When students first start at Ripplevale, they often bring with them difficulties that they have experienced at previous schools so our first priority is to make them feel welcome and safe. If a mainstream school education has not worked for our students, it is futile to offer them exactly the same again so we try to incorporate teaching a full curriculum but delivered in a different way. Sometimes it is necessary for students to start on a reduced timetable to ease students back into education and this will be tailored around their needs.
It is hoped that all students will take part in every aspect of the curriculum covering Maths, English, Science, Humanities, Food Technology, P.E, Life Skills, PSHE, Design & Technology, R.E, Computing and Outdoor Learning. These subjects are all taught by subject specific staff offering a variety of qualifications according to ability. It is also apparent though, that some students struggle with certain lessons and so bespoke timetables are put into place to ensure that every student feels comfortable with the balance of lessons they receive. We also run an Accelerated Reader programme from our school library providing books for students of all abilities allowing us to continually measure and assess accurately students’ reading age.
Ripplevale School also employ full-time staff delivering Speech and Language Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Emotional Freedom Techniques and Wellbeing sessions. This ensures a completely holistic approach and offers our students support in whichever areas they need. In addition to this, we provide counselling sessions as well as Play Therapy, Drawing and Talking Therapy and EMDR (Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing)
Whilst students are usually taught according to their age, we also have the opportunity to teach according to their stage of development too so that their ability is always catered for. Towards the end of Key Stage 3 we will decide, in consultation with parents, about which path is most suited into Key Stage 4 whether that be GCSEs, Functional skills or more vocational path. We know though, that the key to any academic success is for a student to feel secure and valued first and foremost.
Miss Joanne Baker
The teaching of Mathematics at Ripplevale is aimed at pupils having an enjoyment of the subject, whilst also learning the skills necessary for suitable accreditation and life beyond the educational setting.
In Key Stage 3, there is a focus on the acquisition of number and the basic calculations for the 4 operations. Many of our pupils will have had a chequered journey in terms of learning, so it is vital that both confidence and competence is shaped and rebuilt.
In Key Stage 4 pupils will be identified as having particular attributes for particular pathways of accreditation. Broadly this involves two routes.
One pathway will be to lead to the formal qualification of a pass at GCSE. The second pathway will be to build accreditation through Entry Level, Number and Measure Awards and Functional skills.
English is studied in Key Stage 3 and 4 and depending on ability, can either lead to an accreditation at GCSE level or Functional Skills. At Key stage 3, a huge emphasis is placed on re-visiting literacy skills that may have been missed earlier in their education and then moving towards Key Stage 4 students have the opportunity to sit formal qualifications in Functional Skills or GCSE level or both if desired.
Alongside the GCSE Language qualification, students can also, where appropriate, study for a Literature qualification too. This can be done in Key stage 4 or even in Key stage 5 and students cover a Shakespeare play, a poetry anthology, a Nineteenth century novel and a play according to the AQA specification.
Computing is a subject embedded across the curriculum here at Ripplevale, as an essential part of modern life, so we build on the foundations laid in the primary years, and at Key Stage 3 all students study a range of topics within Information Technology, Computer Science and Online Safety. Emphasis is placed on staying safe online, making good choices and being an effective user of IT, along with basic elements of computer science such as coding and computer hardware.
Design Technology is delivered from year 7 to year 10 working on a skills based programme developing fine and gross motor skills in conjunction with our in house Occupational Therapist. Students start with basic projects such as totem poles and marble runs so they can be introduced to hand tools and basic power tools before moving on to such projects as passive speakers and steady hand games where students will learn about acoustic chambers and non-solder electrical circuits.
When pupils reach year 11, we start an enterprise-based course where students are responsible for sourcing, refurbishing and selling various items of furniture learning skills that will allow them to transition into post 16 and undertake the Gateway qualification in construction as a vocational subject. Students take ownership of the course budget and purchase materials required to complete the refurbishment.
At Ripplevale School, we know that P.E. is an integral part of our curriculum. We believe that the subject inspires all pupils to succeed and excel in physically-demanding activities and helps them to become confident in a way which supports their health and fitness throughout their lives. Therefore, we believe that our children should be physically active every day, whether through Daily Physical Activity, Interventions, P.E. lessons, Breaktime/Lunchtime clubs. We also believe that children should have the opportunity to compete in sport and other activities that build character and help to embed values such as team-work, fairness and respect.
In Key Stage 3, students will apply and develop their fundamental skills linking them together to make actions and sequences of movement. They will use this to help them play a range of competitive games such as Football and Basketball, applying basic principles of attacking and defending. In P.E. lessons children will communicate, collaborate and compete with each other and they will be given the opportunity to evaluate their performances, recognising how they can improve their performance and celebrating their own success.
In Key Stage 4, students will have the opportunity to combine all skills learnt during their previous years into game-play situations on a weekly basis. They will continue to develop fundamental skills as well as improve on physical strength, stability and co-ordination. There will be an emphasis on how to lead a healthy lifestyle and teach all our students how to incorporate physical activity into their daily lives.
