An Daras Trust - Capabilities Curriculum Design Overview


Clarity – Intent of curriculum model  is clear and well communicated


Consistency – Implementation of growing capabilities curriculum  is standardised


Capacity – High quality capabilities led learning is delivered across all year groups


‘Every state funded school must offer a curriculum which is balanced and broadly based, and which promotes the spiritual, moral, cultural, mental and physical development of pupils at the school and of society, and prepares pupils at the school for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of later life’ (DfE, 2013/National Curriculum 2014)


There are seven common groups of capabilities that ‘…are of value to young people .. and links to success in extrinsic outcomes – these capabilities can act as a bridge between personal and positional change’ (Young Foundation – McNeil, Reeder and Rich 2017)


There are three significant strategic growth outcome elements to the curriculum model (the Capabilities Curriculum will support pupils grow in achievement within the three thematic elements);

  •  Wisdom – attitude., ethos, personal qualities, leadership and living a full life
  •  Knowledge/Skills  – using knowledge creatively, concrete realities, perspective,     opening opportunities, progression in anchor subjects, persistence, independence,   application, questioning
  • Capabilities – determination, managing feelings, confidence and advocacy,  communication, relationships and leadership, planning and problem-solving, creativity


Strategic Pedagogy (Ofsted-INTENT/Church – VISION)


Vision (Trust and C of E)


“Igniting curiosity, growing capabilities” (An Daras Trust)

“Life in all its fullness” (C of E)


These vision statements are reflected in the design and pedagogy of the Trust Capabilities Curriculum model. Our mission statement is clear -‘The growth of Capability Mature children who are positively engaged, compassionate, competent young people conscious of the part they play in society, who are curious about the world around them and their place in it.’


Curriculum Intent

Reconciling variation of strategic approaches (Capabilities, Visible Learning, Learning Powers, Rights Respecting Schools, TIS, National Curriculum 2014, Trust SI approach) into a single pedagogically robust curriculum design which maintains a clear sense of purpose for all pupils and staff. The Trust ‘Capabilities Curriculum’ model focuses on a core purpose of growing in pupils three strategic themes (which are Wisdom, Knowledge/Skills and Capability based outcomes) - ensuring these embedded qualities are fully functionable, will lead to a maximum chance of success for learners.

Independence and curiosity (passion for learning, memorable learning experiences, concrete learning experiences, vocationally informed opportunities, self-driven learning, desire to seek answers etc) will be systematically developed to ensure pupils achieve ‘capability maturity’ before leaving primary education. This curriculum approach is wholistic with subject knowledge, personal growth and progressive skill building being consolidated into a single model.


Curriculum Scope

The main function and purpose is to grow the seven capabilities amongst all pupils because pedagogical research very clearly indicates these are prime skills and qualities required to be successful  and ‘capable’ - both in academic learning and the wider workplace. The capabilities interlink and the improvement in one capability area will impact on the effectiveness of another. The Trust is are aiming for ‘capability mature’ learners by the end of year 6;


  • Communication – Explaining, presenting, listening
  • Confidence and Advocacy – Self-reliance, self-belief, self-efficacy
  • Planning and Problem Solving – Organising, decision making, critical thinking
  • Relationships and Leadership – Team working, interesting others and interpreting others
  • Creativity – Innovating, applying learning in new contexts, feeling inspired
  • Determination – Self-management, persistence, sense of purpose
  • Managing Feelings – Self-regulating, self-aware


Rather than being an afterthought as in other curriculum models the seven clusters of capabilities actually become the focus of the curriculum subjects: the purpose and drive of the individual subjects is therefore directly aligned to the wider strategic vision of the school and Trust.


Ensuring the Capabilities Curriculum is also aligned to the Trust School Improvement Strategy through the use of the Clarity, Consistency and Capacity model as an integral part of the scaffolded delivery is also considered essential to enable a single way of working being achieved across all Trust schools.


The Capabilities Curriculum model also ensures effective horizontal and vertical (‘thread and weft’) progression in curriculum fluency is achieved through challenging expectations of symbiotic units of work and through the use of effective planning and mapping tools inherent within the model. Knowledge and skill progression delivered through the curriculum offer will focus on setting high expectations of pupils at all age groups.


