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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, PSHCEE, 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.

Pre-learning activities (homework), which are mostly completed on site during Prep time, provides support for students who require it, and a calm, well-resourced study space for more independent learners.

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 PSHCEE, 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.

Remote education provision: information for parents

This information is intended to provide clarity and transparency to students and parents/carers about what to expect from remote education where national or local restrictions require entire cohorts (or bubbles) to remain at home.
For details of what to expect where individual students are self-isolating, please see the final section of this page/document.

The remote curriculum: what is taught to students at home

A student’s first day or two of being educated remotely might look different from our standard approach, while we take all necessary actions to prepare for a longer period of remote teaching.

What should my child expect from immediate remote education in the first day or two of students being sent home?

  • All students will be able to access their normal school timetable via their subject Google Classrooms on the school iPads. Whilst the remote provision is being set up, students may have additional (remote) time with their form tutors and/or Heads of Years via live streams or Google Meets so they can be told what to expect from the remote provision moving forwards.

Following the first few days of remote education, will my child be taught broadly the same curriculum as they would if they were in school?

  • Yes, they will broadly follow their normal school timetable with some amendments to ensure it promotes mental health and wellbeing during a lockdown situation.

Remote teaching and study time each day

How long can I expect work set by the school to take my child each day?

  • We expect that remote education (including remote teaching and independent work) will take students broadly the following number of hours each day and will be equivalent in length to the core teaching students would receive in school. students follow their school timetable, see example  here.
  • Key Stage 3 and 4: 5 hours each day (Number of hours – there are minimum expectations for remote provision). 
  • Work set will include both recorded or live direct teaching time, and time for students to complete tasks and assignments independently.
  • Students will be expected to complete the work before their next lesson but teachers are aware that some students may need time to complete the work outside of the lesson if they have other commitments at home or circumstances which make it difficult for them to complete during the lesson period (such as wifi issues, sharing of equipment with siblings, caring responsibilities etc).

Accessing remote education

How will my child access any online remote education you are providing?

  • All students are equipped with one-to-one devices (iPads). Any student who does not have one will be lent a device for the duration of the partial school closure. All remote learning will be delivered via Google Suite of Education (Google docs, Google Meets etc).
  • All students are members of each of their subject Google Classrooms and Year groups, and all lesson resources and Google Meet codes will be posted on their Google Classrooms. students join their Google Classrooms at the start of the academic year.  

If my child does not have digital or online access at home, how will you support them to access remote education?

We recognise that some students may not have suitable online access at home. We take the following approaches to support those students to access remote education:

  • 4G wireless routers
  • Chromebook loan for those without an RTS-iPad or while their school device is being repaired
  • Technical support will be available to all families during any partial school closure in case of issues accessing resources or remote live lessons.

How will my child be taught remotely?

We use a combination of the following approaches to teach students remotely:

  • Resources posted on Google Classroom
  • Live teaching via Google Meet
  • Previously recorded content
  • Live Stream (experiments, assemblies etc)

Engagement and feedback

What are your expectations for my child’s engagement and the support that we as parents and carers should provide at home?

We expect students to engage with their remote learning as much as possible but reasonable adjustments will be made for those struggling to adjust to school closure and both pastoral and curriculum support will be offered where necessary to support students with their learning. Parents and carers should support their children in the same way they do when schools are open: by engaging in dialogue about the work set and the work produced and offering support and guidance where appropriate. 

How will you check whether my child is engaging with their work and how will I be informed if there are concerns?

  • Heads of Year will monitor student engagement with and attendance of remote lessons and will contact home if prolonged absences from remote lessons are observed. 
  • Curriculum Leaders will monitor work produced by students during their remote lessons and will contact home if concerns arise relating to effort and progress.

How will you assess my child’s work and progress?

Feedback can take many forms and may not always mean extensive written comments for individual children. For example, whole-class feedback or quizzes marked automatically via digital platforms are also valid and effective methods, amongst many others. Our approach to feeding back on student work is as follows:

  • “Live” marking on student digital books as they are completing tasks
  • Written or audio-recorded comments on student work produced in digital books or uploaded to their subject Google Classroom
  • Teacher questioning during Google Meet sessions
  • Google Quizzes 
  • Pre-learning
  • Teacher feedback on common errors and then redrafting by students using the “cribsheet” method

Additional support for students with particular needs

How will you work with me to help my child who needs additional support from adults at home to access remote education?

We recognise that some students, for example some students with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), may not be able to access remote education without support from adults at home. We acknowledge the difficulties this may place on families, and we will work with parents and carers to support those students in the following ways:

  • Remote education for self-isolating students
  • Where individual students need to self-isolate but the majority of their peer group remains in school, how remote education is provided will likely differ from the approach for whole groups. This is due to the challenges of teaching students both at home and in school.

If my child is not in school because they are self-isolating, how will their remote education differ from the approaches described above?

  • If the majority of students are in school, the teacher will teach a “live” lesson to the class but will share a Google Meet code with those students who are self-isolating. They will join the Meet via their iPads and be able to follow the lesson from home. The teacher will still expect self-isolating students to contribute to the lesson, complete the work remotely and answer questions in the same way they would if they were in school. The teacher may not be able to respond immediately to questions from self-isolating students due to the fact they are “live” teaching the lesson to students in school.

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

Year 7 - Curriculum

Year 8 - Curriculum

Year 8 - Summer Booklet 2022

Year 8 - Curriculum Guide 2021-2022

Year 8 - Pre-Learning Timetable 2021-2022

Year 8 - Parent Information Evening  - Slides - Wednesday 15 September 2021

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Year 9 - Curriculum

Year 9 - Summer Booklet 2022

Year 9 - Curriculum Guide 2021-2022

Year 9 - Pre-Learning Timetable 2021-2022

Year 9 - Parent Information Evening - Wednesday 15 September 2021

Year 9 - GCSE Options Booklet February 2022

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Year 10 - Curriculum

Stepping into Year 10

Year 10 - Summer Booklet 2022

Year 10 - Curriculum Guide 2021-2022

Year 10 - Pre-Learning is set by subject teachers during lessons

Year 10 - Parent Information Evening - Thursday 09 September 2021

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Year 11 - Curriculum

Year 11 - Curriculum Guide 2021-2022

Year 11 - Pre-Learning is set by subject teachers during lessons

Year 11 - Parent Information Evening - Wednesday 08 September 2021

Year 11 - Breakfast Booster Sessions - Autumn 2

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