Our principles

Our principles

At Ark Curriculum Plus, we believe:

  • That every child can succeed, regardless of background
  • That the teacher makes the difference
  • In being informed by evidence and research
  • In working in partnership with schools

We believe that great curriculum design and delivery leads to improved teaching and learner outcomes, which impacts positively on children’s life chances.

Evidence shows that pupils make more progress when they have been equipped to master a subject by understanding its fundamental concepts in sufficient depth so that they can apply subject knowledge in unfamiliar contexts.

Our commitment is to empower and equip schools to provide high quality subject teaching, through curriculum collaboration and integrated professional development, in order to develop young people’s subject mastery.

The principles of Mathematics Mastery and how they’re delivered

The Mathematics Mastery approach is driven by teacher consultation and the latest cognitive and educational research.

It is underpinned by the dimensions of depth – which together enable pupils to develop deep understanding of the subject. 

The three principles of the dimensions of depth are:

Principle 1. Conceptual Understanding

  • Mathematics tasks are about constructing meaning and making sense of relationships. Learners deepen their understanding by representing concepts using objects, pictures, symbols and words.
  • Different representations stress and ignore different aspects of a concept and so moving between representations and making explicit links between them allows learners to construct a comprehensive conceptual framework that can be used as the foundation for future learning.
  • We use the content of the national curriculum as the starting point for our curriculum but this is expanded upon by making explicit the foundational knowledge that learners need to understand in order to access this.
  • Tasks are sequenced to help learners build a narrative through different topics. These topics are then sequenced in a logical progression that allows learners to establish connections and draw comparisons.
  • Multiple representations are carefully selected so that they are extendable within and between different areas of mathematics. Using these rich models encourages learners to develop different perspectives on a concept.

Principle 2: Language and Communication

  • Mathematical language strengthens conceptual understanding by enabling pupils to explain and reason. This must be carefully introduced and reinforced through frequent discussion to ensure it is meaningfully understood.
  • The more learners use mathematical words the more they feel themselves to be mathematicians. Talk is an essential element of every lesson and time is dedicated to developing confidence with specific vocabulary as well as verbal reasoning.
  • The content of our curriculum carefully progresses in order to induct learners into the mathematical community. A large part of this community is confident use of thelanguage, signs and symbols of mathematics. Verbal and non-verbal communication is part of every sequence of learning in the curriculum.
  • This often starts with more informal language initially, building up to formal and precise mathematical language.
  • Talk tasks are part of every lesson in the curriculum to help with this development.

Principle 3: Mathematical Thinking

  • By the time they reach school, all pupils have demonstrated a significant range of innate ways of thinking that can be harnessed in the classroom to develop mathematical thinking.
  • We must support pupils to develop mathematical ‘habits of mind’ – to be systematic, generalise and seek out patterns.
  • The creation of a conjecturing environment and considered use of questions and prompts are important elements of encouraging learners to think like mathematicians.
  • Our curriculum is designed to give learners the opportunities to think mathematically. Throughout the curriculum you will see tasks that require learners to specialise and generalise, to work systematically, to generate their own examples, to classify and to make conjectures.
  • This is aided by our prompts for thinking which help make these important parts of mathematics more explicit.

The principles of English Mastery and how they're delivered

English Mastery’s mission is to enable all students to flourish in English. 

We have designed the programme so that students graduate Year 9 as confident and literate readers and critical and accurate writers. By the end of key stage 3 they will; know and remember more about the foundational texts in literature and social and historical context from the Literary Heritage units; be able to write more accurately and do more with this knowledge from Mastery Writing and explicit tier-2 vocabulary instruction; and be more confident and eager readers from our Reading for Pleasure strand which is the glue that unites Literary Heritage and Mastery Writing.

English Mastery is unique in that it is built on four pedagogical pillars that drive student progress. Each pillar is rooted in the latest cognitive and educational research which together form our approach.

Our four pedagogical pillars

A knowledge-rich cumulative English curriculum

  • In order for students to be able to read and understand a text, they need to be experts in its domain. Our Literary Heritage strand ensures students know more and remember more about the texts’ historical and social contexts. Having a strong understanding of the text’s context, plot, purpose and author enables them to make connections and solidify their understanding. Knowing that the Metropolitan Police was an emerging force during the writing of ‘Sherlock Holmes’ helps students understand the significance of Holmes’ position in Victorian London, and how attitudes and approaches to crime and policing have evolved over time.
  • Our curriculum is cumulative and integrated so that the content and knowledge is connected and each activity within each lesson builds on what has come before and acknowledges what is to come.
  • This enable students to form a firm foundation of literary and linguistic knowledge so that they are able to read and write accurately and critically.

Dedicated teaching of grammar

  • Creativity and originality emerge from a deep understanding of a subject’s foundations. We break the complexity of English grammar down into discrete items of knowledge. By studying grammar and writing in isolation, students gain the foundational knowledge from which creativity can emerge. Being able to use subordinate clauses accurately enables students to compose multi-faceted narratives, articles and essays in English and in other subjects.
  • We pay close attention to working memory so that students are not overwhelmed. For instance, the complexity of commas is gradually introduced over a number of lessons.
  • This ensures students are able to master and then use this knowledge in their own writing in a range of contexts.

Explicit vocabulary instruction

  • Students need explicit instruction in high-utility tier-2 vocabulary to make them better readers. Reading ability is strongly correlated with vocabulary knowledge. If students know more words, they will be able to understand and access more literary texts and more challenging texts across the curriculum, and be able to do more with them.
  • We foreground tier-2 vocabulary throughout each curriculum strand. We follow a research-informed narrow and deep model: students learn and remember a small number of powerful words in depth. Words such as ‘vulnerable’ and ‘naïve’, which are introduced in ‘Oliver Twist’, are referenced throughout later texts such as ‘Jane Eyre’, ‘The Tempest’ and ‘Animal Farm’.

Assessing for Mastery

  • English teachers are united as a community to celebrate, compare and review student work to unlock the incredible potential of school assessment.
  • Fortnightly quizzes help students memorise the key knowledge from the curriculum for Literary Heritage and Mastery Writing. We also provide supporting documentation so you can see how your students are doing across time. This gives you useful information every two weeks on what your students need to revise and relearn.
  • Reteach tasks are provided with all fortnightly quizzes to help you close the gap for students.
  • Our Assessing for Mastery standardisation meetings also let you see where your students fit into the national cohort. Every term, you are able to compare your students’ work with over 130 other schools. This clearly shows whether your students are performing below, on, or above average.