NoteAll concepts, pedagogy, organisation and terminology used within this statement are not finalised or binding. These are strategic ideas to structure a curriculum and are subject to change and evolution.


Deploying Pedagogy (Ofsted-IMPLEMENTATION/Church-PROVISION)


Putting Evidence to Work – Capabilities Curriculum Design and Implementation


Phase 1 - Research

Pedagogical review was completed Autumn and Spring Term 2018/19 by the Trust and its Curriculum Consultant (R. Brewer), Conclusions from the research phase were used to underpin the Strategic Capabilities Curriculum Framework. Further pedagogical detail was decided including how subjects, standards, National Curriculum requirements and capabilities interlink and how these should be mapped to create an effective wholistic approach during Autumn term 2019.


Phase 2 - Inception Decision

Capabilities Curriculum model decisions were agreed by the Trust board flowing scrutiny during 2019. A fundamental aspect of the Capabilities model is that the resource of Trust Subject Leaders are fully established – they lead the development of subject specialist skills and knowledge across all Trust schools within the framework of the Capabilities model.


Phase 3 - Delivery and Implementation

First delivery of the Capabilities Curriculum model at individual school level started from September 2019 – with the pedagogical overview and strategic themes agreed at Trust level during the Summer Term 2019 being put into operational provision practice. The curriculum scaffold tools for individual units of work were agreed by July 2019 . There was extensive training opportunities for school staff from July 2019 so that the fundamental capability components (see C. below) were fully established.


Phase 4 - Impact Evaluation and Informed Evolution

The expectation is that only capability led units of work (Learning Blocks) are taught in the Autumn Term 2019/Spring Term 20. We are not expecting schools to plan more than one term at a time - as this will allow for review and evolution of the model, refinement in the tools used to implement the model and also ensure staff are not overwhelmed by the changes.

How and when impact on pupils will be measured is part of the strategic overview for the model. This is also linked to the longer ‘Capabilities Conversations’ that are held individually with parents and pupils as part of our extended family engagement parent meetings. Further development of our ongoing reporting model (including concept of an Annual Report) to parents will also be part of the integrated and systematic approach to the new curriculum offer being proposed.


Phase 5 – Defining Success for Stakeholders

The need to be clear about what success in Capabilities Curriculum provision will look like for each stakeholder group needs is fundamental to the strategic overview design. Definitions for pupils, staff, parents, local governors and Trust directors are in plain English and include elements of measurability that are easy to interpret. A scale for ‘capability growth’ and needs has been established at both - pupil level, - key stage level, - subject leader level, - school level and finally Trust level. This allows for accurate evaluation of impact and also helps structure self-evaluation tools (e.g. Capabilities SEF) and school improvement tools (e.g. AIP template).


Note: For church schools there is a clear theological underpinning for the Capabilities curriculum model. This will focus on Micah 6 v8 and the Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10: 25-37) . Community schools may also use this aspect.


Critical Curriculum Design Components (Ofsted-IMPLEMENTATION/Church-PROVISION)


Capabilities Curriculum Design – Key Capability Components


These are the definitions for each of the seven capability clusters. Also listed are values that can be ‘grown’ within this capability and some of the strongest subject areas linked to this capability cluster. The table for each capability represents a possible phased scale which allows measurement of growth and impact towards the desired ‘capability maturity’.

Note: These are not in any hierarchical order of value or importance.


Capability – Communication

  • Learning about explaining, expressing, presenting, listening, questioning, using different ways and tools for communicating
  • Values underpinning this capability – Empathy and Good Judgement
  • Linked curriculum subject – literacy, science, drams, MFL, PSHE, PE, history



Four gradient phases of development (1 = least evolved, 4 = capability mature)

Phase 1

Mostly unable to clearly explain themselves and do not listen well

Phase 2

Sometimes able to clearly explain things

Phase 3

Usually able to express themselves and present their ideas clearly

Phase 4

Often ask relevant questions in response to hearing explanations


Capability - Confidence and Advocacy (C of E – Community and Living Well Together)

  • Learning about self-reliance, self-esteem, self-belief, ability to shape their own life and the world around them
  • Values underpinning this capability – Faith and Hope
  • Linked curriculum subject – PE, music, outdoor learning, environmental science, SMSC, collective worship


