Curriculum Map and Intent Overview


Prior to the pandemic our community was one of the most disadvantaged in London. It has the highest index of multiple deprivation (IMD) and the highest score for lack of attainment and skills in London. We also have a rapidly changing demographic where in 2010 our intake was 35% White British but in 2021 our intake of White British is now less than 10%. 

The pandemic has made our existing challenges even worse and had a significant effect on our community: there are now severe Mental Health concerns from large numbers of pupils, a huge increase in use of food banks and a large effect on literacy with our upcoming cohorts at least 1 year behind the chronological reading age. 

At the same time, we have an increasingly aspirational community who recognise the vital importance of a good education.

  • Addressing low Literacy- everyone at least at their chronological reading age.
  • Closing the Aspiration Gap- all pupils succeeding and wanting to succeed.
  • Overcoming Deprivation- ensuring no child is left behind.

Our aim at Barking Abbey is to enable students to achieve their best and to allow the widest range of career and further education opportunities to remain open, up to and beyond the school leaving age. Teaching and Learning is built around the “B.A. Way” (see Figure 1) and the BEST characteristics (see Figure 2) which drive our core values. Character Education is at the forefront of what we do, encouraging resilience that will help pupils to cope with choices and overcome the challenges they are likely to encounter in life. 

Our teachers are proud and passionate about their chosen subject, and enable our pupils to gain powerful knowledge, and make progress significantly greater than their peers nationally. Our bespoke CPD programme ensures teaching staff are up to date with all the latest educational research and are able to share outstanding practice. Department time is provided for “Subject Mastery” development; our two AHT Teaching and Learning are Visiting Fellows for the ECT, ensuring the dissemination of outstanding, recent research. There is whole school awareness of meta-cognition, and the need to ensure “working memory” is able to deal with new information through the structure of our lessons (for example through “Connect and Review”).

We focus on a Knowledge Rich Curriculum; key skills are embedded within units of work. Our curriculum has a “Look backwards and plan forwards" approach: excellent partnerships with Feeder Schools result in continuous development from Key Stage 2; we use external Peer Reviews to Quality Assure. Our decision to move to a three-year Key Stage 3, which started in 2021, allows more depth of study, and for students to gain knowledge that could be valuable in later stages of education, or in their adult lives. English and Maths have moved to a Mixed Ability model, to ensure all students are challenged by an ambitious curriculum.  In Maths, topics that require the most prerequisite knowledge are towards the end of the curriculum so that students are able to gain this necessary fluency and thinking before attempting it.

The curriculum is planned and sequenced so that new knowledge and skills build on what has been taught before and towards its clearly defined end points. This is linked to the National Curriculum (including Key Stage 2 through our Primary Partnership), and subject content document at Key Stage 4 and 5 to show breadth of study.  In order to develop understanding, pupils connect new knowledge with existing knowledge. Pupils develop fluency and are able to apply their knowledge in different contexts using the skills they have developed.

At Barking Abbey we challenge Subject Leaders to explain “Why that? Why then?” to ensure progression throughout Years 7-13. Lessons are designed to be of “significance” (relevance) to our students; so that they are able to culturally connect. Examples include a History unit on the Women’s War in Nigeria; Geography field work in adjoining Parks; a PE shift away from “Invasion Games”; Dance provide professional sessions for free. 

Barking Abbey is passionate about giving our students the very best opportunities to flourish and succeed, both inside and outside the classroom environment. Spanish has been introduced as a second Language alongside French. The partnership with CISCO to form a Computing Academy within the school, and the introduction of the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme demonstrate this commitment to excellence.


Figure 1: The “BA Way”


The BA Way 

The BA Way is an evidence-based approach to great classroom practice. We looked at different models and used the work of Rosenshine, Sherrington and Lemov (among others) to develop the six Absolutes for the BA classroom. These do not lead to a checklist or tick box for a lesson visit. They are the Habits you would expect to see when delivering content over a few lessons as you build towards students working independently. This encourages departments and individual teachers to sequence their curriculum and weekly lessons towards an end goal of a test, task or assessment to check understanding.  

Figure 2: BEST Habits



1. Primary to secondary transition

Barking Abbey has extremely close partnerships with its main Feeder Schools. Collaborative Projects in key curriculum areas including all Core subjects ensure progression from Key Stage 2 to 3 and beyond (see Appendix 1). We view our curriculum as a journey from Key Stage 2 to Year 13, with curriculum “building blocks” mapped to ensure student knowledge is deepened and long term.

“Students felt that they have built on their learning from primary, they expand their knowledge here and if they are revisiting KS2 curriculum topics this was only to touch base and move on to the KS3 curriculum” (Peer Review Report, November 2019).  

2. Key Stage 3 

Our Key Stage 3 Programme ensures pace, challenge and rigour for pupils at all starting points, whilst ensuring full coverage of the National Curriculum.

