Congratulations to ...
All the students and staff who were involved with the academy's excellent production of Grease the Musical. Rave reviews were received all round and the academy had lots of wonderful comments from parents, visitors and pupils from our feeder primary schools who enjoyed the performances.
We can't wait to see what's in store next year .. .
Congratulations to ...
Miss Mothersole, SENCO, who has recently received a Thank You card from The Pearson Awards, having been nominated by a Year 7 student to receive one. This is what they said:
“To Ms Mothersole, Senco, thank you for being the most supportive, understanding and amazing teacher. You are always there to listen and to help me. Thank you for attending the meeting in your summer holiday. You really have altered my life, you are always here to support me and my family. I'm so lucky to have you as my teacher. You have helped to make me the person who can look at any situation and think I can do that. Whether it's Monday - Friday or the weekend or an evening you are always there to support me and offer help and advice. I'm proud to be able to say that you’re my teacher. THANK YOU.”
GREENSWARD CELEBRATES THE YEAR OF THE MONKEY
Last week Year 7 celebrated the start of the Chinese Year of the Monkey. This began on Monday with a special assembly performed by teachers from the Jiangsu Centre in Essex, where students learned the story of the monster Nien and traditions linked to the Chinese spring festival. Everyone in the year group also had the opportunity to learn and sing a Chinese song in choir on Thursday and there was a Chinese themed menu in the Acorns restaurant on Wednesday.
A number of lessons across the curriculum had a Chinese theme throughout the week. In languages there were Mandarin taster sessions, in art students made Chinese opera masks and in English students made shadow puppets and performed plays. There were other Chinese themed lessons in RE, Maths, Technology, Geography and Science. In PE 7G1 were selected to take part in a Tai Chi Fan lesson. Sophia Akintunde enjoyed this in particular saying “My favourite activity was the Tai Chi fan because I learned how to move gracefully and I felt calm and relaxed.”
Alicia Bassett said of the week: “My favourite activity was Chinese opera masks because we got to decide whether it was a hero or a villain and we learned that different colours had different meanings.”
Nathan Hussey enjoyed his Mandarin lesson as he likes learning new languages and Sophie Small found her introduction Chinese multiplication slightly complicated but helpful!
In Product Design our students used industry standard Computer Aided Design software to design Chinese style products and landscapes. Students have studied the geometry and proportions of Chinese designs and visualized their own ideas. The top three designs were produced by Harry Simons (7W) Paper Lantern shapes, Emily Richardson (7W) illuminated Pagoda Fountain and Stone Carder (7R) Chinese Water Garden.
Students were very positive about their Chinese New Year experience and with their feedback, we are looking forward to making it even better next year!
Xīnnián kuàilè – Happy New Year
We were delighted to welcome Paul Hannaford to Greensward Academy this week. The ex-gang member talked about his own personal battle with drugs and his eventual rehabilitation.
Paul’s hard hitting but inspiring story had a huge impact on our Year 9 and Year 11 students. Check out Paul's website for his full story. http://www.paulhannaford.com/
A different way of school life in China
During the two week break, I was fortunate enough to be invited to be part of the British Teaching Council's Essex delegation visit to Changshu, China. The visit was an incredibly enlightening experience for me and I was surprised to see that the arts are almost non-existent in all stages of education in China. It made me realise how fortunate our students are and how important it is at Greensward to have access to so many creative opportunities within the curriculum.
Observing lessons in China was a very different experience to that of ours in the UK; the most noticeable is the class size. They have 40+ students all seated at single desks facing the blackboard with the teacher standing at the front for most of the lesson and the students rarely had any discussion time. The Chinese children often appeared quite shy, and when asked questions by their teacher they have to stand when answering them, something I think ours would greatly dislike. Many speak painfully quietly and they have little to no time to think about a question before having to respond. However, Chinese children are very focused on achievement in school because spaces at universities are limited and the higher their examination grades, the greater opportunity they have of acceptance to the best schools. Behaviour is impeccable, however, all students complete the same work and there is no differentiation for students who need stretching, challenging or more support. If a student does not understand, they cannot express this during the lesson, they must seek advice afterwards. It is sink or swim for the children in these classes.
