City primaries recognised for raising pupils’ aspirations

Primary schools across Stoke-on-Trent have been recognised for their work in raising the career aspirations of their pupils.

All schools got to take part in the Opportunity Area funded ‘Employers into Primaries’ project launched in 2019 which also gave them the opportunity to put in a submission for a Quality Award.

Many schools took advantage of new opportunities to involve pupils in planning for their futures and activities have ranged from careers fairs involving parents and employers to workshops which have involved pupils learning more about jobs in a specific sector.

Lisa Rodgers, from Moorpark Junior School in Burslem, said: “From September to March, we ran a number of activities to support children in their careers learning such as enterprise weeks where the children researched and created a product to make and sell.”

Amanda Whitmore, Year 6 teacher at Eaton Park Academy, Bucknall, added: “Something we did which has a massive impact on our children was the ‘Aspirations Week’ that we put together in the first half term. During this time, the children had experiences with many different people from a range of exciting careers. This included a vet, a former army major, a firefighter who dealt with the Smiler crash and even a Premier League referee. These were perfect opportunities to raise the aspirations of our children by speaking to local and successful people.”

Although planned activities for this year were impacted by Covid-19, some schools used the opportunity to focus on the important job roles undertaken by key workers.

Jade Archer from Maple Court Academy, Bentilee, said: “Whilst in lockdown we asked the children to make posters about the key worker jobs and how important they were throughout the pandemic. When we returned to school, we were able to continue our careers work with virtual sessions including virtual tours of some workplaces and watching video tours of some unique jobs such as Google and games development. “

“The children have enjoyed learning about a wider range of careers and many have been excited to learn about jobs that they didn’t know were available. They are enthusiastic about their future and they know that they can achieve anything that they set their mind too.” 

Pupils from Milton Primary Academy took part in a tree and planting workshop which gave them the opportunity to learn about outdoor career opportunities such as landscaping and gardening and an Engineering Day which involved them in activities which varied from building their own rollercoasters to cracking codes.

Acting Headtacher Rebecca Bailey said: “This project allowed our children to be exposed to a vast range of careers they would never have considered otherwise. There is no doubt that it left the children feeling inspired and excited about their aspirations – a value that we will continue to nurture through our Compass for Life lessons and many more career related learning opportunities in the future.”   

Schools which received the “outstanding” Quality Award were: Eaton Park Academy, Milton Primary Academy, Moorpark Junior School, St Gregory’s Catholic Academy, St Joseph’s Catholic Academy, Stoke Minster Primary School, St Peter’s Catholic Academy, St Thomas Aquinas Catholic Primary, Sutherland Academy, The Meadows Primary Academy and the Willows Primary school.

Cllr Janine Bridges, cabinet member for education and economy said: “Raising children’s aspirations is something that I am extremely passionate about and I’m really pleased so many of primary schools across the city have entered into the spirit of the project. They have pulled out all the stops, involving their pupils, parents and local employers in creative ways to understand more about different jobs, careers and the skills involved. We’re especially pleased that their work, supported through the Opportunity Area, is helping to raise the aspirations of children living in Stoke-on-Trent.”

The Opportunity Area work complements the initiatives by Wavemaker and the City Council through their Democracy days and Science Days in targeting primary school pupils to encourage them to think about their own skills and aspirations and how these can be channelled into forging a career for themselves. It gave them an opportunity to establish what they were good at and got them thinking how they could use their skills to create for themselves a career they would love doing.

100,608 correct answers in online maths competition

Maths champions from across the City are celebrating ‘rockstar’ status after clocking up a phenomenal number of correct answers following a week of quizzing on their times tables.

The Top of the Rocks initiative is run by the Maths Excellence Partnership and funded by Stoke-on-Trent Opportunity Area to drive up engagement and raise standards in Key Stage 2 Maths.

Involving 40 primarily schools across the city, the online competition was launched in celebration of Maths Week England.

Ceri Bedford from the Maths Excellence Partnership said: “Our top 10 pupils each answered over 50,000 questions correctly in the week which is incredible.” 

Top performing schools were St Thomas Aquinas Catholic Primary, St Augustine’s Catholic Primary, and Park Hall Academy. However the overall winner, Ethan Dutton, from St Teresa’s Catholic Primary School scored a magnificent 100,608 correct answers. 

