Leaders and professionals at the academy have established a very clear and well researched vision for the curriculum and are committed to ensuring that the curriculum offer is highly inclusive, ambitious, comprehensive and coherent. The full range of core and foundation subjects are carefully and systematically mapped so that children end their primary years having mastered a wide range of concepts, procedures and skills that fuel a thirst for learning, prepare them for future study and develop an understanding of the world in which they live, enabling them to be educated and contributing citizens with a firm appreciation for human creativity and achievement.
Key drivers, developed through consultation with a range of stakeholders, are tailored thoughtfully to the contexts of the school and underpin its design. Communication, aspiration and community, combined with the development of pupils’ core skills in reading, mathematics and writing feature strongly. The curriculum brings the academy’s ethos to life and it cohesively permeates all aspects of the school’s character. Every opportunity is taken to make meaningful contributions to the quality of education and the curriculum.
The curriculum successfully develops cultural capital as it is aspirational in the depth and wealth of knowledge, understanding and skills that children experience. The units that make up the creative theme long-term map have been chosen to embellish children’s understanding of their lives and take them to new destinations; creative themes give children the chance to access powerful knowledge that will enrich their own understanding of their locality and their place in the world, or to develop a working understanding of the fundamental concepts of subjects that they would not otherwise have chance to explore. Over the course of their seven years at Ryecroft Academy, children will experience a minimum of 21 visits or visitors, taking them to places beyond their immediate environment.
Access to opportunities in the performing arts are plentiful: children benefit from regular live performance in school, the teaching of subject specialists in clubs and lessons, and working alongside professionals in creative projects such as Opera North’s Big Sing and Big Little Sing. Opportunities to access The GORSE Shakespeare Festival or to learn Mandarin Chinese stretch children beyond what they would otherwise know, giving them a true insight into ‘the best of what has been thought and said’. Central to our curriculum vision is an intent to address social disadvantage and prepare pupils for their future learning. Through our curriculum pupils are taken to new ideas which extend their experiences of public speaking, debate, entrepreneurial spirit and creativity. Many of the events have covered rich topics which have taken pupils to matters of social, political and environmental importance.
The curriculum is structured in a manner that ensure SEND and disadvantaged pupils are in receipt of the same curriculum breadth and quality. This dimension of the curriculum is further enhanced by the work of the academy inclusion team and by utilising the support of external partners to help ensure the needs of all our pupils are met. At Ryecroft Academy the curriculum is designed with a degree of flexibility, allowing phase leaders to take account of the needs and priorities of their individual cohort and tailor the balance of the curriculum to address this.
The extended curriculum is a clear strength, with a wide variety of high quality opportunities available for all pupils. Offered each lunchtime, as well as after school, these activities are led by specialist teachers and coaches who are experts in their field. Several components of the extra-curricular provide pupils with opportunities to explore creatively and develop hobbies or experience. Sporting and other clubs allow children to adopt healthy lifestyles, play competitively and further strengthen skills taught in sport science lessons. Participation in extra-curricular is rewarded as a pivotal part of the schools Positive Discipline system.
Subscription to the West Leeds Sports Partnership has meant that pupils have participated in a variety of competitive sporting events as well as outdoor learning opportunities such as den building, campfire making and outdoor cooking. The trust led GORSE Gets Healthy and GORSE Games initiatives further extending the depth and range of opportunities for our pupils and our Sport Science approach is leading to impressive acquisition of knowledge and vocabulary in this area of the curriculum.
The teaching of reading begins with an emphasis on systematic synthetic phonics and ensures that all pupils are exposed to beautiful, rich and authentic texts; our approach to Guided Reading guarantees that all pupils will frequently practice reading with fluency and expression as well as significantly extend their vocabulary and deepen their skills of comprehension. In addition to this the introduction of Forensic Reading, focused on authorial intent, purpose and view point, will take pupils to consider, debate and discuss matters of great social, political and global importance through the exploration and forensic analysis of texts of the highest quality both contemporary and longstanding. The approach to the teaching of reading is also further complimented by approaches to independent reading and reading circles, which are pivotal in developing a love of reading. It is our view that a love of reading lasts a lifetime and acts as an empowering gateway to success in all areas of learning and the curriculum. We want to ensure that all children become confident readers who engage with texts for enjoyment, develop personal tastes and grow with a repertoire of key texts. As a school, we have developed many strategies to promote reading for pleasure.
The impact of our work around the quality of education is clear and compelling. The sharp rise in academic achievement and progress across all key stages and in all subject areas illustrates the impact and quality of the curriculum, evidencing that it has a substance and depth that is enabling rapid progress and powerful knowledge to be acquired, consolidated and applied in a manner that is academically successful. We are proud that our curriculum meets the needs of our community exceptionally well.