At Ark Soane, our goal is to give every student access to ‘the best that has been thought and said’. This constitutes the collective wisdom of humankind, organised through the subject disciplines. Ark Soane students will receive an excellent academic education and develop the character needed to live happy, fulfilled lives as the drivers of their own destinies.
Our curriculum maps the knowledge our students require to progress from novice to expert in each discipline. By grounding new information in a well-developed web of prior knowledge, we enable all students, whatever their starting point, to achieve academic success by working hard at Soane.
Our curriculum gives all students the opportunity to engage with and contribute to the academic disciplines, preparing them for further study and aspirational careers.
Our curriculum prioritises the development of academic discourse in scholarly classrooms. Students learn to view the world from different perspectives and respectfully challenge varying interpretations.
At Ark Soane we have designed a curriculum that is:
- Knowledge-rich – Our curriculum prioritises acquiring powerful knowledge which would not otherwise be encountered in day-to-day life. We have the highest expectations of the amount our students can learn and remember, and we firmly believe that, only by equipping them with a well-structured body of knowledge, are they equipped to access the collective wisdom of humankind.
- Academically ambitious – We provide our students with a broad and deep grounding in subjects; content is selected so that students understand the true breadth of the discipline, going beyond the requirements of public examinations. We prioritise subject specific language; by acquiring a rich vocabulary, alongside knowledge, students are well equipped to participate in the academic discussion.
- Well sequenced – Our curriculum systematically builds students’ knowledge to enable them to progress from inexperience to mastery of each discipline.
- Designed to support memory – We cannot say something has been learned if there is no change in students’ long-term memory. We therefore dedicate significant time to retrieval practice, giving students the opportunity to recall what they have learnt and to establish links with other knowledge, supporting long term memory retention.
How we implement the curriculum at Soane:
At Soane we believe that transformative outcomes are best achieved through direct instruction: a high level of structure, tight sequencing and teacher-led exposition.
Ark Curriculum Programmes
Soane is proud to base its curriculum on Ark’s expertly-designed curricula. Using the Ark Curriculum Programmes provides a number of benefits:
- Dedicated professionals develop the curriculum in line with academic research and in response to students attainment
- The curriculum is higher quality than would otherwise be developed by a small in-house team
- Dedicated network training days enable leaders to engage in intellectual preparation across multiple academies
- Teachers are freed up from the time-consuming work of creating resources from scratch
- Heads of Department and their teams have a strong voice in ongoing curriculum development
Intellectual preparation is vital for effective delivery of our curriculum. Teachers must give clear context for each new unit of work, identify the most effective ways to communicate complex knowledge, plan ahead for areas needing special focus, and spot areas where students might struggle or need extra challenge. Alongside individual lesson planning, teachers take part in departmental co-planning, using Ark’s curriculum to jointly create or adapt a booklets containing the best texts, questions and activities to ensure students successfully master new knowledge.
Oversight of the curriculum:
Heads of department are the drivers of successful curriculum delivery, and are challenged and supported by their SLT line managers. Weekly line management meetings, lesson observations, booklet reviews, assessment reviews and co-planning enable line managers and heads of department to have confidence in curriculum delivery and its ongoing improvement.
Teaching groups at Soane:
All students are entitled to the same rigorous academic curriculum irrespective of their starting point. Students are primarily taught in mixed ability teaching groups with limited streaming for maths and science. Two smaller groups (primarily for students reading well below their chronological reading age) have a teaching assistant to support student progress, and some students have reduced French lessons to enable small-group phonics teaching to take place. Student groupings are reviewed twice each year.
Routines support implementation of the curriculum:
Our school routines include line-ups, silent transitions and orderly lesson entry and exits, all designed to maximise the time available to deliver our rigorous academic curriculum. In our classrooms we expect nothing less than 100% focus. We insist on silent listening and crisp transitions to keep students focused on the same task and to ensure that instructions are clearly understood. Classroom routines include consistent questioning, use of “turn and talk”, silent independent practice and self-marking, all of which supports students to successfully master and remember new knowledge.
The non-examined curriculum:
The non-examined curriculum is provides students with a love of reading, a passion for extracurricular activities, opportunities for leadership and creativity, insight into careers and universities, as well as cultural capital and exposure to broader ideas.
In our excellent PSHE programme students cover: RSE; how to stay safe and healthy in interactions with others (both in person and online); how to maintain physical and mental health; and how to live according to Fundamental British Values and the academy’s values. We continually reiterate our values through line-ups, assemblies, family dining and tutor time.
Students develop a passion for reading through our Drop Everything and Read (DEAR) Programme. In our termly Exploration Days students have the opportunity to complete a museum-based research project, engaging with a wide range of questions and issues. Students showcase their work to parents and the community in our termly Exhibition Evenings.
In our weekly timetabled enrichment lesson, all students can choose an activity ranging from drama to henna, Japanese to Arabic and badminton to chess. We also offer an exciting range of after-school clubs including well-attended music, art and chess clubs as well as a daily homework club in the library.
Family dining is an integral part of our non-examined curriculum. A member of staff or an external careers speaker gives a short address on a topic beyond the curriculum, which students then discuss in their tables. Students demonstrate kindness and good manners through serving each other and clearing up after each other. Students then show gratitude and confidence by publicly giving appreciations in front of their peers.
Impact & Assessment
We use assessment to ensure that students are making progress through the curriculum.
Lessons are characterised by routine checking for understanding. Teachers know their students’ strengths and areas for development and target questions accordingly. Independent practice is prioritised and intentionally monitored so that misconceptions are tackled at the earliest opportunity.
'Do now' activities require students to recall prior learning to help them transfer knowledge to long-term memory. All units have an accompanying 'knowledge organiser' which sets out the core knowledge that all students need to remember, and students use this to support independent revision. Homework is set at least once per week (twice in core subjects) to help embed core knowledge, and low-stakes quizzes are used to assess whether this knowledge has been retained.
Unit assessments take place at least once per half-term (twice in core subjects) to assess whether children have successfully understood content. Cumulative assessments take place twice per year and assess all content covered in the key stage so far. Teachers use assessment results to give targeted feedback, plan how to close knowledge gaps and refine the curriculum for future cohorts.