At Ridgeway Secondary School, our ethos of developing the whole person, Ridgeway 360°, is embodied through our curriculum which lies at the heart of the education we offer. As a result, our young people experience a rich, varied curriculum with the overarching aim of developing them into well rounded, confident and responsible young people prepared for further study, the World of work and their place in a Global society. Students engage with a wide range of subjects through ambitious, well-designed courses, tailored to their needs.
The curriculum embodies our ethos of Ridgeway 360°, the development of the whole person academically, mentally, physically and socially and promotes our values of Ready, Respectful and Safe. Each of the four aspects of Ridgeway 360° are interdependent. In some way, every opportunity and experience in school will help to develop our students academically, mentally, physically, or socially.
Physical – During adolescence students develop physically, for example, growth or sexual maturation. The curriculum seeks to help students to understand the physical changes that they will experience while at school and the mental, physical, social and academic benefits of healthy eating and exercise. The curriculum also gives students a wide range of physical and sporting experiences that promote skill acquisition, teamwork, decision making and health and fitness. Improvements in both physical and mental health can positively influence a young persons’ level of life satisfaction and will lead to higher engagement with exercise as an adult, which then in turn has longer-lasting physical and mental health benefits throughout the individual’s life (Boreham & Riddoch, 2001). We know that children who are more active and who have better health and wellbeing are likely to achieve better educational attainment.
Mental – We understand that we have a central role to play in enabling our students to be resilient when managing the normal stresses of life effectively and to support good mental health and wellbeing. Good mental well-being is promoted through a well-structured school environment which is safe and calm, with clear expectations of behaviour and well communicated social norms and routines, which are reinforced with a successful rewards policy and highly consistent consequence systems. It is also promoted through our curriculum, in particularly in PSHE lessons where education about relationships, sex and health are important vehicles through which we can teach our students about mental health and well-being.
Social – Schools are social settings in which all members of the community need the skills and confidence to interact with others. At Ridgeway, our ethos of developing the whole person recognises the correlation between positive social behaviour and academic success, with outcomes in both improved when there is strength in the quality of teaching, a clear behavioural climate with high expectations, an emphasis on learning and self-development, and positive relationships between students and staff. Ridgeway is a small school but big family and we pride ourselves on the relationships that we build with our students and endeavour to support and work in partnership with families, parents and the local community.
Academic – Students that are safe, happy and healthy are more likely to achieve better educational outcomes at Ridgeway. Each area of development within our Ridgeway 360° ethos is crucial to academic achievement. Equally, how students develop and progress academically plays a crucial role in their physical, mental and social well-being. The curriculum is central to the academic development and success of our students and in promoting an academic ethos where students are interested in learning, want to do well and continue their education past compulsory schooling age.
Our curriculum supports the development of the whole person by being very carefully planned and constructed. Subject teams select content to be ambitious inspiring and challenging, whilst at the same time ensuring that all students can access every lesson. Through careful sequencing, subject leaders have shaped the curriculum in order that knowledge is built upon and core concepts returned to. We use thoughtful and rigorous assessments to identify and address misconceptions, and provide structures to ensure that knowledge is securely learned. Teachers carefully plan explanations and model precisely how to produce work which enables students to think deeply about the knowledge they are taught.
We keep the curriculum as broad as possible, for as long as possible to allow all students a rich experience. Students are taught in class sizes smaller than the average in other state schools and experience a three-year Key Stage 3 and a two-year Key Stage 4, with all subjects studied at Key Stage 3 being available to study at Key Stage 4, enabling our young people to become knowledgeable and confident, with a deep academic and cultural understanding.
Subject teams have reviewed the gaps that have emerged during the pandemic and have adapted their schemes of work or methods of teaching to address these. This is also supported by a range of whole school strategies, including use of the National Tutoring Programme. High quality careers education, information, advice and guidance is built into each Key Stage to support students with their next steps.
