Our Ambition

“To instruct someone... is not a matter of getting them to commit results to mind. Rather, it is to teach them to participate in the process that makes possible the establishment of knowledge. We teach a subject not to produce little living libraries on that subject, but rather to get a student to think mathematically for themself, to consider matters as an historian does, to take part in the process of knowledge-getting. Knowing is a process not a product.” (Bruner, J. 1966)

Our purpose as a school is to ensure our young people can go out into the world and live a life of choice and opportunity. We want them to leave Ark Acton having been inducted into systems of worthwhile knowledge that enable them to participate in and shape the national discourse. In the words of Alex Standish we believe that “school subjects then are a way of inducting children into the intellectual habits of humankind, and hence into a disciplinary conversation about knowing our world.

In order to achieve this vision for our young people, we place the curriculum at the heart of school life. It drives all other decisions that we make and is the best means we have of demonstrating as a school what we believe in and what we stand for. In essence our curriculum is designed to ensure that all pupils at Acton acquire disciplinary knowledge that they cannot learn at home and that this specified curriculum knowledge is based on the most coherent and tested ways of conceptualising the world that we have. We therefore focus intently on our academic curriculum and compulsory co-curriculum model to ensure there is a synergy and symbiosis between them.

Our curriculum is therefore the body and forms of knowledge we know our pupils need to learn as they progress from one year to the next. The curriculum is cumulative in nature and builds on what has gone before and what it prepares pupils for next. It is shaped through our golden thread of Readiness.

Clear guiding principles for curriculum design and refinement ensure that all 5- and 7-Year Subject Maps culminate explicitly with the knowledge students need to succeed at university or in a professional alternative - they are built on: a coherent narrative in each subject; cross-referenced with the National Curriculum; an appropriate scope and sequencing of knowledge; a research-informed approach to disciplinary literacy; and Ark’s expertise in curriculum design. This academy vision ensures that all students work toward the same ambitious academic endpoints and our cumulative model of knowledge acquisition allows us to assess the relative mastery of all students in any sequence.

The Acton Guiding principles:

  • Knowledge rich – the curriculumincludes the best of what has been thought, said and written. Knowledge is required to develop more powerful ways of explaining ideas.

  • Domain specific – the curriculumis not based in generic ‘skills’ but develops mastery within a subject framework. Teachers are subject experts that guide students through their domain.

  • Discipline, not specification – the curriculumaims to develop our students into writers, scientists, artists, active citizens – not just exam takers. The curriculum measures mastery of a subject, not one-off performance. It includes content that is valuable beyond the exam specification.

  • Accessible, challenging and cumulative - The same curriculum is available to all – it is low threshold, high challenge. Difficult content is re-contextualised – not delayed, removed or dumbed down.

  • Navigable by all -the curriculum is the progression model. It outlines exactly what a student should do next to enhance their learning. It is published and available to students and parents.

  • The curriculum is the progression model – student performance is measured against the written curriculum which increases in complexity over time. Assessments are written to measure mastery of the curriculum and therefore are naturally cumulative and provide useful feedback

  • Acton assessment cycle – assessment is not just data. Teachers gather information and provide feedback multiple times per lesson through recall do now, knowledge quizzing, hinge questions and exit tickets. Students receive timely, precise feedback on performance. Assignments are used half-termly for more in-depth feedback on performance and assessment data gathered bi-annually to track patterns and trends.

  • KS3 assessment is benchmarked – using nationally standardised GL assessments in English, Maths and Science to ensure student performance remains in line with their peers nationally.

In order to achieve this vision for our young people, we place the curriculum at the heart of school life. It drives all other decisions that we make and is the best means we have of demonstrating as a school what we believe in and what we stand for. In essence our curriculum is designed to ensure that all pupils at Acton acquire disciplinary knowledge that they cannot learn at home and that this specified curriculum knowledge is based on the most coherent and tested ways of conceptualising the world that we have.

Alongside our taught academic curriculum we run our co-curricular programme. This programme provides experiences and opportunities for all students to participate in individual and group activities that help them develop essential life skills. Debating and oracy sits at the heart of this model as we aim to enable all our students to develop confidence, articulacy and team-working skills.

Twice a year we ask each Department to ask themselves the following question and answer it through their Department Evaluation: “Why have some students gone through schooling and yet not acquired the necessary schemata that others, equally capable, do acquire?”

It is likely that this is because the component content:

  • was not identified and taught or,
  • did not receive necessary emphasis or,
  • was not delivered in a coherent sequence or,
  • was not taught using effective approaches or,
  • was not practised till deeply embedded and readily recalled.

Therefore our curriculum is driven by shaping pupil readiness:

  • The workings of schemata mean that pupil readiness for something new can be deliberately created.
  • By attending to the cumulative effect of specific knowledge teachers can shape readiness because that prior knowledge shapes what pupils then see/notice.
  • Departments can manipulate curriculum content and structure – its choices, blends, sequencing and patterns of recall and revisiting – to ensure readiness for new or more demanding content and for more complex operations.

 

Flow through the Acton academic curriculum

 

Key Stage 3 curriculum offer

Years 7-9

Periods per week

English

7

Maths

4

Science

5

History

2

Geography

2

RS

2

French

2

Music

2

Digital    Literacy    1

PE

2

Art & Design

1

Key Stage 4 curriculum

All students study

Years 10-11

Periods per week

English

6

Maths

5

Science – Triple or Combined

6

History or Geography

3

RS

3

Students can choose from the following options

Years 10-11

Periods per week

Art

3

French

3

Music

3

PE

3

Sociology

3

Business

3

Key Stage 5

We run two equal pathways in Key Stage 5

A Level

 

English Literature

Government & Politics

Maths

History

Further Maths

Geography

Physics

Psychology

Biology

Sociology

Chemistry

Economics

 

Professional pathway BTEC (3 A-level equivalent)

Applied Science

Business