Our curriculum is at the heart of school life and embodies our vision and values, helping our children become the agents of change the world needs. It is highly academic, providing students with a knowledge-rich grounding in the facilitating subjects. It is holistic in approach, with an emphasis on the wider social, cultural, political and economic knowledge our students need to engage with the world. We witness the success of our curriculum every day: our students progress at or above the national average, and go on to highly prestigious destinations.
We empower our students through a highly academic curriculum. As an Ark School we deliver the world-class 'Ark Mastery Complete Curriculum Programmes' in English, Maths, Science, Geography and Music, as well as expertly-designed programmes in other core disciplines such as languages and religious education.
These subjects have a higher weighting as they are the facilitating subjects, opening the door to success in the broader curriculum, as well as providing our students with high value qualifications which open doors to the most competitive destinations.
Our non-examined curriculum provides our students with learning beyond the curriculum, to help them navigate the wider world safely and successfully. It is based on five components:
- Our Values: Aim High, Be Brave, Be Kind, Keep Learning
- Careers: Providing our students with the necessary knowledge and skills to access the university or career of their choice
- One world: Providing our students with the political, economic and cultural knowledge to be empowered in their community and the wider world
- RSE/PSHCE: Delivering the knowledge our students need to maintain their safety, health and wellbeing
- Computing: Training students in the skills and technology required for future learning and employment
Our curriculum is designed around four key principles:
- Knowledge rich – We have carefully specified a rich and broad body of core knowledge: we believe this knowledge is the very best that has been thought and said in each subject discipline.
- Academically ambitious – The curriculum contains knowledge that students are unlikely to otherwise encounter or understand without a teacher’s support. The content selected is ambitious in order to challenge the most able and provide a rich and empowering education to all.
- Logically sequenced – The curriculum sets out a logical, manageable journey that students need to embark on to advance in each subject.
- Designed to support memory – Learning is a change in long-term memory. The curriculum is structured to help students remember, not simply encounter, the core knowledge they learn.
Our curriculum has been designed backwards from university study and A-Level through to GCSE, and KS3. It is supported by tailor-made booklets, which encompass the above principles and promote reading across the academy.
We continually review and improve our curriculum at calendared checkpoints throughout the year. We address matters of diversity in terms of both content and delivery, and have embedded UCL’s Diversity framework for Curriculum Review into our academy-wide curriculum review processes. We differentiate and adapt our curriculum to ensure that our SEND students succeed without narrowing the scope, and our most able are stretched and challenged.
Impact & Assessment
Rigorous assessment is a key feature of student life at BDA. Teachers regularly check students' progress through both formative and summative assessment methods.
Formative assessment helps us find out what students do and do not know. Teachers ask specific questions about a particular piece of knowledge, which enables them to identify precise gaps in knowledge and understanding. This informs future teaching and any intervention that might be needed.
Teachers use a variety of strategies, such as:
- asking for responses to questions without hands up so that the teacher can choose anyone in the class
- using mini whiteboards to see the responses of all students, or asking students to use hand signals to indicate their answer to a question
- circulating the classroom listening to students’ discussions and looking at what they are doing to determine whether they have understood the tasks well
Teachers use the information they gather in the course of the lesson to adapt their plans and give verbal feedback to students.
Teachers may also use more formal approaches to formative assessment such as exit tickets (where students are asked to independently complete two or three questions before leaving the class), quizzes and knowledge check points. These activities are used to find any areas of the curriculum that need to be re-taught in future lessons.
Summative assessment gives a more formal measure of student progress and attainment at a specific point in time. This helps students understand whether they are on track to achieve their target grades.
Students are formally assessed twice a year, following the Ark Schools Assessment Model. They receive numerical grades (KS3), GCSE grades (KS4) or A Level grades (KS5), measured against individual expected progress based on what they've achieved in the past.
Students’ progress is shared with students and parents throughout the year. Each year group receives two reports per year, where parents can see students’ current attainment grade, targets and predicted grades. We share assessment dates with parents at the start of the academic year so they can help students to prepare in a timely manner.
The school provides revision booklets and examination materials, such as past papers, exemplar materials and examination reports to support students’ exam preparations. Students are encouraged to develop strong independent revision skills to ensure they are confident and prepared.