Pupils Get Creative at Primary STEM Week

From firing rockets to racing cars, mixing chemicals and cooking up a storm in the kitchen, children from across the campuses took part in the Academy’s Primary STEM Week.

The extravaganza enabled all our Y5 pupils to get creative, with plenty of hands-on activities celebrating the best of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).

The aim of the week is for children to understand how STEM subjects impact on their daily lives through many different practical activities and investigations.

“The sweet and sour chicken was so tasty!”

“I’ve enjoyed it, as it was really creative.”

“I liked making the propeller cars”

Imagining the Sun Inspires Project

Students produced some fantastic work during a two-day creative project inspired by the sun.

Led by the science team, Imagining the Sun involved all students across the Josephine Butler Secondary campus.

Each department came up with their own ways to get involved:

  • Maths made sundial and pin hole cameras
  • English created a set of Icarus wings, stories and a ‘Sun’ newspaper
  • Humanities looked at sun worship through the ages
  • Science created a giant sun made from the signed palm print from everyone in school as well as a 2D and 3D solar system
  • PE played solar games
  • Vocational imagined life on another planet
  • Music made their own CD
  • SEND made a sensory 3D display of the solar system and sun-themed cakes were baked and sold
  • Art made solar themes displays




Unique Book for Nursery Children

Quiet Book
Rebecca Langley, Year 13, has designed a unique book to help develop a range of skills for children in early years.
As part of her extended project qualification, which is a Level 3 qualification equivalent to an AS grade or half an A Level, she had to produce an independent piece of work.
Her only brief was to produce either a 5,000 word essay or a product/artefact that she created herself (accompanied by a 1,000 word essay).
Rebecca produced a ‘Quiet Book’ which was intended for use with 3 to 5-year-olds and an adult.
She assessed the impact of the Quiet Book by trying it out with children from the local Sure Start Centre and a family member. Each page has been uniquely designed to focus on a specific skill e.g. numbers, colours, fine motor skills, literacy etc.

Writing is Brought to Life Through Drama



“It was utterly breathtaking! My class were buzzing that they recognised their writing in it and it was all they could talk about.”

Young playwrights saw their words brought to life when a troupe of actors visited the Academy.

DSC02702Over the last five months, 50 Y5 pupils have been taking part in Unlocking Potential, an innovative project run by Mortal Fools that uses drama to boost attainment in literacy.

This year’s production, ‘Open the Door, is based on the theme of World War II.  Professional actors together with actors from Mortal Fools’ flagship youth theatre performed the play, which was written using selected pieces of writing from the children.

Creative Learning Company, Mortal Fools, aims to use drama to give children real and tangible experiences, building their understanding of other people, increasing emotional intelligence and generating excitement.

Unlocking Potential is designed to support the development of the whole child, understanding that building motivation, confidence and aspirations will have a secondary effect of improving educational attainment


Mrs Cowie, primary literacy director at NCEA, said: “The children have seen firsthand the power of their writing, which inspired the script for a new play. They can now see a purpose behind their writing journey. The pride they experienced just could not have been created in an English lesson in the classroom!

“We now hope to harness this exciting energy, generated from the first phase of the project, and use it to ensure motivation remains high, as we embark on the Explore Arts Award, where the children will complete a portfolio of high-quality work.”

Mortal Fools artistic director, Kiz Crosbie, said: “Presenting the children’s writing as a professional piece of theatre gives a purpose to their writing beyond the classroom.”

“The best part about drama was that it was good fun and I learned a lot of new things. I used to think that I couldn’t be able to do something, like I couldn’t believe that I could do something like gymnastics or anything but they kind of told you to believe in yourself and not give up. I do loads of things now, I believe in myself more.”

Participant, aged 10, Unlocking Potential 2016 (interviewed a year after the project)

At the beginning of the project in 2016, 52% children were on target or above for writing –  but at the end of the year, after the input from the drama project,
 100% were on target or above!

Listen to children talking about last year’s ‘Space’ project:


Students from The Northumberland Church of England Academy at BALTIC where their Sound Collage features in the new Rodney Graham exhibition

120,000 people will hear their voices

“Art lets people’s feelings out”

“Everything is art really. There’s not right or wrong in art”

Students turned top critics when their views on the work of an international artist became part of a major exhibition at one of the North East’s top galleries.

Y7 students have been working with BALTIC Contemporary Art Centre and local artist and writer, Stevie Ronnie, to explore how visual arts can inspire creative writing.

Now their own interpretations of the work by the renowned artist, Rodney Graham, feature in a major exhibition which opened at BALTIC on March 17.

Over 120,000 people are expected to visit the exhibition which was given a five-star review in The Guardian and featured on the BBC.

Their “Sound Collage” is the first time the gallery has integrated community involvement into the main show and their comments will be heard by visitors as they walk around the exhibition.

At a special VIP preview, the students had the chance to meet the artist himself.

NCEA students meet artist Rodney Graham at BALTICTeacher of Art & Design, Louise Gatti, said: “Rodney Graham is viewed by critics as one of the greatest living artists of our time and this was an amazing project for students to be part of.

“Rodney came over to speak to them and told them that he loved their work and ideas. It was a very proud moment for all involved.”

Described as a “shape-shifter,” Rodney Graham is a Canadian artist whose genre-defying avant-garde experimentalism has confounded and thrilled audiences in museums and galleries all over the world.

He combines the roles of painter, photographer, writer, philosopher, actor, psychologist and musician and this exhibition features works in film and video along with his photographic images.

Steve ronnieThe Sound Collage project, carried out in partnership with New Writing North, is part of The Max Reinhardt Literacy Awards 2016-17 for creative writing and literacy work with schools, galleries, art museums and visual arts venues in England.

Vicky Sturrs, Schools and Colleges Programmer at BALTIC, said: “BALTIC believes in the power of contemporary art to provide alternative lenses with which to view the world.

“The project has supported pupils to creatively explore the themes and ideas associated with contemporary art and visual literacy.

“It has also improved engagement with, and understanding of, creative writing and produced outcomes that provide an alternative voice to interpret the show for peers, teachers and general visitors.”

As a result of the project, a resource was created for art teachers and arts educators designed to share some of the methods that were employed. This can be found on the link below:

MRLA Residency Resource

Harry’s Work of Art Selected for Display

A photograph taken by The Centre student, Harry Thompson, of a fruit decoration he made himself is now proudly on display in a new care home in Ashington. Harry was asked to submit the artwork while on a work experience placement with the home and it was selected by housing company, Bernicia.

Fantastic Beasts


In the first week of the Spring term, children were highly engaged in a Creative Week at James Knott Campus based around two books, Where the Wild Things Are and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

The week opened with the children finding artefacts which led to them believing a beast was loose around the Campus. The activities which followed developed problem-solving skills and enabled the children to work in different classes.

Every Key Stage 2 child built part of a beast which is now on display in the hall.  All children and staff were invited to dress as something beastly on Friday and Key Stage 1 and EYFS children enjoyed a beastly party to celebrate their hard work. Children have been able to show the Academy values in action as they have worked hard to let their light shine by working together in a sensible and supportive manner.