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Curriculum Overview

At Springwell Leeds we have developed a curriculum to meet the needs of our pupils which provides them with the knowledge, skills and understanding they need to be successful and progress positively to the next stage of their development, whether that is continuing their education, training or employment.
Curriculum Model 
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Springwell Leeds Academy Leeds’ curriculum is shaped by the words of our strapline …

Nurture, Inspire, Achieve:

We recognise that in order to be successful, our pupils need to be ready to learn. The SEMH needs of our pupils create the greatest barriers to this learning. In order to overcome these barriers, we take an approach that encompasses the Six principles of Nurture and is trauma informed, recognising the impact of trauma on early childhood development. This is founded upon the development of strong relationships, based on the work of Carl Rogers and the principle of unconditional positive regard.

Many of our pupils join us after a difficult or disrupted period of their education meaning that re-engaging them in learning is a priority of our curriculum. By providing opportunities that are carefully matched to their needs as described in their EHCP, capture their interest and imagination, we aim to create a positive and supportive learning environment, where our pupils feel included and valued. This means extending learning beyond the classroom and academic subjects and providing opportunities to build their cultural and social capital through experiential learning.

We believe that all our children have the ability to achieve whilst recognising they all have unique needs and starting points.  Our aim is to ensure that our pupils are prepared for their next step in life, whether that is continuing in education through the school or elsewhere, into further training or into employment. In order to achieve this, we have developed a carefully sequenced curriculum that provides a range of appropriate academic qualifications, supports their personal development and enables them to know more, remember more and do more.


Our Values and ethos

Our curriculum has been developed to reflect the values and ethos of our school.

At Springwell Leeds we … How our Curriculum Supports this
believe that every child can succeed – we find a way
  • We have constructed a curriculum offer based upon the needs of the child as described in their EHCP and which is delivered in line with those needs
  •  It is a specialist model and learning that recognises that mainstream approaches have not worked for our pupils
  • It has carefully sequenced learning from starting points that allows our pupils to know more, remember more and do more.
  • We provide a range of group and individual interventions for those who require additional support
  • Has a careers offer that supports transition beyond the school into positive next steps in education, training or employment.

build strong relationships based on:

  • unconditional positive regard
  • respect
  • honesty
  • tolerance
  • All pupils access a curriculum and approach that supports  their SEMH needs, explicitly teaching strategies that support self-regulation
  • There is a clear and well constructed PSHE and RSE offer
  • We have embedded British values and a common approach to tackling intolerance
  • Planned activities support the development of social skills and communication
create a nurturing environment
  • We have embedded six principles of nurture that underpins our approach
  • We are trauma informed and recognise the impact that trauma can have on our pupils
take a restorative approach
  • Our highly trained staff are skilled in the use of restorative approaches to rebuild and strengthen relationships – pupil / pupil and staff / pupil
develop creative approaches to learning – inventing the way
  • Our staff are encouraged and supported to develop and pilot new ways of learning and new curriculum areas based on the changing and varying needs of pupils.
place our Academy at the heart of the community
  • We work with external agencies and professionals to enhance the school offer.
  • Provide opportunities for the community to come into school
  • Our experiential learning offer creates a wide range of appropriate opportunities for learning beyond the classroom
are outward facing and inward focused
  • Our teams work in partnership with external agencies and professionals to enhance the school offer.
  • Our staff participate in local and regional networks to share practice and learn from others in the system and sector.
  • We have a model that is constantly under review and development with opportunities to bring in the best examples of learning from within the system.
Curriculum Structure

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 (SEMH) needs. 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
Elements Curriculum Handbook

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.

Why we use Phonics International

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:

SEMH Handbook Template

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: