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Curriculum Overview

At Springwell Leeds Academy we offer an innovative curriculum that is specifically developed to meet the needs of young people with social, emotional and mental health difficulties. The overall aim of our curriculum is to meet the individual needs of pupils outlined in their EHCP outcomes through the values that underpin our mission and vision for young people.

To support pupils to meet their EHCP outcomes the curriculum is designed around these key areas and ambitions:

  • Provide a personalised SEMH and academic curriculum that is carefully planned to allow children and young people to make positive next steps in life, whether that be within education, work or training.
  • Provide students not only with the literacy skills to access curriculum successfully, but to foster a love for reading.
  • Provide a sense of safety and security through relational and trauma informed practice; following the principles of nurture to create a learning environment where students feel safe and supported to achieve their full potential

Personalised Curriculum

The curriculum at Springwell Leeds Academy, across all key stages, has been developed in order to allow for the flexibility and personalisation required to respond to the individual needs of each child. All curricular areas aim to support students’ SEMH needs by providing learning opportunities in which students can develop social skills, self-control, self-awareness and skills for learning through highly engaging, creative, and knowledge-rich content. Through this framework, we provide a broad, balanced and differentiated curriculum that supports every child’s SEMH, academic and vocational development, as well as their spiritual, moral, cultural, mental and physical development.

Individual subject areas have a curriculum that enables pupils to learn new knowledge and skills according to their starting points. This leads to a diverse range of qualifications being available for pupils to work towards.

A more detailed outline of our curriculum offer at Primary and Secondary Phases can be seen here by clicking the links below:

Science Curriculum
Personal Learning Curriculum Handbook
The Arts Curriculum Strategy
PE Curriculum Handbook
Maths Curriculum
English Curriculum Handbook
Reading Strategy

Developing Readers

At Springwell Leeds, we hold reading at the heart of our curriculum, valuing the impact strong reading skills have on students’ ability to access the whole curriculum as well as accessing wider life experience. Our intent is to provide students with a wide vocabulary, a love of reading and the capacity to access other areas of interest across the curriculum through reading. We aim for all students to leave us functionally literate.

We have daily literacy sessions on every site. Common features of these are Word of the Day, DEAR and spelling practice.

Our staff know that evidence points to the effectiveness of the strongest reader modelling, and that immersing children in quality, challenging text improves reading ages. Therefore, our teachers model good reading skills daily, across the curriculum.

We teach phonics daily in our primary classes, and to those who have gaps. The link to our phonics curriculum tells you about our children’s experience of phonics.


We use intervention programmes including, and not limited to:

  • Wordshark
  • Accelerated Reading
  • Beat Dyslexia
  • Rapid Reader
  • Toe by Toe
  • Active Phonics
  • DALP
  • Catch Up Reading

These follow identification in reading gaps and are selected to meet specific needs within a student’s reading ability. Every child’s journey to fluency looks different, and our small class sizes and deep knowledge of our students allows us to tailor their experience.

A Focus on Nurture

In order to ensure that the social and emotional needs of our children are met, Springwell Leeds Academy takes a nurturing approach with the six Principles of Nurture forming the foundation of our curriculum and teaching and learning pedagogy. These are:

  • Children’s learning is understood developmentally.
  • The classroom offers a safe base.
  • Nurture is important for the development of self-esteem.
  • Language is understood as a vital means of communication.
  • All behaviour is communication.
  • Transitions are significant in the lives of children

At Springwell Academy Leeds all time is learning time and opportunities to foster positive relationships. We aim to prepare students to have positive experiences when we welcome them to school each morning, support our young people to manage the demands of the social school day successfully, and provide enrichment opportunities where students can practice positive social skills and spend quality time with peers and key adults before finishing their day. Three key aspects of our school day; nurture breakfast, social dining and social time, and team time, support the implementation of our SEMH curriculum. At lunch time, students and staff have meals together either in our communal dining spaces or in class areas allowing staff to model, facilitate, and reinforce positive social skills for young people in a structured and safe environment.

For a more detailed outline of our SEMH curriculum including experiential learning, nurture breakfast and team time click below:

Trauma Informed Approach

We aim to promote the safety and security of our children by taking a trauma informed approach to the curriculum. This means we aim to:

  • Provide our children with daily access to emotionally available adults, who believe in them, and can relate to them with compassion, empathy and unconditional positive regard.
  • Support children experiencing painful life events, by helping them process, work through and make sense of what has happened.
  • Ensure that staff interact with children at all times with kindness and compassion.
  • Develop our settings in ways that help children feel calm and safe
  • Foster a culture in which staff and other adults interact with all children in a way that makes them feel valued as individuals throughout their day
  • Have staff and adults who adjust their expectations of vulnerable children to correspond with their developmental capabilities and experience of traumatic stress.

Each site has a therapeutic intervention offer that enhances the core curriculum with bespoke sessions including: