Leadership: "Reading for pleasure" 

“Reading for pleasure” is the focus of our three-year leadership project, designed to explore the relationship between pupils choosing to read against overall academic success. 

The project demands a level of independence in terms of motivation, resilience and challenge. Systems have been set up to support the development of these qualities and there has been considerable investment in establishing a reading for pleasure culture across the academy, including refurbishment of the library and the creation of quiet reading corners within individual departments. Pupils are reading more than ever before and the library is always abuzz, sometimes with a queue leading out the door! 

We now enter the third and final year of the project and exciting times lie ahead of us. Opportunities presented by the new national curriculum and the reformed GCSE specifications have resulted in greater freedom for teachers to teach reading in new schemes of work and to make links across departments. Pupils in all years and across all ability bands are being challenged to read widely. As such, not only are they making academic progress, but they are also developing an intrinsic sense of achievement associated with independent learning and perhaps a lifelong passion for reading.

Lead: Mrs O’Sullivan, Deputy Headteacher and PTI Schools Programme Academic Coordinator for English

English department

The English Department at Stewards is a vibrant, hardworking team of dedicated teachers, who work collaboratively and who are always striving to improve their teaching and their pupils’ learning.

The department vision is to make pupils love literature. We aim to drive standards through the transformation of pupil attitudes to literature through inspirational teaching and aspirational learning. The intended result in the first instance is the preconditioning of pupils for learning concepts and as such, in the long term, a dramatic increase in their rates of progress towards externally set examinations.

The department is committed to high quality CPD, particularly in the form of action research. Our first PTI Associate Department project was focused on forging strong links with our primary feeder schools. We set up a cross-phase network between secondary and primary teachers, used lesson study to develop teaching and learning, hosted termly hub meetings and set up a primary transition project on the story of Beowulf. All new members of the team are invited to participate in the PTI New Teacher Subjects Days. Along with completing the Learning Resource Assignment element of the course, all participants are expected to lead department CPD following each of the six days. Not only are our new teachers furnished with excellent opportunities to develop their personal subject knowledge, but they are given the experience of leading training and contributing to the learning programmes delivered by the whole department, very early in their careers.

Our current Leadership Project explores the relationship between reading for pleasure and pupil progress. We have established an accelerated reading recovery programme for years 7-10, devoting one hour per week to the pursuit of reading for pleasure with guidance and challenge monitored by the English department, Reading Manager and also the pastoral team. Book weeks and enrichment opportunities have led to several collaborations with the History department, including a mini scheme on The Book Thief, and a two day Year 7 extravaganza to be held in December looking at the contexts of Shakespeare and culminating in a year group visit to Hampton Court Palace.

Lead: Mr J Greenaway, KS3 English

Geography department 

The Stewards Academy Geography department is working on a new project which looks at "Sustainability and recycling in Stewards Academy". This project aims to increase awareness of how we can all help protect the environment through 'small steps' and through changing people's attitudes to waste such as plastics bottles. The Geography department launched a student-lead ECO Club this past year, to help raise the profile of environmentalism within the school community. Each tutor group in Year 7 and 8 have 'Eco-reps' who promote a more positive attitude to recycling, attempting to rewire how pupils and teachers think about their personal usage and everyday consumption. The current concern for the ECO Club is to limit the amount of non-renewable energy used and rubbish created each day. The club worked with the caretaking team in the first instance to place new recycling bins around the school. Next, Stewards Academy has hosted a ‘Switch off Fortnight’ as well as a ‘ Waste Week’ to engage the students and staff into being more ECO aware. ECO Club has seen brilliant progress around the school made by all and we hope to continue these ECO movements in the future.

One very exciting way we plan to make this happen involves working with our Finnish partner school, Puistola School, by embarking on a joint venture to encourage greater environmental awareness within both school communities and to learn better environmental practice from each other.

Lead: Mr P Hickman, Subject Leader Geography

History department

The History department at Stewards Academy prides itself on challenging both staff and pupils. The PTI has played an integral role in the development of subject knowledge for every member of our team, including: New Teacher Subject Days, CPD subject enrichment days and membership to the Associate Department Programme.

Pupils are enthusiastic and relish the challenge that History provides. In lessons, pupils enjoy debating a whole range of topics from the success of the civil rights movement in the USA in Year 11 to the nuclear arms race in Year 9.

Our Associate Department Project has focused on promoting extra-curricular activities that encourage pupils to develop a passion for history outside of the classroom. In the last year, pupils have visited Hampton Court, Duxford and the Imperial War Museum in London. At Hampton Court, Year 7 pupils were able to work in groups to gather evidence on Tudor England that they could then use for their studies back at school. The Year 9 curriculum centres on the Cold War and the visits lead by the department have been able to bring this period of time to life. At the Imperial War Museum pupils were able to work independently and presented their findings to staff at the end of the day. During the visit to Duxford we were given a tour of the American Air Museum by a veteran from the U.S air force.