Confidence and Advocacy

Four gradient phases of development (1 = least evolved, 4 = capability mature)

Phase 1

Displays little confidence and often feels unable to learn productively

Phase 2

Usually speaks positively about themselves and believes themselves able to complete learning

Phase 3

Relies on their skills to get learning completed

Phase 4

Often acts confidently and approaches learning with own ideas and perspective showing high levels of ownership


Capability – Planning and Problem Solving

  • Learning about navigating resources, organising, setting and achieving goals, decision making, researching, analysing, critical thinking, questioning and challenging, evaluating risks, reliability
  • Values underpinning this capability – Thoughtfulness and Discipline
  • Linked curriculum subject – literacy, maths, science, design technology, PE and outdoor learning


Planning and Problem Solving

Four gradient phases of development (1 = least evolved, 4 = capability mature)

Phase 1

Often starts learning without organising themselves and does not meet targets

Phase 2

Often organises themselves to usually achieve targets

Phase 3

Usually sets goals in their learning and decides a plan to meet them

Phase 4

Thinks through a problem logically and when a problem arises, weighs up options and acts with good reasoning


Capability – Relationships and Leadership (C of E – Dignity and Respect)

  • Learning about motivating others, valuing and contributing to team working, negotiating, establishing positive relationships, interesting others, interpreting others, managing conflict, securing resolution, empathising
  • Values underpinning this capability – Compassion and Respect
  • Linked curriculum subject – music, RE, PE, outdoor learning, SMSC, PSHE, school council/forum


Relationships and Leadership

Four gradient phases of development (1 = least evolved, 4 = capability mature)

Phase 1

Does not work well in groups and often fights with others

Phase 2

Often works well in set groups and manages any conflict which arises

Phase 3

Usually works positively together in any grouping and empathises with others

Phase 4

Leads and participates in group work and gets tasks done


Capability – Creativity (C of E – Hope and Aspiration)

  • Learning about alternative ways of doing things, applying learning into new contexts, enterprising, innovating, exploring new ideas, linking concepts, inspiring others with ideas
  • Values underpinning this capability – Connectedness
  • Linked curriculum subject – computing, music, history, art, maths, design technology, environmental learning



Four gradient phases of development (1 = least evolved, 4 = capability mature)

Phase 1

Does not enjoy imagining new ideas or get excited about new learning

Phase 2

Often imagines new ideas and regularly gets excited about learning new concepts

Phase 3

Applies what they have learnt to new concepts and context regularly

Phase 4

Keen to attempt new ideas and find better ways of using knowledge and skills in new ways


Capability – Determination (C of E – Wisdom and Knowledge)

  • Learning about self-discipline, self-management, self-motivation, concentrating, having a sense of purpose, persistence, self-control
  • Values underpinning this capability – Perseverance
  • Linked curriculum subject – PE, maths, history, geography, music


Four gradient phases of development (1 = least evolved, 4 = capability mature)

Phase 1

Gives up when learning look difficult and does not concentrate well

Phase 2

Usually controls desire to give up when learning is difficult and can focus on learning for a set time

Phase 3

Often employs strategies to keep at a challenging learning task and can reflect afterwards on how valuable the learning was

Phase 4

Usually sees the purpose of learning using this to motivate themselves to push through difficulties for the sake of learning. Can focus for sustained time


Capability – Managing Feelings (C of E – Wisdom and Knowledge)

  • Learning about self-awareness, reflecting, reviewing, self-regulating, self-accepting
  • Values underpinning this capability – Self-Control and Acceptance
  • Linked curriculum subject – PE, drama, art, SRE, SMSC, PSHE


Managing Feelings

Four gradient phases of development (1 = least evolved, 4 = capability mature)

Phase 1

Unable to reflect on their feelings and often behaves aggressively

Phase 2

Sometimes able to reflect on how they are feeling and do not behave aggressively

Phase 3

Usually regulates their behaviour and reflects on their own feelings

Phase 4

Shows sensitivity towards others and regulates others behaviour when they need support


This overview fully acknowledges the great deal of research, planning and formulating of the model completed by the Trust Curriculum Consultant -  R. Brewer.