Starlight Issue 7 (Autumn 2021)

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AUTUMN 2021 | ISSUE 07



Pupils celebrate exceptional results


Supporting every pupil to thrive




Combatting climate change

Meeting all pupils’ needs



WELCOME TO STARLIGHT Welcome to the autumn 2021 edition of Starlight magazine. As any year draws to a close, it is natural to reflect on past events and formulate resolutions for the future. 2021 has presented many challenges. As the bells rang to usher in the new year, we did not know that our pupils would spend most of the spring term at home. We anticipated that the summer examinations would proceed in the time-honoured way and we hoped that the menace of Covid-19 would quickly be consigned to history. Our plans were thrown into disarray by the prime minister’s announcement of the winter lockdown, but our commitment to nurturing today’s young people and inspiring tomorrow’s leaders was undiminished. We ensured that our pupils received the best possible deal during their period of remote education. When schools reopened in March, we ensured the safety of our pupils and staff and set to work on closing the learning gaps that had inevitably opened. 2021 became a year of recovery. First and foremost, our schools have focused on pupils’ wellbeing. They ensured that strong routines were in place to give pupils confidence and security. They provided support discretely where it was needed and made sure that all children had trusted staff with whom they could speak. Our schools have used additional government funding creatively to support pupils’ learning. This is particularly important for our disadvantaged children who suffered the impact of lockdown disproportionately. Teachers have reordered their curricula so that they can focus on developing pupils’ key skills, prioritising reading. Our secondary schools adapted swiftly when cancelled examinations were replaced by a rigorous process that led to pupils being accredited on the basis of teachers’ assessment of their work. Star resilience and tenacity saw us through.


Ingenuity is often spurred by crisis and 2021 has also been a year of discovery. Staff and pupils have displayed exceptional talents during the year, in fields ranging from digital education to creative arts, and in their civic service. All our schools contributed to Star Academies being presented with the prestigious Pearson National Teaching Awards ‘Lockdown Heroes’ Silver Award in recognition of their amazing commitment to their communities. So, we look forward to 2022 with optimism. Work to recover lost learning is ongoing. Our teachers continue to find ways of making lessons exciting and memorable. Our pastoral staff continue to support pupils to become the best version of themselves. Our many unsung heroes who work in different roles in schools and within the central team remain dedicated to our cause. The best is yet to come. I wish you all a very happy, healthy festive season and a new year in which your hopes and ambitions are fulfilled.

Together we are strong. We are Star.

SIR MUFTI HAMID PATEL CBE Chief Executive, Star Academies




STAR NEWS Celebrating pupils’ achievements

Remembering our fallen heroes



Marking Black History month

Tree planting honour’s The Queen’s jubilee



Trust-wide news and updates


Ensuring pupils with SEND achieve and thrive


Stories from across Star schools


Meet Star’s SEND Improvement Lead

Challenge brings reading to life


Read past issues of Starlight online at publications The next generation of sports leaders AUTUMN 2021 ISSUE 07



Pupils celebrate A level, GCSE and BTec success Pupils from Star schools celebrated their A level GCSE and BTec achievements this summer after overcoming a year of pandemic disruption.

Pupils and staff across the country faced a turbulent year as they worked to counter disruption caused by lockdown, periods of self-isolation and illness. Exams were cancelled this summer due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Exam boards issued qualifications based on grades determined by teachers following assessments and tests completed in school. In August, pupils collected their results and celebrated their efforts as they took their next steps towards securing their dream careers. Many A level and BTec students secured their places on degree courses at universities across the country. Zeba Phoplunkar from Tauheedul Islam Girls’ High School and Sixth Form College (TIGHS) in Blackburn achieved the top A* grade in A level Maths, Biology and Chemistry and has secured a place to study Medicine at The University of Cambridge. Zeba says that the school helped her to flourish and offered excellent support that has enabled her to fulfil her ambitions. She said: “I want to say thank you to all those that have helped me achieve one of my lifelong dreams. I want to thank my family for their endless support and the teachers at TIGHS who adapted their traditional teaching styles so that I was able to flourish. Even though this is all happening during an unprecedented time, I am grateful of those around me for making this journey as normal as Covid-19 would allow it.” Talented student Sheldon Leigh from Bay Leadership Academy in Morecambe achieved A levels in English Literature A and History A and a BTec Photography Distinction. Sheldon is delighted to have secured a place to study English Literature and History at Bangor University. Sheldon’s talent was recognised by the university, which awarded him a £2,000 scholarship after he proved his ability in a scholarship exam. Sheldon said: “I’m really pleased with the grades I got and so proud that I can go to my first choice university with the confidence that I can do anything that I put my mind to.”

Two Year 13 students at Tong Leadership Academy in Bradford have been awarded prestigious scholarships to help them work towards their dream careers. Nokukhanya Moyo and Estera Mititelu have been granted £10,000 each, by the Frank Hester scholarship, to help finance their university education. Funding for the scholarship has been provided by Leeds-based healthcare software provider, TPP. The scholarship was established in 2016 to help students who want to further their education, but who do not have the financial means to do so or whose circumstances have adversely affected their education. Estera achieved an A in English and B in Law at A level and a Distinction in BTec Business and is now continuing her studies with a degree in Law at Leeds University. Estera is the first person in her family to study at university and is grateful for the additional support she will receive. She said: “I was absolutely speechless when I heard the news that I had been selected for the scholarship. The scholarship will make a huge difference. I work at a local tea room and I couldn’t ever save that amount of money. It will make life a lot easier. My family didn’t know what to say, they couldn’t believe it. I feel really proud of myself. It feels like I’ve had a chance in a million, and I feel really appreciated and supported by my school and my family.” Nokukhanya was awarded D*D*D* in BTec Triple Science and has secured a place to study Pharmacy at Nottingham University. She said: “I was so happy when I heard about the scholarship. I just couldn’t believe it. The funding means I won’t have to find a part time job straight away, so I’ll be able to really focus on my university work. I’m so grateful for this opportunity, it means so much to me.” Despite Covid-19 related disruption of recent years, GCSE pupils across the trust celebrated their results day with their usual enthusiasm. At Eden Boys’ School, Bolton Saim Chatha achieved a fantastic set of ten grade 9s. Never one to settle for second best, Saim pushed himself tirelessly to achieve his best and those efforts are rewarded as he moves on to Runshaw College to study A levels in Maths, Biology, Chemistry and Computer Science. Lee Black from Highfield Leadership Academy was awarded a scholarship to study A levels at Rossall School thanks to his talent and commitment to his education. Lee secured eight grade 9s in English, Maths, Science, Geography, RE, Creative


iMedia and Health and Fitness and two grade 7s in French and English Literature. He is also a gifted swimmer and footballer, who trains with Fleetwood Academy. At Eden Girls’ School, Waltham Forest, Sedra Afzali was the school’s highest achiever after securing an outstanding set of results. Teachers said her nine grade 9s and one grade 8 in her GCSE subjects, as well as a BTec Distinction*, came as no surprise as she has always worked incredibly hard. Sedra said: “It is such a wonderful feeling to finally have these results. I cannot actually believe it. I just want to say thank you to everyone who has helped me get here.” Sumayyah Miah from Small Heath Leadership Academy was awarded four grade 9s and 3 grade 8s in her GCSEs. Teachers say that Sumayyah demonstrated great resilience throughout her studies and was determined to achieve grade 9s across multiple subjects. The diligent pupil is looking to continue her studies in science and eventually pursue dentistry at university and beyond. Sir Mufti Hamid Patel CBE, Chief Executive of Star Academies, said: “This past year has presented challenge after challenge to the pupils and staff at our schools. Yet despite these difficulties, our pupils have shown incredible character and determination to continue to make steadfast progress towards achieving their ultimate goals. Our pupils’ success is testimony to their fortitude and perseverance, which I know will carry them far in life. Congratulations to all our pupils and thank you to all our families and staff who have helped to support our pupils’ wonderful achievements.”




Bradford school moves to state-of-the-art permanent home Pupils and staff at Eden Boys’ Leadership Academy, Bradford are celebrating the opening of their new school site. The new purpose-built site will give pupils access to outstanding facilities in an environment that is tailored to ensure every pupil is able to achieve their very best outcome.

of well-equipped, contemporary science laboratories, a large science preparatory room and a modern, spacious library with a new learning resource centre. Pupils and staff will also have access to a reflection hall for prayer.

Pupils and staff are enjoying the experience of working and learning in their outstanding tailor-made facilities, which they say are already beginning to support improved learning outcomes.

The school, is also home to excellent sports facilities, including a sports hall, fitness studio, hard play area, astro turf MUGA (multi-use games area) and a 9-aside pitch.

The new Eden Boys’ Leadership Academy, Bradford site, which is located on Syedna Way, will provide pupils with modern teaching classrooms featuring the latest technology, with specialist rooms for art, food technology, creative arts and ICT. The building also contains a suite

Pupils and staff are already enjoying the features at the new permanent school site which will enable pupils to pursue their ambitions with even greater success for many years to come.



Star schools’ blended teaching practices praised by Department for Education Two Star Academies schools have been highlighted by the Department for Education (DfE) as examples of excellence in blended teaching practices.

The Olive School, Bolton and Tauheedul Islam Boys’ High School (TIBHS) both featured in the recent DfE publication, ‘Remote Education Blended Delivery Case Studies’, which detailed teaching success stories from life in the pandemic. As schools closed their doors to the majority of pupils during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, staff at Star Academies worked tirelessly to meet the educational and wellbeing needs of its pupils. Teachers at The Olive School, Bolton identified that stalled language development in the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) posed a key risk to pupil progress during lockdown. A significant number of pupils at the school have English as an additional language — a challenge which was ordinarily met by immersing pupils in vocabulary and syntactic language patterns in school. During lockdown, the school worked to deliver language-rich remote lessons, which prioritised vocabulary development. Each day, pupils received three ‘live’ online lessons, where they could interact with staff and peers at the school. A ‘story of the week’ gave pupils multiple opportunities to hear, repeat and memorise language patterns that would enable them to learn essential language skills. Children at home continued to read individually from books uploaded to MS Teams, which were differentiated according to their ability to blend sounds. On a weekly basis, all children were called by staff and read a story aloud. Parents could hear the feedback their child received and have some further time with the staff member to discuss their children’s progress. As a result of the school’s efforts, pupils benefitted from meaningful contact with their teachers, support staff and friends. They followed routines that were well established in school and, through regular practice and repetition of language, they continued to develop their vocabulary. At TIBHS, staff focused on ensuring pupils did not become disengaged from their learning during the pandemic and that staff workloads remained manageable.

The process began by ensuring that the IT equipment used by pupils and staff was fit for purpose and that every single pupil was able to access remote learning. A member of the Senior Leadership Team was nominated to support staff training and staff were given a bespoke CPD programme using Microsoft Learning Pathways to improve practice. The school adopted MS OneNote as the default for teachers’ planning, pupils’ recording and for all the school’s business activities. Pupils at home used OneNote so teachers could check and probe their work in real-time whilst pupils in class would work in their own books. By defining core digital tools and training staff so that everyone understood the applications and the rationale for their use, the school successfully created a commonality of approach. This ensured that pupils were familiar with common expectations across the school. Teachers also taught pupils face-to-face and online in one virtual classroom where possible, which enabled all pupils to interact with their teachers and peers during lessons. One teacher would focus on those face-to-face and, where a member of support staff was available, they would manage the online ‘chat’ function and support those at home. Where support staff were not available, the teacher would alternate between questioning those studying at home and those present in the classroom. The school saw exceptionally high levels of pupil engagement which was monitored through work completed in lessons and on OneNote, interaction in lessons, completion of exit and start tasks, as well as summative and formative exams using online tools. Online attendance at TIBHS was 99.5% during lockdown. The Covid-19 pandemic presented many challenges to the pupils’ education and wellbeing, but staff at Star Academies and its schools worked incredibly hard to minimise any effect of the pandemic on its pupils. Schools are learning from their practice under Covid-19 and are continuing to seek out innovative approaches and tailormade solutions for the long-term benefit of pupils.