Lead: Mr J King, Subject leader, History and PTI Teacher leader for Schools programme

Mathematics department

Our Maths department has recently taken on the Mathematics Mastery curriculum in KS3. Over the last two years we have developed a programme that follows the principles of mastery for all, setting high expectations that promote critical thinking, and integrating problem solving into every lesson. As educators we have been able to improve our questioning to challenge and elicit deeper understanding. The language that students use has improved, with students able to articulate their thinking using correct mathematical language; this is particularly evident with the lower sets. The culture around mistakes has also changed - students are much more open to talking about their mistakes and see them as a positive. They have become more resilient with problems solving, willing to try unfamiliar problems and are flexible with their approaches. It is quite evident that our KS3 students are a lot more confident in their mathematical knowledge and we look forward to seeing how this approach will help them succeed in KS4.

In addition to taking on the mastery for all approach to mathematics, at Stewards we want to ensure that all our students are stretched to their full potential. For our higher attaining students we encourage them to take part in different maths challenges held nationally. Last month a group of students from Year 9, Year 10 and Year 11 took part in the UK Intermediate Maths Challenge. The challenge involves answering a series of multiple choice questions focused on mathematical problem-solving which challenges students to think creatively and logically. Gold, Silver and Bronze certificates are awarded to the top 40% of participants entered nationally. We are very proud to announce that 21 talented mathematicians have been awarded certificates, with 7 receiving the silver certificate. The Junior Maths Challenge for Years’ 7 and 8 will be taking place on Thursday 27th April and we have 80 eager students getting ready for the challenge!

This month, we had four remarkable students represent us in the Essex Regional Final of the Maths Team Challenge at Bancofts School, Woodford. The Maths Team Challenge and Individual Maths Challenge events occur once per year and are designed to stretch the very highest attainers in Mathematics. The four students selected for the Team event had all achieved gold or silver in the Junior Maths Challenge in Years 7 and 8. They prepared tirelessly for two months to compete in four gruelling rounds that only teamwork, reasoning and resilience can conquer. Despite none of the students having ever participated before in the team event, and going up against some of the best schools in Essex, we achieved an unbelievable 17th place. 

All in all, our staff and students are extremely proud of the work that is being done in the Maths department. We continue to work as a team to ensure that our students are prepared for the new curriculum and are provided with fantastic opportunities to succeed.

Lead: Miss L McDevitt, Subject Leader Maths

Science department 

The Science staff at Stewards are a team of hardworking and dedicated teachers and technicians, who work together to share their passion for science with the pupils they teach.

The department’s vision is to engender a love of learning, make pupils aware of the impact science has on the modern world and to show them the careers and opportunities available to them in later life. Throughout the three-year PTI project we have sought to maximise the number of pupils experiencing STEM-related extra-curricular activities. 

Most recently a team of Year 10 students entered the Raytheon Quadcopter Challenge 2015. The competition among Year 9 and 10 students began in January 2015, in association with Essex County Council. The competition involved students building, programming and flying quadcopters from kits designed by Raytheon UK engineers. The Stewards team's quadcopters, named APOLLO 13 and MAKAM, dodged mid-air knocks and made it safely through an obstacle course during the contest, held at Stow Maries Great War Aerodrome in Essex, England, on 7 November 2015. The APOLLO 13 quadcopter was awarded Raytheon UK's Engineering Quality Award and the pupils received the grand prize of a flight in a 1930s-style Tiger Moth biplane at the aerodrome. To see video footage of the Quadcopter challenge you can follow the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XpfH-Fsdkls&feature=youtu.be

The three-year project to increase awareness and participation in STEM-related activities has been a success. So the next three-year project intends to build of this success by addressing pupil underperformance in Year 10 science through the use of STEM-based activities. In Science there are a small number of pupils who for a number of reasons have become disconnected from the subject. We hope to re-engage them with the subject through STEM-based activities in order that they may better progress in Science.

Lead: Mr R Perrin, Subject leader, Science

MFL department 

Our project for languages consists of researching in what ways languages can be promoted in order to stress to our pupils career and employment benefits and encourage further study of languages post KS3. 

We are aiming to: 

  • Raise the profile of languages within the school
  • Encourage more students to study French or Spanish at KS4
  • Create links between language and the ‘real world’ as highlighted in the new KS4 curriculum for MFL
  • Create links with third parties (FE and HE institutions and local industry e.g Stansted Airport and Harlow College)
  • Encourage more students to consider studying languages Post 16 at our FE and HE institutions

In order to do so, we organised a range of events for our students; including a trip to Cambridge University during which our pupils were offered a lecture about the importance of learning a foreign language in further education. Our department also invited BBC journalist Emma Jane Kirby to share her passion for languages with our Year 8 students. This year, we organised a successful trip to Paris to raise inspiration within our Year 9 and 10 classes. Our annual European day of languages also aided the promotion of languages throughout the school.

