The ARK Curriculum

The ARK Curriculum was developed after a two-month trial with three of our children who were unable to access the regular curriculum due to emotional and behavioural needs.

During the trial, the children explored identity (learning that they, and others had value), relationships (how to relate to and respect others, deal with emotions appropriately and take responsibility for their actions) and purpose (they are born for a purpose – to make a difference to the world around them, undertaking Acts of Random Kindness within the school to encourage them to be outward looking).

This trial began to impact not only the children’s view of themselves and others, but it also started to affect their relationships positively at home too. After seeing such encouraging results in just two months, we saw the value of developing the curriculum for the whole school, so that all the children benefitted from it.  We wanted to give them a tool box for life!

Research has shown that for humans to flourish, they need a healthy connection with God, themselves, others and the world around them. The Curriculum is based around these connections and the three core values of the school – love, forgiveness and hope.

Term 1 – Love (Developing a Healthy Identity)

Discovering the power of identity, thoughts, loving others, the words we speak, encouragement and thankfulness.

Term 2- Forgiveness (Developing Healthy Relationships)

Discovering the importance of healthy friendships and relationships, healthy boundaries, healthy communication, forgiveness, honesty and trust and healthy emotions.

Term 3 – Hope (Building Hope and a Healthy Future)

Discovering that we all have a unique purpose and can influence the world around us,  we have free choice – the ability to make good and bad choices, we are responsible for ourselves (mind, thinking, actions, words) and the world around us, it is okay to fail and how to celebrate success, looking at goals and dreams for the future, being courageous and overcoming obstacles in life (resilience).

Whole school assemblies have provided an excellent opportunity to highlight the importance of having a healthy connection with God, which underpins all of the other connections.

We are currently rolling out Term 2 of the curriculum, so it is early days in terms of seeing the impact on the school.  However, there has been anecdotal evidence which shows that it is already impacting hearts and minds!

Evidence of the Impact so far:

  • We have created an ARK display board in the school where children can choose Acts of Random Kindness to bless the school, their home and the community. They can also encourage one another with post-it notes.  Both staff and children write encouraging notes and stick them on the board.  The notes that have been written by show that there is an understanding the importance of encouragement and valuing others.  The notes are also being taken and used to encourage others.  When asked for a show of hands during assembly, many of the children had received an encouraging note from others and found it helpful.
  • After introducing the curriculum to the staff, a TA started to write encouraging notes to her daughter. When she asked if she liked the notes, her daughter produced a crumpled note from her school skirt pocket that she kept with her all the time!
  • One of the TAs has been encouraging teachers by anonymously baking cakes and leaving them on desks with an encouraging note.
  • In passing, a Year 3 child stopped to tell me how much he loved the ARK lessons. He also said that most of the children in his class do too and excitedly told me ‘we are starting to use the tools!’ I have had many other children stop me in the corridors to tell me how much they are enjoying their ARK lessons.
  • When presented to the parents, it was very well received and 3 of the parents who shared with me afterwards were in tears because we were supporting their children in this way. One father disclosed that he had suffered from anxiety and depression most of his life and could see the traits in his son (who attends the school).  He was in tears as he expressed his gratitude and relief that we were providing a curriculum which would help with children’s mental health.
  • The next morning, one of the mums also thanked me and told me that the first Act of Kindness that her son did at home was to make a cup of coffee for her each morning to cheer her up!
  • The owner of the school catering company was present at the ARK presentation to parents and was also impacted by it – so much so, that he decided to carry out his own Act of Random Kindness and brought in two trays of cakes for the staff the following day!
  • As an Act of Random Kindness, we have made the staff toilets nicer with pictures, encouraging words and toiletries.  One teacher took a photo and sent it to her friend in another school, who said that she was going to do the same in her school.
  • Discussing the curriculum has also opened up positive conversations in the staff room about parenting, marriage, relationships.

The evidence so far suggests that the curriculum is not only affecting the children and staff at the school, but also their families and the community beyond.  We are gathering information and resources to encourage parents be supporting the curriculum at home too. We are also thinking about how we can bless and impact the local community through our Acts of Random Kindness.

We believe that this curriculum can be transformational, and that transformed people go on to transform the world around them!

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