‘GIGANTICUS’ Roald Dahl day In September, a host of Star schools joined in the global celebration of the life and works of British children’s author, Roald Dahl, who wrote many children’s classics including Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda and The BFG. On Roald Dahl Day, Star pupils joined children all over the world to remember the favourite characters and stories from these ever-popular children’s books, which have sold more than 250 million copies.

Among the activities taking place in our schools, Bay Leadership Academy held a Roald Dahl themed open evening where free copies of Dahl’s books were handed out to pupils. At Eden Boys’ Leadership Academy, Birmingham East, golden tickets were hidden around the school in true Chocolate Factory style. Those lucky enough to find one didn’t receive an invitation to Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory but they did receive their own copy of a Roald Dahl classic. As well as being remembered for his kind-hearted child heroes and humorous narratives, Dahl created his own distinctive language to create the vivid worlds in which his characters lived. Pupils at Eden Boys’ Leadership Academy explored Dahl’s extraordinary use of language in a ‘Guess the Quote’ competition where the winners got to make their very own ‘scrumdiddlyumptious’ chocolate bar. Eden Girls’ School, Waltham Forest marked the day by officially opening their new library. Following a cake cutting ceremony, pupils were filmed talking about their favourite Roald Dahl books. Year 7 pupils at Small Heath Leadership Academy were lucky enough to be gifted a Roald Dahl book to help them discover Dahl’s heroic characters and imaginative worlds. Highfield Leadership Academy pupils used the day to learn about Roald Dahl’s life and an important life lesson - how success didn’t come easily. Dahl had to overcome many challenges along the way - including the deaths of close family members and overcoming a serious injury sustained during World War II which made him even more determined to succeed. Pupils in Star primary schools also immersed themselves in the magical worlds from Roald Dahl’s novels. At The Olive School, Blackburn, a school poll found the most popular Roald Dahl character was Miss Trunchbull from Dahl’s classic Matilda. Meanwhile at The Olive School, Preston, pupils dressed up as characters from the best-selling books and made potions, chocolate and biscuits inspired by Roald Dahl’s characters and storylines. Year 6 pupils at Thornbury Primary Leadership Academy chose family-favourite James and the Giant Peach as their focus for the day. Pupils dressed up as insects to pay homage to some of their most cherished characters from the book, including Old-Green-Grasshopper, Ladybird and Miss Spider.



OFSTED INSPECTORS PRAISE HIGHFIELD SCHOOL LEADERS FOR “TRANSFORMING” SCHOOL Highfield Leadership Academy has reached a significant milestone in its improvement journey and is now out of special measures following an Ofsted inspection in July. The inspectors reported that school leaders are “transforming” the Blackpool school for its pupils. Ofsted commended the excellent progress the school is making and recognised that “pupils cherish the support that they get from staff, including for their mental health and wellbeing.” The inspectors noted the excellent progress that had been made since the last inspection in 2018 and graded the school ‘good’ in three out of the four inspection areas, namely Leadership and Management, Personal Development, and Behaviour and Attitudes. The report highlighted the caring ethos of the school and says that “pupils feel happy and safe” and that “bullying of any kind is rare”. Pupils said that “the best thing about

Highfield Leadership Academy is the sense of belonging that they feel”. The inspectors recognised that “pupils are proud of their school”. The school was praised for its safeguarding measures, which were deemed to be “a considerable strength” of the school. The report also acknowledged that “leaders have strengthened the provision for pupils with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND)”. School leaders welcomed the findings, which have given them even greater confidence that the school will soon secure its goal of achieving an ‘outstanding’ Ofsted grading.



10 STAR NEWS Teaching assistants treated on special day Star schools celebrated National Teaching Assistants Day to show their appreciation for the valuable role teaching assistants play in school each and every day. To recognise the exceptional contribution teaching assistants make to children’s education and support, staff and pupils held special events to thank them for their priceless support. Many schools marked the occasion by hosting celebratory meals for their teaching assistants and support staff, including breakfasts and brunches at Starbank School, The Olive School, Bolton and The Olive School, Hackney. Pupils at Eden Girls’ School, Waltham Forest made thank you cards and cakes to recognise and give thanks to their teaching assistants. Staff at Thornbury Primary Leadership Academy were invited to attend a luxurious afternoon tea. Whilst enjoying cream cakes and other sweet treats, the school’s teaching assistants were given cards made by the pupils. Meanwhile, teaching assistants at The Olive School, Blackburn were treated to some much-needed rest and recuperation at a Chai and Chat morning The UK has almost 250,000 teaching assistants working in schools, of which over 370 work at Star. They play an invaluable role in providing tailored classroom support for pupils, creating outstanding learning environments and providing the support pupils need to succeed.

The Big Teach kicks off with behaviour masterclass More than 1,000 teachers and school leaders from all Star schools joined the Star Institute’s first virtual Big Teach event of 2021-22. The Big Teach session was delivered by nationally-renowned behaviour expert and author, Tom Bennett. Tom is the author of ‘Running the Room: the teacher’s guide to behaviour’. In 2015, he was appointed the UK government’s advisor on school behaviour and is in charge of the Behaviour Hubs programme. Tom’s Big Teach session focused on the importance of teaching habits of good behaviour, including how to make it easy for pupils to behave well and hard for them not to. The Big Teach is a series of teaching masterclasses led by international experts. It is organised by Star Institute, Star Academies’ learning and development arm, as part of the trust’s ongoing professional development for its team of over 1,000 teaching staff. Big Teach events coming up next year will see the return of Tom Sherrington, best-selling author of Rosenshine’s Principles in Action, and Doug Lemov, an internationally acclaimed American educator and author of the Teach Like a Champion, who will be joined by Erica Woolway, Chief Academic Officer of the Teach Like a Champion Team and co-author of Reading Reconsidered and Practice Perfect.



Black History Month in October is always an important month in the Star calendar and this year was no different. Pupils and staff at Star schools across the country embraced Black History Month as an opportunity to explore and develop a greater understanding of Black History, heritage and culture. In every school, history classes, assemblies and displays were used to celebrate Black History and remember key events, from the Civil Rights movement to the murder of George Floyd. Against an international backdrop of protest and unrest, Black History Month and our responsibility to educate pupils about both historic and current events continued to hold special significance. Throughout the month, pupils learnt about the positive contribution Black people have made throughout history and celebrated more recent achievements and contributions of Black people in the UK and around the world, such as footballer Marcus Rashford’s political campaigning and Amanda Gorman’s poetry and activism for equality. Star schools marked the month with a range of activities that enhanced their understanding of the history of Black people. Pupils at Bay Leadership Academy researched influential science heroes, from George Washington Carver, regarded by many as the most prominent Black scientist of the early 20th century, to Mae Carol Jemison, the first Black woman to travel to space. At Eden Boy’s Leadership Academy, Birmingham East, pupils spent the week learning about Somalia and its contribution to world history. Nearby, pupils at Eden Boys’ School, Birmingham immersed themselves in different African civilisations. They learnt about the Mali Empire and its leader, Mansa Musa. Pupils also celebrated the inspirational life of Ayuba Suleiman Diallo – a prominent Muslim prince from West Africa who was kidnapped to America and sold into slavery – with a powerful and poignant presentation through music, poetry and rap with guest, Abdullah Bustami Khir.

Nelson Mandela is recognised around the world as one of the leading social rights activist and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his anti-apartheid work. Pupils at Rainbow Primary Leadership Academy celebrated Nelson Mandela’s numerous achievements by holding a Mandela cultural day. The school was decorated with inspirational and poignant quotes from Nelson Mandela to remind pupils of his life and wisdom. Children dressed in red, green and yellow clothes – colours from the South African flag – and celebrated with a special lunch. Our primary pupils enjoyed a wealth of cultural experiences to mark the month. Pupils at The Olive School, Blackburn created artwork inspired by Lois Mailou Jones. At Thornbury Primary Leadership Academy, pupils studied the life and work of American poet and activist Amanda Gorman, whose work focuses on issues of oppression, feminism, race, and marginalization. Pupils created a display inspired by the US Youth Poet Laureate’s writing and poetry. The sound of African drumming raised the roof at The Olive School, Hackney with pupils learning about African music and trying their hand at traditional drumming.

In London, pupils at Eden Girls’ School, Waltham Forest used social media to share motivational quotes from prominent Black individuals each day throughout the month. They also took part in a Black History Heroes workshop with local schools, and pupils wrote their own spoken word poetry on the theme of Proud to Be to celebrate their roots.




SEARCHING FOR OUR STARS Following the success of the inaugural Star Awards in March 2020, nominations are now open for the 2022 awards. The Star Awards bring together schools from across the Star Academies family to celebrate the achievements of pupils, staff and governors who embody our STAR values. The awards are designed to celebrate the stars in our schools - both the unsung heroes and the high achievers - and there are 20 categories to recognise the many different ways our pupils, staff and governors contribute to the Star community. Chief Executive, Sir Mufti Hamid Patel CBE said: “These awards provide a wonderful way of showcasing some wonderful examples of the commitment, drive and innovation demonstrated every day by our pupils, teachers, support staff and governors across the Star family. Many of our pupils face significant challenges and adversity in their lives, yet they are still committed to their education, and to helping others thrive in our schools. The stories the awards uncover make us all at Star Academies extremely proud and it serves as a humbling reminder of why we all continue to strive to be the very best we can be.”

The winners will be revealed at a high-profile awards ceremony in March 2022.

Leading lights join Star Institute’s senior team Melanie Renowden has been appointed as Executive Director: Star Institute. Melanie has worked in education for 25 years specialising in teacher development. Starting out as a civil servant which gave her a “brilliant apprenticeship”, she discovered a career that she loves. Previously at the Teaching Schools Council, Melanie brings with her a wealth of experience from her work with a number of high profile organisations, including as interim chief executive at Ambition Institute. “Working in an area where you really believe in the purpose is a privilege. Teachers and leaders do amongst the most important jobs in society, so supporting them to be the best is extremely rewarding”, Melanie explained. “I’ve observed Star Academies’ work since the start and they have pulled off what so many others have tried to do and been less successful. They have improved education in communities that have been left behind and forgotten - it’s really remarkable!” “It’s fantastic to join the executive team at Star Academies. Star Institute has got big ambitions for the development of school staff, in Star Academies and beyond, and I’m looking forward to taking the very best professional development and making it accessible to all. It’s important that our practice constantly evolves as we embed what we know works in continuing professional development (CPD), and that we draw on the trust’s schools and staff to ensure the Star DNA is reflected in our offer.”


Reuben Moore will also be joining Star Institute in February from Teach First where he has worked for 11 years and is currently Executive Director for Programme Development. An experienced teacher educator and school leader, Reuben will join Star Institute’s senior leadership team as SCITT (School Centred Initial Teacher Training) Director and Trust Lead for Teacher Development. Commenting on his appointment, Melanie said: “I’m thrilled that Reuben will be joining Star Institute. He’s deeply knowledgeable about teacher training and one of the architects of Teach First’s success. The new role enables him to get closer to schools and trainees, which is something he’s very much looking forward to. We want to give new teachers the very best start in the profession through our outstanding training programme, and help them to flourish throughout their careers. With Reuben onboard, I’m confident we can achieve this.”



