Important information for parents and carers

Information regarding the new co-educational school

  • Letter to parents regarding new co-educational school - please read here.
  • Ark Alexandra Academy frequently asked questions - please read here.
  • ESCC: September 2019 arrangements for current students - read here.
  • Our updated Admissions Policy can be found here.


Previous presentations available for download

Curriculum Resources

Curriculum Information

All young people need an excellent command of English and Mathematics to ensure their success in all areas of the curriculum.  To support this we dedicate extra time to these two areas: giving students additional support for literacy and numeracy where required.

In Key Stage 3 students will study core subjects in depth to allow students to secure firm foundations in English and Mathematics, so that they find the rest of the curriculum far easier to access.

To fully support our students’ achievement in English and Mathematics we follow the English and Mathematics Mastery Curriculum, a highly-effective curriculum and teaching approach inspired by pupil success in Singapore.

At Key Stage 4, all students study the core subjects and select a varying number of options depending on their pathway.



In Key Stage 3 students study the Ark ‘mastery’ programme which introduces them to a wide range of highly respected and popular texts.  Students  also study ‘Expressive Writing’ which covers skills such as punctuation and grammar.  In addition, students enjoy reading a range of texts in ‘Reading for Pleasure’ lessons.

In Year 7 students study Oliver Twist, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and a modern novel. In the summer term students study metaphor poetry.

Poetry is a theme that runs throughout the whole of KS3 as students in Year 8 and Year 9 also study poetry.  Year 8 students also study some of the Sherlock Holmes stories, The Tempest and Animal Farm. 

Year 9 students study Jane Eyre (2017 onwards), Romeo and Juliet and a modern text (TBC).

Every year group studies a 19th century text, a Shakespeare text, a modern novel and poetry.  We introduce students to these types of texts in Key Stage 3 so they are well-prepared for their English GCSEs when they will study these types of texts.


During KS4 students will study:

Reading: A variety of literary fiction and non-ficton texts including Shakespeare, 19th -21st century texts from the British literary heritage, contemporary and 19th century poetry and extracts addressing, engaging and enlightening topics from different cultures.

Writing: A range of writing tasks which covers different purposes and audiences.  These will include: creative writing, descriptive and imaginative from different points of view and perspectives.



At KS3 we teach Maths Mastery which is summed up in the quote below, directly from their website.
‘Our curriculum, is shaped by four underlying principles:
•    One curriculum for all
•    Deep understanding
•    Number sense underpinning all
•    Problem solving central

We believe mathematical intelligence is expandable, if we didn’t believe this, we wouldn’t be teaching. We believe that every child can learn mathematics, given the appropriate learning experiences within and beyond the classroom. Our curriculum map reflects our high expectations for every child. Every student is entitled to master the key mathematical content for their age, by receiving the support and challenge they specifically need. 

We also believe in the importance of deep understanding. Equating progress with knowing new procedures and rules means many students to miss out on a depth of understanding. Our curriculum map is sequenced with fewer topics each week, term or year, putting depth before breadth.’


In addition to the core parts of the course:

  • Number
  • Algebra
  • Shape and space
  • Data handling

Students will learn how maths will relate to everyday situations, this is called functional maths and is assessed in the exam. Students will be required to solve problems by using several different sources of information.  


Science is everywhere and plays a role in everything we do. A sound knowledge of science can enhance an individual's ability to make decisions essential for healthy living and to participate constructively in society. In terms of careers, there are a wide and varied range of carers that use science directly and most use science indirectly.

As a Science Faculty our key objectives are to provide our students with the opportunity to explore the amazing world around them and to develop enquiring minds. We endeavour to show our students how science is relevant in their everyday lives as well as their academic success, and also for their future careers.


In Key Stage 3 lessons all students study a rotating carousel of the three Sciences, Biology, Chemistry and Physics. Topics studied throughout Key Stage 3 include the Structure and Function of Body systems in Biology, Forces in Physics and Using Acid and Alkalis in Chemistry.


