Introduction to our curriculum:

Ark schools mission is that:

“Every child has the opportunity to attend university or pursue the career of their choice”

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 – how are we working towards this every day, what are the incremental steps both academic and

We use our school values of Bravery, Resilience, Respect, Honesty and Aiming High to personify the kinds of people that Ark Oval Primary academy develops. The network pillars underpin what we do – as a school we look to create an environment of excellent teaching, exemplary behaviour, knowing every child, always learning, depth for breadth and high expectations.

It is through these two filters we view the learning of not only the children within our academy but the staff and community interactions as well.


Learning – Learning is defined as the movement of information from working memory into long term memory that can be accessed and applied as a skill. The graphics below define our understanding of the process of how learning occurs and how learning is not an immediately consolidated aspect of the human brain and that regular revisiting is required to ensure retention and application.

Skill – A skill is the application of learning both in and out of the context from which it was first introduced. As Prof. Daniel Kahneman asserts in "Thinking, Fast and Slow" there are two basic conditions for acquiring a skill:

1. An environment that is sufficiently regular to be predictable.

2. An opportunity to learn these regularities through prolonged practice.

At Ark Oval we endeavour to meet these criteria in all our lessons, a sufficiently regular situation is one where parameters and expectations are clearly defined and applied to provide opportunity for precise (Erikson) practice and application.


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, and 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:

1: Knowledge

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.

2: Skills

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.

3: Experiences

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.

Curriculum implementation

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 as well as emphasising pupil voice in the learning cycle. The curriculum is therefore a continually evolving document and the trial of this in the academic year 18-19 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.

Curriculum Structure


EYFS Curriculum

Year 1

Ark Curriculum Plus Model – Centrally provided curriculum model based on Ark Oval Curriculum and other academies experiences and expertise. Adapted to meet needs of AOPA children and reflect our local context.

Year 2

Ark Oval Primary Curriculum – In house curriculum developed to promote academic and character objectives in line with the context and needs of our pupils.

Year 3

Ark Curriculum Plus Model – Centrally provided curriculum model based on Ark Oval Curriculum and other academies experiences and expertise. Adapted to meet needs of AOPA children and reflect our local context.

Year 4

Ark Curriculum Plus Model – Centrally provided curriculum model based on Ark Oval Curriculum and other academies experiences and expertise. Adapted to meet needs of AOPA children and reflect our local context.

Year 5

Ark Oval Primary Curriculum – In house curriculum developed to promote academic and character objectives in line with the context and needs of our pupils.

Year 6

Ark Oval Primary Curriculum – In house curriculum developed to promote academic and character objectives in line with the context and needs of our pupils.

The academy is currently transitioning from its in-house curriculum to the Ark Curriculum Plus model – this is to ensure an economy of scale and access to a deeper subject knowledge development offer. This supports us in managing the workload of staff having a skeleton of resources and supportive cross network community from which to draw support, advice and shared resources. By the end of the 20/21 year all year groups will have moved onto the Ark Curriculum Plus offer and the progression maps, resources, assessment models and concepts will be embedded across the year groups with a sequential and clear learning journey for all.





(Daily/Weekly/Bi-weekly/Drop Down Day)



Reading (inc.DEAR)


Ark 5 Day Reading Model (adapted)

L.Thomas & A.Khan



Read Write Inc.




Ark Oval Writing Model




Mathematics Mastery


Handwriting and Spelling


Spell Zoo/Nelson

L.Thomas & A.Khan


Weekly & Drop-Down Day

Ark Oval Curriculum/Ark Curriculum Plus




Ark Oval Curriculum/Ark Curriculum Plus




Ark Oval Curriculum/Ark Curriculum Plus


Religious Education

Bi-weekly (plus weekly shared worship)

Croydon SACRE RE Programme





Ark Oval Curriculum/Ark Curriculum Plus

J.Barlow & C.Hall



Charanga Music Program & Ark Music Offer

J.Barlow & C.Hall


Drop Down Day

(when not supplementing other subjects)

Ark Oval Curriculum/Ark Curriculum Plus

J.Barlow & C.Hall

Design and Technology

Drop Down Day

Ark Oval Curriculum/Ark Curriculum Plus



Modern Foreign Languages


Sep – Dec

Languagenut Spanish

Dec – Jul

Classics for All: Latin







Physical Education


Ark Oval Curriculum






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 statutory outcomes the academy produces but also in the way our pupils conduct themselves in and out of the academy and the knowledge they retain and apply.

Curriculum Assessment

How we know learning has taken place…

  1. Low stakes quizzes and recall ‘check ins’- Learning is a change in long-term memory. This means that we can’t really assume our students have ‘learned’ something unless, at some point later, they can show that they can remember it. (Tom Sherrington 2017)

In every wider curriculum lesson, teachers will use a range of recall tools and strategies to ascertain what pupils can remember. This allows teachers to know where gaps in knowledge are and where further consoldatio is required and allows pupils to grapple with their understanding so that learning becomes long-term and sustained. Recall tools include: low stakes half termly quizzes, ‘tell the story’ using key words, summary activities, mind-mapping to promote links in thinking and understanding and private assessment e.g. silent self-quiz so pupils can attempt and then self/peer assess to close the knowledge gap.

  1. Curriculum links-to-learning- Each time a concept is encountered within a different context, not only is the concept more likely to be remembered, the understanding of that concept becomes more nuanced. (Clare Sealy 2017)

As mentioned above, the ‘Do Now’ of each wider curriculum lesson is known as the link-to-learning and is an exploration of how the lesson links to previous learning, something the child has encountered in a different discipline or subject area and how this will provide them with crucial knowledge to access subsequent learning. Pupils explore- (a) how this links to last lesson/last week/last term (b) how this links to something I know from my own understanding (c) how this will link with what we learn next


  1. Knowledge organisers to specify exactly WHAT needs to be learnt- Specifying the exact knowledge is just a starting point. Sequencing it, explaining it, checking it, quizzing on it, practising combining it, testing it, and revising it for years are vital if pupils are to remember it for years to come. (Joe Kirby 2015)

Each half-term, teachers are supported by curriculum faculties, subject leads and subject- specialists to create knowledge organisers capturing the knowledge that the pupil will acquire by the end of that half-term. This is shared with pupils and parents and is referred to at the beginning of every wider curriculum lesson so that is revisited and revised regularly. Pupils then add to it and supplement the knowledge organisers with additional understanding, questions, ideas and thinking. Thinking in the wider curriculum is also captured in our ‘thinking jotter’s’ – a place where pupils can articulate their thinking as they continue along their learning journey.