Spreading festive hope in our communities Our annual Festive Winter Gift Programme, a major trust-wide charitable drive, is spreading hope and happiness across the Star family this winter. All 30 Star schools are playing their part to help the most vulnerable people in their communities. Through community engagement, fundraising and volunteering, the project will reach out to thousands of people of all ages this winter who are unwell, elderly or living in care, and those experiencing homelessness, loneliness or food poverty.

To help spread kindness, schools have created gifts and hampers which are being delivered to local care homes, hospitals, local charities and community support groups. Pupils are also hard at work collecting donations of food and clothing for local charities and designing cards, writing letters and recording video messages for residents of local care homes and those spending time in hospital this winter. Some schools are hosting online events to spread a little festive cheer by connecting with vulnerable or isolated members of their community, whilst others have visited local care homes to perform songs outside so that residents can watch from the safety and warmth of their own homes. Through a number of charity events held in school, Eden Boys School, Bolton has raised enough money to enable the school to donate more than 600 meals for the homeless and 600 gifts for local charities - one meal and one gift from every pupil in the school. Alongside the gifts, pupils have also written messages of hope to the recipients. Laisterdyke Leadership Academy has been spreading joy to local care home residents. Pupils performed carols outside the care home and delivered hampers to residents. Pupils and staff at The Olive School, Preston have donated hats, gloves and scarves, as well as essential food and toiletry packs, to a local homeless charity. Since the start of the academic year, schools have been running Star Family Hubs to help tackle food poverty and provide support to their local communities. In early December, the generosity of staff, pupils and families warmed the hearts of stricken communities and fed thousands of people during a special, week-long Food For All campaign. Throughout the week, schools focussed their philanthropic endeavours on cooking and distributing thousands of freshly-prepared hot meals and food parcels. An army of volunteers, including pupils, alumni, staff and parents, worked tirelessly to distribute the food to the homes of vulnerable families, and to care homes, hospitals, charities and foodbanks. Eden Boy’s School, Birmingham were busy in the kitchen during Food for All week, cooking up an incredible 2,000 hot meals. The fresh meals were distributed to the most vulnerable people in

the local community. Elsewhere in Birmingham, staff and pupils from Starbank School kindly donated their time to volunteer in a local soup kitchen, serving food to homeless people. The school community at The Olive School, Blackburn has focussed its efforts on supporting local families in food poverty. Staff, parents and pupils have redoubled their efforts to ensure the local foodbank is well stocked over the winter period, with each class donating specific items that are most in demand. Sir Mufti Hamid Patel CBE, Chief Executive of Star Academies, said: “We pride ourselves on making a positive difference to society. As well as benefitting vulnerable people in our communities, many of whom suffer from loneliness, our pupils will also gain from their involvement in the Festive Winter Gift Programme by experiencing first-hand the positive impact of helping those less fortunate. As well as linking to each of our STAR values - Service, Teamwork, Ambition and Respect - the initiative brings our schools’ leadership specialism to the fore as pupils get involved in planning and participating in a range of charitable and volunteering opportunities. This programme is one of our largest charity campaigns of the year and I’m so proud of the extraordinary lengths our pupils and staff have gone to in support of their local communities.” Follow our Twitter account @StarAcademies to read updates about all of the heartwarming activities taking place across the country as part of this year’s Festive Winter Gift Programme.



STAR SCHOOLS RAISE THOUSANDS FOR CANCER CHARITY Macmillan Cancer Support held its annual Coffee Morning fundraiser at the end of September, where people all over the UK host coffee mornings and cake sales big and small. As ever, Star schools couldn’t wait to do their bit, donning aprons, baking culinary masterpieces and tucking into treats to help raise more than ten thousand pounds for the national cancer charity, by hosting their own fundraising events. Starbank School in Birmingham designated the day as a non-uniform day as well as hosting a gigantic bake sale boasting tables and tables packed with tasty home baked treats. The incredible efforts of staff, pupils and their families resulted in the school raising a phenomenal £3,000 for Macmillan. Principal, Gaetano Ferrante said: “This was our first charity event of the school year, and it was a huge success thanks to the brilliant contributions of our whole community. We saw some phenomenal individual efforts from pupils and year groups. Year 7 pupils raised an incredible £800 of the £3,000 total, which was testament to the hard work and good will of everyone in the school community.” The Olive School, Small Heath held a series of Macmillan themed activities alongside a traditional cake sale. Together, they resulted in a total donation of £2,380, in part thanks to Mr Chowdhury, Mrs Duggins and Mrs Jabber colouring their hair green to pull in extra funds. Eden Girls’ School, Slough smashed its £1,000 fundraising target by boosting its cake sale with a special tuck shop, which proved to be extremely popular with pupils and staff alike! At Eden Girls’ School, Coventry, pupils could have mistaken the fundraiser for another Roald Dahl Day celebration. Lashings of cakes, oodles of chocolate and heaps of sweet treats adorned the school hall, transforming it for the day into Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. Their wonderful creations raised more than £300 for the cancer charity. Eden Boys’ School, Bolton exceeded all expectations by raising a whopping £2,260. This year, staff and pupils branched out by creating not just cakes, but a feast including over 400 freshly-cooked samosas, hundreds of cookies and a selection of chocolates and sweets. At The Valley Leadership Academy, Principal Mr O’Brien and Assistant Principal Mr Laher went head to head in a banana bread bake-off. Due to their poor performance and almost inedible bakes Miss Vali was crowned the banana bread


champion. The cake sale, which was held in the school’s new arts theatre, included spectacular Willy Wonka and Harry Potter themed showstopper cakes. Elsewhere, pupils took part in sporting contests to raise funds for Macmillan whilst burning off the calories consumed at the cake sale. Eden Boys’ Leadership Academy, Birmingham East held a football tournament and penalty shoot-out competitions and pupils at TIGHS took part in a charity netball match.


In November, one of the most solemn days in the trust’s calendar was marked with respect and reflective thoughts as every school remembered the fallen heroes of the two world wars. Two minutes silence fell across all schools at 11am on 11 November on Armistice Day, the exact moment fighting stopped in 1918 marking the end of World War I. At Highfield Leadership Academy, the Year 10 RAF cadets and school prefects delivered the school’s Act of Remembrance. Pupils from several schools participated in local and national events to pay their respects to the fallen. Eden Boys’ School, Birmingham attended a remembrance service at the city’s cathedral and pupils from Eden Boys’ School, Preston visited the cenotaph in London on Remembrance Sunday to observe the commemorations. Eden Boys’ Leadership Academy, Birmingham East sold poppies to raise money for the Royal British Legion and created a large poppy display at school. Pupils representing Bay Leadership Academy led a remembrance service at a local church, where each pupil created a cross in remembrance of a soldier from the local community. The crosses were placed in the ground and Mr Larder played The Last Post on the bugle, which is sounded at commemorative services and military funerals to indicate that the soldier has gone to his final rest. During the autumn term, pupils at Eden Girls’ School, Waltham Forest have been taking part in the Remember Together project to uncover forgotten family histories of Black and Asian service in the Second World War. The school marked Armistice Day with a visit from Major Naveed Muhammad MBE, chairman of the Armed Forces Muslim Association, who gave a poignant speech to pupils . You can read more about the Remember Together project on page 23. The youngest members of the Star family also paid their respects through a series of remembrance activities, including making wreaths, poppies and displays and designing poppy-themed t-shirts. Pupils at Barkerend Primary Leadership Academy performed a remembrance day concert for residents of Shakespeare Court care home, with each year group performing a different song of remembrance.



16 STAR NEWS Commemorating Rabi ul Awwal in our faith schools Rabi ul Awwal is the third month of the Islamic calendar occurring after the months of Muharram and Safar. The literal meaning of Rabi ul Awwal is ‘the first spring’ but, because the Islamic calendar follows the lunar calendar, Rabi ul Awwal began in autumn this year on 7 October 2021. Historically, the three major events commemorated during the blessed month of Rabi ul Awwal are the birth of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) – the final messenger to whom the Qur’aan was revealed – the Hijrah (migration) of the Prophet (pbuh) from Makkah to Madinah, and the death of Prophet (pbuh) on 12th Rabi ul Awwal in the 11th year of Islam (11 AH, 632 AD). Our faith schools marked Rabi ul Awwal by dedicating time and creativity to activities where they learned about the life and generosity of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). The month is considered to be a month of reflection and a time for Muslims to renew their love for the Prophet (pbuh). Many Muslims take time to remember significant events that have taken place, to reflect on them and use them as inspiration to develop positive character traits.

Pupils took time to reflect on their own actions as individuals and towards the wider community and considered how they can take inspiration from the life of the Prophet (pbuh). Pupils engaged in prayer by sending blessings and peace to the Prophet (pbuh), listened to and performed commemorative songs and showered their peers, teachers and families with random acts of kindness to show their appreciation for others. Pupils learnt about the Prophet’s (pbuh) life by studying and tasting foods recommended by the Prophet (pbuh), such as honey, dates, olives and figs. The importance of physical and mental wellbeing was also on the agenda, with pupils participating in a range of sports performed by Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) – including running, archery and swimming.

Raising pounds for Pudsey Star schools once again came together with enormous energy and creativity to raise funds for BBC Children in Need. The national charity event, which helps change the lives of children and young people across the UK, has become an important day in the school calendar. Spotty tops, pyjamas and a sea of yellow outfits brightened up school classrooms, canteens and corridors for the day. Eden Boys’ School, Bolton set up a tasty tuck shop and had a non-uniform day, which collectively raised £1,100. Eden Boys’ School, Birmingham held an ‘Eden Market’ in aid of Pudsey. Each form was tasked with running a stall to raise money for the children’s charity, culminating in a donation of more than £1,200. Pudsey was coupled with pizza in Manchester, as pupils from Eden Girls’ Leadership Academy, Manchester raised more than £1,500 by selling slices of pizza, having a cake sale and a raffle. Pudsey also made an appearance at the school, popping into assembly and visiting pupils in their classes to thank them for their fundraising efforts. Boys at Eden Boys’ Leadership Academy, Manchester channelled their inner MasterChefs to organise a ‘Scranchester’ food event. The culinary celebration saw the hall adorned with baked delights from onion bhajis


to Bakewell tarts. The school’s Year 10 charity leaders created Pudsey-inspired sweet cones, which proved to be a bestseller. Rainbow Primary Leadership Academy raised an impressive £560. Staff and pupils supplemented a traditional cake sale with fun competitions, including ‘guess the name of the teddy’ and ‘how many sweets in the jar’. Teachers were in the firing line at The Olive School, Bolton to help raise more than £1,300. Pupils lined up to make a donation to ‘pie the teacher’. Throughout the school, pupils and staff also donned wacky hair styles and Pudsey ears for the day. Inspired by Joe Wicks’ 24-hour workout for Children in Need in 2020, exercise was the order of the day at The Olive School, Preston. As well as taking part in a live workout with Joe Wicks, pupils also raised money by taking part in a penalty shootout challenge.