All students will be following a Combined Science course (2 GCSE's). Some students will study the Triple Science GCSE curriculum. This is separated into Biology, Chemistry and Physics . Entries for exams are taken at the end of Year 11. Assessment is 100% external public examinations.     

Computer Science


There are three main areas of study:

  • The programming project will call on you to design code and test a solution to three tasks using a suitable programming language.
  • How computers work and digital devices.
  • Practical research into a computing issue.



French at Key Stage 3 helps students develop their language skills in a variety of contexts and a broad understanding of the culture of countries and communities where French is spoken. It encourages enjoyment of language learning and the recognition that language skills enable students to take their place in a multi-lingual global society.

In Year 7 our language work is focussed around the theme of ‘Self and Family’. Students learn the language to describe themselves, their likes, dislikes, family, home and town. All four language skills, listening, reading, speaking and writing are developed. We also work on basic grammar, pronunciation, spelling, pair-work and vocabulary learning techniques. Year 7 practises the skills needed to make language-learning stimulating and successful. In Year 8, the topics covered include free-time, Paris and holidays. The language skills are developed further and students are introduced to the past and future tenses. We continue to build and develop confidence within our pupils with the use of the target language.

In Year 9 focus on further extension of vocabulary and development of grammatical understanding in the target language. Topics include Healthy Living and Lifestyle, Leisure, Home and Environment, School, College and Future Plans. We also look at the importance of languages in our social and working lives.


Students will understand more about the French culture, learning how to speak and write about normal, everyday life in the past, present and future tenses including topics such as:

Theme 1: Identity and culture

Theme 2: Local, national, international and global areas of interest

Theme 3: Current and future study and employment

There are 4 skills that are assessed:  Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening, each being 25% of the GCSE.



During their lessons, the students will be familiarised with the language and grammatical aspects of it, but also the culture of the Spanish speaking world and will also learn through authentic material such as music, stories for children, videos, adverts, newspaper and magazines articles, etc.

All four skills are assessed : listening, reading, speaking and writing.

Year 7: Personal details, family and description, school and home environment (house and town)

Year 8: Sports and leisure, holidays and tourism, food and shopping.

Year 9: Health, healthy lifestyle, relationship, media and technologies, work and environment.

All the topics studied at KS3 will be revisited in more depth in the Spanish GCSE course. The basic grammar will have been learnt and the students will be ready for further studies and development in the language knowledge at KS4.


During the Spanish GCSE course, students will develop their cultural knowledge of Spanish speaking countries whilst developing their language skills.


Students study all of the following themes on which the assessments are based.

Theme 1: Identity and culture

Theme 2: Local, national, international and global areas of interest

Theme 3: Current and future study and employment


GCSE Spanish has a Foundation Tier (grades 1–5) and a Higher Tier (grades 4–9) and there are exam in exams in four skills: listening, reading, speaking and writing.


History at Ark Helenswood aims to add to our students’ ability to understand themselves and the world they inhabit. An outstanding history education should leave students with the ability to see the world in a different way; to appreciate where we came from and where we could be headed. The history journey at Ark Helenswood will also develop many skills that will benefit students in all subjects and in whatever walk of life they choose; from description of key events and explaining judgments, to formation of opinions on topics and the analysis of source meaning. History teaches precise communication, the ability to structure arguments and the habit of substantiating claims with evidence. It also helps develop a sense of perspective. In order to achieve our aims, we teach history from a chronological viewpoint, studying topics and issues which are prevalent to understanding modern day society.


Students begin their studies at Ark Helenswood with 1066 and the changes to society which occurred, charting through to the development of the British Empire and slavery; Key Stage 3 study concludes with the causes and consequences of World War Two. The Key Stage 3 course aims to give students the breadth and depth of knowledge required to enjoy and excel in History at GCSE level.

