Curriculum Intent

Our curriculum starts with our pupils - their well-being, knowing and understanding themselves and their impact on the world. Our approach develops every pupil socially, emotionally and academically, preparing them for success in whatever they do.

The Ark Castledown Curriculum is designed around three aspects - Think, Feel, Create, with Oracy being the glue that binds the elements together. What we teach needs to stick, knowledge and skills are remembered and not just encountered.

Everything that we do is anchored by our Learning for Life Values - Grit, Confidence, Eloquence, Kindness, Responsibility and Curiosity.




How we approach learning at Castledown

The curriculum provides access to a common body of essential content, taken from the National Curriculum. It is a coherent and progressive curriculum, with links and threads running through it, so that teachers know how it fits together. Across subject domains and over time, concepts are sequenced for maximum success. Driver questions lead children on a path to discovery – building knowledge, curiosity and igniting an excitement for learning.

Three Key aspects:




  •  Applying and combining knowledge and skills   
  • Cultural literacy 
  • Big ideas and concepts 
  • Character development and wellbeing   
  • Building relationships 
  • Personal ethics and values 
  • Expressing thoughts, ideas and feelings eloquently through speech  
  • Crafting and presenting beautiful work – that has real value beyond the classroom
  • Problem solving and making a difference in the community and beyond


Oracy is the glue that binds the three elements of the Castledown curriculum. At Ark Castledown pupils find their voice, both metaphorically and literally.  We are a dialogic school that harnesses and makes sense of the curriculum through rich conversations, discussion, listening and purposeful classroom talk.  Specific initiatives:

Debate and Discussion Assemblies

Castledown Expos

Parents’ Evenings – Pupil Presentations

Maths Play

5 by 5

Pupil Council

Beginning with the basics

High quality implementation of the basics – reading, writing and maths lies at the heart of the Ark Castledown curriculum, as we believe that this unlocks doors to all other areas of study. The 5 pillars of reading, including phonics, are given high priority and pupils gain a love of reading whilst at the school – starting in nursery. Our children are given opportunities to learn to read and read to learn throughout all aspects of the curriculum.

Building Moral Character- Personal Development

1. Learning for Life Vlaues- Eloquence, Grit, Responsibility, Confidence, Kindness and Curiosity.

Ark Castledown have a set of Learning for Life values which are explicitly taught to pupils throughout their time at the school. The values permeate the school at all levels, they are understood and modelled by all staff and pupils. There is clarity around the expected behaviours linked to each value.


2. Enterprise

For our children to succeed they need to be equipped with the skills that will give them the confidence and resilience to successfully shape their own path through life. In 2020 we are trialling our enterprise project in Year 6, with a focus on teaching our children financial literacy skills, product design, marketing, team-work and customer service.


3. PSHE & RE

Taught through carefully selected programmes of study: Jigsaw, ACP and an in-school programme of study to ensure progression. Our curriculum supports every child to grow as human beings, intellectually, in maturity and character. We believe that if a child feels well inside themselves, they achieve more. Assemblies build upon the RE and PSHE learnt in lessons as well as give children opportunities to develop philosophical discussions and debates.

4. Castledown Cummunity Project initiative

The Castledown Community Project initiative creates future citizens who have the courage to engage with local and global challenges such as the environment, community cohesion, and ethical decision-making. Pupils engage in solving challenges faced by their local community and beyond. Project examples include beach clean-up and supporting lonely elderly residents.


Cultural Capital

The Cultural Capital component of our curriculum aims to combine knowledge with experience and judgement on what they see.  The three elements that the Oxford Dictionary uses to define wisdom. Pupils participate in a wealth of trips, visits and experiences, supported by the Castledown 11 by 11 enrichment programme. A wide range of extra-curricular clubs are provided free of charge to ensure that all pupils can take part.


Teacher Development

Intellectual Preparation and Development plays a major part in the continued professional development the teachers receive at Ark Castledown. Curriculum content will be rendered useless if the delivery is weak. Therefore, we invest heavily in supporting our teachers with curriculum delivery, to develop a pedagogy of repertoire, evidence and principle, as: Good teaching makes a difference. Excellent teaching transforms lives.

  • Annual Intellectual Preparation
  • Unit Intellectual Preparation
  • Lesson Intellectual Preparation
  • Weekly CPD
  • Coaching and co-planning support
  • Coaching and support for Subject Leads, developing their skills to robustly monitor their subject area

Pupil Resources

Learning works best when children, teachers and parents work together as one. We provide parents with absolute clarity about what is being taught prior to the beginning of every unit through our half termly curriculum newsletters and Discovery Boxes. These provide an array of exciting activities and fun facts to prepare children for their next unit of study, including: Knowledge Organisers, fun facts and information, Craft activities, Puzzles and Games, Useful websites for further exploration, Suggestions for visits and days out.

Assessment of the curriculum

Underneath this learning sequence sits on-going formative assessment of knowledge, skills and processes, ending with a summative assessment against the core knowledge.