“No bird soars too high, if they soar with their own wings.” William Blake, 1789[1]


The Curriculum Intent outlines the purpose of Ark Blake Academy’s curriculum, its unique nature in our context, and the design principles that underpin it.


Purpose of the Curriculum

The curriculum, at its greatest and most potent, educates pupils with the best that has “been thought and said in the world” (Matthew Arnold; 1869)[2]. Through powerful knowledge, equipping pupils with the tools to master domain-centric skills, and fostering disciplinary thinking, the curriculum empowers pupils to live true to values and contribute positively to society, transforming their very paradigm of the world in the process. The late Nelson Mandela argued that, “education is the great engine of personal development” (1994)[3] and that “education is the most powerful weapon” (2003) which can be used to “change the world” (2003)[4]. Here at Ark Blake Academy, these are the aims of our curriculum. We believe in the power of a knowledge-rich curriculum, and in the potential of our pupils. Every child deserves equity of challenge, opportunity and access, and we are compelled to provide the very best for our pupils. We at Ark Blake Academy will provide an excellent, academic experience for our pupils. Our curriculum enables pupils to take personal responsibility and seize their inherent greatness.


Nature of Ark Blake Academy’s Curriculum

Ark Blake Academy’s Curriculum focuses on Four Facets of learning and development.

For our pupils to seize the inherent greatness that lies inside each of them and to develop into their fullest potential as a person, at Ark Blake Academy we know that we must educate them with powerful knowledge, which tranforms and englightens. This powerful knowledge, when coupled with developing them in their expertise of domain-centric skills and the mastery of learning dispositions through explicit, excellent teaching, will help to propel our pupils forward in their learning journey. Our integration of BLAKE values into all of our curriculum will ensure that our pupils receive an excellent education that is broad enough to include development of their character. The curriculum will also seek to promote and encourage holistic health, so that our pupils are knowledgable, skilled, and values-driven, but also happy, content, and healthy.


  • Powerful Knowledge – Michael Young (2007)[1] advocates that one of the primary purposes of schooling is to teach rich knowledge that enables pupils to understand and think about content beyond their own experience, and to engage with the ongoing, intellectual conversations and discource across a range of subject disciplines. By teaching pupils powerful knowledge at Ark Blake Academy, we will seek to empower our pupils to realise their potential by widening their horizons and opportunities, equipping them to engage with that intellectual conversation and contribute meaningfully to society.


  • Domain-centric Skills – André Tricot and John Sweller (2014)[2] argue that generic skills are vacuous, and that in contrast effective skill accquisation is tied to a specific field of learning, leading to increasing degrees of proficiency in the specified fields and increasing degress of disciplinary thinking. As such, at Ark Blake Academy we will teach domain-centric skills in subject disciplines, in order to encourage our pupils to become mathematicians, scientists, writers, linguists, historians, geographers, athletes, artists, musicians, and philosophers. We recognise that there are certain learning dispositions that successful students demonstrate across subjects. These include the ability to listen, take notes, discuss and debate, conduct research, give presentations, manage extended projects and write at length. Our curriculum also includes the explicit teaching of these.


  • Character – At Ark Blake Academy, a holistic curriculum will be offered to our pupils to ensure that they become individuals of character. Summer Turner (2016)[3] proposes that two of the core purposes of the curriculum are to build character, and to further social justice. Our pupils need to leave school ready to partake in society as a fully contributing citizen, seeking to add value to others, make wise choices and thrive alongside others. Our curriculum will achieve this through education for the character of each pupil. We plan to strenghten the virtues (qualities) and values (our beliefs and BLAKE values) of our pupils.[4]


  • Health – The Department for Education (2019)[5] outlined the importance of schools fostering pupil wellbeing and developing personal attributes to ensure that pupils were “happy, successful and productive members of society.” Subsequently, educating pupils about physical, emotional and mental health is paramount to pupils seizing their inherent greatness, and thriving in society.


Design Principles of Ark Blake Academy’s Curriculum

To ensure that our curriculum empowers our pupils to seize greatness, our curriculum has been carefully thought through and designed. The principles that underpin our curriculum are:


  • Powerful Knowledge – Pupils are educated with the best that has been “thought and said”, as stated by Matthew Arnold, so that the learning diet that we provide stands well next to the best schools in the country, and prepares for entrance to the best universities. We believe our pupils at Ark Blake Academy deserve the absolute best, and by this we mean the most important, advanced and influential knowledge in each subject discipline. This is the knowledge that will empower our pupils to ‘seize their greatness’ and enable them to engage in the highest-level conversations, with anyone and anywhere, in each great area of human culture and knowledge.


  • Domain-Centric Skills – Pupils will be explicitly taught the skills to apply powerful knowledge in subject disciplines, so that they are able to engage with the procedures, processes and methods fundamental to success with increasing automaticity and expertise.


  • Learning for Mastery – Pupils will get better in their subject disciplines, each and every lesson, irrespective of their starting point. Pupils will learn the value of practice, hard work, and resilience in achieving success, so that they can apply this approach to anything in life.


  • Disciplinary Literacy – The ability to read, write, listen and speak with precision and confidence is crucial for deepening mastery of content. Disciplinary literacy sits at the heart of our curriculum, encouraging our pupils to increasingly communicate with excellence.


  • Sequential & Coherent Planning – In order to prepare our pupils for later life, our subject curriculars are planned from university study and expertise, so that learning is incremental, orderly, and progressive for pupils to build knowledge and skills in a manner encouraged by cognitive science and educational research.


  • Depth and Breadth – Amassing expertise and proficiency in the identified core knowledge, skills and concepts in all subjects, will support pupils in thriving in all topics within those disciplines. Knowledge and skills are incrementally built up by encouraging pupil mastery over content, enabling pupils to access the full curriculum entitlement.


  • Rigour – To ensure our pupils seize their inherent greatness, our curriculum is ambitious, challenging, and designed to push pupils to their capacity. Our relentless quest for ‘more’ for our pupils drives us to have and to hold the highest of expectations for them.


  • Assessment – We will engage with both formative and summative assessments to check the progress of our pupils, so that we can respond to their needs and offer an education that is flexible and responsive. By regularly assessing pupils, teachers’ scaffolding, support and stretching can be differentiated accordingly.


It is our aim that the Ark Blake Academy Curriculum is functional, robust, and ambitious so that all of our pupils are able to seize their greatness.


[1] Blake, W. (1789). ‘Proverbs of Hell’. The Marriage of Heaven and Hell. London: Oxford University Press

[2] Arnold, M. (1869). Culture and Anarchy. London: Smith, Elder and Co.

[3] Mandela, N. (1994). Long Walk to Freedom. London: Abacus.

[4] Mandela N. (2003). Lighting Your Way to A Better Future. 16 July, Planetarium, University of the Witwatersrand Johannesburg, South Africa.

[5] Young, M. (2007). Bringing Knowledge Back In. From Social Constructivism to Social Realism in the Sociology of Education. London: Routledge

[6] Tricot, A., & Sweller, J. (2014). ‘Domain-Specific Knowledge and Why Teaching Generic Skills Does Not Work’. Educational Psychology Review, 26(2), 265-283.

[7] Turner, S. (2016). Secondary Curriculum and Assessment Design. London: Bloomsbury.

[8] Fadel, Bialik and Trilling (2015). Four-Dimensional Education – Center for Curriculum Design. London: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform

[9] Department for Education. (2019). Relationships Education, Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) and Health Education. Retrieved from: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploa...