Our motto is Be your best
As a school and network we work continually to develop and improve the Ark approach to primary teaching, learning and social and emotional development. Our Curriculum statement .pdf ensures that all aspects of our curriculum provision have been devised with the National Curriculum (Introduced in September 2014) in mind. We have ensured that all the statutory requirements are fully adhered to and that all pupils are fully prepared to meet the requirements of the Early Learning Goals in the Early Years and Foundation Stage, the National Curriculum tests in English and mathematics at years 2 and 6 and Phonics Screen in year 1.
A strong command of English and mathematics is a vital foundation for the whole curriculum. We prioritise depth for breadth so that all pupils secure firm foundations in these core subjects as early as possible.
The curriculum at our school:
- is focused upon high standards in mathematics, reading and writing as well as being broad and balanced, providing plenty of opportunities for enrichment
- excites our pupils’ imaginations
- is progressive, ensuring continuity from Reception to Year 6
- provides a firm foundation for later learning and subject choices underpinned by outstanding teaching.
We have developed a specific Ark Early Years curriculum which combines the development of personal, social and emotional skills, opportunities for child initiated learning and a broad curriculum with daily mathematics and literacy sessions.
Key Stage 1 & 2
At Key Stage 1 and 2, pupils study a broad curriculum including History, Geography, Art, DT, RE, PE, PSHE and MFL. The subject content is based around topic areas. There is a significant focus on reading, writing and mathematics; children receive at least ten hours teaching a week in all the aspects of English and at least five hours teaching a week in all the aspects of Maths.
Curriculum by subject:
At Ark Dickens, We have adopted a holistic approach - making connections between Reading and Writing. With children being immersed into the genre and developing on understanding .This enables them to focus their working memory on unpicking the grammar and vocabulary of a text that the author has specifically chosen to have the greatest impact on the reader. Pupils have lots of opportunities for writing in short bursts as well as regular opportunities to write independently at length. We encourage pupils to include features in their writing that they have seen in the books and texts they encounter in reading lessons.
Read Write Inc
All children at Ark Dickens are initially taught to read via the Read Write Inc Phonics programme. The programme is a complete literacy resource for beginner and emergent readers. It is proven to develop fluent and enthusiastic readers who quickly develop an in-depth comprehension of texts. Through the programme children learn to read and write letter-sound correspondences, decode effortlessly and spell and handwrite systematically. The programme also helps our children write confidently using oral rehearsal. Read Write Inc lessons are exciting and fast paced.
Once children have completed the Read, Write Inc. program and are able to read simple stories with 90% fluency, they are grouped using the Simple View of Reading model, in which the skills they have acquired through phonics teaching allows them to access more complex texts independently. Pupils are taught based on their reading need, whether it be phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary or comprehension (National Reading Panel, 2000).
Every year group has dedicated time each day for reading. At the start of each week, children are explicitly taught vocabulary and definitions that appear in an unfamiliar text to help them comprehend the text throughout the week. The text is read multiple times through the week and analysed using a variety of skills such as: summarising, sequencing, retrieving, predicting and making inferences.
We also have different programmes to support the children with their reading, including reading volunteers (currently carried out virtually) and peer to peer reading where the children read with other pupils. Pupils who need support with their reading have access to carefully planned interventions multiple times a week from their Year Group Lead.
Reading for Pleasure
At Ark Dickens we are striving to become a reading school where all children and adults read for pleasure and can share in the joy of books. We follow the Oxford Reading Tree scheme which allows all children to access books to take home at a level suitable for them. These books are to be read aloud to family and quietly to ourselves. We encourage all family members to comment on each reading through home reading journals. Our school library is currently being developed to house beautiful new books and a cataloguing system which will allow our children to take ownership of their reading experience. Every class visits our local council run library each half term and we encourage all children to get a library card which allows them free access to thousands of books.
At Ark Dickens Academy we follow a mastery approach as we believe in preparing our children for the future.