Adolescence is a time of rapid change and we recognise the importance of our ethos, values, curriculum and structures in guiding students while they develop physically, cognitively, emotionally and behaviourally and socially. Our values of being Ready, Respectful and Safe encapsulate every desirable behaviour that we seek from Ridgeway students and serve as a compass that helps guide them through the frequent challenges that they will experience as they develop into well rounded young adults.
At KS3 our aim is to provide a rich and varied curriculum that develops the whole student by building a depth of knowledge and skills in each subject area. The curriculum at Key Stage 3 is a means to an end in itself – it does not function as a ‘watered down’ version of, nor is it primarily a preparation for, GCSE. As such our curriculum remains as broad as possible for as long as possible. KS3 is three years and there is no attempt to put children on pathways during this time. We put emphasis on a curriculum that teaches rich and powerful knowledge and language from the start of Year 7. Students in Key Stage 3 are given access to an exciting curriculum (including Computer Science, Technology subjects, Music and PSHE) covering the requirements of the National Curriculum (and occasionally going further) by the end of Year 9. Students with additional needs are carefully encouraged via multiple layers of support both academically and socio-emotionally and we provide personalised provision for some students to support them in achieving their full potential. This is always in the best interest of the child and often is informed by external support. Therefore, children with additional needs flourish at Ridgeway and achieve highly. In Year 9, our students are supported to engage in selecting their subject areas for further study at GCSE. This process is carefully managed by providing tailored guidance through taster lessons and conversations with targeted individuals (mostly, but not exclusively SEN and Pupil Premium) to ensure that we are not disadvantaging any students through this approach.
Our expectations for student behaviour and conduct are simple, 3 words, Ready, Respectful, Safe, that underpin every desirable behaviour that the school expects. With these clear standards, it is easy to reinforce the high expectations we have as a school.
Ready: this refers to anything from attention, uniform, equipment or punctuality. We equip our students with knowledge, skills and a range of experiences that will help to ensure that they are ready for the challenges that they face now and in the future.
Respectful: relates to communication and interaction with the school environment and all of those in it. We teach our students to respect themselves, each other, the environment and the opinions and beliefs of others.
Safe: ensures we have an emphasis on maintaining a calm and safe environment for all to flourish. Students think and act in an environment where it is safe to fail, to think critically, to debate, take risks and develop new ideas.
Our two-year KS4 provides breadth and depth across a variety of subjects enabling our ambitious curriculum experience to continue from KS3 into KS4. In Key Stage 4 all students study the core curriculum of English Language and English Literature, Mathematics and Science at GCSE and non-examined PSHE, RE and PE. Students are required to follow up to four additional courses leading to GCSE examinations. Students in top set study Separate Science as part of the core curriculum. Additional core Science hours in the Key Stage 4 curriculum support the increased content for Separate Science and the opportunities for purposeful practicals which are at the heart of effective Science delivery. Students are also provided with a wide and ambitious range of further options. These open up extensive options post-16 and post-18, including access to prestigious courses and progression into a range of career options.
Some students choose, or are guided to take, additional lessons to support their English and Maths and Science. Students are taught in sets according to ability in Mathematics and with a mix of setting and mixed ability in English and Science at Key Stage 4. Students are taught in mixed ability groups in all other subjects. Nearly all of our students choose at least one Ebacc subject, with over 90% of students taking either Geography or History. Currently, just over a quarter of students follow the full Ebacc suite (against a national percentage of 40%). This provides us with a helpful benchmark to aid our current aspirations in this area of our curriculum delivery. The implementation of a new languages curriculum which has led to greater student engagement in KS3 will help us to achieve our ambition to increase the percentage of students taking a Language at KS4 to well above the national percentage. Alongside this however we recognise the importance of the broader, non-Ebacc curriculum, in giving students a rich and engaging experience. In creative and practical subjects, such as Technology, Art, Food and PE our numbers are above the national average. We want our students to retain the opportunity to engage with the whole spectrum of the curriculum taught in subject disciplines across KS4.