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? 

1. 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, remember more and do 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 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, which begins in EYFS, is a sacred time where we follow the Read Write Inc programme faithfully. Each primary 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. In Primary, 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. With rich contextual understanding of their texts, pupils evaluate their protagonists’ drives for power, critique the societies that caused their characters’ repression, and debate the writers’ intentions in their language and structural choices. In Key Stage 3, each year of study is centred on a big thematic question, with a citizenship and personal development focus. For example, in Year 8, pupils consider 'What does it mean to be a hero?' through interrogating ideas of heroism in World War poetry, a Shakespeare play and Animal Farm. In Key Stages 4 and 5, students develop a rich contextual understanding of their texts, evaluating protagonists’ drives for power, critiquing the societies that caused characters’ repression, and debating the writers’ intentions in their language and structural choices.

Our humanities curriculum across the school focuses on depth of knowledge, evaluative thought and effective subject-specific writing. 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. We utilise cross-curricular links: in Primary, the humanities curriculum is designed to complement children’s understanding of the texts they are reading in English 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. In Secondary, history, geography and RS address issues of contemporary relevance about the world, delving into topics in greater depth and revisiting key skills such as interpretation and evaluation to embed them. We widen our social sciences offer in Sixth Form to include psychology, economics and politics A levels as well as BTEC L3 Extended Diploma in business studies.

Our approach is similarly rigorous in science. Our pupils are scientists who are developing a deeper understanding of the world around them. Units are planned to ensure progression of the body of core scientific knowledge from EYFS through to KS5, with subject specific vocabulary and skills mapped out for each and every unit so there is clarity for teachers, pupils and parents about exactly how much depth and detail is required. 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. Every unit has a practical aspect where pupils learn the scientific skills of making predictions, ensuring validity, 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 for children of all ages.

Every pupil is a mathematician at KSA. We follow the Maths Mastery approach in Primary and in Secondary too, 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.

We harness the music specialism at KSA. 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, activity and enrichment 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 three times a week from Year 5 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. We also offer Spanish in Key Stage 4 and 5.

In Primary, 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. In Secondary, the Art curriculum builds on knowledge and skills acquired in primary and hones in on building creative skill and critical evaluation.

We are proud of our PSHE curriculum which aims to equip pupils with the social and emotional skills they will require to be successful at university and beyond. Key topics are taught throughout each key stage, and revisited to reinforce knowledge at an age-appropriate level as pupils grow older through two drop down days per cycle, morning meetings and assemblies as well as through coherent links into the rest of the taught curriculum, specifically through addressing big ideas questions in English.


2. 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 for every unit and knowledge organisers for most. In French, art and music, the curriculum is led by all-through subject specialists. In English, maths, science, humanities and PE, we have our own primary Subject Leads and Heads of Department in secondary. Primary intellectual preparation and co-planning is always led by a senior leader or a subject lead with the class teachers for the year group working together in dedicated time together every week. In Secondary, each teacher meets with their HoD every week and has department training as part of the regular PD schedule.

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. We aim to meet the academic needs of all learners every lesson through the use of differentiated questioning and resources as well as through additional support from peers or additional adults.

In the EYFS, pupils learn through a balance of adult-directed and child-initiated learning experiences which focus on the development of core skills alongside celebrating the unique child.

From Y1-13, every lesson begins with a Do Now asking pupils to recall knowledge from a previous lesson, practise 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 learn in a carefully planned mixed-attainment seating plan. Teachers use data to drive their in the moment responses to pupil learning, strategically gathering pupils’ knowledge and understanding to allow for intervention at the point of error, through over-the-shoulder feedback and live class or group re-teaching.

Pupils are expected to learn from their teammates, 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. A highly systematic approach to homework throughout the whole school ensures pupils develop habits for learning independently throughout their academic career. We pride ourselves on our extensive programme of trips, workshops and events which our pupils participate in; each half term’s teaching is complemented by at least one enriching experience throughout the primary school as well as residentials for all pupils from Year 5 right through to Sixth Form.

3. Impact: how do we know what pupils have learnt and how well they have learnt it? 

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.

In the EYFS, every member of staff uses observational assessment to baseline children’s starting points and plan experiences which ensure progress. These assessments are tracked on EExAT (Early Excellence Assessment Tracker) which enable us to measure our starting points against a national data set.

Pupils in Reception – Year 2 (and beyond if necessary) are all enrolled on the RWI phonics programme and have a rigorous half termly one to one assessment to inform their progress and our next steps in their teaching. We sit Reading Age tests twice a year from Year 2 to Year 9.

In Y1-6, pupils sit global assessments in reading and maths three times a year. In 2021, we are starting to use Headstart assessments for the first time to 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.

In primary English, we use regular 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 colleagues across the Ark network and externally through Local Authority moderation too.

Deliberate practice is embedded across all primary subject areas in order for teachers to be able to assess the extent to which pupils are learning and remembering. Maths is also assessed through a half termly arithmetic test and Times Tables Rock stars in Y2-6 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.

In Key Stage 3 and 4, pupils complete regular interim assessments activities each term, which often culminate in a formal, cumulative assessment. All of this data contributes to a working at grade, agreed by the Head of Department at the end of term. Where possible, at the end of each academic year, we use Ark assessments to allow us to compare the data we gather against network wide data. In Key Stages 3 and 4, teachers also engage in regular formative assessment throughout the term through regularly marking and providing feedback on independent practice in planned checkpoint activities.

Key Stage 5 pupils are assessed every three weeks using tri-weekly assessments, for which they are awarded grades of ‘At’, ‘Above’ or ‘Below’. This score is awarded in relation to their target grade. For example, a pupil who is targeted a C grade who gets a B would be ‘Above’. Pupils sit a range of taught tests and cumulative assessments throughout the year and the assessment schedule is shared with pupils and teachers in advance of the school year.

In both Key Stages 4 and 5, pupils sit formal mock examinations at the end of their first year of study (Year 10 or Year 12) and in Term 2 of their second year of study.

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.