Year 7
Autumn 1: Medieval England: Battle of Hastings
Autumn 2: What impact did the Norman Conquest have on Britain?
Spring 1: Who had the most power in the Middle Ages?
Spring 2: What was life like in the Middle Ages?
Summer 1: The Black Death and the Peasants Revolt
Summer 2: England at War

Year 8
Autumn 1: The Tudors
Autumn 2: The English Civil War
Spring 1: Industrial Revolution
Spring 2: How did the British Empire change the World   
Summer 1: Slavery 
Summer 2: Slavery

Year 9
Autumn 1: International Relations: Causes of World War I
Autumn 2: The Great War
Spring 1: International Relations: The interwar years
Spring 2: Life in Nazi Germany
Summer 1: Causes and Consequences of World War II
Summer 2: Causes and Consequences of World War II


During the history course you will study:

  • Health of the People: The history of medicine from the Romans to the present day focussing on public health developments
  • A study in depth of Germany, 1918-45
  • The Norman Conquest
  • The Cold War



Geography is a popular subject at Ark Helenswood. The curriculum at Key Stage 3 gives students the opportunity to explore the interaction between physical and human processes, and of the formation and use of landscapes and environments

We study many different topics and the curriculum is always developing.  This year we are studying:

Term Year 7 Year 8 Year 9
1 Map Skills Migration Migration
2 Fantastic Places Coasts Tectonics and Japan, and the Tsunami 2011
3 Rivers and flooding Global Threats Global Warming
4 Water Africa Globalisation
5 Volcanoes and Earthquakes Population Fracking and energy
6 The UK Development Ecosystems


During KS4 students will study:

Human Geography

  • Trade, Aid & Development
  • Challenges in urban areas
  • Globalization: the shrinking world

Physical Geography

  • Water on the land
  • The Coastal Zone

Art and Design


In Art and Design the curriculum we offer is designed to give students a wide range of experiences and opportunities. We base all our projects on the work of either an artist (contemporary and traditional) or culture and the Formal Elements. Each project builds on the previous skills they have learnt and introduces students to new working techniques that include; painting, drawing, collage, 3D design, print making, living paintings, design work, relief work and assemblage.

Our aim is to prepare students who will go onto study art or photography at GCSE to be well equipped and have the confidence to develop and explore their own ideas and have the skills to execute these ideas in different materials.
We make sure our students have the skills they need to embark on their exam courses with a sense of confidence and the ability to realise any intention they have.


Students learn a wide variety of skills that will enable them to make art work inspired by the work of other Artists. Unit 1, 60% of GCSE: A portfolio of work, this includes a selection of studies showing experiments with materials and processes, studies of the work of artists and practioners and an extended project which will give students the opportunity to see a project brief through to a final piece or pieces.

Unit 2, 40% of GCSE: Externally set assignment form the exam board. Students will get to choose from several starting points and develop their own ideas in response. This will include preparation time and a 10 hour practical exam.

Business Studies


During this course students will study units on:

  • Marketing and Enterprise
  • Human Resources
  • Production
  • Finance
  • Business start up

BTEC Child Development


Child development from birth to sixteen; how to keep children safe and how to interact and communicate with children.

Units studied

  • Patterns of child development
  • Promoting children’s development through play
  • The principles of early years practice


Students studying Dance GCSE will study the following aspects of the course:

  • Performance includes good studio practice, and technical skills
  • Expressive skills, personal safety and the factors which influence high quality performance in dance
  • Choreography includes the exploration and investigation of ideas and stimuli
  • Critical appreciation looks at developing perceptual, evaluation and reflective skills

Design and Technology


Our department’s aim is to deliver an inspiring and challenging curriculum which develops the creative, technical and practical expertise needed to participate confidently and successfully in an increasingly technological world.

During their time at Helenswood students will develop a broad range of subject knowledge and skills in Product Design, Graphics, Resistant Materials, Systems & Control and Cooking & Nutrition. They will design and make high-quality prototypes and products in a variety of contexts taking into consideration the needs of their customers. In all our projects we aim to encourage innovation and risk-taking, teaching students to use the latest technologies as well as more traditional methods of manufacture, thus developing in students a range of skills and competencies making them resourceful, enterprising and capable citizens.

All assessments will be based on students’ main project work including research, design, practical and evaluation skills. There will also be an end of year assessment which will take the form of a written exam assessing students’ knowledge, understanding and design skills.


