‘If we all take some responsibility to start with and inspire others to do the same then together we can change the world.’ Simon Sinek’
Introduction to our curriculum:
Ark Oval’s mission states that ‘Children, staff and parents at Ark Oval, are passionate about ensuring every child fulfils their potential and becomes an all-round exceptional
citizen with the skills to succeed in life.’ This is the fundamental principle that underpins the design, implementation and ongoing review of the Oval curriculum. It is at the very
core of our ‘why’ and defines us as a school.
The intent of our curriculum goes far beyond the outcomes seen at the end of Year 6. We have thoughtfully constructed a curriculum framework which focuses not solely on academia but on shaping our pupils into confident, passionate, life-long learners. We want our pupils to continue their journey with a secure foundation of knowledge, skills, ideas and, most importantly, a relentless curiosity about the world around them. Thus, when designing this curriculum, we endeavoured to ensure it was broad, complemented by a wide range of experiences and provided pupils with far more than just academic achievement. In our pursuit of providing Oval pupils with a balanced and rich education, we have crafted a curriculum based on four key constructs:
Recent research in the field of cognitive psychology has had huge implications in what we know about what makes effective teaching and learning. One such area of research is that which has explored the importance of a rich knowledge base in developing critical thinking. Critical thinking is a crucial life skill not only in careers but in day-to-day life.
‘Knowledge comes into play because if we want our pupils to think critically they must have something to think about.’ Dan Willingham.
Willingham’s extensive research in this area is a key cornerstone of our curriculum. The idea that a rich base of factual knowledge helps pupils to make connections and exponentially leads to further learning is at the heart of the design of each unit through the years. The framework for each year group details explicitly the knowledge that will be learnt and how this knowledge develops cumulatively throughout the unit.
Once pupils have a broad knowledge base, they need to explore, practice and master skills to allow them to apply this knowledge in a meaningful way. The Oval curriculum highlights these key skills and demonstrates how these are applicable in real life contexts. It is of crucial importance to us that our pupils are clear on how content relates to real
life. This is integral to pupils’ developing positive learning attitudes from the earliest stages of their education.
Pupil’s experiences are of paramount importance in the delivery of the Oval curriculum. It is these experiences that provide meaningful context to learning. In other words, it
makes the learning ‘sticky’ and gives something for pupils to pin their developing understanding to. The curriculum details experiences that enrich and complement each unit
and offer teachers suggested educational visits that will ultimately enhance pupil understanding. These experiences also serve a different purpose- it allows our pupils, who
come from differing backgrounds, equal opportunity to experience people and places that they may not have access to otherwise. Through these experiences, they will also develop key life skills that we too often take for granted- how to use transport systems, how to interact with others and how to conduct themselves in public- essential development of them as both student but more importantly as active citizens in our society.
4: Holistic Approach
In designing this curriculum, we have maximised the opportunity for pupils to make connections in content both across units and across year groups. This holistic approach is incredibly important for two key reasons: (a) learning acts as a catalyst for further learning as mentioned previously e.g. learning about the events of WW2 allows a better appreciation of historical narratives such as ‘The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas’. (b) It serves an important purpose for a pupil’s experience of their learning and their individual self- esteem. They are essentially able to ‘hit the ground running; in subsequent learning and they develop a positive self-image as both learners and as individuals.
The curriculum covers all areas of the statutory National Curriculum and offers equal importance to all subjects- a move away from the more traditional focus on Reading, Writing and Maths. Rather, these ‘core’ subjects are interspersed in all subject areas to allow pupils to flourish across a range of areas and develop multiple interests and talents.
The choice of the word ‘framework’ was highly deliberate. The Oval Curriculum has not been designed as a rigid structure that teachers must adhere to stringently but rather a framework of suggested content ready to be moulded and shaped by teachers and pupils alike. The knowledge base is key in terms of delivery but how this knowledge is explored and is extended upon is very much reflective of individual cohorts. The shifting demographic of our pupils has further highlighted the necessity of having a responsive curriculum in place which responds to pupils individual starting points, existing knowledge and interests. The curriculum is therefore a continually evolving document and the trial of this in the academic year 17-18 has shown the success of this approach. Both teaching staff and the leadership team have contributed, and we have made a commitment as a staff to continue to review and refine this year-on-year so that our pupils are offered an outstanding education of the very highest quality.
Measuring our curriculum's impact
Impact of the curriculum will be measured by evaluating both qualitative and quantitative data. Attainment and progress will be monitored closely, and qualitative data will be collected from pupils, teachers and parents to continually refine the curriculum. The impact will be seen from the KS2 SAT’s reading data because, if successfully implemented, this holistic approach rooted in developing cultural capital will positively impact this data.
Recommended Reading Book Lists:
Key Stage 1
Key Stage 2
Our curriculum is available below: