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The Richmond upon Thames School

The Richmond upon Thames School

Excellence Through Endeavour


We are an inclusive school and all students are stretched and challenged to exceed their personal best. To secure every child’s academic success and independence, they experience demanding teaching.

Our approaches ensure that all teaching fosters students’ critical thinking and engagement in sophisticated concepts. While our curriculum is in many ways very traditional, we aim to take an enterprising approach to its design, capitalising on innovative applications of digital technologies and partnership agreements. Our extended day allows us to ensure students benefit from rich and varied learning experiences. All students study a broad range of subjects including Art, Computer Science, Design and Technology, Drama, English, Geography, History, Mathematics, a Modern Foreign Language, Music, PE, Prep, PSHE, RE and Science. In Years 7, 8 and 9, students elect two enrichment options, which they change termly.

Our enrichment options include catering, dissection, choir, Karate, 3-D model making, gardening, a range of sports clubs and more.  Peripatetic teachers offer optional paid 1:1 and small group music tuition through the  Richmond Music Trust. We also compete in sporting tournaments against other schools and hold an annual sports day which links to our house system.

At RTS, learning extends far beyond the walls of the classroom, from explorations of Kew Gardens for Science Week to trips to theatres, galleries, masterclasses with commercial industry leaders, projects with universities and weekend camping trips. As a technologically aware school, all of our students use their school iPads to access cloud-based classrooms for each of their subjects where they make use of resources from lessons and work through independent extension activities.

Homework tasks are assigned based on a pre-established timetable. To support student learning, the Independent Learning Zone (ILZ) is accessible before and after school, as well as during break and lunch times. The ILZ provides a conducive environment for self-study, research, or reading.

Through our best endeavours, we strive to prepare our students for the next stages of their lives. We do this through a combination of methods, including PSHE, Academic Tutor-led Citizenship, through assemblies, presentations, employer visits, seminars, masterclasses, workshops, drop down days and 1:1 sessions.  

As a school, we are committed to ensuring that the learning experience supports all of our students to develop to their full potential. We recognise that some students may have particular strengths, whether academic, musical, artistic or sporting and that others require support with special educational needs or disabilities. To support all students our dedicated staff work together to ensure no student is left behind and we do this by providing stimulating, engaging learning experiences delivered by excellent teachers.

Teaching Groups

At RTS students are placed into mixed ability groups. Please read our detailed rationale and explanation:

Ethos and Vision

At RTS we firmly believe in social justice for all our students. We believe every member of our community should have the same opportunities to excel, and be given the same rights and freedom to become the best version of themselves.

We want all members of our community to feel that they can say “I belong” in our school and we do not cap or limit potential or choice both within the formal curriculum and outside it through our enrichment programme and other student leadership opportunities.

Challenge for All

At RTS we do not see challenge as an additional, add-on activity which is only offered to those who finish quickly. With this in mind we encompass a “challenge for all” approach in all areas of the curriculum. Students are given a variety of challenge tasks to access and are directed to the most appropriate one. Over time, students develop skills to help them to choose the most appropriate task depending on the stage of their learning journey. They are usually very good at choosing wisely and avoid picking the easy option, but the teacher is always there to guide them to the most appropriate option. 

This strategy allows all students to access different levels of challenge and does not limit student potential by categorising or labelling students according to their prior attainment.

Teaching groups

At RTS our approach is based on evidence conducted by the Education Endowment Fund (EEF) which led studies into the benefits of mixed ability teaching versus setting/streaming. The research found that mixed ability groups are more beneficial (+3 months progress) compared to setting which had a detrimental effect on progress (-1 month).

Mixed ability 

Teaching in mixed ability groups means that there are a range of abilities within the class group. Groups are formed by taking student demographics into account in order to ensure that all students are represented within the class (gender, SEND, Pupil Premium, Free School Meals, ethnicity etc).

At RTS students are taught in mixed ability groups in Years 7 and 8. In Year 9 all students are taught in mixed ability groups apart from mathematics.


Setting usually involves grouping students in a given year group into classes for specific subjects, such as English and mathematics, but not across the whole curriculum. The groups are based on prior attainment (usually KS2 SATs).

At RTS we set students in mathematics from Year 9.


Streaming usually involved grouping students into classes for all or most of their lessons so that a student is in the same group regardless of the subject being taught. The groups are based on prior attainment (usually KS2 SATs).

We do not do this at RTS.

Vertical Groups

Grouping children of various ages together, often for enrichment activities or project work.

Teaching groups at KS3

Year 7

All students taught in mixed ability groups

Year 8

All students taught in mixed ability groups

Year 9

Students are set in mathematics; all other subjects are taught in mixed ability groups


Vertical groups (students participate in mixed year groups)


Our rationale for mixed ability classes in Years 7, 8 and 9 are as follows:

  • All students study the same curriculum. 

