Leeds West Academy

Curriculum Overview


The Curriculum at Leeds West Academy

In 2016, Leeds West Academy introduced a brand new life-after-levels curriculum, in association with the other academies in the White Rose Academies Trust.  This new curriculum:

  • Ensures that students are challenged at the appropriate level, depending on their starting points.
  • Builds the knowledge, skills and understanding that students will need to perform well in their examinations in year 11 and beyond.
  • Emphasises a curriculum model which is built on the importance of reviewing and retaining the core aspects of each subject area.
  • Ensures that students are secure in their learning before they move on, and that they know the next steps that they need to make improvements.
  • Links curriculum and assessment through the three assignments that students undertake each year.
  • Provides a clear model of what good progress looks like.
  • Ensures that students develop the resilience to approach independent learning, revision and homework with success.

Please see the New Curriculum section of the website for full details

Students at Leeds West Academy choose their options in year 8 and start their key stage 4 programme in year 9.   

Key Stage 3

Foundation School

Students in year 7 and 8 are part of the Foundation School, under the leadership of the Foundation School Leader, Mr Bullock.  A key aspect of the Foundation School curriculum is ‘Project’, a cross-curricular integrated skills development programme in year 7 and 8 which is designed to bridge primary and secondary curriculum delivery styles and therefore support student progress.  Two trained primary practitioners ensure excellent transition between key stage 2 and 3.  Religious Studies and Citizenship are studied through the Project lessons, and teachers work closely with English and humanities staff to maintain a high quality of literacy across the curriculum.

In year 7 and 8 students also study English, Maths, Science, Technology, Humanities, Spanish, PE, Performing Arts (Music, Dance and Drama) and Art.  Students study Personal, Social, and Health Education through our Values Curriculum in coaching, assemblies, Curriculum Theme Days (CT Days) and Immersion Curriculum Experience Weeks (ICE Weeks).


The purpose-built year 7 suite of rooms is geared to the curriculum model, with ‘making’ spaces as well as collaborative learning rooms allowing pairs of students to access a computer, plus a whole computer suite just for year 7, together with small specialist literacy/numeracy and small group rooms all adjacent to one another. The majority of year 7 teaching takes place here, with staff coming to the rooms rather than students moving around the building.

Catering for all abilities

Appropriate levels of challenge and support are ensured through grouping and setting arrangements in Foundation School. A small Nurture Group with dedicated Teaching Assistant support allows for students who need additional help with their English and Maths to develop their potential, whilst an accelerated group ensures that the most able are appropriately challenged. Setting within each year group is reviewed regularly by the School Leader, in consultation with the core Area Team Leaders and informed by extensive data from the Student Progress Tracker. In addition to the Nurture Group, the academy runs an Intensive Support Team (IST) which provides additional learning experiences to students who are having difficulty in accessing the mainstream curriculum.  The GEMS group offers sessions for students who need extra help with developing their relationships with other students.

Cross-Curricular work

A key focus for the academy is to develop student application of combined skills learnt within subjects so that they can better understand the links between different curriculum areas. The building is structured around 3 curricular hubs: Innovation (maths, technology, science and ICT), Diversity (all humanities, MFL and sport) and Communication (English, performing arts, and creative, digital, visual arts). Increasingly subjects within the hubs work together to create a harmonious curriculum. For example the Science and Technology teams work closely together to develop exciting STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) projects, and the English and Performing Arts teams work extensively together, studying and performing texts.


At Leeds West Academy we think that reading, and in particular reading for pleasure, is one of the most important factors in allowing children to reach their full potential. A love of literature and a genuine desire to read opens doors to students that remain closed for reluctant readers, no matter how strong their ability. In order to support the drive to engage students with reading for enjoyment, the academy offers a range of activities and experiences linked to reading for pleasure.

The school celebrates National Poetry Day each year with a focus on poetry in English lessons that is further reinforced by other school teams through teaching linked to the theme of the day. Last year’s theme was ‘Light’ and students worked on this in Project and Geography lessons in addition to looking at poems on light linked to Diwali and Leeds Light Night. Some of our students’ work was shared around school this year and, after being put on Twitter, was re-tweeted by the National Poetry Day campaign itself. This year preparations are already being made for the day which focuses on the theme of ‘Messages’.

The English department also welcomes visiting authors into the academy to work with students of all ages and abilities on reading and creative writing skills.  Last year we were visited by G.P. Taylor, author of the Mariah Mundy series of novels, who shared his motivations for reading with the whole of Year 7 and then led workshops with small groups of pupils. We also welcomed comic book writer Corey Brotherson to the academy to work with Year 11 students on Controlled Assessment pieces and the art of descriptive writing.