Following a full review of our Assessment and Reporting systems, a new Key Stage 3 programme is being piloted in 2021-22 to demonstrate both attainment and progress of our students, and to provide them and their parents with clear targets for improvement. In addition to Core Subjects (English, Maths, Science, Computing and P.E.), pupils also study Geography, History, Art, Design Technology, Music, Religious Studies and a dedicated PDC lesson. The PSHE curriculum is constantly reviewed and updated; for example in response to Radicalisation of young people at a local mosque, and changing Sexual Harassment guidance.

Our curriculum is driven by our vision and values; Students complete their full national curriculum entitlement at Key Stage 3 in all subjects taught discretely (and includes Drama and Dance, which are non-Statutory). In addition, a large number of “Enrichment Clubs” are run at Key Stage 3 to provide engaging and challenging opportunities for our students (see Figure 3). 

In addition to the taught curriculum, Key Stage 3 is used to launch the “Barking Abbey Way” to students, focused on the “BEST” Habits; this ensures that Culture Capital is embedded throughout the school ethos. BEST Habits are introduced during morning tutor time, assemblies and also embedded within the curriculum. In recognition of the need to support our students with Literacy, a partnership has been formed with Penguin Publishers and both School Libraries refurbished.







1 (new model)






























Figure 3: Barking Abbey Enrichment Programme


3. Key Stage 4

The Key Stage 4 Curriculum enables Deep Learning to take place whilst preparing our pupils for their chosen post-16 pathways. As a result, our students make significantly more progress than their peers nationally:









 * No Progress 8 data in 2020 or 2021.

Subjects go deeper into content and are broader than just the specifications called for by exam boards. For example, Drama have a “Relationships” unit at the start of Year 9 to develop partner work; Hospitality study the cooking of dishes from various cultures.

Barking Abbey is committed to providing a wide, inclusive and flexible curriculum: 93% of Key Stage 4 students were entered for 8+ GCSE qualifications (National 63%) and 73% for 10+ (National 23%), which is in the highest 4% in the country. Our passion for the Arts is maintained from Key Stage 3: in 2019 81 students studied Art/ Graphic Design; 42 Drama and 25 Music (offering both GCSE and BTEC in brand new facilities). Dance, studied by 10 students, is offered at Key Stage 5 in a state of the art Studio. In addition, every Year 11 student studies Citizenship GCSE, to emphasise British Values and ensure our students become thoughtful and active citizens, who engage intelligently and enthusiastically with public life. Barking Abbey therefore has an entry percentage 97% above the national average for this qualification. 

GCSE courses are currently offered in the following subjects: English Language, English Literature, Maths, Science (either Combined or Triple), Computer Science, ICT, French (and Spanish introduced), Geography, History, Religious Studies, Sociology, Engineering Products, Art, Graphic Design, Drama, Citizenship (through which PSHE is taught), Economics, Business Studies and Music. In order to offer a vocational pathway, BTEC courses are offered in Hospitality, Health and Social Care, Sport, Dance and Music.
















3x3 (new model)




4. Key Stage 5

The Sixth Form provides a wide range of subjects at GCE Advanced Level as well as vocational courses, including BTEC Level 3 in Business, Sport, ICT and Dance. We have 3 internationally renowned Sports Academies: Basketball, Football and Netball. Many of our students proceed to Higher Education, Apprenticeships, and Sports Scholarships to the United States. In 2019, Barking Abbey had the most Apprenticeships of any State School in the Country.

The vast majority of students choose 3 A-Level options, or a BTEC Level 3 equivalent. Following a comprehensive Curriculum Review, feedback from Higher Education partners, student voice and in light of the impacts of COVID lockdowns, in 2021-22 Barking Abbey moved to a 6 period model per subject. In addition, the remaining lessons are spent in our Supervised Study Centre completing Independent Learning.

We have high expectations of every student and vary the level of challenge and support to ensure every child is encouraged to do their best. Where a student might have misunderstood a concept or be struggling to apply a skill, our teachers provide additional support in a variety of ways to help them make significant progress.

The percentage of our students staying into the Sixth Form is “Significantly Above National Average” (IDSR, November 2019). 140 of our Sixth Formers went on to study at the "Top Third Higher Education Institutions"; 103 Barking Abbey students (who had been with us since Year 7) continued on to a University course; 34 of these were Russell Group (of which 2 were Oxbridge). Two alumni began apprenticeships with KPMG, and one a scholarship at the University of Oklahoma (12 students who joined our Sports Academy Programme also secured scholarships to United States Universities). In 2021, Barking Abbey appointed a Director of Aspiration to further increase social mobility opportunities; the school has partnered with Chigwell and Woodford County High School to share Oxbridge expertise.



5. Monitoring the Curriculum

At Barking Abbey we use a Learning Review to monitor and improve the quality of the Teaching and Learning and curriculum delivery. 

