The Ark Greenwich Free School Curriculum
The curriculum at AGFS is unashamedly academic. Our belief is that all our students have the right to a traditional and academically rigorous curriculum so that they have access to the maximum number of options in their future.
- We do not facilitate a vocational pathway or seek ways to artificially boost our provision in school league tables.
- 95% of students at AGFS are entered for the academically rigorous Ebac qualification and over 50% of students study Triple Science. All students take either French or Spanish from Year 7 through to GCSE level.
- We believe that high levels of literacy are the key to unlocking student potential. The whole school reading programme and ‘read now’ phase of each lesson ensure students read for at least 90minutes every day.
- The school’s co-curricular provision sits alongside the academic curriculum. The enrichment timetable is built into provision at Key Stage three and ensures all students take part in community service, creative activities, sport and young enterprise. The Drop Down Day programme allows students to enjoy a wide range of educational trips, visits and life enriching experiences.
- The character programme helps students to develop the personal characteristics of confidence, oracy, good manners and respect.
Year 7- Year 9 Curriculum
|Subject||Periods (each period is 1 hour)|
|English Language and Literature||4|
|Science (Biology, Physics and Chemistry)||4|
|French or Spanish (selected at the start of y7)||3|
Year 10- Year 11 Curriculum
Students follow a broad curriculum until they select their GCSE options at the end of Year 9. Students study ten subjects at GCSE level in total. These are separated into two categories: Core and Optional. 95% of our students are entered for the academically rigorous EBACC qualification.
Core subjects are compulsory and will be studied by all students
Optional subjects are when students choose to study certain subjects and not others. Students can choose to study three options. Teachers will offer guidance and support to ensure appropriateness of option subjects.
All subjects will study each of the following subjects:
|Subject||Periods (each period is 1 hour)||Number of GCSEs Gained|
|English Language and Literature||4.5||2|
|Combined Science (Biology, Physics, Chemistry)||5||2 - Triple science may be selected as an 'option' to gain an additional GCSE|
|Core PE||1||0 - GCSE PE can be chosen as an 'option'|
|French or Spanish*||2.5||1|
|History or Geography||2.5||1|
*A very small number of students may be selected to study additional English, maths and science instead of a modern language.
Option Subjects (worth one GCSE)
All students select three of the subjects below as their options:
- Art and Design
- Computer Science
- Physical Education
- Religious Studies/ Philosophy
- Triple Science
Subject curriculum planning at AGFS is delivered in the following ways:
- Primary to university progression – each department carefully considers the knowledge and skills scholars have in the subject when they join the school and what knowledge and skills will be required for access to the best universities in the UK. The progression model in each subject ensures all students have access to the entry to the best universities in the UK, regardless of their starting point.
- Subject Power standards – these are the ‘essence of each subject’. Students will develop mastery in these standards across each year group and progress in each subject will be tracked against them.
- Core knowledge – scholars are expected to complete self-quizzing and revision of the most powerful knowledge required for success in all subjects at home. Independent practice of core knowledge is essential for success.
- Medium term plans – departments complete detailed medium-term plans for each unit of work so that all students receive the same, high quality instruction.
- 4 part lesson – all lessons at AGFS include four elements:
- Read Now – rigorous reading activity often using supportive non-fiction, key content or an aspirational/ careers link.
- Daily review – a quiz or mini-test to consolidate independent learning, linked to powerful knowledge.
- Exposition – objective-led explanation of the content using modelling and checks for understanding.
- Deliberate practice – Pupils work independently on challenging material. Cognitive load shifted to the student. Teacher gives occasional moments of feedback.
- Learning behaviour - all students are expected to conduct themselves in a scholarly manner during lessons. We define this as:
- Research suggests that the impact of homework on learning is consistently positive and can lead to an average of five months’ additional progress.
- Research shows that in the most effective examples, homework is integral to the learning, not just an add on.
- Independent Learning (homework) is most effective when it involves practice or rehearsal of subject matter already taught. Students should typically not be exposed to new material to learn at home, unless they are deemed as ‘expert learners’. Complex or open-ended homework is often completed least effectively; short frequent homework which is monitored closely by teachers is likely to have a bigger impact.
- A recent study examining the correlation between time spent on homework and academic achievement showed that homework completed by the student independently for 60-70 minutes a day had the biggest impact (Institute for Effective Education, 2015).
Independent Learning at Key Stage 3
All independent learning (IL) at Key Stage 3 is completed via Quizlet or MathsWatch.
The purpose of IL is to ensure scholars have mastered the most powerful knowledge in each subject to secure maximum progress in lessons.
All subjects will set core knowledge via www.Quizlet.com or MathsWatch to be revised in advance of each lesson. Scholars should spend approximately 1.5hours each night preparing for your next day’s lessons.
For example, here is a typical timetable for Monday:
On Sunday, scholars would spend a minimum 15-20minutes per subject revising the Quizlet stacks the teacher has set, in preparation for the daily review part of the lesson on Monday. Scholars need to revise the Quizlet terms until they can confidently achieve 80% in tests. This will mean the knowledge of those terms is secure. Scholars then repeat this process at the end of each day, in preparation for the next day.
Independent Learning at Key Stage 4
Success at Key Stage 4 has three core elements:
- Revision of powerful knowledge via Quizlet.
- Completion of basic practice tasks/ producing course notes
- Completing exam-style questions
The Key Stage 4 independent study programme mirrors these demands. Scholars will have 3 x 40minute study blocks allocated for each subject and they will need to complete the tasks teachers sets them in these blocks. Tasks set at Key Stage 4 will typically be:
- Revision of powerful knowledge via Quizlet
- Note taking exercises/ comprehension questions on course notes.
- Exam-style questions.
To help students develop good routines, there is a standardised timetable that all scholars should follow from the beginning of Key Stage 4. This sets out the minimum expectations for work and builds in time for breaks and rest.
Education Endowment Foundation (2018). Homework (Secondary). Teaching & Learning Toolkit. Available at: https://educationendowmentfoundation.org.uk/evidencesummaries/teaching-learning-toolkit/homework-secondary
Huntington Research School (2017). Homework: What Does The Evidence Say?
Huntington Research School (2016). Homework: Are We Asking The Right Questions? Available at: https://huntington.researchschool.org.uk/2016/11/03/homework-are-weasking-the-right-questions/
Institute for Effective Education (2015). How much homework is too much? Available at: http://www.beib.org.uk/2015/04/how-much-homework-is-too-much/
Lee, S (2018). How all stakeholders helped redesign our homework process. Available at: https://www.ssatuk.co.uk/blog/redesign-homework/
Vatterott, C (2010). Five Hallmarks of Good Homework. Available at: http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/summer11/vol68/num10/FiveHallmarks-of-Good-Homework.aspx#
Willingham, D (2016). Important New Study of Homework. Available at: http://www.learningscientists.org/blog/2016/10/18-1