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 confident in applying 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 are a way of inducting children into the intellectual habits of humankind, and hence into a disciplinary conversation about knowing our world.”
Our curriculum enables students to build up the knowledge and subject skills we know they will need to succeed at university or a professional alternative. It is built on clear guiding principles:
- Domain specific – the curriculum is not based in generic ‘skills’ but helps students develop mastery within a subject framework, expertly led by their teachers
- Discipline, not specification – the curriculum aims 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.
- Knowledge rich – the curriculum includes the best of what has been thought, said and written, enabling our students to powerfully express their own ideas in turn.
- 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, and students receive timely, precise feedback on performance. Assignments are used half-termly for more in-depth feedback on performance and assessment data is gathered bi-annually to track patterns and trends.
- KS3 assessment is benchmarked – we use nationally standardised GL assessments in English, Maths and Science to ensure student performance remains in line with their peers nationally.
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.
Impact & Assessment
At Ark Acton Academy our approach to assessment enables staff to gather data and make evidence-led decisions to refine their instruction and enable students to progress. We need to know what students know and can do, in order to move them forward. The goal is then to improve the learner and their capacity for future work, not just improving the current piece of work or correcting a mistake in their book.
We believe that regular and spaced, low-stakes assessment is more beneficial in embedding learning than one-off high stakes assessments; it interrupts forgetting, is low risk, allows us to interleave topics, and helps create a culture of error. Subjects with 3-5 lessons a week will quiz on a weekly basis, subjects with 1-2 lessons a week will quiz every three lessons. After a mastery quiz or half termly assessment, time is built into lessons to reteach the common errors and close knowledge gaps.
Alongside testing, our Intentional Monitoring cycle requires that teachers review students' workbooks at least once per fortnight, with additional checks and evaluation by Heads of Department and the Senior Leadership Team happening throughout the year.