum onto so as to learn about who we are as human beings and to learn knowledge about the world we live in now, have lived in in the past and will live in in the future.
The humanities curriculum is designed to complement children’s understanding of the texts they are reading so as to build a body of knowledge about the Victorian era when reading Berlie Doherty’s Street Child or about modern Pakistan and global practices of child labour when reading Iqbal. Each unit has a knowledge organiser designed by subject specialists to ensure precision of subject specific vocabulary and contextual knowledge for pupils and parents alike.
Our approach is similarly rigorous in science. Our pupils are scientists. Units are planned to ensure progression of the body of core scientific knowledge from EYFS through to KS5, with subject specific vocabulary mapped out for each and every unit so there is clarity for teachers, pupils and parents exactly how much depth and detail is required. Every unit has a practical where pupils learn scientific skills of making predictions, ensuring fair testing, analysing and evaluating results and drawing conclusions. We are able to draw on the knowledge and expertise of our all-through science technician when designing and facilitating practicals.
Every pupil is a mathematician at KSA. We follow the Maths Mastery approach with an emphasis on studying fewer areas of learning so that pupils develop a deep understanding of whole number, fractions, geometry and statistics. We prioritise acquisition of mathematical language and use visual modelling to help pupils make links between the concrete and the abstract.
Music is our specialism. All pupils learn to love to sing from Nursery and begin learning either the violin, viola or cello from Year 4 so as to be able to play in the year group orchestra programme which begins in Year 7. We believe that through learning music, we also learn habits of practice, determination and team work. These same habits are at the core of our approach to PE: every child needs to know how to keep themselves fit and healthy through our PE curriculum lessons, through play in the playground and activity in KS2 as well as on a range of trips and residentials where physical activity and sports play a crucial role.
We teach French to every pupil from Year 3 through to the end of Year 11. Learning an additional language teaches pupils to love language acquisition, to love communication and to be curious about others and other parts of the world.
The Art and DT curriculum is closely linked to the English and humanities foci for each unit so pupils can make the most of subject specific knowledge in creative endeavour too.
Implementation: how do we teach what we teach?
The curriculum is driven by the leaders of the school through the embedding of long term curriculum overviews and medium term plans and knowledge organisers for each and every unit. In French, PE, art and music, the curriculum is led by an all-through subject specialist. In English, maths, science and humanities, we have our own primary subject leads. Co-planning is always led by a senior leader or a subject lead with the class teachers for the year group from both KSA and APG working together in dedicated time together every week.
All pupils always work to the same learning objective every lesson: we are all climbing the same mountain. Teachers plan for the fact that some team members will need more scaffolding; others will require a greater challenge.
Every lesson begins with a Do Now asking pupils to recall knowledge from a previous lesson, practice a skill or prepare for new learning. Learning activities are then planned according to how best to achieve the learning objective of the lesson, culminating in an LO review for pupils to evidence their progress in achieving the LO.
Pupils sit in a carefully planned mixed-attainment seating plan and teachers have a data-driven well-worn path around the room to assess pupils’ knowledge and understanding quickly and adapt teaching effectively at point of learning and/or misconception using over-the-shoulder feedback to pupils and live class or group re-teaching.
Pupils are expected to learn from their team mates, as much as from their teacher. Habits for discussion enable our pupils to share their thinking, build on each other’s and act as a team and family.
Impact: how do we know what pupils have learnt and how well they have learnt it?
Pupils sit global assessments in reading and maths three times a year. The PUMA and PIRA tests enable us to track pupils’ age-related progress against a national data set across a range of skills and are therefore useful in terms of tracking progress over time.
For teachers to be able to adapt their teaching effectively, they rely on a range of assessment tools to provide data on the knowledge pupils have and how much more they have remembered over time.
We use weekly critical essays in Year 1-Year 6 to hone our analytical reading craft.
We focus our writing practice on just one form per unit so as to really hone the craft of writing for that particular form over multiple opportunities. Each unit begins with a ‘Cold Write,’ to assess pupils’ starting points in the form, then moves through several ‘Shared Writes’ to embed knowledge of the form through practice and finishes with a ‘Go Write’ where pupils show off their mastery of the form in their writing progress books. Pupils write a ‘Go Write’ critical essay as the culmination of each humanities unit and a write up of a practical for each science unit. We have developed our own library of ‘how tos’ to identify more precisely the requirements of a particular form of writing for each year group. Writing is rigorously assessed against age-related expectations and carefully moderated internally, with our colleagues at our partner school, across the Ark network and externally through Local Authority moderation too.
There is a maths quiz at the end of each unit to assess learning in that one specific skills set and an arithmetic test each half term to assess progress over time. We are also beginning to experiment with the use of ‘Cold’ and ‘Go’ quizzing in humanities and science against the core knowledge set out in our knowledge organisers. We are constantly looking for ways to prioritise knowledge acquisition, particularly with regards to both subject specific vocabulary and tier 2 words we know our pupils must master to be academically literate.
The structure of the curriculum enables us to return to core knowledge and skills pupils should have mastered at regular intervals across the year, key stage and across primary and secondary.
Phonics & Reading
Read Write Inc (RWI)
At Ark Paddington Green we use the Read Write Inc Phonics programme (RWI) to get children off to a flying start with their reading and literacy. RWI is a reading programme designed and developed by Ruth Miskin, one of the country’s leading authorities on teaching children to read. The programme aims to create fluent readers, willing writers and confident speakers.
When using RWI to read the children will:
•Learn that sounds are represented by written letters
•Learn 44 sounds and the corresponding letter/letter groups using simple picture prompts
•Learn how to blend sounds
•Learn to read words using Fred Talk
•Read lively stories featuring words they have learned to sound out
•Show that they comprehend the stories by answering questions
Watch the video below to learn how the sounds (or phonics) of English help with reading:
We are delighted to report Read Write Inc. is already making an impact with the majority of children at Ark Paddington Green with children in KS1 achieving higher levels of reading.
Read to Succeed (R2S)
Ark Paddington green have introduced a new 5 day reading model called ‘Read to Succeed’ (R2S) for children from Years 1 -6. The model has been up and running since November 2016 and is inspired by Ark's reading revolution.
The main principles of this model are:
Exposure to high quality, diverse texts, rich in language which form a literature spine from Nursery to Year 6.
Giving children a chance to discuss in detail themes and form opinions about texts, allowing them to make comparisons between text they have read and their own experiences.
To practice the retrieval and inference skills children need to be able to answer questions about texts.
To write a critical essay that responds to a ‘Big Idea’ question. Examples of ‘Big Idea’ questions have included What does it mean to be courageous? (Y4) Why are love and hope important? (Y5) and How do we overcome challenges? (Y2)
RWI phonics for N to Y2
RWI freshstart phonics for Y3-6
RWI spelling for Y2 to Y6
EYFS Development Matters