This year, we have developed our links with universities further, inviting undergraduates from Cambridge to come and speak to our pupils in Year 9, 10 and 11. Our pupils had the opportunity to ask questions and they didn't waste a moment! The session proved so popular, we had to extend the planned visit and many individuals stayed on to meet the visitors personally.

Lead: Miss P Gilmé

Classics department

Classics sessions have doubled since September: now running twice a week at 8 am! The general Classics Breakfast Club, which is open to everyone, meets on Mondays and the Latin Language pupils meet on Tuesdays.

The Classics Breakfast Club do a range of classic-based activities: since September we’ve designed a new Classics badge for 2016-2017 (this one features Roman numerals); made a model of a Roman villa which is currently on display in the school library; held team competitions and quizzes on the Romans or Latin/English word games. One of this year’s most popular – and noisy - games has been an adapted version of Snakes and Ladders which has been a fun way to teach Roman numerals. We sometimes watch animated videos about Roman life or act out scenes from Roman history.

We’ve had two trips so far this year: Year 8 and 9 pupils had a day at the Classics Faculty at Cambridge University where we learned about Greek archaeology, visited the Cast Museum and had a tour round Emmanuel College. The second trip took Year 7 to Verulamium museum in St Albans where they pretended to be archaeologists, guessing what various Roman items might be and then toured the gallery, keen to complete their worksheets and win the prize.

This year, five pupils who have been regular members of the Classics Club over the past two years decided they wanted sit the WJEC exam this summer - Classics Level 1 Certificate. We’ve had to gallop through the exam syllabus but they still seem determined to ‘have a go’.

Plans for the summer term include a whole school Classics treasure hunt, a trip to Lullingstone and a Classics Day.

Lead: Mrs C Cadden, English and Classics

Photography, Art and Design department 

The Photography, Art and Design department is a vibrant department that works hard to inspire pupils both inside and outside the classroom. A sculpture course for Year 6 pupils, knitting club, exhibitions both in school and at local galleries along with the young curators course are just some of the exciting opportunities the pupils have had access to. Recently, the department held their latest photography exhibition in the new school canteen. The bright, airy, white-walled room is the perfect blank canvas on which to mount the stunning images. A competition was launched within the whole school community and twenty photographs were selected by the Headteacher to be enlarged onto canvas. The local press were invited to the exhibition opening, along with families of the winners of the competition and the governors and staff of the academy. The exhibition is stunning and has received very positive feedback from both staff and students. It has created a calm and inspiring atmosphere.

Meanwhile, Year 9 pupils entered and exhibited their work in ‘The Glass Hideaway’ section of the Gibberd Gallery. The large chalk and charcoal drawings were transcripts of collages that the pupils had created on the theme of War. Their work was initially made for an exhibition to mark Remembrance Day at Stewards Academy. The work is thought-provoking, dramatic and captures the horror of war.

The Department’s Art Teacher/Artist in Residence has successfully recruited feeder primary schools to this year’s sculpture workshops, aimed at Year 6 Gifted, Talented and Able students. Last year, he ran plaster-based relief workshops for eight feeder schools. Following their success, he presented an outline of the new project at a primary headteachers’ meeting in September and is now in the midst of delivering the new and exciting project based on totem poles. Students are creating large-scale sculptures using cardboard and found objects. Each primary school has the opportunity to choose a theme for their work. So far, the topics have included ‘The Industrial Revolution’ and ‘Industry in London’.

A weekly club has been set up for Gifted, Talented and Able students in Year 8. Pupils are working large-scale and are currently learning about Futurism and Cubism. The aim is to introduce more complex concepts of art, which students would normally meet at a later stage.

The Photography, Art and Design department is currently researching national art competitions, to find a suitably inspiring one for its pupils to enter.

Lead: Mrs M Warren, Subject Leader, Art

Music department 

The Music department is a small but dedicated team of practising musicians who work hard to share their passion for music with the pupils they teach.

At Stewards we aim to instil a life-long engagement with music and a greater understanding of how it is created and performed in different communities throughout the world. We understand the contribution of the creative industries to the UK economy and the presence of British music on the world stage; an understanding we use to promote Music as a valid career choice. Through informal learning practices and practical music-making we teach broader attributes such as resilience, respect and responsibility.

The department is committed to CPD that informs us of the bigger picture of music education and keeps us networking with other music professionals. A close relationship with our local Music Hub has brought about many opportunities for our staff and pupils. Organisations such as Musical Futures, The Royal Opera House Bridge and the PTI have provided us with valuable professional development.

Our current Schools Programme targets include improving the use of technology in music. At KS3 we are using iPads and the Seesaw app to improve assessment, dialogue between teacher and pupil, and evidencing progress over time. We are seeing an improvement in pupil independence and engagement as they are communicating in a format that they use in social situations.

Lead: Mr S Barden, Subject Leader, Music