The school has formulated its own unique curriculum entitled ARCS. (A Real life, Creative, Skills based Curriculum.) ARCS curriculum underpins the school’s Mission Statement and vision for the future, as well as the general aims, ethos and life of the school.
ARCS curriculum is based on a set of core values and principles. All stakeholders played a part in designing the curriculum, i.e. children, parents, staff, governors, business partners, secondary schools and higher educational institutions.
ARCS curriculum design was based on a consideration of the contextual needs of the families, the local context, government requirements as well as research into national and international practice. Quality First Teaching is at the heart of this engaging, rich and relevant curriculum.
ARCS curriculum is based on the following components – knowledge, skills and attitudes/ values, and is fully inclusive in its practice.
Knowledge symbolised by a Pot of Gold
‘A confident understanding of a subject, with the ability to use it, for a specific purpose.’
Knowledge is taught as 12 distinct subjects with cross curricular links to apply knowledge, where appropriate. The reasons for this choice of teaching distinct subjects, was based on research completed by the headteacher.
The following findings were paramount:
Each subject has a unique contribution to make to the individual as a person – a contribution that cannot be found in other subjects. Each subject supports a child’s thinking, to liberate them as full human beings
Children need a solid understanding of subjects in order to make ‘choices’ about subjects in KS3 and University course choices, and children need to know they are investigating a body of knowledge in a particular subject
Society needs to produce geographers, historians, scientists etc. Therefore subjects should be taught discretely and be seen as important for their own sake.
Skills symbolised by the 7 colours of the rainbow
‘A specific ability or expertise requiring training’
7 key skills were agreed as –
Communication, Working with Others, Application of Number,
Information Technology, Improving Own Learning & Performance,
Problem Solving, Physical Agility
These were selected as being relevant for a 21st Century citizen. A long term plan which maps out these skills, ensures progression.
5 Attitudes to Learning were agreed upon called The Fantastic 5, in order to ensure children develop a positive attitude to learning:
Optistar is Resilient and wears a star badge
Shimmer is Reflective and has a mirror
Motivar is a Risk taker and holds a shield
Sorcerine is Resourceful and carries a wand
Unitor can Remember and keeps a pot of Knowledge
Related to these attributes, the school’s curriculum consists of 22 Values for Living, as follows:
Quality, Co-operation, Unity, Understanding, Peace, Honesty, Happiness, Appreciation, Hope, Courage, Patience, Love, Caring, Friendship, Humility, Thoughtfulness, Simplicity, Tolerance, Trust, Responsibility, Freedom and Respect.
Together with the 5 traditional British values of Respect, Tolerance, Individual Freedom, Abiding by the Law and Freedom.
Cross Cutting Themes
It was agreed that the curriculum would have 3 specific dimensions –
Global – to respond to the world becoming a ‘smaller’ more ‘accessible’ place. Each child develops to become a Global Learner and citizen.
Entrepreneurial – to ensure all children participate, compete and show innovation in their futures. The will be given opportunities to follow the school’s unique entrepreneurial continuum in order to facilitate the teaching of such skills such as: writing a business plan.
Well Being – as a response to a fast paced, pressurised society. Children are taught the life skills of relaxation and dealing with challenging situations. Peace and Harmony afternoons and P4C provide a structured approach to emotional health.
Other important aspects of ARCS Curriculum are:
What constitutes being an Ideal Learner and Ideal Educator, ensuring children receive an outstanding world class education.
A student Exit Profile which itemises all the experiences a child will have had during their journey through school, in terms of academic, cultural, social, moral, emotional and spiritual.
Balance of Time
In order to ensure full coverage of all aspects of the curriculum, certain subjects are ‘blocked’ for periods of time, ie. Geography (½ year), History (½ year) through enhanced provision areas, PSHCE through focussed small group sessions, Technology through focussed weekly sessions 4 times a year and Computing through half termly foci.
Real Life Learning
A contextual approach secures an ambitious method for learning and teaching, meeting the needs of all children. For example School council elections are run in November around Bonfire night. Children are taught about the history of parliament and politics. During the week children write manifestos and all children vote in a real booth!
ARCS Curriculum provides a Creative approach to HOW to learn and teach the Knowledge, Skills and Attitudes.
Creativity is promoted in the following ways –
As part of the school ethos, e.g. explicit CPD opportunities in relation to creativity.
As a systematic strategy including key features of teaching and learning, eg. time for pupils to persevere with extended learning across all subject areas
Using the classroom as a creative space, e.g. careful use of colour and texture in the learning areas, external environment utilised in order to maximise teaching and learning opportunities
Use of outside organisations eg. opportunities for pupils to work with artists, musicians, performers, designers and other creative professionals, are promoted
ARCS curriculum framework ensures all members of staff have a clear understanding of how to plan creative and challenging lessons. It also serves as an entitlement to a broad and balanced curriculum for all children.
The curriculum and its delivery improves pupil outcomes on a range of measures including summative and formative assessments and the school’s own Student Exit Profile, which tracks the development of the whole child.
The story of our curriculum journey so far:
Regular seminars for all children and staff explaining each new aspect of ARCS
Consultation with parents re The Student Exit Profile benchmarking statements
Appointment of Experts in Residence to support the quality of certain subjects .e.g. a reading ambassador and Computing Champion
A quality Learning and Teaching Matrix – agreed by all staff
Implementation of High 5 Groups
Life Long Learning foci using Talk Cards to support conversation in the home
School Council views gathered on ‘What makes an Outstanding lesson’
Criteria agreed for ARCS curriculum learning space
Introduction of House days
Introduction of Evelyn Etiquette
Inspire afternoons to promote Parental Involvement
The story of our curriculum journey continued:
Adjustments made to the Fantastic 5
Gathering the views of Business Partners regarding the qualities needed in their employees – to integrate into ARCS Curriculum
Research on Changing Mind-sets integrated into the curriculum
‘Forest School’ activities introduced for every year group
Change of language used for Assessment. e. use of Depth of Learning Index for core subjects and Milestones to Mastery for Foundation subjects
Satellite groups to self-evaluate aspects of school improvement through application for varied awards
Enrichment of Enhanced Provision areas
Expansion of ‘Experts in Residence’ to include sports, geography and history ambassadors
Examples of Mastery for children and staff in Maths and Writing displayed in the Room of Requirement
Online tutorials to support parents at home
Master classes led by each subject leader for all other teachers
Monitoring of the Student Exit Profile
The success of ARCS curriculum has been recognised by various awards, e.g. Various Educate Awards, Maths Mark, Reading Mark, Science Mark, School Games Active Mark.
Other schools in and beyond this Authority, have purchased information packs re; ARCS curriculum, to introduce into their own school.
We continue to review and enrich our curriculum at all times, as we consolidate it through a consistent approach across the school.