The Readathon is another important date on the English team’s calendar with students in Year 7 encouraged to read as many books as they can and raise money to provide books for children in hospital at the same time. The Readathon is run by Mr Benson and all abilities are invited to take part.

Of course, a love of reading is also fostered within English lessons with all students in Years 7 and 8 taking part in weekly Reading lessons as an addition to their traditional classes. Students in set1-3 all take part in the Renaissance Reading Accelerated Reader programme which tests students’ comprehension of books they have read and suggested novels that will both entertain and challenge them. In sets 4 and 5 all students take part in the Accelerated Reading scheme in addition to taking part in a shared reading of an audiobook linked to their specific ability level.  

For those students who need extra support in reading we use the Fresh Start programme, which is aimed at helping students to develop the phonics skills they need to become fluent readers and writers. Students who need it also gain extra support through our Level-Up Project, which provides additional lessons in the holidays as well as one to one and small group tuition during the school term.  In addition to this, our Year 11 and sixth form Reading Champions read with year 7 and 8 students every week in coaching.

All students have access to well-resourced Library, which is at the centre of reading in the academy. All students are encouraged to have a reading book, and year 7s are taken to the library in scheduled lessons.  The library has a series of activities scheduled to raise reading enjoyment throughout the year.  The librarian, Ms Walker, also works closely with area teams to provide book boxes and create subject themed weeks where appropriate.


Additional Subject Information

If you go on to the Subject Tour on our website you can see a curriculum map for each subject which tells you the different topics that are covered.

Key Stage 4

Flexible Pathways

Flexible pathways at Key Stage 4 are designed to ensure that all students study subjects appropriate to their needs. All students study English, Maths, Science, and Religious Studies and all students do the European Computer Driving Licence.

The EBacc Pathway provides the opportunity to study at least two science subjects, History or Geography, Spanish and English Literature.

The majority of students study History or Geography and at least one science at GCSE, as well as English Literature, and those not studying a language choose a third option subject.

A small number of students follow the Enterprise Pathway.  On this pathway, students study all the core subjects, and take part in a number of projects designed to build confidence, personal skills and prepare them for the working world, and further education.

All students also choose from a wide range of GCSE and vocational subjects after consultation with parents, senior staff and their coaches.


The following subjects lead to GCSE qualifications:

English English Literature Maths Core Science Additional Science
Biology Physics Chemistry History Geography
Spanish Religious Studies Business ICT Computer Science
Food Technology Food and Nutrition Resistant Materials Textiles Drama
Music Dance PE Expressive Arts

Art and Design

(traditional art and design

and photography pathways)


The following subjects lead to BTEC qualifications:

Sport Performing Arts

Children's Play, Learning

and Development

Health and Social Care
Business ICT

Art and Design

(graphics, product design

and textiles pathways)



The following subjects lead to a NCFE qualification:


Creative Craft: Hair and Beauty

Creative Studies: Performance Skills (Music)

Engineering Studies

Creative Studies: Craft (resistant materials)

Food and Cookery 

Other Qualifications:

European Computer Driving Licence


Alternative Provision

For the small number of students who are unable to engage with the broader KS4 pathways the academy has taken a leading role in setting up a provision, West14, which is run by a consortium of local secondary schools, and which aims to provide a valuable learning experience for students at risk of permanent exclusion.  We also work closely with our sponsors Leeds City College to provide additional options for students.  These provisions are visited regularly by key workers, and the academy ensures that all students take maths and English at GCSE.  In 2015 our offer was improved to include science where appropriate, and all students in alternative provision can study a range of vocational subjects.

Key Stage 5

16-19 Study Programme: Key points

  • All 16 to 19 students, whether studying academic, applied or technical qualifications, should be given the opportunity to take a study programme which reflects their prior attainment, education and career goals.
  • Study programmes should normally include substantial academic or applied and technical qualifications; non-qualification activity including work experience; and the study of English and maths where students do not hold a GCSE graded A*-C in these subjects.
  • Study programmes should be focused on progression to the next level of education, a traineeship or apprenticeship, or other employment.
  • Funding is on a per student, not per qualification basis.
  • New accountability measures have been introduced from 2016, and are published on the academy website.


At Key Stage 5 a wide range of A-Level, Applied General, and Technical qualifications are offered.  Students continue to develop their understanding and knowledge of social, moral, spiritual and cultural aspects through the Values Curriculum.  Extensive time is given to ensuring that students are supported in their next steps.  A majority of our sixth form students go on to University courses, but an increasing number find high quality apprenticeships, and other types of employment and training.

