Our Curriculum Philosophy
Our curriculum is underpinned by the mantra ‘knowing more, remembering more and doing more’. Through ambitious, coherently planned and well-sequenced programmes of study, the curriculum enables students to gain cumulatively sufficient knowledge and skills for future learning and employment.
Each subject is required to complete a student-friendly curriculum map outlining the building blocks of knowledge for each key stage, a one year long-term plan which is published on the School’s website, and unit medium term plans for internal use. These outline topics, enrichment opportunities, key knowledge points and teaching methods in greater detail for each unit of study. The key stage three curriculum is in-line with the National Curriculum and key stage four and five all follow individual exam board specifications. Schemes for Learning are continually reviewed by Heads of Department and are supplemented by department resources. All subject curriculum plans highlight the School’s approach to operating a curriculum which promotes diversity, equality and inclusivity.
The ‘Ricky Way’ of teaching and learning outlines the fundamental aspects of curriculum implementation at Rickmansworth School. Our pedagogical approach is underpinned by the Ricky R’s in the classroom. Ricky Learners are highly successful students. Teachers encourage students to become Ricky Learners by:
- Reflective - We value assessment and feedback, reflecting on students knowing more and remembering more.
- Relationships - We engage students and value relationships.
- Resilience - We develop resilience and personalise learning.
- Resourceful - We endorse innovation, broaden resourceful thinking & problem solving.
- Respect - We uphold routines and respect our community.
- Responsibility - We promote challenge, encouraging students to be responsible and independent.
Key Stage 3
Students follow a three year programme of study consisting of: English, mathematics, science, French, German, history, geography, religious studies, art, music, drama, innovation and design, physical education, dance and computing, as well as PSHE and resilience (for Year 7 only to support transition with study skills). Our curriculum is consistent with the requirements of the National Curriculum Programmes of Study which we have chosen to follow.
All non-core subjects adopt a mixed ability teaching approach. In English, students are taught in mixed ability English groups on entry rather than their mixed ability form groups. The information gained from the Year 7 English baseline test and summative assessment in half term one, as well as teacher professional judgement, is used to ensure an even spread of ability across all English groups.
In science, students are taught in mixed ability form groups during Year 7. By Year 8, all students are allocated ‘sets’. This is based on progress throughout the year and also the end of Year 7 science exam.
In mathematics, students are placed in sets based on their mathematical ability after the first half term in Year 7. There are four sets on each side of the year group. Set judgements are based on assessments and teacher knowledge of students.
In PE, students are grouped within sets from week three in Year 7. The two Houses on each side are mixed to create four sets: two sets of girls (sets 1 and 2) and two sets of boys (sets 1 and 2) The PE department assesses student’s skills, fitness, leadership and attitude towards learning to make an informed judgement regarding sets.
Students in Year 7 study French and German and decide by the summer term their preferred language to continue to study in Years 8 and 9. Students are able to select to study two languages, with their second language being taught as a twilight option for two hours per fortnight.
For technology, students from two form groups are split into three separate groups of twenty students in order to study three topics in a carousel consisting of design, 3D modelling and food technology.
All sets are fluid with a restructure point taking place every half term and changes communicated to students and parents in advance.
Key Stage 4
The curriculum at Key Stage Four is broad and balanced: it prioritises a strong academic core of subjects, such as those offered in the English Baccalaureate (Ebacc) and provides subject choices which support students' learning progression and interests. Through developing students' skills as highly successful Ricky Learners, we ensure they are prepared for their chosen next steps in education or the world of work.
Students follow a two-year programme of study consisting of core subjects which are compulsory for all students and include: English Language and English Literature, mathematics and combined science in addition to non-examined games and PSHE. Most students continue with their study of a Modern Foreign Language and are able to select three option subjects. For students not continuing a language, they have four choices and must select at least one subject from the Ebacc suite of subjects. This ensures that all students have an Ebacc subject and that their curriculum remains broad and balanced.
The GCSE Options Booklet outlines the pathway from Key Stage Three into Four in more detail.
Key Stage 5
Our Sixth Form comprises approximately 300 students. Students follow a two-year programme of study consisting of either three or four A level subjects in addition to non-examined PSHE and an Enrichment Programme. There is also the opportunity to take the Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) in Year 12.
Students are able to select a suite of subjects dependent on their results at GCSE: 42 points from the student's best 8 subjects at GCSE enables a student to study three subjects, whereas students with 54 or more points may be able to study four subjects. The majority of subjects require at least a grade 6. The exceptions are mathematics (grade 7) further mathematics (grade 8), RS (grade 5) and sociology (grade 5 in English). All subjects are taught in mixed ability groups apart from Mathematics who chose to teach in ‘set’ groups.
Students also have three hours of directed study per fortnight which requires them to be in school accessing the silent studying area for supervised independent study.
The Sixth Form pastoral system operates on vertical tutoring which means that for form time and PSHE students from within Year 12 and 13 are grouped together.
Through our enrichment programme, students are able to select a suite of interest modules on a termly basis. Enrichment operates every Wednesday during period 5 for one hour and consists of: Extended Project Qualification (EPQ), Eco-Schools, a variety of sports, Beginner Languages and cooking for university (two hour session). There are 9 options in Year 12 and 9 for Year 13. In addition, students participate in the paired reading programme, mentor students and provide one hour a week of lesson support which involves them working with younger students within the school community. To engage with the local area, students also volunteer to carry out service with local community organisations. To provide help and support to our high achieving students who wish to make applications to Oxbridge, medicine, dentistry and veterinary science courses, we introduced our High Flyers Programme in September 2020.