GCSE Design and Technology prepares students to participate confidently and successfully in an increasingly technological world. Students will learn to design and make products with creativity and imagination, using current technologies, materials and processes as well as established practices. Their products will be designed to solve real and relevant problems, considering their  own and others’ needs, wants and values. Students will gain awareness and learn from wider influences on Design and Technology including historical, social, cultural, environmental and economic factors.

Digital Photography


Students will study artists, designers and photographers. They will consider ways to critically analyse work (including their own) using visual language. Students will learn how to write about works of art and written analysis of their own work. They will learn about workshop, using cameras, ICT software, and other related image making techniques as well as drawing techniques related to lens based media.



At Ark Helenswood, studying Drama enables candidates to develop:

  • an enjoyment and appreciation of live theatre;
  • an involvement in the exploration and enactment of human experience through drama and theatre;
  • practical abilities in related skills;
  • the research skills necessary to acquire relevant information;
  • an appreciation of the technical and historical aspects of drama and theatre;
  • an understanding of the place and function of Drama and Theatre Arts in modern society;
  • a capacity for self-evaluation;
  • the ability to appreciate and evaluate the work of others;
  • the ability to work together as a group displaying awareness of and sensitivity to others;
  • related social skills such as self-confidence, concentration, self-discipline and communication;
  • the ability to carry out further study of theatre.


This is an exciting course which combines practical and academic work which is ideal preparation for A level courses.

  • Devised performances
  • Developing a theatre portfolio and creative workbook
  • Scripted play performances
  • Workshops and performances in and out of school
  • Study of text and written exam

Food Preparation and Nutrition


At Key Stage 3 we offer a curriculum that is both skills and knowledge based and designed to progressively challenge students building on their previous knowledge. Through a variety of practical and theory activities, students are taught a range of topics and will demonstrate their understanding in; food safety and hygiene, health eating and nutrition, food science, factors affecting food choice (vegetarianism, dietary needs, special diets, food labelling, religious and cultural) and food provenance (food miles, fair trade, organic, ethical food labelling such as Red Tractor and RSPCA Assured). Students will further their learning by underpinning their knowledge during practical lessons, where they will also have an opportunity to work with a variety of foods and cooking methods. Students will be given regular opportunities to consolidate their literacy skills by using them purposefully in order to learn.


This is an exciting and creative course which focuses on practical cooking skills to ensure students develop a thorough understanding of nutrition, food provenance and the working characteristics of food materials. At its heart, this qualification focuses on nurturing students' practical cookery skills to give them a strong understanding of nutrition. Food preparation skills are integrated into five core topics:

  • Food, nutrition and health
  • Food science
  • Food safety
  • Food choice
  • Food provenance.

BTEC Health and Social Care


This is a practical and vocational course for those considering working in the care industry. Students will learn about the many services that support us from birth to adulthood.

Units studied are:

  • Human lifespan development (examination)
  • Health and Social Care values (coursework)
  • Effective Communication in Health & Social Care (coursework)
  • Vocational Experience



Music at Ark Helenswood encourages an integrated approach to the three distinct disciplines of performingcomposing and appraising through four interrelated areas of study.  Music provides students with the opportunity to gain self-confidence through performing to others, develops team-working skills through performing with others,  extends students’ creative skills through composing music,  encourages the understanding of the importance of continuous evaluation and refinement in any process and provides a solid foundation for progression to music related courses, including A-level Music, and a career in music professions.


We follow the syllabus of the AQA GCSE which comprises 4 units of work which develop students’ abilities in performing, composing and ‘listening to and appraising music’. This work is explored through music of the Western Classical Tradition, Popular Music of the 20th and 21st centuries and World Music.



The overriding aim of the Physical Education curriculum is to educate students by providing a wide variety of different practical experiences. The Department seeks to develop the individual student’s opportunity to participate in range of different sports and activities, improve and develop their physical competency and skills, general fitness and understanding of how to lead a healthy and active lifestyle. By providing a broad and balanced curricular and extensive extra-curricular programme, we hope to encourage the students to become lifelong participants in sport and physical activity, whilst developing independent thinkers who are confident young people.