All students also take part in the Personal Development Programme (PDP), through which they take part in an activity to develop their leadership skills for at least an hour a week.


 The following pathways are available for students:

1) Academic pathway: 4 A-levels

Minimum entry criteria: 5+ A*- B at GCSE including English and maths, plus fulfilling entry criteria for selected courses.

2)  Applied General or Technical pathway:  level 3 BTECs equivalent to 4 A-levels (plus English or Maths GCSE resit, as necessary)

Minimum entry criteria: 5+ A*- C at GCSE or equivalent including at least one of maths and English, plus fulfilling entry criteria for selected courses.

3) Combined pathway: mixed A-levels and level 3 BTECs as equivalent to 4 A-levels

Minimum entry criteria: 5+ A*- C at GCSE or equivalent including English and maths, plus fulfilling entry criteria for selected courses. Some flexibility will be applied in the case of students who have obtained only English or maths GCSE but who show talent in a subject they wish to follow at A-level.

4) Level 2 pathway: maths and English GCSEs, plus level 2 vocational courses

Minimum entry criteria: 4+ D - G at GCSE or equivalent.

Please note: Re-sitting Maths and English GCSE is compulsory for students who have not already obtained a C grade or above in these qualifications

Subjects offered: 



Art: Graphics

AS and A-level

Art: Photography

AS and A-level


AS and A-level


AS and A-level


AS and A-level


AS and A-level


AS and A-level


AS and A-level

English Language

AS and A-level

English Literature

AS and A-level


AS and A-level


AS and A-level


AS and A-level

Media Studies

AS and A-level

Physical Education

AS and A-level


AS and A-level


AS and A-level


AS and A-level

Extended Project



Applied General


Applied Science



L3 National Extended Certificate, National Diploma, Subsidiary Diploma and Diploma


Art and Design (traditional art and textiles pathways)


L3 National Extended Certificate, Subsidiary Diploma and Diploma





L3 Extended Certificate and Subsidiary Diploma


Health & Social Care



L3 National Extended Certificate, National Diploma, Subsidiary Diploma and Diploma


Information Technology


L3 Extended certificate, Subsidiary Diploma, Diploma


Performing Arts


L3 National Extended Certificate, Subsidiary Diploma, 90 credit Diploma, Diploma, Extended Diploma





L3 National Extended Certificate, Subsidiary Diploma, Diploma and Extended Diploma


Tech Level



L3 Subsidiary Diploma

Production Arts (Costume)

L3 Subsidiary Diploma

Production Arts (Stage Management)

L3 Subsidiary Diploma

Sport: Fitness Services

L3 National Diploma

Level 2



GCSE re-sit


GCSE re-sit, functional skills (entry level, level 1 and level 2)


VTCT Level 2 Diploma in Beauty Therapy Studies


VTCT Level 2 Diploma in Women’s Hairdressing


Level 2 Technical Certificate

Health and Fitness

Level 2 Technical Certificate


Values Curriculum

Personal development and welfare curriculum threads and themes

The personal development curriculum has been divided into six threads which cover all of the elements of the spiritual, moral, social and cultural development of students within the curriculum and wider school environment.



Objectives / topics

Personal Identity and Diversity

  • Developing self-worth, resilience & independence
  • Developing confident learners
  • Valuing diversity, promoting tolerance, tackling prejudice & challenging extremism
  • Encouraging self-reflection & valuing the beliefs, religious or otherwise, of others
  • Showing respect for others, preventing bullying & hate incidents
  • Willingness to participate positively in artistic, musical, sporting & cultural opportunities
  • Taking pride in personal achievements & in achievements of others in the school

Personal well-being and safety

  • Understanding how to stay safe in different situations and settings, including on-line, fire and road safety. 
  • Making informed choices about a wide range of activities that impact health & well-being: including diet, fitness, drugs, alcohol & smoking.
  • Emotional & mental well-being & managing stress
  • Understanding healthy relationships at all ages
  • Understanding the importance of attendance

Career Aspirations and Economic Well-Being

  • Enabling informed career choices
  • Developing skills & qualities, such as the grit & determination to succeed
  • Managing money, understanding finance and debt
  • Preparing for higher education
  • Reflection on behaviours & attitudes to learning & working

