Our over-arching vision for all students at Ark Putney Academy is for them to stand as pillars within any community. Through the delivery of an ambitious curriculum that is academic, vocational and technical in nature, we seek to empower all students to enter a higher education course or career of their choice by the time they leave our school.
Our curriculum is founded upon our academy’s core values:
- Curiosity – our curriculum is broad and balanced throughout all key stages in a way that inspires young minds to appreciate their learning opportunities and develop individual passions that will ultimately become their future pathway.
- Ambition – our curriculum works towards aspirational end points for all students, regardless of background. It is sequenced in a way that strategically builds, re-visits and secures knowledge and skills over time. Combined with cycles of assessment and responsive teaching, we unlock students’ full potential and enable excellent outcomes.
- Contribute to society – our curriculum is designed with the development of cultural capital and the shaping of young people’s futures in mind. It balances knowledge acquisition with mastery of skill to enable students to move successfully to the next stage of their life and make valuable contributions within their chosen sector.
- Self-awareness – our academic curriculum works alongside our character development strategy which aims to nurture students who are self-aware, compassionate and emotionally intelligent individuals - and who value their personal development as a key to their success.
The way we assess, plan and teach, alongside the developmental opportunities we provide both staff and students, allows the delivery of our curriculum to be successful.
Outside the classroom
- Setting – students in year 7 are taught in mixed ability classes in order to support their transition and enable staff to gain a robust assessment of each child’s ability range. This is with the exception of our nurture stream as they have been pre-evaluated based on EHCPs and through thorough liaison with Primary Schools. In years 8 and 9, students are set by ability in core subjects (English Maths and Science) in order for teaching to be tailored to students’ needs. These are then mirrored against foundational subjects as appropriate to the needs of the cohort. At KS4, ability setting continues across the year group in core subjects (English, Maths and Science), with option subjects being set where there are multiple groups. Our houses and tutor groups are mixed ability throughout the school, facilitating collaborative work across our community and reflecting our inclusive ethos.
- Curriculum design – every subject has long, medium and short-term plans for every year group and topic. Medium-term plans are the most crucial of these documents in bringing each subject’s curriculum to life; they map out the sequencing of each topic’s knowledge and skills, with regular opportunities for recall, and include defined points for consolidation and formative assessment. These are written and shared with all subject teachers to ensure consistency and parity within each department, and to provide an equitable learning experience for all students. Long, medium and short-term plans are regularly reviewed and refined through co-planning at APA, as well as alongside subject communities across the Ark Network.
- Co-planning and intellectual preparation – every week, staff work in department teams on activities that enable them to intellectually prepare for effective teaching of their subject. As well as being used for regular curriculum review, this time is directed by Heads of Department and involves either: subject knowledge development, pedagogical practice or strategic planning.
- CPD – the quality of teaching has a direct impact on our students’ academic performance. We are therefore committed to developing our teachers through a robust evaluation and CPD cycle. To develop our teachers’ practice, we use Ark’s Great Teacher Rubric which describes the thinking, actions and influence of a teacher across four strands: Climate for Learning, Planning and Preparation, Teaching and Learning and Assessing and Responding. The idea is that: through a shared planning, observation and evaluation process, staff professional development is both personalised and ambitious, enabling our staff to work towards exemplary curriculum delivery. In addition to this, teachers hugely benefit from working in a MAT which provides subject specialist training 3 times per year, allowing them to work collaboratively across the network to develop subject expertise and improve the quality of their teaching through HOD and peer networks.
Inside the classroom
At APA, all teachers prioritise Quality First Teaching to ensure all students can access the curriculum and make progress regardless of their starting points and individual needs.
- Lesson structure – all lessons are structured with a secure thread leading towards a specific and measurable learning objective that is shared with students. All lessons start with an independent ‘Do It Now’ which offers an immediate opportunity for assessment, and is generally characterised by memory recall. Curriculum content is delivered through the I/We/CfU/You cycle where independent practice is prioritised, and all lessons end with a plenary which gives a final opportunity for both memory recall and assessment.
- Cognitive engagement – ‘memory is the residue of thought’ so it’s important that we ensure students are doing tasks that have them thinking deeply about the right things. In line with this, we select the most effective pedagogical tools that ensure student participation and think ratio are prioritised in every lesson. We promote the use of signature strategies such as ‘Think-Pair-Share’, and ‘chew’ tasks that force students to process what they’ve learnt. Equally, recall is regarded as an essential part of securing learning over the long term and is personified in our ‘Stickability Seven’ techniques.
- Responsive teaching – all lessons embed regular checks for understanding, and teachers use these moments as hinge points in their lessons to direct how they respond. Cold call questioning, mini-whiteboards and exit tickets give the teacher immediate feedback on how well students have understood, and thus how the teacher should proceed. We also use ‘intentional monitoring’ in our classrooms which involves the teacher purposefully circulating their class during an independent task to gather specific data, and immediately respond in the most appropriate and efficient manner.
Impact & Assessment
At APA we take assessment seriously as a way to inform our teaching and ensure every student receives the support they need to succeed.
Attitude to Learning
- All students are graded on their 'Attitude to Learning' at the end of each half-term. There are three components: Effort (Classwork); Independence (Homework) and Tone Time Place (Behaviour). Students are graded from 1 (excellent) to 4 (unsatisfactory) against each criteria.
- We have a school-wide ATL league – with tutor groups, year groups and houses all competing to come top of the league, and rewards for those who have shown the greatest commitment to learning in each half-term.
- Students in Years 7-10 sit one formal assessment per year in June.
- Students in Year 11 and 13 will sit two sets of mock exams prior to sitting their external exams (November and January for Y11 and November and March for Y13). Students in Year 12 sit exams alongside Y13 and have a final End of Year exam in June.
- In Years 7-9 grades are “Age Related”, so a student making normal progress will retain the same grade throughout Key Stage 3. The age related grade is an indicator of expected attainment, should the student continue to make normal progress to the end of Key Stage 4. If, for example, a pupil gets a grade 9 in maths in Year 7 Summer 2, it means we think they are in the top 3% nationally for their age group: if they make expected progress they should go on to achieve a 9 in their maths GCSE in Y11 – not that they would get a 9 if they sat the exam now.
- We share a school-wide academic attainment snapshot each half-term, indicating whether a student has been working on, above or below their target grade.
- Using data to raise attainment
- We share assessment data with students and parents after each formal assessment, with a 'red/amber/green' status based on whether the student is meeting their targets.
- Parents also receive attainment data at every parents' evening, as well as receive one written report on their child's attainment per year.
- After each assessment, students complete an assessment review and action plan which they discuss with their tutor/head of year.
- After each assessment, students’ attainment is plotted relative to their base grade, and pastoral teams identify and intervene with any students slipping below their base grade. The relentless focus on progress ensures that student attainment is celebrated or tackled irrespective of their prior level.
- After each assessment a “mosaic” is produced which demonstrates, at a glance, where there are individual student or subject concerns. This is shared through a presentation and discussion with all staff and then followed by analysis within departments.
- Following each assessment the Head of Department will conduct an assessment review, looking at the performance of all students and then meeting with the Principal/Vice Principal to agree actions.
- At regular intervals all departments use formative assessment – on a school or network basis – to identify and tackle common misconceptions by students.