We also deliver a Sports Leaders course to our Secondary and Post 16 students. This qualification teaches generic leadership skills and teamwork through the medium of sport. It is a fun and practical qualification with no entrance requirements or final examinations to sit. Work will be logged and assessed throughout the course through observations and written tasks. Obtaining this qualification will enable the boys to gain UCAS points and is highly thought of on a personal statement for further education, as well as personal CVs.
Food Technology, Hospitality & Catering
Food Technology lessons are offered to all of our students across Key stages 3 and 4. Whilst we place emphasis on students acquiring key skills and preparing them for their Gateway qualification in Post 16, we also know the value of students learning about healthy eating and so the vast majority of the time is spent preparing and cooking dishes which will be invaluable in later life.
Gateway Qualifications in hospitality and catering give students the opportunity to gain skills in the industry. Different units that are covered also allow the students freedom to choose which area of the industry they would most like to work.
A broad range of skills are taught that enable students to experience a realistic working environment and gain the necessary social skills to serve customers.
There are different levels of success, ranging from Entry level 3, Award, Certificate and Diploma to Level 1 Diploma.
Post 16 students follow Gateway in Construction. This is a very ‘hands on’ approach to the subject and allows students the flexibility of being creative in an environment completely different to a classroom. We have a fully functioning workshop where students actively seek furniture in the local community to up-cycle and improve.
They source the materials needed, price the job and then carry out the improvements needed. Once completed, these pieces of furniture are then sold on allowing students to choose how to collectively spend the profit they make. Important skills in maths are clearly and practically being learnt alongside their choice of vocation too in order to prepare them for the outside world.
Art & Design
Each student throughout Key Stage 3 has the opportunity to learn about and engage with the process of producing 2 & 3D mixed media Art work. At Key Stage 4, according to a student’s ability they can gain accreditation through either Entry level or GCSE. For students who wish to engage with the subject for interest or for those who gain emotional well-being from engaging with the creative process of Art & Design, opportunities are also provided. Drawing and Talking is offered as an intervention on a 1:1 basis to provide therapy, through drawing, to those students we feel would benefit from it and engage with it.
Religious education is taught throughout Key Stages 3 & 4. The programme of study aims to:
Have an influence on the spiritual, moral, social and cultural development of pupils.
Teach pupils the knowledge and understanding of Christianity and other principle religions represented in Great Britain and throughout the wider world.
Develop the pupil’s knowledge and understanding of the nature of beliefs, religion and ethical issues.
To appreciate the diversity of religious beliefs and practices and respect the right of others to hold differing beliefs than those held by themselves.
To understand how individuals are continuously influenced by religious beliefs, values and traditions.
To evaluate different responses to religious and moral issues, to form their own reasoned and informed judgements about these issues.
To inform, clarify and develop their own beliefs and values by responding to that which they have learnt.
To develop their own sense of identity and belonging, in order to prepare them for their adult life as a responsible citizen.
PSHE (Personal, Social, Health and Economic Education)/RSE (Relationships and Sex Education) is taught to all students. Students engage in conversations ranging from on-line safety and relationships to cultural diversity. The emphasis is for students to feel comfortable in discussing these subjects without the pressure of recording everything that is discussed. From these discussions students develop a strong sense of spiritual, moral and cultural values that will be invaluable when entering adult life. RSE is a statutory component of the curriculum but parents/carers have the right to request that their child(ren) opt out of this subject. Any parent/carer who wishes to opt their child out of RSE should contact the Headteacher to discuss the process.
In Key Stage 4, a combination of OCR Entry Level and AQA GCSE History is offered. If students have not chosen this option in key stage 4, they have they opportunity to opt for it in Key Stage 5 too. The unit options for OCR are: The Norman Conquest, The People’s Health and a local history site study and for GCSE: Germany: Democracy and dictatorship, Conflict and tension: The First World War, Britain: Health and the People (1000-present day) and Norman England (c1066-1100).
Key Stage 3 Humanities lessons include integrated programmes of study in both History and Geography and learners will study aspects of both subjects areas that affect our lives and the world we live in today. In Years 7 & 8, this includes the exploration of the United Kingdom; the elements that physically make up our land today and historically how it was created through the Middle Ages. In Year 9 students learn of our geographic place in the world, continents and oceans. Then in History we look at major events such as the Battle of Hastings, the Reformation and World War II focusing on the impact of outside forces on our kingdom.
Science is presented in topic chunks which change every 3-4 weeks, so that a full variety of subjects are covered. The daily task may involve pair work; discussing the pupils’ own ideas, or practical work on experiments and finding out about materials, magnets motors and lots of other important things we all use in our everyday life.
As pupils move through the year groups they become familiar with safety requirements and good work habits, as well as useful skills such as measuring volumes, masses, temperature, time and so on.
In KS4 all students study the Entry Level Certificate from Edexcel, which is 6 units in Yr10 and a further 6 in Yr11. Pupils who show an interest and aptitude for the subject can be prepared for the GCSE in Combined Science, again from Edexcel.
Ripplevale School means finally peace of mind. Our lives began again when my son started at this beautiful school. Always ready with warm support and advice, I honestly don’t know what we would have done without this amazing place. A total game changer