Welcome from the Headteacher

Stephenson Way Academy and Nursery School
SWANS

From myself and the staff, a very warm welcome to Stephenson Way Academy and Nursery School (SWANS) website.  We pride ourselves on being an extremely inclusive, caring and forward thinking school at the heart of the local community.  Children’s all round development is paramount to us and we endeavour to provide children with a wide range of experiences and opportunities so that they experience success and are well equipped for their future education. 

Our school is a primary academy and is part of Tudhoe Learning Trust.  Working as part of an academy trust has many advantages, with the main benefit being the dissemination of good and outstanding practice across the trust, in order to improve educational outcomes for children.  As a result of working with six partner schools we are exposed to a range of approaches and we can take the best practice and adapt systems and approaches to benefit the children in Stephenson Way.   Our school is responsible to a board of directors and an Executive Head Teacher.  The Trust give the Governing Body and the Head Teacher freedom to make decisions about the future direction of the school but play an active role in holding the school to account for its performance.  As a result of the on-going collaboration and a high level of accountability between the school and its partners, we are never complacent and continually strive to improve further with our aim to be an outstanding educational provider.   

At SWANS we prioritise the teaching of basic skills and the curriculum is rich, from early years onwards, with opportunities for children to develop reading, writing and mathematical skills.  Our morning sessions are highly focused with children working in smaller class groups with a teacher, or where class groups are larger, additional adults, to ensure that children are never in a learning group of more than 15.  High staffing levels are a feature of school since we believe that providing children with high levels of effective instruction, feedback and support will enable them to make the best possible progress.   During morning sessions the preferred teaching style is “direct teaching”, with skills and knowledge being taught in a systematic, progressive manner over sequences of lessons.  The decision to have a high level of staffing and use direct teaching styles is based on John Hattie’s extensive educational research into factors that influence positive outcomes.  (According to Hattie, direct teaching is the most effective method for acquiring new skills.  Also Hattie, alongside research from the Educational Endowment Foundation, suggests group sizes of 15 or less children has a positive effect on learning.) 

During morning sessions all children have the opportunity to engage in reading, writing and mathematics teaching and activities.  If additional intervention or support is required for reading, writing or mathematics then this occurs during afternoon sessions in small groups or 1-1 teaching.  Since our assessment systems are well established and embedded, based on fortnightly teaching blocks, we can make assessment judgements quickly and assign intervention and support with immediate effect.  This means that any child at risk of not fulfilling their potential is picked up quickly and additional help provided.    
Although basic skills form the core of our curriculum we strongly believe that children need a broad and balanced curriculum.  Our curriculum is well established and is underpinned by children’s literature, and meaningful and engaging learning contexts, which enable children to develop spiritual, moral, social and cultural aspects of learning.  We adopt a different teaching style during afternoon curriculum sessions, with a greater emphasis placed on interactive learning and practical activities.

In addition to our main curriculum, we have a number of special features.   PE and sport and creative and performing arts form an integral part of school’s wider curriculum.  As a school we take PE and sport seriously and encourage our children to partake in a wide range of sporting events ranging from water polo all the way through to traditional sports and games such as football.  We feel sport enhances children’s physical and emotional well-being and provides them with an outlet to demonstrate their talents beyond the academic aspects of the curriculum.  In school children also have ample opportunity to demonstrate and develop their creative and performing arts skills and dispositions.  Creative and performing arts, art and music are timetabled frequently, with specialist teachers delivering drama, singing and musical performance and dance lessons on a weekly basis to specific classes in Key Stage 2.  School’s creative and performing arts society host two productions per year with the most recent being “The Wizard of Oz” and “Roald Dahl’s: Jack and the Beanstalk”.   As a school we strongly believe that experiencing the arts is essential to a child’s development and again gives them an opportunity to demonstrate talent and succeed in a different aspect of learning.

For selected groups of children, Historical Enquiry is another aspect of our curriculum.  This provides children with an opportunity to undertake independent research and follow their own lines of enquiry.  Also, outdoor learning is an additional element to our curriculum, targeted at specific groups of pupils, where children are given the opportunity to learn about gardening and sustainability, as well as basic economics since any produce grown is sold and the profit reinvested in the garden.   School is widely recognised in this field and holds a number of prestigious awards for the work children have done in improving their local environment. 
These special features now form the core of school’s highly effective, stimulating and inclusive Alternative Curriculum Pathway (ACP).  This is used to provide children with opportunities to foster and develop talents, as well as providing them with experiences and opportunities that they may not normally receive. The ACP also serves a dual purpose in supporting children who may find aspects of “conventional” learning difficult.  
Our school is very busy with every part of the day seen as an opportunity to learn, experience and enjoy.   Children’s all round development is at the centre of everything we do and we hope that you enjoy visiting our website and find its contents useful in giving you a taste of life at Stephenson Way Academy and Nursery School.  If you have any other questions or would like to find out anything else about our school then please don’t hesitate to contact myself or the staff team.   (Details are located on the contact page.)

T. Cassap
Head Teacher