Learning Reviews focus on a year group at a time looking at the quality of teaching, the work produced by students in class and independently, the progress of classes and student voice. This is research led approach to meaningful lesson visits, reporting and improving pedagogy based mainly on the 2018 Sutton Trust ‘What Makes Great Teaching’ report. The Quadrant below highlights the process: 


We also use some of our many partnerships to Quality Assure our Curriculum. These include the SPP Peer Review; John Daniell, HMI on behalf of Barking and Dagenham SIP; and the Seven Kings Teaching Alliance. Our Lesson Visit proforma was designed following a research project with UCL IOE.


Area of focus:


Partnership Strategies used or being used

What we found









Student participation 




Develop collaborative Key 2 to 3 links to inform curriculum delivery pedagogy and student participation
















Curriculum Subjects:

· Teacher meets

· Shared curriculum plans/overview of curriculum maps

· Joined up curriculum planning,

· Collaborative materials shared,

· Cross-over projects

· Collation of samples of students work

· Hosting remote and live lessons between schools,

· Questionnaires/student voice

· Running student events

· Running student projects

· Joint CPD sessions between schools




·  Students confident sharing ideas but could see that language was an issue. Students couldn’t articulate what a “factor” or “multiple” was.

· Students had difficulty applying knowledge of Factors and Multiples into other problems.

· Students were given short tasks too complete at different levels of challenge, so they had the steps to build up to higher challenge.



· Identified student weaknesses, gaps in knowledge with Shakespeare, difficulty understanding language.


·Student gaps in knowledge, lacking skills of reading diverse authors


· Lack of students using techniques in creative writing was an EBI.


· Students didn’t have opportunity to read non-fiction texts


· Students only learn Shakespeare units in a very basic way/ simple overview.



·  Students did not have strong knowledge of rigours of assessment.



· Successful interventions they do – Debate Mate













· Delivered KS2 French Schemes of work for years 3, 4, 5 and 6 (including Assessments, Key vocabulary and Teacher support)

· Provided CPD / Training to non-specialist teachers in primary school

· Modelled MFL teaching at Manor School

·  Lesson observations at BA (sharing ideas/good practice)



· We use examples and non-examples in our teaching to aid understanding

· Taught Factors and Multiples as our first topic.

· Added more discussion, challenge activities in Year 7 curriculum, especially work on number strategies.

· Used ICCAMS as starting point in first few lessons to give teachers an insight to how the students think Mathematic





· Amended and modified Shakespeare units – Romeo and Juliet/ A Midsummer Night’s Dream consider more work on close language/ and quote analysis. Examples of scaffolding to model strong examples to stretch/ challenge More Able. Beginning year with Shakespeare which brings KS3 in line with KS4 and KS5.


· Teach more historical key figures, embedded the importance of BEST habits into ppts. Added a Black History Month unit for Y8. Added authors from BAME backgrounds into short units throughout Y7/Y8 LTPs, s that.



· Created ‘Reconnection unit’. Taught main skills needed in terms of techniques/ understanding.


· Developed students’ understanding of the play through close textual analysis. We have referenced GCSE texts to prepare students of what to expect in KS4.


· Changed sequencing of lessons – A Midsummer Night’s Dream now taught as the first unit in Year 7 instead of the last text.


· Simplified the assessment criteria and streamlined the way work is marked.


· Continued with popular Debate Mate club.





· Curriculum content linkage between KS2 and KS3 


· Differentiated lessons based on prior knowledge of KS2 work completed






Whole school:

· Created a ‘closing the gap’ document that shared KS2 success strategies with BA staff, to apply into KS3 teaching and learning.

· Uploaded borough primary TAGs onto teacher markbooks to ascertain Year 6 ability levels

· Implementing internal reading tests and CATs tests for Year 7 & 8

· Created a transition link film for year 7 parents





General Transition:


· Linked up pastoral leads between the two schools.

· BA Pastoral leads visit or meets with MJ students.

· Effective pastoral practices in primary/secondary discussed and imbedded into each other’s transition program.

· Collation of student information to inform planning, student profiles

·Questionnaires/student voice gaging opinions on learning, worries, aspirations for incoming Year 7 students.

· Virtual resources developed

· Buddy system

· Transition drama workshop about BA

· Visits to the school prior to transition day

· Q&A session for Year 6 about BA led by BA students



General Transition:


· Ran physical transition workshops for vulnerable students, summer term.

· Distributed out 4 parental transition newsletters,

· Distributed out 5 student newsletters

· Created virtual tours film for both campuses on website

· Created a ‘meet your teachers’ film on school website

· Run a 5-day, summer school in August

· Created a transition task booklet to complete by students over the holiday 

· Created a transition capture spreadsheet , documenting primary students’ profile to enable cluster, form class dynamics.