STAR’S STRATEGY TO SUPPORT PUPILS WITH SEND Ensuring that children and young people with special educational needs or disabilities (SEND) achieve and thrive is a key priority for all schools. The national SEND code of practice provides the framework that schools and other stakeholders must follow to fulfil their statutory duties. THERE ARE FOUR BROAD CATEGORIES OF SEND:





communication and interaction

cognition and learning

social, emotional and mental health difficulties

sensory and/or physical needs

Pupils with the most severe needs may have an education health care plan (EHCP), which is owned by their local authority. EHCPs specify the provision that should be put in place for the individual and describes the outcomes that are being worked towards. EHCPs, which are reviewed annually, are linked to funding to enable the school to put in place specific provision for the child. The majority of pupils on the special needs register do not have an EHCP but will have a pupil support plan (PSP) put in place by the school to meet their specific needs. PSPs often identify adaptive teaching strategies to support the pupil and enable their access to the curriculum. These might include differentiated tasks, additional prompts, access to technology, or resources such as overlays or enhanced print. PSPs may specify small steps in learning or self-management for pupils to achieve. Crucially, pupils and parents should be involved in developing and reviewing the PSP. The goal is to support the child or young person to make excellent progress and to develop an understanding of the learning strategies that enable more independent study.



18 STAR SPOTLIGHT STAR’S APPROACH Children and young people are individuals with their own particular needs. Star is committed to supporting every pupil to develop into a confident and independent person. It is vital that a consistent, whole school, best practice approach is employed to identify SEND at an early stage, and to support pupils in developing strategies to overcome barriers. At Star, we have high expectations and aspirations for all children and young people. We expect pupils with SEND to make the same strong progress as their peers. They are included in the same lessons and curriculum as non-SEND pupils but their teachers will be aware of their specific needs and plan carefully to enable their rapid progress using the strategies included in the child’s PSP. Pupils with SEND are actively included in extra-curricular activities through which they develop their leadership potential. Star teachers are keen to help pupils find their talents, which may range from creative or sporting prowess through to civic leadership and community service. Schools create opportunities which enable young people to flourish.

STAR’S SEND STRATEGY Star’s SEND lead, Liz Murray, joined the trust in June 2021. She is undertaking a strategic review of current practice across all Star schools and has developed a programme of training and support for Special Educational Needs Coordinators (SENCos) and leaders with input from national experts. A SENCo network to share best practice and support is also being developed. The SENCo’s role is complex and demanding. Having a network of contacts with expertise in different contexts and areas of specialism is professionally energising. The Star strategy covers policy development and implementation. It includes early identification and accurate identification of pupils with SEND, effective transition and multi-agency working, as well as exploring teaching strategies and pastoral support. Pupil voice is a crucial element within Star’s strategy to enhance the learning and wellbeing of children and young people with SEND. All Star schools seek and listen to pupils’ opinions on what helps them to succeed, through their pupil councils, informal discussions and more formal surveys of opinion. This sense of partnership is particularly important in the case of pupils with SEND so that any provision that is offered is agreed with them rather than ‘done to’ them. Similarly, Star is keen for parents to be heard. Parents are their children’s first educators and advocates. It is vital for them to shape and understand the strategies that the school is using and know how they can provide complementary support at home.

SUPPORTING CHILDREN WITH SEND Supporting a child or young person with SEND is best done collaboratively. The team supporting an individual pupil will include school staff, parents and possibly external agencies where a pupil has an EHCP.



THE FOLLOWING SET OF PRINCIPLES FOR BUILDING AND MAINTAINING RELATIONSHIPS MAY BE HELPFUL TO PROFESSIONALS AND PARENTS.  Keep things pupil-centred – include the child or young person in at least part of any discussion about them. Do not filter the child’s perspective through an adult lens.  Maintain open, positive conversations characterised by mutual respect.  Remain mindful of the professional or parent relationship.  Be solution-focused – recognising when there’s a barrier and talking it through.  Be realistic and practical.  Anticipate issues and plan ahead together.  Try to see the bigger picture.  Use the specific skills of each person involved with the pupil to best effect.  Recognise that very often it is the child who has the biggest workload and/or challenges.  Be open to considering different perspectives and to discussing them further.  Use inclusive communication styles.  Don’t be afraid to say ‘I don’t know’, or ‘could you help me?’.

At the core of the Star strategy for SEND is the principle that every teacher is a teacher of SEND and every leader is a leader of SEND. We will continue to develop the understanding and expertise of Star senior and middle leaders so that they are able to lead teachers to develop detailed curriculum and delivery plans for pupils with SEND so that they are able to thrive and achieve to the best of their ability.




TIBHS earns Microsoft Showcase status Tauheedul Islam Boys’ High School (TIBHS) has been selected as a Microsoft Showcase School just two years after embarking on a digital transformation programme. The school was commended by the multinational tech corporation for its innovative digital programme, which used Microsoft’s Education Transformation Framework to improve outcomes for pupils. TIBHS began its Showcase School journey in 2019, when it looked to Microsoft to discover new ways of using technology to aid pupils’ progress. Staff explored how technology could invigorate teaching and learning practices in the classroom and beyond. Teachers found that by embedding Microsoft technology into their practice, teaching and learning was no longer defined by traditional school hours or the school building. As the closure of schools to the majority of pupils was announced at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, the school was able to capitalise on its digital approaches and accelerate its plans to deliver more mobile and flexible teaching practices to enable pupils to continue their learning uninterrupted at home.

Teachers at TIBHS used their new digital tools with creativity to ensure pupils remained engaged and focused, and continued to make progress. The technology also allowed teaching to take place at different rates so that pupils were able to progress at a pace tailored to their individual needs. This gave teachers greater opportunity to differentiate lessons and to create a more personalised learning experience for pupils. Teachers reported that the introduction of more efficient feedback tools, including the use of ‘digital inking’ technology that digitally represents handwriting - and a greater ability to track pupil progress in detail, has helped to reduce overall workloads. By achieving Microsoft Showcase Status, TIBHS is now part of an exclusive community of 48 schools in the UK and 325 from around the world, which have been recognised for their digital transformation.

Majid Ditta, Principal at TIBHS, said:




PRESTON PUPILS PLANT CELEBRATION TREE Pupils at The Olive School, Preston were joined by the Lord-Lieutenant for Lancashire to plant a celebration tree at their new school site as part of The Queen’s Green Canopy (QGC) scheme. The Preston primary school is one of only 69 schools across the country to be gifted a QGC Celebration Tree, which commemorates Her Majesty The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee in 2022. The initiative aims to highlight the importance of trees to our environment and the significance of giving young people access to nature whilst encouraging wider engagement with the QGC across the school curriculum. Staff and pupils welcomed a number of special guests for the event, including Lord Shuttleworth, Her Majesty’s LordLieutenant for Lancashire, and Kam Kothia, Deputy Lieutenant and Chair of Star Academies. The guests were treated to performances by pupils, including speeches, recitations and a specially-written poem to celebrate The Queen’s 70 years of service. Lord Shuttleworth, along with the school’s head boy and head girl, planted the acer tree in the school grounds at its new purpose-built site, which it relocated to in April. Principal Parveen Yusuf said: “It’s an honour to take part in The Queen’s Green Canopy initiative. We hope that this tree will serve as a lasting reminder of Her Majesty’s incredible legacy for future generations of pupils. As a school, we are committed to educating our pupils about the importance of living sustainably and to making environmentallyfriendly choices. Our celebration tree and the wider Queen’s Green Canopy initiative not only celebrate Her Majesty’s remarkable 70 years of service but also teach our children about the positive impact of trees on the environment.” Her Majesty and The Prince of Wales planted the first Jubilee tree in the grounds of Windsor Castle in March to mark the launch of The Queen’s Green Canopy. AUTUMN 2021 ISSUE 07


22 STAR COMMUNITY HIGHFIELD PUPILS SLEEP OVER AT SCHOOL FOR CHARITY Pupils at Highfield Leadership Academy spent a night at school to raise funds in support of youth work charity, Streetlife. The Blackpool-based charity holds an annual ‘Big Sleep Out’ with the aim of raising vital funds for their emergency night shelter. With younger pupils unable to participate in the sleep out, pupil leaders at the school organised their own ‘Bill’s Big Sleep In’ – led by the school’s mascot, Bill the Bull – raising more than £450 for the local charity. The pupils enjoyed team-building games whilst exploring the causes of youth homelessness. When darkness fell, they spent time outdoors in the cold and dark to experience the conditions that many homeless people suffer each night. They also took part in a street art workshop and decorated stones for the school’s ‘peace cairn’. After a night of activities, the pupils slept overnight in their sleeping bags on gym mats in the library. Year 10 pupil Caitlyn Bowie said: “I really enjoyed it. I didn’t know what hidden homelessness was before the workshop. It was sad to listen to some of the stories but good to know that even though we are young we can make a difference and help others.” Andrew Galbraith, Principal at Highfield Leadership Academy, added: “As a school we wanted to do our bit to support a charity that does such amazing work in our community. The sleep over was a fantastic way for our pupils to gain a deeper understanding of the harsh realities of youth homelessness and the wonderful work of Streetlife. It is heart-warming to see our caring pupils once again demonstrate their unwavering commitment to those less fortunate than themselves.”

Eden Girls’ pupil named Coventry’s Young Poet Laureate A pupil from Eden Girls’ School, Coventry has been named Coventry’s first Young Poet Laureate. Competition organisers were looking for someone with a love for poetry whose prose would appeal to a broad audience. Year 11 pupil Hawwa Hussain was encouraged by her English teacher, Miss Hamman, to submit two poems to the Coventry City of Culture 2021 Young Poet Laureate competition. After a nerve-racking wait, 15-year-old Hawwa was awarded the title of Young Poet Laureate. She was invited to receive her title from the Lord Mayor of Coventry at a special ceremony at The Belgrade Theatre in Coventry. Hawwa will now take up a two-year writing tenure for the city of Coventry, where she will write poems to commemorate significant moments, give performances of her work and encourage an interest in poetry across the city. Hawwa said: “I was so surprised to hear the news – it was such an incredible feeling. I really enjoy writing and Miss Hamman is very passionate about the subject. Her classes are amazing and her teaching is very inspiring. I can’t wait to get started in my role and to use my writing skills to capture all the wonderful events and activities taking place in Coventry.” Miss Hamman added: “Hawwa has grown into a confident, bright and articulate young woman and we are so very proud of her. This latest achievement demonstrates her exceptional talent for writing and her enthusiasm for poetry is second to none.” Shazia Hussain, Hawwa’s mother, said: “Hawwa absolutely loves her school. She has a wonderful set of teachers and is enjoying every single day – she is simply thriving. Hawwa has always enjoyed writing, so for this to have been identified by her English teacher and for her to have received encouragement to really stretch her skills is truly wonderful. It shows that she is really seen by her teachers and that her potential has been recognised and developed. As a parent, it is such a comfort to receive such wonderful support from your child’s school.”