All students at Key Stage 4 continue with compulsory PE lessons through which they will strive to maintain fitness levels and gain greater understanding of the subject.

Students who have a passion for sport may select PE as a

Key Stage 4 option where they will study a GCSE PE course.

Philosophy & Ethics

Philosophy and Ethics offers a fascinating insight into different cultures, practices and ways of thinking.  It is a chance for everyone to express their own views on ethical issues such as the death penalty, evil and suffering and poverty.


At Key Stage Three students will study the Six Major World Religions and a variety of philosophical issues including “Does suffering make it impossible to believe in God?” and “Does it matter how I behave?” where you will consider issues of life after death. Throughout Key Stage 3 students will look at religious viewpoints on issues and evaluate them in light of their own understanding of the World.


Students will study a range of moral, ethical and philosophical issues from religious and secular viewpoints. For each subject covered students will consider these issues in relation to religious and secular and to its impact on individuals, communities and societies. Students will also study comparative religion focusing on Christianity and Islam in the modern world.



This course is designed for those that are high achieving in Maths and want to take additional qualifications to help them prepare for future studies. Many subjects at post-16 require a good level of Maths and an understanding of Statistics, practical application and abstract concepts. This option will mean that students will get an additional grounding in the subject, especially for those subjects where Maths and Statistics are essential.

Topics which will be covered could include:

  • Collecting and Processing data;
  • Analysis of data;
  • Application of mathematics.

Year 7

Subject Number of lessons per week
English 5
Maths 5
Science 4
Art 1
DT 1
Drama 1
French or Spanish 2
Geography 2
History 1
Music 1
PE 1
Religous Education 1
Tutor 5
Computer Science 1 per fortnight

* History = 3; Geography = 3

Read more about our Maths Mastery programme


Year 8

Subject Number of lessons
English 5
Maths 5
Science 4
Art 1
Drama 1
DT 1
French of Spanish 2
Geography 1
History 2
Music 1
PE/Dance 1
Religious Education 1
Tutor 5
Computer Science 1 per fortnight


Year 9

Subject Number of lessons
English 5
Maths 5
Science 4
Art 1
Drama 1
DT 1
French or Spanish 2
Geography 1
History 1
Music 1
PE/Dance 1
Religous Education 1
Tutor 5


Year 10

English 5
Maths 5
PE - Core 1
Science 5
Tutor 5

Year 10 Options

Art 3 or 2
Business Studies 3 or 2
Catering 2
Child Development 3
Dance 2
Drama 3 or 2
French 3
Geography 3
Health & Social Care 3
History 3
Music 3
Photography 3 or 2
Product Design 2
Spanish 3


Year 11

English 5
Maths 5
PE Core 1
Science 5
Tutor 5


Year 11 Options

Art 3
Business Studies 3
Catering 3
Child Development 3
Dance 3
Drama 3
French 3
Geography 3
Health & Social Care 3
History 3
Photography 3
Product Design 3
Spanish 3


Year 11 Information

Yr 11 English Overview and Expectations


Year 12

Art   5      
Biology 5        
Chemistry   5      
Dance       5  
Drama 5        
English Literature       5  
English Language   5 6    
Geography 5        
BTEC Business 5 5 5    
Graphics       5  
History     5    
Maths     5    
Further Maths         4
PE       5  
Philosophy & Ethics       5  
Physics     5    
Politics 5        
Psychology     5    
Sociology 5        
Spanish         5
Sports Award 5   5 5  
GCSE Maths         2
GCSE English         2


Year 13

Art   5      
Biology     5    
Chemistry     5    
Dance   5      
Drama       5  
Economics     5    
English Literature     5    
French   5      
Geography 5        
BTEC Business 5     5 5
Graphics         5
Health & Social Care          
History 5       5
Maths   5   5  
Further Maths 5        
Music 5        
PE       5  
Physics       5  
Politics     5    
Psychology   5      
Sociology 5 5     5
Sports Award 5 5     5
Computing       5  
Spanish       5  
Philosophy & Ethics         5

Contact us

If you would like to find out anymore, please contact reception on 01424 753040 who will put you in touch with the correct Head of Faculty.