At Ark Charter Academy we have designed a curriculum that ensures every child is prepared for success and thrives during their time with us. The curriculum embodies our Christian vision and values and sits at the heart of our school life. It drives all the decisions we make and is the best means we have of demonstrating as a school what we believe in and what we stand for. Our curriculum is a broad, balanced and equitable offer, built around the core disciplines of English, mathematics, science, humanities, languages and religious education. Our academic curriculum in each subject area has been designed so that at each stage, students know more, remember more and do more. We build our curriculum on evidence informed strategies, ensuring students become confident, resilient and self-regulated learners using Rosenshine’s principles.
At the heart of our personal curriculum sits our relentless mission to ensure that every child will leave their journey at Charter with us with an excellent set of results and fully prepared for their next stages. Our community which we serve is economically and socially disadvantaged. It is our belief therefore that our curriculum needs to be academically rigorous, provide cultural capital as well as developing our students' character so that they can thrive and be ambitious at each stage. They will leave us confident and resilient, with a deep appreciation of the values of courage, justice and respect.
Intent & Implementation
Our curriculum is based on mastery and has been designed as a 5-year journey. It has been designed so that our students leave Charter:
- Culturally literate, with the ability to contextualise events and experiences and act accordingly.
- With a broad domain-specific knowledge and vocabulary base that allows them to conceptualise the world in more scientific ways.
- Able to participate in national discourse.
- Committed to always doing the best they can.
- Skilled enough to make a valuable contribution to society and the economy.
- Able to take ownership of their future.
- Aware of their community and motivated to play a constructive role in it.
To ensure these qualities are achieved, students follow an academically ambitious curriculum, underpinned by the Rosenshine principles. We have extended our school day so that students have a range of opportunities to embed their learning. The day starts at KS3 with a programme based around reading for pleasure, with texts chosen that support diversity and provide cultural capital. At KS4, students receive personalised and targeted intervention from subject specialists. Afternoon sessions extend what students have learnt in that day, with independent study using evidence informed strategies to support working memory and allowing students to develop skills to be metacognitive learners.
Every subject identifies the key portable knowledge, concepts and themes that students need to know for their subject to be able to go into depth.
Our curriculum is based upon four key principles:
- Knowledge rich – A rich and broad body of core knowledge is clearly and meticulously specified, and includes the best of what has been thought, said and written in each subject area.
- Academically ambitious - The curriculum provides students with knowledge that they are unlikely to otherwise encounter or understand without a teacher’s support. The content selected is ambitious in order to challenge the most able and provide a rich and empowering education to all.
- Logically sequenced - The curriculum sets out a logical journey that students need to embark on to get better at a subject.
- Designed to support memory - Learning is a change in long-term memory. The curriculum is structured to help students remember, not simply encounter, the core knowledge they learn.
Impact & Assessment
Our children join us at very different starting points; we assess each child on entry and ensure that our curriculum meets their individual needs whilst maintaining the same high expectations for everyone.
Departments carry out formative assessments at regular intervals across the year to understand students' progress in relation to where they should be – and to deliver tailored, responsive teaching to every child.
We follow a summative assessment system known as Rank Order Assessments. Twice a year, students sit a series of assessments under exam conditions which are marked and used to determine their rank within their year group in school. The end of year assessments tests each child’s mastery of the whole year’s learning. This process allows us to set groups according to ability, challenging those in higher sets while providing support for those in lower sets.
When students complete their assessment, they will be given a raw score for the paper. Each subject will then rank the students from the top performing student at number 1 to the lowest performing student based on the raw scores achieved. Each subject ranking will then be combined to give a student’s overall position in the year group. English, Mathematics and Science scores are triple weighted due to the importance of these subjects. For students to understand the importance of these assessments, every child will attend an examination results event where they will experience a replica results day, mirroring the morning of the GCSE examinations.
We believe this is an important part of the assessment experience as it ensures we are there to celebrate or console students, as we would when they collect their envelopes for the final time at the end of Year 11. To ensure we celebrate the experience, every child will also attend a celebration assembly where we will award certificates linked to our core values.
The outcomes of these assessments will be discussed with parents/carers at length (usually at a parents' evening) so that all parties involved know exactly what should be done for each student to achieve their very best during their time here school.
Our default target is for students to make at least +1 grade of progress over the 5 years of secondary school. The senior team moderates these targets for individual students to provide an overall school target that is both ambitious and realistic.
Teaching and Learning
Our curriculum in each subject area has been created backwards from university study and A-Level through to GCSE, and into the KS3 phase. All areas have curriculum overviews and medium terms decided by our specialist subject leaders.
Lessons are ambitious and underpinned by evidence informed strategies. Student’s needs are met through planning, questioning, modelling and formative assessment.
We have three key priorities for our T&L
At Charter, we have high expectations of all students. Clear classroom routines aim to ensure ‘every second counts’. Students are expected to think and work hard, participate frequently and display excellent attitudes to learning in all lessons. Learning is maximised by embedded classroom routines such as greeting students on threshold, organised resources and equipment and clear behavior expectations that support pupils to focus on learning and ensure there is no wasted time from low level disruption.
Teachers at Charter use evidence informed strategies based on cognitive science to inform their planning. Lessons follow an explicit direct Instruction model underpinned by Rosenshine’s Principles. All lessons begin with a 5-minute retrieval practice activity in the form of a ‘Do Now Activity’, include clear teacher explanations, modelling using the ‘I do, we do, you do’ structure and time for independent practice whereby students are expected to practice new knowledge and skills.
Teaching at Charter is Responsive to students needs and understanding. This means that there are frequent checking for understanding opportunities throughout the lesson in the form of cold-call questioning, use of mini-whiteboards and think pair share activities. Teachers are ready to reteach material and be adaptive to ensure student understanding. Teachers know their classes well and plan for the individuals in their lessons.
Homework at Charter Academy serves the purpose of developing good study habits and improving academic achievement. In Key Stage 3, the focus is on fostering a love for reading and enhancing comprehension and math skills. In Key Stage 4, it shifts to deliberate practice to reinforce classroom learning. Reading is emphasised, recognising its significance in improving life prospects. The academy aims to bridge the socio-economic reading proficiency gap through frequent reading, promoting empathy, social awareness, and enriching vocabulary and fluency. The goal is to establish students as avid readers by providing access to diverse texts and nurturing their engagement with reading.
Independent Learning Sessions
At Charter Academy, our Independent Learning Sessions empower students with essential subject knowledge and vocabulary, teaching effective revision strategies in a supportive school environment. These sessions strengthen tutor-tutee relationships, celebrate learning achievements, and encourage self-learning, fostering academic success, resilience, and self-sufficiency. Our vision is to create a nurturing, parent-like atmosphere where silent revision tasks are guided by staff, with added motivation through mini competitions and rewards, promoting a joyful approach to learning and achievements.
Ark Charter Academy Grammar stream offers pupils the unique opportunity to have access to a traditional Grammar school education while benefiting from a standard educational setting. Students will be following a structured curriculum that will focus on achieving rapid progress from an accelerated pace of learning. Alongside the academic programme, students will be given access to a range of enrichment activities which will enable them to further develop their own individual talents and skills. We will also be working closely with the University of Portsmouth and The Portsmouth Grammar School to help students think about their aspirations and further education.