23 East London girls uncover stories of Black and Asian WW2 soldiers Year 9 pupils at Eden Girls’ School, Waltham Forest have been part of a major project to uncover the hidden history of ethnic minority soldiers in World War II (WW2). Pupil Saeeda Amidu discovered that her great-grandfather, Henry Braimah, was a colonel in the British Army who fought in Burma during WW2. “I’m really happy to get to know that one of my relatives fought in the war,” she said. “It did make me feel differently about remembrance because people don’t really talk about all the Black and Asian soldiers who fought in the world war.” The girls hope to raise public awareness of the contribution of Black and Asian soldiers to WW2 through a project called Remember Together. Speaking about the initiative, pupil Zaynab Sedoo, said: “It can feel like the contribution of Black and Asian soldiers in WW2 is overlooked in our history books. As a student from a Muslim background, I’d like other people to realise that our great-grandfathers served alongside theirs. It makes Armistice Day more meaningful knowing that this is history we all share.” Over 2.5 million soldiers from pre-partition India – what is now India, Pakistan and Bangladesh – served alongside servicemen and women from Africa, the Caribbean and other commonwealth nations. The project hopes to underline how this shared history can help bring people together in remembrance. Dr Avaes Mohammad, Science and Drama Teacher at Eden Girls’ School, Waltham Forest, who led the project, said: “This is an exciting project that is bringing history to life for our pupils through the stories of real people from families in their community. Every year the school marks Armistice Day and we discuss with the pupils why it is important. Now they will connect that moment to the sacrifices made by ancestors from their own communities, and from people with similar ethnic and faith backgrounds.” The project was launched in 2020 with charity British Future, and pupils shared their research at a special remembrance event for the local community in November. British Future has made a short film about the project, featuring some of the pupils from Eden Girls’ School, Waltham Forest and their relatives. You can watch it here.

SAFETY FIRST AT LAISTERDYKE Pupils at Laisterdyke Leadership Academy have participated in a series of workshops to learn vital life skills to help them to remain safe. In a practical session about essential emergency first aid skills, pupils were taught what to do if someone is choking or has an allergic reaction. They were also shown how to perform CPR if someone’s heart stops and how to use a defibrillator. Medical instructors taught pupils how to establish if someone has a serious head injury and the emergency response required in different scenarios, including what information they should give the call handler when phoning 999 for an ambulance. As well as learning vital first aid skills, pupils

also learnt about bullying and the role they can play in creating a bullying-free school. During the interactive workshops, pupils discussed what bullying is, different ways bullying can manifest itself and what scenarios might cause an individual to bully someone. The pupils learnt practical tips to identify bullying behaviours and, through roleplay, discovered how they can help to prevent bullying from taking place. The pupil safety workshops also included other topical issues such as knife crime, online grooming, consent and the dangers of sharing images online. Pupils learnt about the dangers through a series of case studies and were shown practical tips for keeping themselves safe, such as how to set privacy and security settings on their social media accounts.



Bolton boys compete in digital climate challenge Year 9 pupils from Eden Boys’ School, Bolton have taken part in a nationwide digital challenge along with schools from around the UK. Organised by British Interactive Media Association (BIMA), the UK’s largest digital and tech community, the day introduced the young people to the potential of a career in the digital sector. Agent Academy – a company who help young people achieve careers in the digital, creative sector – set the pupils a task of developing a digital solution to the problem of climate change. Across eight teams, pupils worked in small groups to analyse the client brief and research existing climate change campaigns before getting to work on creating their own solution. As part of the challenge, pupils were tasked with devising a marketing plan to promote their idea. The ideas they came up with included an app that scans objects and provides information on their environmental impact, virtual football tournaments that raise money to fund the clean-up of oceans, and a nationwide project to collect reusable items and clothing that would be sent to deprived countries. Richard Foster, Assistant Principal at Eden Boys’ School, Bolton, said: “The pupils were enthused by the real world element of the digital day and took a lot from the opportunity to put their skills to work in a real life scenario. They really got stuck in and their ideas were fantastic. This event really appealed to the school as we deliver a Creative iMedia course to pupils, so this real life exposure to digital careers in action was an invaluable opportunity.”

Feeding the homeless in Birmingham The Olive School, Small Heath has committed to making 100 hot meals for homeless people supported by the Snow Hill shelter in Birmingham every half term. This is a legacy from lockdown when they began making meals in the school kitchen for those in need. The initiative is in conjunction with Birmingham’s Active Wellbeing Society and As-Suffa Homeless Outreach. A group of Year 5 and 6 pupils and their parents have been taking part in the project. They collect and prepare the food to make nutritious curries for members of their communities who are less fortunate than themselves.

Shawkat Chowdhury, Principal, said: “We believe practicing our STAR values makes us acknowledge what we gain from being an outward looking, giving community. From peeling potatoes together to sharing cookery skills, the experience and memories our pupils, their families and staff gain are invaluable. Joining hands with volunteers who serve the most vulnerable people in society adds infinite value to our school. Their selfless dedication fills our lives with inspiration and teaches us that by giving we become rich.” As well as distributing nutritious hot meals, the school also collects 100 items every week for two local foodbanks. The pupils involved gain community service points towards their Star Mini Diploma, which embodies Star’s ambition to develop well-rounded, ethical and accomplished leaders of tomorrow. The Diploma comprises three elements of attendance, behaviour and community service.



RAINBOW BRINGS BOOK CHARACTERS TO LIFE FOR STAR READERS LAUNCH Rainbow Primary Leadership Academy – the latest school to join the Star family – added a splash of fun to a special reading day by bringing their favourite books to life. Pupils and staff at the Bradford school dressed up as their favourite book characters to celebrate the launch of the Star Readers initiative. As the gates opened at the start of the school day, the playground was filled with witches, wizards, fairies, superheroes, Gruffalos and many other wonderful characters from the pages of classic books. Star places a high importance on reading and established the Star Readers initiative to promote the joy and benefits of reading to pupils. From Reception to Year 13, pupils of all ages are encouraged to read a range of inspiring books that have been specially chosen to spark their imaginations. Experienced Star staff have carefully curated a reading list for each year group, which includes contemporary and classic literature. All of the Star Readers books are aligned with Star’s leadership specialism and have been selected with the curriculum and pupils’ ages in mind. The books have been hand-picked to give pupils a window into other people’s worlds, promote discussion and build reading resilience. Sally Mills, Assistant Principal and English Lead at the school, explained how the aim is to get pupils to read at least 10 of the books on the Star Readers recommended reading list for their year group. In doing so, primary pupils will have been exposed to over 70 incredible books and will leave Rainbow Primary Leadership Academy with a lifelong love of reading. She said: “Over the year, there will be challenges and competitions to encourage the children to read the books, but we will also just

look forward to reading our Star Readers books to the children every day. “Reading is a huge focus for the school and we want our pupils to appreciate the joy and wonder of reading books. Apart from the obvious advantages in terms of vocabulary building and understanding, reading is fun. As teachers, we love to read and we want to inspire our pupils to develop their own love of books.” Pupils certainly appeared to have had a good day, with big smiles on their faces as they left the school, many of them holding a new Star Reader book to enjoy over the weekend. Rainbow Primary Leadership Academy joined Star Academies on 1 July, the fourth primary school in Bradford to join the trust.




Eden Girl’s win COP26 engineering project A group of Year 9 pupils from Eden Girls’ Leadership Academy, Birmingham have won a prestigious national civil engineering competition.

The competition, which was linked to the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26), challenged pupils to work in teams to design and build a road that met a range of sustainability targets created by the United Nations. Two groups of girls from Eden Girls’ Leadership Academy, Birmingham competed against seven other schools nationally for the project. The pupils had to develop an innovative sustainable road of the future as part of the Sustainable Solutions – Roads of the Future Challenge, using recycled materials for their roads, signs, bridges and other street furniture. One of the Eden Girls’ teams beat off strong competition from the other schools to win the low carbon category. They impressed the judges with their ideas to use solar power to run electric cars and for road markings, signs and lamp posts to power charging ports and service stations. The pupils also came up with an innovative idea to use kinetic and thermal energy sensors on the road to convert the heat and kinetic energy from vehicles’ wheels into electricity to generate more power to the car charging ports, and for using permeable pavements to help with the drainage and to reuse rain water. The judges also marvelled at the girls idea to place kinetic


hydro turbines in the river under the road bridge to harness kinetic energy from water and turn it into electricity. As well as a receiving a trophy, each team member also received a certificate and £100 for the winning team to enjoy a day out. Commenting on the competition the girls’ teacher, Shazia Amer, said: “This was an amazing project that encouraged the girls to research, be creative and think outside the box. The whole design worked around using recyclable materials, reducing reliance on fossil fuels, and decreasing emission of greenhouse gases. They worked tirelessly on this project, staying after school and meeting outside of the school to complete it. They really put in one hundred percent effort and thoroughly deserved to win.” The Roads of the Future Challenge aims to inspire young people to pursue a career in engineering and give them the confidence and motivation to become the engineers of tomorrow. All those taking part in the complex exercise had to consider 17 goals and 169 specific targets for those goals when designing and building roads.


RAF cadets pay their respects at remembrance centre A group of 31 RAF cadets from Small Health Leadership Academy visited the National Memorial Arboretum near Lichfield in October for a day of reflection, respect and remembrance. The pupils spent a day exploring the 350 memorials nestled in the beautifully tranquil Staffordshire countryside.

The arboretum, which is part of the Royal British Legion, was created 20 years ago to recognise the contribution of those who have served and sacrificed in our Armed Forces is never forgotten. It exists to provide a yearround space to celebrate lives lived and commemorate lives lost. Ashley Dye, Assistant Principal, said: “The pupils were a credit to the school as they attended the daily service held at 11am to pay tribute to the fallen men and women. The symbolism of key points of the arboretum was beautifully explained by the brilliant volunteers and the pupils were full of keen curiosity to understand the stories behind the engravings.”

year, the cadets also attended a residential weekend in North Wales where they climbed Snowdon, enjoyed some canoeing and visited the National Slate Museum. The spring and summer terms will see pupils participate in first aid, navigation skills and marching activities. Some cadets will also be given the incredible opportunity to take to the skies. Following a culmination of training, studying and preparation, pupils will have the chance to pilot a glider.

Small Heath Leadership Academy is one of a number of Star secondary schools with its own Combined Cadet Force (CCF). There are CCF contingents in over 500 secondary schools all over the UK, offering young people a broad range of challenging, exciting, adventurous and educational activities. Their aim is to enable the development of personal responsibility, leadership and self-discipline. Small Heath Leadership Academy’s RAF cadets, known as CCF Squadron, meet weekly and activities are led by Captain Jason Till, the school staff instructor. Earlier this




Aamira takes on Ben Nevis climb for charity Aamira Hajee, Deputy Head Girl at The Olive School, Bolton, spent her summer holiday raising more than £4,500 for charity. The 10-year-old’s fundraising culminated in her climbing Ben Nevis – the UK’s highest mountain – with her aunt and uncle. The Year 6 pupil undertook the tremendous challenge to climb the 1,345 metre Scottish mountain to support the Penny Appeal charity. Aamira underwent a rigorous training schedule during the summer holidays to prepare her for the trek, which included climbing the Three Peaks in Yorkshire – Whernside, Ingleborough and Pen-y-ghent. Sabina Saeed, Principal, said: “We’re incredibly proud Aamira’s exemplary fundraising and for successfully conquering Ben Nevis. Aamira’s passion for helping those less fortunate shines through and she clearly understands the importance of being charitable. I know that this was not an easy challenge, but I am in no doubt that her efforts are greatly appreciated by all those who she’s helped. Aamira is an inspiration to fellow pupils.”

STARBANK TRAINS ANTI-BULLYING AMBASSADORS Starbank School is training a group of secondary pupils to develop the skills to become anti-bullying ambassadors. Pupils from all year groups participated in a practical training session where they learnt active listening and communication skills, and all about confidentiality. Through a series of tasks and role plays, the young ambassadors developed different techniques to manage conflict and support the victims of bullying. The pupils said that the session helped to develop their confidence and ability to support others. As anti-bullying ambassadors, the children will provide valuable care and support to their peers.

point’ during break and lunch times. By offering friendship and peer-to-peer support, the ambassadors hope to nurture relationships and support their fellow pupils to resolve minor conflicts.