Ceri added: “It was fantastic to see the engagement throughout the week and the incredible effort so many children put into the competition and so encouraging to hear schools reporting that that the children’s times tables skills have improved such a lot. 

Hannah Davies, teacher at St Augustine’s Catholic Primary Academy, said: “This competition has been such a lift for us and an amazing driver for times tables.”

The Top of the Rocks times table competition will be repeated for Year 5s in January.

Opportunity Area Launches Search for Top Times Tables Talent

AN ONLINE competition to test the Maths ‘metal’ of youngsters across Stoke-on-Trent primary schools has launched this week in celebration of Maths Week England.

The City-wide Top of the Rocks initiative is run by the Maths Excellence Partnership and funded by Stoke-on-Trent Opportunity Area to drive up engagement and raise standards in Key Stage 2 Maths. This year’s competition is running online using the Times Table Rockstars app.

Ceri Bedford from the Maths Excellence Partnership said: “We launched this competition in January last year with around 40 Year 4 pupils from 20 primary schools taking part in the city final.

“By moving online we have increased participation with Year 4 children in 40 schools ready to compete from 9am today. We expect to see a real flurry of activity in classrooms and at home where pupils can practice their times table knowledge and their ability to answer questions against the clock.”

Natalie Godwin, a Maths Specialist Leader of Education based at the Coop Academy, who helped to organise last year’s City finals of the competition at Port Vale Football Club, added: “This year the bar is set particularly high as last year’s winner from Stoke Minster primary school answered an incredible 60 questions in a minute on paper. We have some great prizes up for grabs and look forward to discovering our Year 4 Times Table talent.”

Launching today, the Top of the Rocks competition will run for a week to coincide with Maths Week England. There will be prizes for the top students in each school, the top 10 in the city and for the top five schools.

Emma Hawkes, an Assistant Headteacher and a Maths Specialist Leader of Education at Park Hall Academy, added, “The children have been asking everyday if the competition has started yet. Team spirit is high, and the children are determined to be at the top of the leaderboard.”

Another initiative, supported by the Stoke-on-Trent Opportunity Area, involves Year 6 students taking part in maths challenges sessions run in collaboration with the City’s secondary schools. These are also being run online via live or recorded sessions and St Margaret Ward Catholic Academy are intending to run their first session of the year this week focusing on special numbers to their cluster primary schools.

Ceri added: “It’s especially important that we are encouraging younger pupils to enjoy and feel confident in maths and these initiatives are a fun and engaging way to involve young people in understanding its importance and where it can take them.”

Creative Education Partnership Resources

Creative Education Partnership have shared a number of resources that they created throughout lockdown, alongside an upcoming networking event for teachers and creative practitioners in Stoke-on-Trent.

Inspiring Creative Education – Saturday 7th November, 9:30-4:30pm

This is a networking opportunity for teachers and creative practitioners working in the Stoke-on-Trent area. It’s suitable for anyone interested in inspiring creative education and will be full of interesting workshops and discussions. This will be an online event, more details and how to book a place can be found here.

Loving Learning Through Creativity – online resources

Love Learning through Creativity artists created YouTube videos throughout lockdown that are still available online and are a brilliant resource of things to do and stories to listen to. These videos are still available to watch and are free for all.

All videos are available to access here.

Creative Youth Voices – activity pack

One of the Loving Learning Through Creativity artists, Kirsty Cotton of Kreative Foundations created an activity pack that runs alongside the LLTC videos, it’s a downloadable resource to help young people to access cultural and artistic experiences.

The link can be found here.

Our Future Hopes – video

Over the summer Partners in Creative Learning worked with a group of young activists and artists supported by the Kwanzaa Collective and created a short film called Our Future Hopes, this video platforms a diverse range of voices from across the city communicating and sharing positive messages.

The video and some additional creative resources can be found here.

Stoke Speaks Out Website Launch

Stoke Speaks out have launched their brand new website which we were able to support through our Speech & Language project, ‘Closing the Word Gap’.

The website features advice and activities on speech, language and communication for children under five. They also provide resources for both parents, carers and professionals working with young children

Find out more about their new website here.