Curriculum aims

'" The curriculum of a subject should be determined by the most fundamental understanding that can be achieved of the underlying principles that give structure to a subject. Teaching specific topics or skills without making clear their context in the broader fundamental structure of a field of knowledge is uneconomical. . . . An understanding of fundamental principles and ideas appears to be the main road to adequate transfer of training. To understand something as a specific instance of a more general case—which is what understanding a more fundamental structure means—is to have learned not only a specific thing but also a model for understanding other things like it that one may encounter."

Bruner, 1960, quoted in ‘How students learn’ 2005. 


Our 5 Year Curriculum Model

At Ark Greenwich Freeschool we place a primacy on enabling all of our pupils to develop more disciplined and scientific ways of viewing and making sense of the world around them. The importance of disciplinary thinking means that curriculum planning is vital.

Therefore at Ark Greenwich Freeschool we believe that all learners should encounter and wrestle with ways of constructing knowledge and ways of thinking that are above their everyday experiences, and see that academic concepts are different from everyday concepts and ways of explaining the world. For us this is the best way of preparing them to think like undergraduates before they even get close to deciding whether to apply to university. If instead students are taught only a skills and competencies approach, and denied the chance to view the world through more academic lenses, then it is likely their access to elite universities will be limited (or indeed their access to elite professions) and the two-tier society we currently inhabit will continue.

Year 7-9 Curriculum  


KS3 periods & minutes per week 

English language & lit 

4 (240) 


4 (240) 


4 (240) 


2 (120) 


2 (120) 

French or Spanish  

3 (180) 

PE (core) 

2 (120) 


2 (120) 


1 (60) 


1 (60) 


1 (60) 


1 (60) 

The curriculum at KS4


Subjects at Key Stage 4 are separated into two categories: Core and Optional.

●     Core subjects are compulsory and will be studied by all students

●     Optional subjects (commonly referred to as ‘options’) are when students choose to study certain subjects and not others. Students can choose to study two options. Teachers will offer guidance and support to ensure appropriateness of option subjects.


Core subjects

All students will study each of the following subjects*:

Subject Number of GCSEs gained
English Language & Literature x2 – Literature is compulsory for all pupils  
Maths x1
Combined Science x2 (if appropriate, ‘Triple Science’ may be selected as an ‘option’ to gain an additional science GCSE)
PE None (although ‘GCSE PE’ can be chose as an ‘option’ – see below) - all students will continue with Core PE lessons for 1 hour a week
Humanities x1 - History or Geography 
Languages x1 - French or Spanish

*ASDAN is an exception, and is a qualification offered by invitation only


Option subjects (each worth one GCSE unless otherwise stated)

All students must pick two of these subjects to study as their options, from the list below:

Drama, ICT, Computer Science, GCSE PE, Art, Music, Triple Science

Exposure to subject disciplines connected at the conceptual level should teach our students to:

  • think critically,

  • solve problems and be analytical

  • make connections,

  • communicate clearly and with passion,

  • argue and debate with clarity

  • be creative

  • be information literate

  • be objective and original

  • work independently. 


Curriculum Planning

The following diagram explains the underlying principles and these inform all curriculum planning at GFS.

The individual subject pages and 5 year curriculum maps explain in greater detail what we teach and how we sequence the experience over the 5 years up to GCSE to enable pupils to develop expertise within each particular subject domain. 

For further information regarding the curriculum please contact Miss Yandell via