The next stage of their training will see pupils work with the school’s safeguarding lead to develop their mentoring skills. They will also be encouraged to share useful information about bullying with their classmates and will help to organise fundraising activities during national Anti-Bullying Week.

Commenting on the initiative, Gaetano Ferrante Principal of Starbank school said: “We have already felt the benefit of added pupil support to our ethos and are excited to watch the ambassadors’ impact grow over the year. Raising the pupil profile around the school has been one of our priorities this year, and it’s great to see how the ambassadors are actively demonstrating our culture and values to the rest of the pupils.”

The pupil ambassadors have volunteered to support other pupils by having a presence at a designated ‘mentor meeting



Olive Blackburn pupils learn to restart a heart From reception to Year 6, all 637 pupils at The Olive School, Blackburn took part in the national Restart a Heart Day In October. The school’s youngest pupils learnt the basics of CPR thanks to a video featuring Baby Shark, while older pupils were shown how to give CPR using a dummy. The school defibrillator was demonstrated to the children and they were told when and how it should be used. They learnt how defibrillators restore a normal heartbeat by sending an electric pulse or shock to the heart, and, using a life size model, the children were shown where to put the defibrillator pads. Following the demonstrations, some of the children put their learning into practice by creating information posters to explain what steps should be taken to restart a heart in an emergency. The Restart a Heart Day initiative is run by The Resuscitation Council UK along with the British Heart Foundation, British Red Cross, St John Ambulance, NHS Ambulance Service who work together to help raise awareness of cardiac arrest and teach CPR. Fauzia Mulla, Assistant Principal, said: “We recognise the need for first aid and how vital it is to support a life. Sadly, due to pandemic, many children have experienced loss of life in their family and wider community. Exploring the support out there that helps save lives has helped our children understand how to identify an emergency and practice life-saving skills.”

Manchester boys sing nasheed medley at cultural festival The school choir from Eden Boys’ Leadership Academy, Manchester were invited to perform at the opening ceremony of Cheetham Hill Cultural Festival. The devoted pupils dedicated their breaks and lunchtimes to rehearsals, as well as hours of practice after school. Their commitment was rewarded with a stunning medley performed in front of guest of honour Andy Burnham, the Mayor of Greater Manchester. The annual cultural festival celebrates one of the most ethnically and culturally diverse areas of the UK. During the four-day event, people from across Manchester represented their culture and ethnicity through music, art and dance. Year 8 pupil Maurice Martin commented: “When it was our turn to go on stage, I went up to introduce the school and gave a short speech about our imminent performance. Our hardworking performers then took to the stage. We had painstakingly perfected a lovely nasheed medley and the quality really showed during the performance – it was stunning! I absolutely loved the festival and can’t wait for next year’s show. It was incredible way for everyone to meet up after a difficult year.”




Tong pupil tees up major golfing honour A pupil from Tong Leadership Academy has been crowned the Under 21 Boys English Golf Champion. Year 13 pupil Habib Khan achieved the accolade following his recent victory at the ProDreamUSA English Golf Championship. Habib – who was one of 22 young English players competing in the tournament – was leading by eight shots right up until the 18th hole when he made a crucial error. Fortunately, Habib fought back to take the title by one shot. Commenting on his achievement, Habib said: “I think it helped playing on home turf as I know the course so well. It’s fantastic to make my family proud. I’d like to play professionally, so the next step is to progress from amateur competitions. My dad is my role model and I couldn’t have achieved any of this without him.”

Valley Golf Club, Yorkshire’s largest golf facility, where his father is a member. Following Habib’s success in the English Golf Championship, he won a place at the Junior European Open, which is widely considered to be the toughest tournament in junior golf across Europe. Former winners include US Open Champion Justin Rose and former world number one Luke Donald. This year’s Champions Week Finals took place in Cadiz on the Costa Del Sol and were broadcast on Sky Sports. Following five tough rounds, Habib finished in a very respectable 14th place against a field of 104 boys.

Habib has been playing golf from a young age – first playing almost as soon as he could walk. He first picked up a club at just 18 months old and practiced on a golfing green behind his house. The Bradford pupil has played competitively since the age of seven and is coached by his father at Willow

Theatre company writes French play for Slough school Pupils from Eden Girls’ School, Slough were treated to a performance of a French play which was written and produced especially for them. The Onatti Theatre Company, which specialises in performing accessible foreign language theatre in education, came into school to perform the play.

Francoise Cusimano, the school’s Deputy Director of Learning who arranged the performance, said: “It was a wonderful opportunity for the pupils to see a play which has been written and produced specifically for them. It will help them in their speaking and listening skills, a key part of their GCSE French studies. The plot reflected many similarities to the pupils’ own lives, but in a humorous and exaggerated manner, making them relatable and increasing their enjoyment by empathising with the characters and storylines. All actors are trained to perform with clear, slow delivery and good use of mime to ensure the pupils can follow the play. Pupils were engrossed, enthused and amazed by how much they could understand. Everyone had a wonderful time.

‘Mon père ne me comprend pas’ – which means ‘My father does not understand me’ – is about a girl called Hélène who does not get what she wants for her birthday so she wishes for better presents, a better family; in fact, better everything! When her wishes start to come true she regrets being so greedy and misses normality.


The Onatti Theatre company produces plays in French, Spanish, German and English. Native actors perform in schools in the UK, Ireland and France, giving pupils an accessible way to experience native language in a fun, relaxing way.


Inktober illustrates talented artists at Eden Boys

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Budding artists at Eden Boys’ Leadership Academy, Birmingham East have honed their drawing skills by taking part in a month-long international art challenge.

The annual Inktober drawing contest, created by renowned American illustrator Jake Parker, was established as a challenge to improve Jake’s own creative inking skills and develop positive drawing habits. Since its creation in 2009, Inktober has grown into a worldwide phenomenon with thousands of artists participating in the online art challenge every year.

As part of the school’s Inktober project, pupils were challenged to create their own works of art using only black ink. Pupils from across all year groups submitted their hand drawn illustrations into the contest - with works of art covering themes from fantasy to wildlife. Entries were judged by the Art department with a winner being declared in each year group.

Barkerend launches Star speaker series Barkerend Primary Leadership Academy is running a series of speaker sessions to help improve its pupils’ knowledge of the world of work, and raise their career aspirations. Every Tuesday an external speaker attends the school’s assembly to talk about their career as part of Star’s Rising Stars initiative. The first guest speaker was Joe Drury, who runs a Forest School business. He talked about the value of working with nature and protecting the environment. Children then asked Joe a series of questions about his career – the children particularly enjoyed hearing about the times he has been chased by wild animals! Year 5 and Year 6 pupils spoke online to Mrs Rashid, a Crown Prosecution Service barrister, who inspired them to begin to think about a career in law. She gave the children an insight into criminal law and showed them her wig and gown, which she wears in court. Another popular speaker was Emma Reiner from Bradford Museums. Emma told the children how the skills she has learnt

throughout her career have prepared her for her current job in the education team at Bradford Museums, which include Cartwright Hall Art Gallery and Bradford Industrial Museum. She also shared with the children some of the activities that museum visitors can enjoy, including one about archaeological digs. The school also welcomed Rob Atkin from Living Streets who came to congratulate pupils and staff on their participation in the WOW challenge, which encourages children to walk to school. Not only is the school ranked number one in West Yorkshire in the WOW travel tracker, but it was recently the top school in the whole country for tracking journeys to school. More exciting speakers are lined up for the coming weeks including an architect, a professor from Cape Town University, the keyboard player from the band Embrace who have had a number one album, a director from Tappit Technologies, a fashion designer, a TV producer from BBC’s The One Show, a Disney designer and Star Academies Chief Executive Sir Mufti Hamid Patel.



32 STAR COMMUNITY Eden Girls’ pupils celebrate their love of Pupils at Eden Girls’ Leadership Academy, Manchester shared their love of poetry when they took part in a UK-wide celebration of poetry on National Poetry Day. The day started with pupils watching a series of spoken word poetry videos followed by discussions about the meaning of ‘choice’ in the context of poetry – this year’s National Poetry Day theme. Year 7 and Year 8 pupils explored poems surrounding the themes of childhood and growth, including classics First Day at School by Roger McGough and In Mrs Tilcher’s Class by Carol Ann Duffy. The pupils were able to identify themes on awareness, journeys and fear, and were able to make personal connections to their own experiences of primary school and of starting secondary school. Year 9 explored the theme of ‘fake news’ using poetry. The girls wrote poetry about fake news and explored the poem Misinformation Age by Karl Nova.

London by William Blake – who is considered to be a seminal figure in the history of the poetry of the Romantic Age – was the focus for Year 10 pupils. They linked the poem with their current study of A Christmas Carol. Meanwhile in Year 11, pupils studied Charge of the Light Brigade by Lord Alfred Tennyson to identify the hidden meanings concealed within its words. The day of celebration culminated in a Poetry Slam competition. Pupils and staff gathered in the library to perform and enjoy a plethora of creative performances, ranging from original verses written by pupils to recitations of classic poems. As well as hearing poems from their peers, pupils also enjoyed performances from staff in the English, Mathematics and MFL departments.

Mr Balcombe, the school’s Director of Learning: Maths, su mmed up the day with these words fro m his poem:

‘I’ve always loved words

their meaning,

And try to speak poems with feeling, The girls’ skill today,

Really blew me away,

There’s a bright future ahead, I’m believing.’

Climate project connects pupils to their home town Lancaster University has teamed up with Year 9 pupils at Bay Leadership Academy to work on a project to examine the physical and social environment of their home town. Through the ‘Timescapes of Morecambe’ project, pupils worked with the university’s geography and architecture departments to connect with their local area and discover more about the Lancashire seaside town, Morecambe. The project used data collected by university researchers to help the pupils consider how Morecambe’s coastline has changed and how it might change in the future, given the projected impact of climate change and the rise in sea levels. Lecturers and PhD students from Lancaster University delivered four sessions for pupils, including a fieldtrip to the town’s promenade to look at the landscape, its fragile ecology, important fauna and flora, and to observe the sea defences. Another session focussed on the town’s interesting history. The pupils had the opportunity to look at fascinating artifacts, photographs and recordings from the seaside town’s past. The project concluded with a discovery session exploring what the future might hold for Morecambe and how climate change could impact its coastline. Pupils created images, which will be digitally edited into 3D images, for an art installation of stereoscopes – a device used for viewing pairs of photographs as a 3D image. The images will be displayed along the town’s promenade to illustrate the pupils’ ideas and perceptions about how the town may look in years to come. Dr Serena Pollastri from Lancaster Institute of Contemporary Art said: “It has been very inspiring to see how young people’s creativity and care for their communities enabled them to rise to challenges that even seasoned professionals can find very complex to tackle.” Geography teacher, Emma Spooner, said: “This project provided a great way for the pupils to interact with Morecambe’s past, present and future. They examined, for the first time, the coastline and historic buildings and we talked about some of the management strategies in place to protect them. The ‘Timescapes of Morecambe’ stereoscopes will be available for all the public to view, which makes it very exciting for our pupils.”



