Ark's Isaac Newton Academy wins Shine a Light Award

Isaac Newton Academy

Ark's Isaac Newton Academy in Ilford has won the Secondary School of the Year Award for its continued commitment to developing its students’ communication skills. The 2018 Shine a Light Awards, run by learning company Pearson in partnership with The Communication Trust, took place in London on 22 March 2018.

The Shine a Light Awards is a national scheme that celebrates innovative work and excellent practice in supporting children and young people’s communication development. There were ten awards in total, with winners and highly-commended finalists chosen by a panel of experts in the sector.

Isaac Newton Academy aims to support all students in the acquisition of excellent reading, writing and communication skills. Given that 62% of its students have English as an additional language (EAL), their successes in this field to date are impressive, and last year saw them placed in the top 1% for year 11 progress.

The school has partnered with a speech and language specialist as well as a school counsellor. This is in addition to having its own team of special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) staff who monitor the development of beginner EAL students. The school offers an ‘enrichment programme’ involving students, staff, parents and external facilitators. As part of this, students with speech, language and communication (SLC) issues can attend a weekly extra-curricular social club to build their conversation skills.

Another significant factor in Isaac Newton’s win was its use of the Harkness Method: an open, student-led approach to education that involves minimal intervention from teachers and staff. This encourages every student to contribute, and helps to develop key SLC skills.

Rachel Macfarlane, Principal at Isaac Newton Academy, said, "It is such an honour for Isaac Newton Academy to receive the Secondary School of the Year Award. The importance of SLC development at the school can be seen through our Harkness teaching style and our unique BRIDGES framework, which underpins everything we do. Through our culture of Growth Mindset, we are proud and excited to see the progress made by every student and it is wonderful that these measures have been recognised through the Shine a Light Awards."

The Shine a Light Awards have grown in popularity since their launch during the National Year of Communication in 2011 (known as the Hello campaign). To date, the awards have celebrated the work of over 120 teams and a wide range of individuals, including young people with severe and complex speech, language and communication needs (SLCN).

Find out more about Isaac Newton Academy on the school's website.