The students I taught were aged 16/17 and there are 8 classes of 40 within each year group - it is a very large school. My lessons were the first drama classes the students had ever participated in and it was fantastic to see how quickly they developed confidence throughout the sessions and enjoyed working together in groups. It shocked me that standing "in a space" was such an alien concept - they are used to the routine and rituals of straight lines and facing front. I had to learn how to say "stand alone please" in Chinese, along with how to tell them to move in different directions around the room, otherwise they just followed each other in an enormous circle doing laps of the room! At times, I gave opportunities for the students to lead the learning; giving them responsibility for deciding the pace the group would move at and encouraging them to choose who would give the next answer. Bouncing the questions around the room was again, a first for the students, who could not believe I was giving them the authority to lead each other.
I was pleased with how well they responded to the themes in Steven Berkoff's
play, 'Metamorphosis' and it was lovely to see them enjoy exploring the use of
physical theatre and exaggerated expression; developing their use of voice and
gesture consistently and in an increasingly expressive manner; they came alive!
It was interesting that having modelled one way of creating the beetle using physical theatre, the students appeared to believe there was only one way of doing it. Once I made it clear that theirs must be different then something very special happened ... individuality and creativity! This is something I would always expect to see when teaching here, however, it became very clear to me that the Chinese students believed that my way was the only correct way, therefore they should just copy it rather than using their own imaginations.
The children were so grateful and I felt like quite the celebrity as they asked for my autograph, photographs and hugs after lessons! The whole experience of visiting and teaching at Wang Ganchang School in Changshu was amazing, yet extremely tiring. The school day starts at 7am and finishes at 5pm. The students then have a couple of hours homework to complete.
After such a busy working week, I was extremely grateful to be given the opportunity of a walking tour of Changshu Old Town with the principal of the school, followed by a visit to Suzhou and Shanghai at the weekend. Mrs Cox and I enjoyed a whirlwind tour that included a boat trip, markets, beautiful gardens, a Buddhist temple and the chance to see the breath taking architecture of Shanghai city at The Bund.
After my educational experiences in China, it has reinforced to me how very
lucky our students are to have the extra-curricular activities, trips,
international visits they do and to be encouraged to be expressive and
confident; something that the principal of the school in Changshu admitted that
their children lacked.
So now it is back to more familiar faces and methods of teaching and directing the musical 'Hairspray' ready for the first week in December!
Miss N Frith, Leading Practitioner; Drama
The Cardboard Box Challenge
On Friday 28 November, 26 pupils from Years 8 and 9, along with 6 members of staff, braved the elements to take part in Greensward Academy's first ever cardboard box challenge. The idea was to raise awareness amongst students of the difficult conditions that people who are forced to sleep rough may face.
It was also an opportunity for pupils to raise money for the local homeless charity HARP, based in Southend. The pupils spent a grand total of 12 hours sleeping out under the stars with nothing but a few cardboard boxes and a sleeping bag for comfort. Needless to say not much sleep was had by many (with the exception of Mr Glyn) and at the end of a long, cold night most were grateful of the thought of a warm bed to return to! The students have raised £1,816 in total.
A massive well done and thank you to all who took part! The video can be viewed on our website: https://sites.google.com/a/aetinet.org/greensward-academy/about-us/video-gallery
We Will Rock You
A huge congratulations to all of the cast and crew involved in the Musical Theatre Production last week. After a very intense rehearsal process, students had the pleasure of performing to Year 6 students from Ashingdon, Plumberow and Westerings Academy on Wednesday 26 November, in addition to participating in three full evening shows. The final performance on Saturday 29 November was graced by our special guest, Chairman of Rochford District Council, Councillor Mrs J Lumley. The production brought both tears and laughter from the world of rock to our wonderful audience members, and made all staff involved exceptionally proud of the students' fantastic achievement!
Greensward Academy hosts the 2014 Comenius International Fashion Show
On Thursday 13 November 2014 the Greensward Textiles Technology department hosted a fashion show as part of the academy's on going Comenius partnership project. The Comenius partnership is funded by the British Council and enables fashion/textiles departments within schools from all over Europe to work together on a joint project. This year we were joined by our partners from France, Germany and Spain and some of their students' garments were also in the show.
The Years 8, 9 and 10 textiles students all participated either modelling their fabulous creations or working back stage. Also the year 10 construction students worked on the set and our catering students produced some lovely canapés. A very enjoyable evening was had by all.