In the Early Years and Foundation Stage an emphasis on real life experiences means that children have opportunities to develop their understanding of maths in the world around them. There is a strong emphasis on role-play and the use of concrete materials to support their understanding.
Reception to Year 5 are using the principles of Mathematics Mastery in their everyday practice. Mathematics Mastery focuses on identifying characteristics of effective practice in building pupils' secure knowledge, skills and understanding of number so that they demonstrate fluency in calculating, solving problems and reasoning about number.
Year 6 have adapted their practice to follow the principles of White Rose. We have an emphasis on applying the skills learnt, to set pupils up to succeed when using maths in daily life.
A Mathletics club is run after school as an enrichment opportunity. This enables them to practise, use and apply the skills they have learnt in school using Information Communication Technology.
Our Science curriculum has been developed to stimulate and excites pupils’ curiosity about phenomena and events in the world around them. The Science curriculum links direct practical experience with ideas to develop the pupils’ schema enabling them to know more and remember more. During the teaching of science, an emphasis is placed on the teaching of scientific skills and vocabulary such as predicting, estimating, measuring, fair testing, hypothesising, and drawing conclusions. Each year group will focus on one area of the Science curriculum per half term:
• Animals, including humans
• Living things and their habitats
• Earth and space
• Properties and changes of materials
At Ark Dickens Primary Academy, our History curriculum has been designed to ignite children’s curiosity about the past through a topic-based approach and hands on experience through the use of artefacts, resources and experiences. We are determined that children will work as historians and develop their historical vocabulary, chronological understanding, knowledge and interpretation skills and their historical enquiry skills. The way we teach History is intended to equip children to ask perceptive questions about the past, analyse sources of evidence, think critically and develop informed judgements. We strive to teach children to explore and understand the complexity of people’s lives, the process of change, the diversity of societies and relationships between different groups, as well as gain a sense of their own identity within a social, political, cultural and economic background.
At Ark Dickens, the children will explore the ancient civilisations of Egypt, Greece and the Mayans, developing their understanding of trends over time and across concurrent civilisations. Each unit being planned includes opportunities for children to investigate, handle artefacts, watch historical footage, take part in role play activities, visit relevant sites and museums and where appropriate, experience oral history, engaging with historical characters and ways of life.
At Ark Dickens we appreciate the power that Geography holds to inspire our pupils to interact with the world around them. It encourages the pupils to become curious about the city, country and world that they live in and will provide answers to the questions that they have about our fascinating planet. The Geography curriculum at Ark Dickens enables children to develop knowledge and skills that are transferable to other curriculum areas and which can and are used to promote their spiritual, moral, social and cultural development. We understand the importance of ensuring that our curriculum reflects the present day issues that are affecting our world. Our Geography curriculum has been thoughtfully planned to ensure it will stay with the pupils and encourage their fascination as they progress through their education. It has also been designed to help shape our pupils into people who care about the world that they live in and strive to sustain it for their future.
Our Computing curriculum focuses on preparing our pupils for a rapidly changing world, in which work and other activities are increasingly transformed by access to varied and developing technology. Through Computing, we teach children to learn how to store, manipulate, retrieve and present information which may consist of text, numbers, images, sound or other signals. These skills are taught through topics consisting of communicating information; handling information, modelling and control based on the ‘Purple Mash’ schemes of learning.
Art and Design
At Ark Dickens, we believe that art, craft and design embody some of the highest forms of human creativity. Our curriculum sets out to engage, inspire and challenge pupils. Children are taught the knowledge, skills and techniques that enable them to experiment, invent and create their own works of art, craft and design. Our art and design curriculum is closely linked to units within history, geography and science to help pupils to make meaningful connections and understand how art and design reflect and shape our history and contribute to the environment, culture, creativity and wealth of our nation. Our pupils are exposed to a wide range of genres and styles, including culturally and ethnically diverse art and artists. Vocabulary is considered at every point of our pupils’ journey through art and design; they are encouraged to engage with and critique the art of others, as well as their own and are supported in using key terminology and language to tell the story behind the art.