Modern Society

  • Understanding British values of democracy and individual liberty
  • Promoting engagement with British values
  • Building knowledge of the Prevent Agenda, the rule of law & recognising the difference between right & wrong
  • Engaging with modern society & appreciating the cultural influences within society in order to promote tolerance
  • Reflecting on the consequences of actions & the impact on others
  • Becoming thoughtful & caring members of society, being able to resolve conflict
  • Building knowledge about the roles played by public institutions & voluntary groups in British society

Global Citizenship

  • Considering the role of individuals within the global community
  • Understanding the impact of human activities on the environment, sustainability & resources
  • Building knowledge about the role of international organisations & voluntary groups
  • Discussions & debates on global issues, current affairs, such as the global economy, global conflict & world health issues
  • Developing respect for different cultures, religions, viewpoints & engaging in constructive debate

Participation and Moving Forward

  • This thread is used for different activities in each year group; to embed the learning from other threads as appropriate: in Years 7 & 8 it is used for enhancing communication skills, in Years 9 & 10 it is used for work experience preparation & in Years 11-13 it is used for embedding study skills, developing practical time management skills & applications for further education.


Delivery of the Values Curriculum

The Values Curriculum is mainly delivered through assemblies, coaching, project (year 7 and 8); Citizenship Theme Days (CT Days), Immersion Curriculum Experience Weeks (ICE Weeks) and the Extension and Enrichment Programme (EEP).  However, many other aspects of our curriculum offer students a chance to develop their understanding of the Values Curriculum, including additional activities such as sports, Academy Productions and the many trips and visits that are organised for students throughout the year.  By the end of 2016/17 all academy subjects will have produced a document to show where the 6 threads are covered in the main curriculum too. 


One session each week in coaching is dedicated to a theme related to Personal, Social and Health issues, or to a current affairs topic. For a full overview each year group’s coaching themes, please follow the link to the Values Curriculum on the website.


Through our Assembly programme we explore key ideas around British values, including democracy and the rule of law, as well as covering a whole range of moral and cultural issues. Coaches are encouraged to “unpick” the key ideas from assemblies with their coaching groups.

Citizenship Theme Days (CT Days)

We have three Citizenship Theme Days a year, in which students study a variety of topics related to the national curriculum for citizenship as well as Personal, Health and Social Education. During these days we have a value-driven approach, raising awareness of British values such as democracy and the rule of law, and other important aspects such as respect for the disabled.  In addition to the exciting resources produced by School Leaders in-house, we have excellent partnerships with other organisations such as Human Utopia and Prison No Way, which help make our curriculum offer inspiring and engaging.

Immersion Curriculum Extension Weeks (ICE Weeks)

ICE Weeks have become a powerful part of the curriculum. Not only do they present students the opportunity to extend their learning within one of the three hubs; they also present extensive opportunities for student-led learning and the development of teambuilding and leadership skills. During these weeks our students work extensively with other members of the community, including Primary School students, and the elderly.

Sexual Health Days

As part of our programme of activities, each year group has at least one Sexual Health Day a year, in which a number of important subjects are covered by our team of expert practitioners.  Along with the importance of healthy relationships, the days cover other important topics such as body image, domestic violence, and Internet safety.

Enrichment and Extension Programme (EEP)

The curriculum is supported by a wide array of social and cultural experiences students. Every Monday students take part in an extra-curricular activity of their choice. It has been a key principle at LWA that students are able to access the full variety of cultural opportunities that are available in 21st century Britain. This includes:

  • Students visiting Namibia 2011 as part of World Challenge- supported by a whole school Africa day
  • 2013 trip to Malawi was highly successful with a larger cohort of staff and students – Malawi 2015 already in planning stage with much students interest
  • 77 students enrolled on the Duke of Edinburgh programme
  • A packed sporting calendar which involves a range of competitive and non- competitive sporting activities for both girls and boys
  • Regular high quality performances showcasing student talents, including a spectacular opening event described as ‘Excellent and amongst the best I have seen’ by the Director General of E-ACT, award-winning (Wharfedale Festival) production of ‘into The Woods’ 2013, excellent (and the first school’s production of 2014) of ‘Oh What a Lovely War’
  • Frequent trips to the theatre, museums, art galleries, performances by in-school theatre companies, and a new project with an artist in residence to create an artwork with students
  • Extensive work with local Primary Schools and Homes for the Elderly through a number of different projects
  • Good relationships with the local parish, enabling further community awareness by students
  • Many student-led fundraising projects, including cake sales for Children in Need, a Charity Bike Ride for the Paralympics, and extensive funds raised for our partner school in Malawi
  • Successful outward-bound annual residential for all year 7 students.