Lansdown Park Academy Rush Hill
Lansdown Park Academy Rush Hill is run by Learn@ Multi Academy Trust, which manages four specialist schools in and around Bristol. At Rush Hill the trust aims to improve the life chances of young people from the Bath area who have been excluded from their secondary school, or are at risk of exclusion.
Rush Hill has places for up to 27 students, from Years 7 to 11 and works in partnership with BANES Local Authority, secondary schools and established partner organisations such as Empire Fighting Chance, Off the Record, Bath Community Farm and Rocksteady to provide a broad and balanced curriculum and offer progression to further education. The school employs specialist teachers and support staff with experience in working with young people with social, emotional or mental health needs to achieve this aim. Placements at Rush Hill vary in length according to the needs and circumstances of our students and can range from several weeks to longer term.
The Curriculum at Rush Hill follows the National Curriculum, is broad and balanced, and also personalised to reflect differing placement lengths, abilities and needs. Alongside the core subjects of English, Maths and Science we offer a range of subjects including Humanities, Art and Design and an enhanced PSHE and Careers curriculum. PE and Outdoor Learning also form key areas of our curriculum that support student's health and wellbeing, and their ability to engage with our community and the wider world.
At KS3, students follow accredited functional skills courses in core subjects and in other subjects a cross curricular, knowledge rich approach to learning. This approach utilises ASDAN to structure subject learning and content; and the development of a range of academic, personal and social skills. KS3 students also have the opportunity to engage with GCSE English, Maths and Science courses.
At KS4, each student has a personalised curriculum focused on achieving end of key stage targets. This approach has a particular focus on core subjects and working with our Careers teacher and external careers advisors to secure Post-16 college and apprenticeship placements. PSHE also forms a key part of the KS4 curriculum by providing opportunities for students to contribute to our community through volunteering and also engage with their own personalised programmes.
In KS4 at Year 11 each student has a personalised Careers and Post 16 Transition Plan that supports them right from the beginning of the process when researching Post 16 options, all the way to providing mentoring visits during the first term of college or period of apprenticeship placement. Our dedicated Careers and PSHE teacher coordinates this process for each student with the support of our Learning Mentor team and external Careers Advisors and Mentors. The partnership working, visits and guest speakers from our colleagues at Bath and Bristol Colleges also form valuable support for the successful transition of our students to their Post 16 placement.
At Lansdown Park Academy we have developed an approach to reading and literacy tailored to our setting and the specific needs of our students. An important part of this process has been the invaluable support from our partners at The Drivers Youth Trust. As a result we have incorporated a consistent approach to reading and engaging with texts into our curriculum based on specialist reading and literacy advice and the That Reading Thing and That Spelling Thing approaches in which all staff are trained. These approaches, while designed to address student's reading needs from phonics level upwards, are age appropriate and engaging for KS3 and KS4 students.
Our approach to teaching and learning at Rush Hill is an evidence based one designed to support our learners to engage with learning, and to progress during lessons and over time - whatever their needs and educational experience to date. We work closely with our specialist speech and language therapists, including advisors from the communication charity iCan, to ensure that individualised communication strategies are planned for students in lessons. Teachers also support the development of student's literacy skills, building on work with our colleagues in The Drivers Youth Trust, by planning sequences of learning that take the time to explicitly teach key vocabulary and support links to prior learning. Our planning processes incorporate strategies that support working memory and retention; support the learning of new concepts with guided practice and worked examples; and ensure that opportunities to deepen and apply learning are provided.
Students are also supported to access our curriculum through a range of interventions. These include communication skills development with our Speech and Language Therapists and trained staff; English and Maths catch up with our specialist teachers; Thrive sessions with our trained Thrive practitioners; and also reading skills development using the That Reading Thing and That Spelling Thing intervention approaches. Art therapy sessions, learning mentor sessions and access to Off the Record counselling onsite are also important interventions supporting the social and emotional needs of our students.
Our SENCo and teaching staff use a graduated approach to support teaching and learning with each student. Beginning by assessing baseline levels, staff then plan strategies to support students to access learning and progress which are regularly reviewed. This process enables us to contribute effectively to the Statutory Needs Assessments that some of our students successfully undergo during their placement at Rush Hill. While some of our students move on to a specialist setting the majority of our students successfully return to mainstream education at the end of their placement, to either their previous or another appropriate mainstream school.