Making things is at the very heart of what it is to be human; it is part of our basic make-up as a curious and creative species, which means that the opportunity to develop these skills in a practical context should form a rich part of every child’s education – and part of their educational entitlement is to be taught design and technology by knowledgeable, enthusiastic and committed teachers. Human society and civilization have been built on our invention, adoption and adaptation of technology to improve our lives. Through our design and technology curriculum, we endeavour to create the designers of the future who will be able to create effective solutions to the needs and wants of society. We want our pupils to appreciate how things are made and the importance of technological advancements throughout history. Vocabulary is considered at every point of our pupils’ journey through design & technology; they are encouraged to engage with and critique the designs of others, as well as their own and are supported in using key terminology and language to tell explain the design process.
At Ark Dickens, we value music. All children take part in our music lessons, celebrations and events.
From Nursery to Year 1 the children take part in the Ark singing curriculum with a big focus on using our bodies to make music, rhythm, pitch and enjoyment. In Years 2 & 3 all children learn to play the ukulele and focus on playing as a team with rhythm and enjoyment. Years 4 & 4 have weekly violin lessons where they learn essential skills in listening to each other and reading music whilst developing their musicality. In Year 6 we bring it all together with a performance incorporating song, movement and instruments.
In addition to this we offer whole class and selected individual lessons and there is an academy Choir. Every year we have a musical celebration which parents are most welcome to attend.
Our Religious Education curriculum has been designed to engender knowledge and understanding in children, which leads to tolerance and respect for others and their beliefs. Religious Education at Ark Dickens is taught using an enquiry-based approach. This focuses on equipping children to think critically, reflect on their own thoughts and feelings and develop their knowledge of the world’s faiths. It also develops their understanding and awareness of the beliefs, values and traditions of other individuals, societies, communities and cultures. Our Religious Education curriculum does not teach children to passively accept, but rather it encourages evaluation and critical thinking so that children are equipped to consider belief positions they encounter. We strive to help children develop their sense of identity and belonging through building children’s self-awareness and skills of reflection, thus supporting their Religious Education learning as well as their personal spiritual development.
French lessons are taught from Year 3 to Year 6. Many of our pupils are already bi-lingual and the chance to develop an additional language together provides an opening to other cultures. By offering a high-quality language provision we deepen pupils’ curiosity and their understanding of the world. The teaching of languages enables pupils to express their ideas and thoughts in another language and to understand and respond.
Throughout the year different after school clubs take place, which have included football, benchball and Multi-Sports skills and all children in Years 4 attend swimming lessons for a year and are expected to be able to swim 25 metres unaided by the end of the programme. Each class receives a sessions of PE per week. We are fortunate enough our own specialised from a local PE Team. We work alongside local schools and attend regular inter-school competitions and tournaments.
Our PSHE curriculum meets the statutory requirements as set by the government, but also goes far beyond. Our PSHE curriculum enables our pupils to achieve their potential by supporting their wellbeing and tackling issues that can affect their ability to learn, such as anxiety and unhealthy relationships. PSHE is wide ranging through keeping themselves safe, having healthy relationships and internet safety among others. We work hard to involve parents in our curriculum through regular workshops and coffee mornings to ensure that children are able to discuss any issues that they encounter.
To find out more about our curriculum, please speak to your child's class teacher. Alternatively, look at the year group pages to see more details of units through knowledge organisers.
At Ark Dickens, we ensure that all pupils are supported to access our broad and balanced curriculum. Pupils who are identified as having additional needs have their needs detailed on a provision map which outlines adaptations that will be made to ensure that they can access all learning. This information is then used to write an Individual Provision Profile which is then used by staff when planning lessons to ensure individual needs are catered for.
The school has a Speech & Language therapist who sets up therapy for pupils who may require it from our Speech and Language Assistant. The school also works closely with various professionals such as MABS, Educational Psychology Service and Pupils and School support who work with our pupils as well as providing staff training.