Curriculum Overview

Curriculum Overview

The RIA curriculum is grounded in the National Curriculum for England (2014). We use the standards and content of this curriculum to inform our core content. It has high, but we feel appropriate, expectations for attainment and learning, yet also offers the flexibility for us to adapt our teaching according to our international context and our commitment to personalised learning.

This curriculum guides our work with children aged 5 to 14. Attainment is monitored through using the National Curriculum system of Levels. These levels give a clear and reliable view of progress, and of student ability in relation to the UK’s academic expectations. The content and levels of our curriculum also translate well to other education systems worldwide, meaning that transition to and from other schools is generally seamless.

At 15 years old, most of our students start to study towards Cambridge IGCSEs. These are formal qualifications that allow entry to UK ‘A’ Levels, the IB Diploma, or US or Canadian Upper High School programmes, as well as most other post-16 English speaking courses worldwide.


RIA has seven classes of ten children covering the age range of 5 – 16. Some of these classes may be mixed age. We also have one class of six or seven children for students who have additional learning needs. Children are placed in classes that best suit their learning, rather than being placed solely upon their age.


The School Day

We split the school day into four main sessions. Within the morning sessions, teachers will apply their own routines and timings according to the nature of their class. Morning lessons focus on Maths, English and Humanities. With the younger children, there will often be a weekly theme around which lessons are built. Afternoon lessons are generally the more active or practical subjects, such as Science, Art, PE, Computing, Technology, Music and Well-being. Mandarin lessons occur either just before or just after lunch. Arrival time is 8.30-8.45, with lessons starting at 8.50. The end of the day is 3.45, except on days when After School Activities run, when it is 4.45.

Core Subjects


English has a pre-eminent place in education and in international society. A high-quality education in English will teach pupils to speak and write fluently so that they can communicate their ideas and emotions to others, and through their reading and listening, others can communicate with them. We take our children on a wonderful journey, that starts with letters, phonics and lots of practical reading, writing and verbal communication, through to the richness of Literature and the world of ideas within it.

RIA has a distinct advantage for progressing English skills. Unlike any other international school in Shenzhen, our children all naturally default in class and in the playground, to speaking to each other in English. This provides a real boost for second language learners as well as a healthy environment for native speakers. Our small classes encourage every child to develop confidence in their abilities to express themselves and to enjoy language.


Mathematics is a creative and highly inter-connected discipline that has been developed over centuries, providing the solution to some of history’s most intriguing problems. It is essential to everyday life, critical to science, technology and engineering, and necessary for financial literacy and most forms of employment. We offer a full programme, combining the high standards of the UK’s National Curriculum ( see our curriculum overview documents) with an active and personalised approach. The children all enjoy Mathematics at RIA and we consistently see excellent progress


A high-quality science education provides the foundations for understanding the world through the specific disciplines of biology, chemistry and physics. Science has changed our lives and all pupils should be taught essential aspects of the knowledge, methods, processes and uses of science. Through building up a body of key foundational knowledge and concepts, pupils should be encouraged to recognise the power of rational explanation and develop a sense of excitement and curiosity about natural phenomena.

We treat Science as a discrete subject throughout the school, Our youngest children have specialist lessons during their week which often build on their weekly themes. As the children get older, the sub-sections of Science are developed, leading them towards the knowledge and skills necessary for tackling the challenging curriculum of Key Stage 3 and 4. Science is great fun, and we all look forward to these lessons.

Foundation Subjects

The Arts

There are two weekly art lessons for every student. Children experience a wide range of activities, skills, knowledge and styles. The children enjoy a broad range of activities including, sculpting, painting, fine art, handicrafts, pottery and lots more. Art is a prominent part of our curriculum and we believe that young people gain great benefit from developing the inner qualities that come with such self-expression.

Music with the younger children tends to focus on song, dance, basic instrumentation and percussion. As the children grow older, music theory and opportunities for more advanced instrumentation are introduced. We have twice yearly school performances where children can showcase their enthusiasm and talent.

Technology and Design

Building, designing, fixing, creating, growing, planning, evaluating, marketing, costing……. What a great subject for everyone. We’ve even had one of our oldest students design and build his own jet engine. Excellent fun!

Humanities (Geography and History)

The skill sets for these subjects are developed as per the UK curriculum, but the subject matter is often altered so as to reflect our international setting. For example, in Geography we will look at features from around the globe whilst History is altered so as to give a broader world view.


Computing is a major part of our lives and our computing curriculum reflects the importance of this. We utilise the rigorous new computing subject standards from the UKNC and also add our own twists on top. 3D printing, AI, coding, robots … and lots more … 


Mandarin lessons happen four times a week and are delivered by a team of specialist Chinese teachers. Our children come from a range of backgrounds and have greatly differing levels of competency in Mandarin. We split our regular classes into different groups for this subject, so that all children will be receiving lessons that are appropriate for them.


Often called Personal, Social and Health Education (PSHE), our Well-being programme focuses on many aspects of growing up, relationships, personal health, being part of a society, safety, and self-management. Students engage in specific activities to help them reach personal conclusions about themselves and the world, and they are encouraged to apply their ideas to their daily interactions and to their school work.

Contributing thoughts about how their school should run is also part of this strand of the curriculum under the label of Student Council. We also encourage aspects of the well-being programme through our Friday afternoon whole-school assemblies, encouraging children of all ages to interact and to develop their shared interests. and values.


Having a small campus doesn’t stop us having lots of fun and active PE. Lessons are twice a week, and we use a local outdoor sports field for many of our team and general activity PE lessons. In addition, we have probably the best swimming pool in Shekou just 100 metres from our back gate, and there are range of indoor and specialist venues that we utilise too. Whilst having small classes restricts our ability to field say, a school rugby team, it does offer us opportunities to engage in more specialist activities that perhaps would not be possible with larger groups.

Here’s part of a (long) list of some examples: archery, rock-climbing, ice-skating, taekwondo, golf, horse-riding, swimming, gym work, ballet, pool, yoga, dance, drone flying, netball, fishing, kayaking …. and more ……

ASAs, School Events, Visits and Visitors

We have two school excursion opportunities per year, one overseas and one more locally. We offer a range of After School Activities and we regularly go on school outings and have visiting specialists join us. We have many social and school events throughout the year, including Recognise Week, Sleepover, Bingo Night, Welcome Night, and two school concerts. Here are a few pictures below, but to get a full flavour of our offerings, please visit Facebook ( Search: Recognise International Academy ) or have a look at our Gallery pages !


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