    • This means progress is not restricted for some by the offer of a less demanding curriculum.

    • Student potential is not capped by students not being taught some of the content necessary for high attainment

  • Our flexible approach means that all students are exposed to different levels of challenge and can aspire to tackle more challenging tasks rather than being assigned a task which labels them as being in a particular attainment group

  • There is evidence to suggest that setting students according to prior attainment can have a detrimental effect on some students who may see themselves as inferior to their peers

  • Being in a mixed ability class can have a positive impact on students’ confidence and self-worth

Teaching groups at KS4


Students are taught in mixed ability groups


Students are set in ability groups 

Decisions around whether students are entered for Foundation or Higher tier are made in the spring term of Year 11


Students follow either the trilogy (combined science) pathway or opt to study triple science

Decisions around whether students are entered for Foundation or Higher tier are made in the spring term of Year 11

Modern Foreign Languages

Students are taught in mixed ability groups

Decisions around whether students are entered for Foundation or Higher tier are made in the spring term of Year 11



Students are taught in mixed ability groups

Option Subjects

Students are taught in mixed ability groups

  • Only 3 subjects have Foundation and Higher tiers (mathematics, science and modern foreign languages). Decisions around which tier to enter students for in Year 11 are based around attainment over the GCSE course and the students’ target grades

RTS Attainment Benchmarks Explained

What is attainment?

Attainment is the academic standard that students reach in, for example, assessments and exams. It is usually recorded as grades, scores or percentages, and it indicates a student’s result at the end of a period of study or Key Stage (KS). At secondary school there are 2 Key Stages: KS3 (Years 7, 8 & 9) and KS4 (Years 10 & 11). 

What is an attainment benchmark?

An attainment benchmark measures student performance against internal standards and learning goals. It helps educational establishments identify students’ strengths, weaknesses and common misconceptions. 

How do we measure attainment at RTS?

At RTS we formally measure student attainment twice a year. When we measure attainment it gives a snapshot of performance on a given day. It is important for students to practise and prepare for public examinations and other assessments where their performance is measured by a single assessment at a given point. As such, the assessment model we have created mirrors that which students experience in real life such as:

  • GCSEs, A Levels and other public examinations

  • driving test theory exam

  • job interviews and assessment centres

During formal assessments we assess students’ knowledge and application of what has been taught.

  • A percentage score equates to an amount of retained knowledge

  • Marks in the 50%-69% range are considered normal and indicate that students are on track to achieve their target expected grade (TEG)

  • We base our benchmarks on those of higher educational institutions where

    • 70% equates to a First Class Degree, 

    • 60% an Upper Second Class Degree 

    • 50% a Lower Second Class Degree

    • 40% a Third Class Degree

Why do we include highest and average marks when reporting your child’s attainment?

By including the highest and average scores in the year group, it allows you to evaluate your child’s attainment in comparison with their peers. This allows you to have meaningful conversations with them about their marks, their effort and what they need to do to improve their scores.

The table below explains the RTS attainment benchmarks:

Mark (as a percentage Knowledge and Application
29 and below Demonstrates basic and limited knowledge
30-49 Is beginning to understand and retain knowledge
50-59 Has demonstrated a deeper knowledge of the subject
60-70 Demonstrates depth in a range of contexts
71-89 Demonstrates sophisticated application of knowledge
90-100 Exceptional depth and flair

How do we calculate a student’s GCSE target grades?

We use Fischer Family Trust to calculate students’ GCSE target grades. Fischer Family Trust (FFT) is an educational charity which is used by over 13,000 schools nationally to provide estimated GCSE target grades based on students’ performance at primary school in their Year 6 tests.

Why are students in KS3 (Years 7-9) not given GCSE target grades?

At RTS we believe in allowing all students to make progress from their starting point and being given opportunities to excel. We believe that by assigning GCSE target grades to students in Year 7 we are labeling them and capping their potential. Progress is not linear and does not follow a set “flight path”.

Why are GCSE grade boundaries different from RTS attainment benchmarks?

At RTS we have very high expectations of our students and base our attainment benchmarks on higher education standards (see above). 

GCSE grade boundaries are not fixed and are set at the end of the marking period, which means it is only once all the papers have been marked that the awarding body will set the boundaries.

Although exam boards endeavour to set exam papers to the same level of difficulty each year, there will naturally be small variations in the level of challenge on the papers. As a result, grade boundaries change each year to reflect the difficulty of the paper. This ensures that the standards are maintained from one year to the next, and avoids grade inflation.

Assessment and Reporting

Technology at RTS

  • Parents’ Support (to be updated)

Extra-Curricular Activities

We are delighted to share with you the extra-curricular activities that are available to students at RTS.