Excellence in Science Celebrated at Methodist School within the District

A primary school within the Sheffield Methodist District has scooped a national award for excellence in Science. 

Emmanuel Junior Academy in Waterthorpe, Sheffield is one just 160 schools across the country to have been achieved the Primary Science Quality Mark (PSQM) 

During the last 18 months the curriculum, including science has been redesigned thanks to new leadership and it’s had a significant impact on the standards achieved by the pupils at the Academy.

The pupils have enjoyed a number of trips to places such as the Magna Science Centre and Cadbury’s World. Scientific visitors have taken part in lessons including representatives from Warburtons and a Wonder Dome was set up in school for the children to experience the solar system. The school has also created links with Sheffield University at the Sheffield Rivers Trust to teach the children about the harmful effects plastics are having on the environment.

Home learning projects throughout the year have got whole families contributing to the pupils’ education creating fun and innovative projects about the Solar System and Volcanos.

Jo Thorpe, Science Lead at the Academy explains how the new ethos at the school is making a huge difference to the children and the staff team, she said: “We believe that the children have to be at the centre of everything we do and this award shows our commitment to that.

“It’s a year long process in order to achieve the PSQM and five elements are assessed including the teaching, the learning, the wider opportunities offered such as trips and experiences, how leadership is developed as well as the children’s attitudes towards the subject.

“We developed a vision for Science to make it enjoyable and hands on. Inviting experts into the school it has given the children role models to look up too and also showing there is science involved in making bread. We’ve made use of the outdoor space we have at school including an eco-pod.

“At the Academy we have a vision to “Be Respectful, Be Courageous” and we want the children to be courageous in Science and ask questions about it, but also give them the tools to be able to answer those questions. They enjoy being hands on and getting out the equipment to do experiments.

“The home learning has been fantastic too, we invited families into our Science lessons, which the children enjoyed then we saw the parents getting involved with science projects at home and have created some wonderful volcano’s and solar systems.”

Jenny Burke, Head of School explains it’s been a team effort to gain this award and she’s very proud of the school, she said: “We’ve been able to revolutionise the curriculum here at Emmanuel and all staff, pupils and families have embraced it.

“As part of the developments achieved in science, we’ve been able to teach that science is about investigation and that not every experience is going to work, but the children have the confidence to try.”

Emmanuel Junior Academy is just one of three schools within the District with Methodist links. A Christian way of life is promoted within the school and the School Chaplin Rev Jen Mullis visits weekly and teaches RE and also gets involved with some of the science lessons.

Like schools up and down the country the Academy sent all pupils homes in March as part of the Covid-19 lockdown and were only open for children from key workers families and those who were classed as vulnerable. The teaching didn’t stop though and the standards achieved during the last 18 months didn’t either.

Alison Adair, Executive Head Teacher within the Dioceses of Sheffield’s Academy Trust, said: “As an Executive Head I was sent to Emmanuel Academy to look at ways the curriculum could be improved. I found a brilliant staff team there as well as excited children and we incorporated a new mission which was to give the children the best education.

“During this challenging time of Covid-19 we’ve been able to offer high quality online learning, whilst still also teaching in school. Everyone has worked really hard including the pupils, its been a fantastic. We’ve been able to build relationships with more of our families as we’ve worked with them to make sure the children have continued to learn.

“We are very much looking forward to welcoming all the children back in September.”

Jenny added: “During lockdown it’s been important to send out a clear message to parents and families that it’s ok to adjust the levels of work the children completed each week as mental health is so important. We’ve had so many messages of gratitude from families about the support offered and the standard of online learning, which is fantastic.”