STAR COMMUNITY TIGHS scoops acclaimed International School Award Tauheedul Islam Girls’ High School and Sixth Form College (TIGHS) has become the first Star school to be reaccredited with the British Council International School Award. The award acknowledges schools that have embedded a significant element of international work into their curriculum and have successfully fostered an international ethos throughout the school. TIGHS, which has been awarded the accolade for 2021-2024, has incorporated a global dimension into its curriculum for the past eight years. The reaccreditation will help to raise the profile of the school’s language department as it brings together other departments with curricular and extra-curricular activities. As an award holder, TIGHS acts as Star’s ambassador for the International Award and works with other Star schools to support them to gain the foundation accreditation. Commenting on receiving the award, Mary Carrington, Director of Learning: MFL, said: “This award raises the significance of the international dimension. The programme has supported us in fostering an international ethos throughout the school and embedding it within the curriculum. It has helped us look at a longer term vision for the school and what we can do across all departments both within curricular and extra-curricular activity. By engaging pupils in international activities they benefit from a wider awareness of cultures.”

During the pandemic, TIGHS pupils participated in a series of video calls with international guest speakers. The sessions, which covered subjects including eco-waste and climate change, were one of the many ways the school delivers its commitment to developing responsible global citizens. The school has also established links with a school in Ghana to enable pupils to share their cultural experiences. Through Zoom, the pupils were given a view of the African school, which helped to bring the partnership to life by seeing the differences between the two schools and exchanging their experiences of school life with pupils in the Ghanaian school. This has developed into a new initiative called TIGHS on Tour where the school plans to virtually visit every continent without leaving a carbon footprint. On the next stage of pupils’ learning journey, they will connect with children in South America through a Colombian project that works with street children.

Hip, hip hooray for drama project! The performing arts have been brought to life for primary pupils at Starbank School thanks to lessons and a special after-school club delivered by the Hippodrome Education Network (HEN). For the last three years, the HEN project – Birmingham Hippodrome’s schools network – has enabled pupils to benefit from a host of exciting music, drama and arts activities. Year 6 pupils recently explored the Second World War from a child’s perspective, learning about children’s experiences of The Blitz, air raid shelters and evacuation. The pupils then performed in a play that incorporated these themes. Cheryl Mok from HEN, who directed the play, said: “The children worked hard in rehearsals for the performance and showed real empathy and enthusiasm throughout the sessions.” As part of the school’s Black History Month activities, Year 6 pupils visited the Birmingham Hippodrome to see the debut performance of Marcus. The play is based on the life of Marcus Garvey (pictured right), a Jamaican civil rights activist who dedicated his life fighting for equality and justice for Black people in America and across the world. Set in modern times, the play follows the experiences of Jermaine, a young descendant of Garvey, who was guided by his ancestors’ morals and legacy. Shabir Ahmad Assistant Principal at Starbank School added: “This was a brilliant opportunity for the children, as it allowed them to celebrate a notable figure in Black History as well as to recognise his values of determination, perseverance, ambition and respect.” In partnership with HEN, a group of Year 2 pupils also enjoyed a trip to the Hippodrome where they saw a performance of What the Ladybird Heard, based on the award-winning children’s book written by Gruffalo author Julia Donaldson. For many pupils, it was their first visit to a theatre and they were on the edges of their seats as they marvelled at the bright costumes, singing and dancing.




SCIENCE AND FOOTBALL UNITED FOR PRESTON PUPILS A trip to Manchester United’s Theatre of Dreams brought science to life through the medium of football for a group of Year 10 pupils from Eden Boys’ School, Preston. The football mad teenagers, some of whom play for the school team, were given a tour of Manchester United’s Old Trafford stadium as well as visiting the museum and attending a careers session at the football ground. The educational tour was used to highlight the role science plays in creating a world-class playing surface, which enables players like Red Devils’ favourites Cristiano Ronaldo and Bruno Fernandes to perform at their peak. As the boys walked out of the tunnel, they were struck by the perfection of the dazzling chequerboard pitch. They enthusiastically asked lots of questions about how the grounds staff got the grass to look so perfect. The tour guide replied with a single word: ‘science’. He explained the pitch was constructed of 97% grass and 3% artificial fibres – with more than 20 million pieces of stitched nylon interwoven amongst the natural grass. The pupils were told how the pitch is painstakingly maintained, which involves a series of water pipes beneath its surface to keep the grass fertilised and underpitch heating used to ensure the pitch doesn’t freeze during the winter months. The pitch was covered in rows of artificial lights, which also drew the interest of the inquisitive pupils. The tour guide explained that they replicate the conditions of photosynthesis to nurture the grass to grow naturally and recover after matches. After the scientific stadium tour, pupils benefitted from a careers session with Manchester United’s education officer. During the session, pupils explored how their values and attitude to their learning is key to success. Parallels were drawn between how the key values critical to education – such as hard work, punctuality, respect and discipline – are equally important to professional footballers. Saarah Bhana, science teacher at the school, said: “It was amazing to hear the education officer, Mark, mention values that are so closely aligned with our STAR values and how they are vital to the success of footballers too. The boys left with an understanding of the importance of education and the ingredients needed to be successful in all walks of life.”



Bookworms complete 25 reading challenges More than 60 pupils at High Crags Primary Leadership Academy completed a sponsored reading challenge during the autumn term. The fun literary competition involved completing 25 different reading challenges. From reading a page in a funny accent to reading a story to an animal or cuddly toy, the contest encouraged pupils to read regularly through a series of light-hearted tasks. The names of the pupils who completed all 25 challenges were entered into a duck race with the winners receiving a collection of new books. Like all Star schools, reading is a key focus for staff and pupils at High Crags Primary Leadership Academy. Pupils are actively encouraged to read regularly to develop their skills and to nurture a love of reading. Each week, pupils attend a reading assembly where staff act out key scenes from Star Readers books – with pupils voting for the books they’d like to feature. During the autumn term, the school opened its renovated library and a group of children have been appointed as Reading Elves and Librarian Elves to encourage their peers to read and to recommend books they may enjoy, as well as helping to keep the school’s library areas tidy. Inspired by the Star Readers initiative, the school has installed literature-themed wall art incorporating quotes from books at each key stage including pupils’ favourites Going on a Bear Hunt, Aliens Love Underpants and classic Roald Dahl and Harry Potter books. Helen Riley, the school’s English and Reading Lead, said: “This was a fun reading challenge to encourage the love of reading. It ran alongside our ongoing Star Readers challenge. We have great facilities here with the refurbished library areas and the children are really keen to help keep it tidy and support each other. Books can bring so much pleasure throughout life, so we want to inspire a positive and passionate attitude towards reading at this early stage.”




Eden Boys’ Birmingham creates Peace Garden As part of the community service element of their Star Diploma, thirty Year 10 pupils from Eden Boys’ School, Birmingham helped complete the construction of a Peace Garden at their school this autumn.

The final phase of the project, which began two years ago, saw pupils help to build a purpose-built canopy to provide cover over part of the Peace Garden. Thanks to the canopy, pupils will now be able to complete some lessons outdoors, as well benefitting from a covered area where they can eat lunch whilst being protected from the elements. The covered area will also be used for the school’s foodbank to provide easy access to members of the community. Lendlease, the main construction contractor for the nearby Perry Village and Alexander Stadium where the Commonwealth Games will be held next year, is supporting the project as part of its social responsibility programme. The same group of pupils who completed the initial phase of the Peace Garden have been working with Lendlease to complete the project, which was put on hold due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The initial phase of the project involved pupils clearing the area by removing several tonnes of soil, weeds and bark chip. They then levelled the ground before building raised beds and planters using recycled railway sleepers. Finally, pupils planted

herbs and flowers to create a bright, welcoming space for reflection. Alongside Lendlease, the project was also supported by Kier Construction, Wilmott Dixon and Careys. Collectively, the project partners provided careers guidance to pupils – covering a wide range of careers including architecture, engineering, accountancy and project management. Pupils learnt about apprenticeship opportunities in the construction, engineering and utilities industries, and found out about the work experience opportunities available to them, which could serve as a stepping-stone into careers in these sectors. Executive Principal Asiyah Ravat said: “Involvement in a restoration project like this can have a significant impact for futures and career paths. The pupils were also able to enhance their teamwork and communication skills to enable them to work in harmony to get the job done with maximum effectiveness. The project was very labour intensive, and the boys worked really hard to complete the Peace Garden. It looks fantastic and is a wonderful space for everyone to enjoy.”


Science accreditation awarded to Bradford primary Thornbury Primary Leadership Academy has achieved the Primary Science Quality Mark in recognition of the high standard of its science provision for pupils. The year-long programme, run by the Primary Science Teaching Trust and the University of Hertfordshire, supports schools to enhance the quality of teaching in science and to embed science into multiple aspects of school life. The accreditation provides professional development to subject leaders and results in improvements to the way science is strategically planned and taught across the whole school. It focuses on developing effective, confident science leadership for whole school impact on science teaching and learning. Despite lockdown disrupting pupils’ education for the last two years, staff at the school strived to ensure that children were still able to learn about science in creative ways. Children learning at home and those in school bubbles were transported virtually to Bradford Science Festival. Festival learning packs were produced for children who were encouraged to participate in a number of science challenges, with prizes awarded for the best entries.

The school has recently benefited from a new science lab that opened earlier this year to give pupils a practical space to carry out experiments and take part in practical demonstrations. A science club has also been established for children with a keen interest in science. As part of the accreditation process, staff, pupils and parents were asked to share their views on how science is taught in school. The consultation was used to shape a review of the school’s vision for science. Science lead at the school Michael Spalton said: “We have been working with the entire school family to shape the future of science learning at Thornbury. A shared vision, principles and goals for the science education of all our children is a key priority. As a result of this programme, science is now a very visible and important part of school life.”

PEDAL POWER PUSH AT HACKNEY SCHOOL Nearly 50 children at The Olive School, Hackney used pedal power to get to school every day during Bike to School Week. The national annual initiative is a celebration of cycling and a great way to kickstart active travel to school and encourage a healthy school run for all pupils. There was an incredible 150% increase in the number of children who participated in Bike to School Week, with all participants being awarded a certificate. As a result of the school’s initiatives to encourage pupils to cycle to school, the number of pupils travelling to school each day by bike has increased by nearly 70%. In November, the school ran Bikeability training – which is the government’s national cycle training programme – to give Year 6 pupils the practical skills, confidence and knowledge to cycle safely. A total of 24 pupils achieved their Level 1 and 2 Bikeability awards. The Bikeability training was followed by national Road Safety Week, the UK’s biggest annual road safety campaign. Every year thousands of schools join other organisations and community groups to raise awareness of road safety to make streets and communities safer for everyone. As part of Road Safety Week, the school’s Junior Road Safety Officers were on duty outside school. They offered advice and tips to cyclists and pedestrians using a cycle path next to the school. Working in partnership with Hackney Council and pupils from nearby St John & St James Primary School, cyclists were encouraged to slow down and watch out for school children.




School develops next generation of sports leaders Pupils at The Valley Leadership Academy have embarked on a sports leadership programme to give them the skills and knowledge to lead and officiate at local schools sporting events. Through the Sports Leaders initiative, pupils experience a range of roles including refereeing at football matches, being responsible for completing score sheets, managing time keeping and measuring distances during athletics events.

