What are our values?
The uniqueness of each child being known, valued and celebrated.
Strong, nurturing relationships are viewed as both fundamental to effective learning, and fostering respect for self, others and the community.
A total commitment to the development of the whole child.
A steadfast commitment to democracy, social justice, fairness and equality.
All children have access to fully inclusive and excellent comprehensive education and that there is no selection based on ability, aptitude, faith or gender.
All children can thrive, no matter what their personal circumstances.
A strong commitment to a broad view of achievement and success.
Why are we different?
In its desire to ensure its economic competitiveness, and utilising the PISA league tables as justification, our government has introduced a considerable amount of educational reform in recent years. We would strongly argue that this has narrowed curricula, favoured a particular pedagogical approach and restricted assessment procedures to high-stakes terminal examinations. We believe such changes do not meet the needs of every child and will be insufficient in preparing them for a future in a rapidly changing world.
Despite strong pressure to be compliant, some schools, supported by a few organisations, have steered an alternative course. Stanley Park High (SPH), the founding member of Academies of Inspiration, is one such school. Operating within a highly selective outer London borough, and comprising 1300+ students, including 90 in our unique Opportunity Bases for Autistic Spectrum Condition (ASC), SPH used the impetus of the ‘One School Pathfinder’ programme to bring about significant change.
Such schools were a variant within Building Schools for the Future (BSF), a programme of unprecedented scale and vision. Its ultimate goal was not just about new buildings, but to reimagine learning for the 21st Century and lead the transformation of the educational experience of every young person and teacher in the country. Accepting the status quo, and continuing to follow the standard education model that has dominated English secondary schools, was not an option.
How are we different?
Embracing our mission ‘Igniting a Passion for Learning’, we have been innovative in creating smaller learning environments —Horizon, Performance, Trade and World — in order for the uniqueness of each child to be known and valued. Collectively they promote the strong, nurturing relationships that are both fundamental to effective learning, and help foster respect for self, others and the community. In addition, they provide the bedrock for our innovative curriculum, pedagogy and assessment that enables all learners to be active participants in their own learning, thereby recasting achievement in ways that are long overdue.
Our curricula innovation has ensured that we are developing the competencies and attributes required for life in the 21st century, alongside the critically important knowledge and understanding required to pass examinations. We are amongst the 1% of schools (Key Stage 3, The Wasted Years – Ofsted, 2015) that have embraced the freedoms allocated to academies by not enforcing set curricula in the form of the national curriculum, which particularly manifests itself within our very own Excellent Futures Curriculum (EFC) in years 7 and 8, and our Taster Options programme in Year 9. In so doing, we recognise and celebrate the fact that our children and young people have different interests, aptitudes and abilities, and that these are seen as having equal value.
We recognise that there are times when students sit facing the front listening to the teacher; however, we fundamentally see learning as a social and collaborative activity, with pedagogy set accordingly. Consequently, considerable emphasis is placed on project-based learning (PBL) in the lower secondary years, with driving questions enabling meaningful outcomes to a real audience. Also, and despite the downgrading in the accreditation of speaking and listening in GCSE English, we still emphasise the importance of oracy. Similarly, declining emphasis on practical skills in GCSE Physical Education, A Level Science and most BTECs has not seen us jettison the value we attach to active, practical and experiential learning.
We do not allow assessment to determine our curricula or pedagogy. It is responsive to them. Assessment of learning is largely formative and without grading/levels in KS3. We do, on occasions, utilise tests to validate what our students learn and to inform our teaching, but we give high value to presentations, exhibitions and portfolios, all of which are used in our alternative to Parents’ Evenings, the unique Stanley Park Student Conferences.
How do we collaborate, share and learn?
“What is needed is a profession that constantly and collectively builds its knowledge ….where practices and their impact are transparently tested, developed, circulated and adapted. There needs to be a continuous amalgamation of precision and innovation, as well as inquiry, improvisation and experimentation.” Hargreaves and Fullan, 2012
In recent years there has been an increasing desire in the profession to develop professional capital within the context of a creative and reflective evidence-informed culture in order to improve learning. There has also been an increasing desire amongst the profession to share innovation. In 2016 we set up SPIRA (Stanley Park Innovation and Research Academy) which offers a range of training programmes and spaces to share our professional learning with others. Please see the SPIRA section of the website for more details.