This year alone, over 40 pupils have joined the Sports Leaders Academy and have given up their time to volunteer at sporting events. Ten pupils have already completed more than 50 volunteering hours and have achieved officiating awards in athletics, dodgeball and football. The initiative is led by Rossendale’s School Games Organiser, Nathan Bibby. He organises sports competitions and festivals for more than 5,000 primary school pupils every year, the majority of which are held at The Valley Leadership Academy. He explained: “I work with pupils at The Valley to give them the skills, confidence and knowledge to lead and officiate at these sports events. The Sports Leaders go above and beyond, giving up their own time after school to help out at events. The Sports Leaders support school events to ensure that the primary school pupils have a fantastic time and give them lots of encouragement throughout the events.” Year 8 pupil Kenzie Jourey said: “Being a Sports Leader has really encouraged me to speak in front of big crowds of people. I started being a sports leader when I was in Year 7 and it has been one of the best decisions of my life. If I wasn’t doing this, I would be at home not doing a lot. Instead, I am helping children with sports. It has changed my life and I hope the work I am doing is changing the lives of primary school pupils.” Maddy Mee, in Year 8, added: “Being a sports leader has been an amazing experience and I hope to take the skills I have learnt into my future career. I would love to see more children feel encouraged to get involved in more sport and improve their own skills and self-belief. When I first started sports leading I felt really shy but now I feel confident in my role.” STARLIGHT


Bradford boys inspired by sustainable activities Inspired by COP26, the 26th meeting of the United Nation’s annual climate change conference, pupils from Eden Boys’ Leadership Academy, Bradford took part in a series of activities to raise awareness of environmental sustainability.

Members of the school’s Eco Committee visited a picturesque village in the Yorkshire Dales. During a day exploring the village of Austwick, pupils enjoyed a host of activities including a woodland walk, woodcraft activities and whittling. After building a fire, the pupils went back to basics and cooked their lunch on the campfire. The whole school participated in a ‘COP26 Sustainability Day’ to explore themes around climate change, connecting with the environment and reducing our carbon footprint. A series of experts visited the school to impart their knowledge and inspire pupils to instigate change. Representatives from Green Robin – an eco-friendly social enterprise that delivers zero waste workshops – and Yorkshire Millennium Trust – a charity that protects the landscape and wildlife of the Yorkshire Dales – spoke to the boys about practical ways they can take ownership of climate change by reducing their own carbon footprint.

Each year group focused on one area of sustainability. The school’s Eco Committee members, who visited Austwick, supported their retrospective year group peers by utilising the leadership and practical skills they had gained during their visit. Yorkshire Millennium Trust led a ‘connecting with nature’ workshop with Year 7 and 8 pupils to make bird feeders and bees wax wraps. In true Dragons’ Den style they pitched their sustainable projects to persuade businesses to stock them to help protect the environment. The project involved marketing the products, including designing a logo. One group devised a snappy slogan for their product - Better for you, better for the environment. Pupils in Year 9 turned their hand to upcycling, using old fabrics to make baskets, while Year 10 pupils took part in a ‘crisp packet project’ which saw them learn how to transform empty crisp packets into blankets. Crisp packets can take 80 years to decompose so finding a sustainable use for them has a positive environmental impact. The pupils’ blankets will also have a social benefit as they will be distributed to homeless charities. The Sustainability Day helped the pupils become more aware of how they can support sustainability efforts as a school and individually. They were left with the inspiring call to arms that: “No one can do everything, but everyone can do something!”




SCIENCE WORKSHOPS GO WITH A BANG Pupils at The Olive School, Birmingham have been immersed in the world of science thanks to a series of exciting workshops. The workshops began with a visit by a mobile zoo. The educational animal encounters made learning about animals and their habitats fun for Year 1 pupils. The session was delivered by Mo Safeer, a former zookeeper who runs the Animals in Hands mobile zoo. The zoo features over 70 species of animals – from Pythons to Barn Owls. Mo talked to the children about the welfare of animals and the responsibility of having pets. After rescuing many of the animals in his zoo, he stressed the importance of researching pets thoroughly before taking them on to ensure owners are able to look after them properly. Moving from animals to amps, the next workshop sparked pupils’ interest in electricity. Year 6 pupils got hands-on with science in an interactive electricity and circuits workshop delivered by Hands on Science. Following practical demonstrations to learn how electricity works, the children worked in teams to make their own circuits. Their faces lit up as they put their learning into practice – watching electricity flow around their circuits to make buzzers sound and lights illuminate. In the final session, Fizz Pop Science brought their breathtaking science show to the school. The show’s scientists demonstrated a range of incredible experiments to ignite pupils’ curiosity in science through spectacular displays of colour, smoke and bangs! After marvelling at the experiments, which were enjoyed by members of the school’s science after-school club, pupils tried their hand at setting up their own imaginative experiments. STARLIGHT



Enabling pupils with SEND to flourish LIZ MURRAY, SEND IMPROVEMENT LEAD In this edition of Star People, we talk to Liz Murray who is the trust’s leader with responsibility for supporting schools to provide a first-class education for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). An experienced teacher, SENCo and school leader, Liz joined Star Academies in June 2021.

What are the key challenges facing schools as they provide for pupils with SEND? Research shows that while Covid-19 has led to gaps in knowledge for many pupils, the impact of the pandemic has been disproportionate for pupils with SEND. Catch-up is a significant challenge and this means identifying the best ways of supporting children. Many teachers in Star schools do excellent work in adapting their lessons to meet pupils’ individual needs. They often know intuitively the steps they need to take to help pupils make the best possible progress. Nonetheless, there is always work to be done to ensure that staff are trained and confident to support children’s cognitive, physical, social and emotional development. Parents are their children’s first educators. Building strong relationships with the families of children with SEND and helping them to liaise with other services is a significant challenge, particularly at a time when those services are very stretched.

What aspect of your job gives you the greatest satisfaction?

What interests do you have outside of work?

My guiding principle is that young people with SEND should flourish in an inclusive environment in which they are nurtured and challenged. I get satisfaction from seeing this in practice. I know that I am making a positive contribution when I see teachers successfully trying new approaches that lead to children learning happily and overcoming barriers.

The arts are a source of great pleasure. I love going to the theatre and art galleries and am encouraging my 12-year-old daughter to share these pursuits. I’m committed to reducing waste and upcycling projects give the opportunity to develop my creative skills creating products without adding to my carbon footprint. Exercise is an important part of my routine too, especially Pilates and running.

Who was your favourite teacher and why? My drama teacher, Miss Hardcastle, left a lasting impression and helped me to become the person I am. She taught me for GCSE and A level and she instilled a love of theatre that has sustained me ever since. She introduced us to a great range of playwrights and encouraged us to read widely, as well as enjoying live productions. She was genuinely interested in us as individuals with varied talents and I hope that I emulated her when I became a teacher myself.

What are you currently reading? I always have two books on the go, one fiction and one non-fiction. Currently I am enjoying Small Pleasures by Clare Chambers. It’s set in 1950s London and the central character is a female journalist. I’m also reading The Squiggly Career by Helen Tupper and Sarah Ellis which is very much about taking opportunities as they come and designing a fulfilling career that is linked to your interests rather than being obsessed with the traditional ‘ladder’ approach. I enjoy inspirational literature in which strong protagonists overcome the odds stacked against them.

Key Appointments Lee Waring has been appointed Associate Principal at Bay Leadership Academy Sarfraz Shah has been appointed Principal at Eden Boys’ Leadership Academy, Manchester.

Sumeya Bhikhu has been appointed Associate Principal at Eden Boys’ School, Birmingham. Jonathan Harris has been appointed Principal at Rainbow Primary Leadership Academy. Peter McKee has been appointed to the Star Academies Board of Trustees.



STAR LETTERS ROLL OF HONOUR All pupils and staff listed have received a Star Letter from the Trust Chief Executive in recognition of their exemplification of our STAR values (Service, Teamwork, Ambition and Respect).



DILAN HAMA, Eden Boys’ Leadership Academy, Manchester – his bravery and quick thinking helped to save his father’s life during a heart attack.

ROSIE BARRETT, Bay Leadership Academy – played a key role in the school’s Covid-19 testing programme.

SHARULL HOSSAIN & IBNUL HOSSAIN, Eden Boys’ School, Bolton – completed all 925 skills on the Hegarty Maths Programme. MUNEEBAH BIZZARI, SANA KASHIF, MARIA KHAN, HIBBA RIAZ, ANAM SHAMI & SENNA YOUSEF, Eden Girls’ Leadership Academy, Manchester – represented the school in media interviews about HRH The Duke of Edinburgh. MOZA ALI, RIHAN ABDALLA-OSMAN, MAARIYA IMAAN & AYMAN ZAMAN, Eden Girls’ School, Coventry – represented the school at The Goldsmiths’ Award for Community Engagement and presented proudly on the range and depth of the school’s community work. AYSHA CARDWELL-KASHIF, Eden Girls’ School, Coventry – displayed resilience and leadership during difficult personal circumstances throughout the Covid-19 lockdown period. ZAYD MUSA, Tauheedul Islam Boys’ High School – took part in weekly community clean-ups. UZAIR PATEL, Tauheedul Islam Boys’ High School – led on the social enterprise project Uniformity, helped to produce safety visors using a 3D printer during lockdown and achieved an Arkwright Engineering scholarship. HASHIM VALLI, Tauheedul Islam Boys’ High School – raised funds for Alder Hey Children’s Charity and took part in weekly community clean-ups. AAMIRA HAJEE, The Olive School, Bolton – raised over £4,500 by climbing Ben Nevis to support the Penny Appeal charity. ABDULLAH ZAMAN, The Olive School, Small Heath – contributed towards digital technology and remote learning by creating a FlipGrid which has been shared with other Star schools.

JO MALIN, Bay Leadership Academy – voluntarily took on additional responsibilities in the school’s reprographics department alongside administrative duties. PAUL MCLAUGHLIN, Bay Leadership Academy – excelled in his role and regularly goes above and beyond for the school. SHAUN ROGERSON, Bay Leadership Academy – used his building skills to make significant improvements to the appearance and maintenance of the school. SHAUN WYSE, Bay Leadership Academy – used his experience and expertise to make improvements to the school website and rebuilt IT equipment that would have become obsolete. SHAHEDA BHATIA & SHAFIQ PATEL, Eden Boys’ School, Bolton – played and important role in the successful operations of a Covid-19 vaccination centre at the school. SHOHAB ALI, ABDUL AZIZ & NADEEM SHEIKH, Laisterdyke Leadership Academy – supported the bereaved family and friends of a pupil involved in a tragic accident. SUMERA QAYYUM, Rainbow Primary Leadership Academy – provided exceptional support to the School Business Manager and Principal. GRACE GARDNER, Star Central – provided exemplary support with the recruitment process at Star Central. EMMA KEANY, Star Central – demonstrated exceptional skill and resilience in performing her duties despite being newly appointed. NATASHA LEWIS, Star Central – managed the Star Talent Pool and supported Star Central colleagues to ensure the highest level of service was maintained. SHAHNAZ AKHTAR, Tauheedul Islam Girls’ High School and Sixth Form College – exceptional leadership of the Maths Faculty and continuous support for pupil and colleagues. AREFA DARBAR, Tauheedul Islam Girls’ High School and Sixth Form College – led on the Covid-19 rapid testing and supported the welfare of pupils, colleagues and parents throughout the pandemic. AAMENA PATEL, Tauheedul Islam Girls’ High School and Sixth Form College – supported the transition process for new Year 7 pupils through various induction programmes. REHANA ALI, FIAZ BEGUM, KULSUM FARUKI & AMREEN KAUSAR, The Olive School, Small Heath – a dynamic EYFS team who continuously aim to achieve the best outcomes for all children in EYFS. HUMAIRA HAMID, The Olive School, Small Heath – ensured the smooth running of the school with excellent communication and organisational skills. SADIA KHAN, The Olive School, Small Heath – played a significant role in ensuring the smooth running of the school.

Follow @StarAcademies on Twitter to read more about the amazing accomplishments of our pupils and2021 staff. STARLIGHT AUTUMN ISSUE 07

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