Headteacher Talk: Making an Impact

As always at the end of the month, we turn to our Headteacher Gemma for some words of wisdom. At the start of the new year, a new term and the beginning of our time in our new building, she’d like to talk to us this month about making an impact.


Why making an impact?


As an avid biologist I was one of the millions of viewers of the Blue Planet II series.  It was with great pleasure that I watched the production team receive a special Impact award at the National Television awards. It was an award for raising awareness. Awareness of the deadly plastic pollution that is killing marine life and awareness of the disruption to ecosystems in the world’s oceans.

The impact of this series, that took five years of dedication to put together, reached the UK government. Recent proposals aim to make household recycling easier and to introduce refundable deposits on plastic bottles.  The Blue Planet series has also had an impact overseas as it is broadcast to several countries worldwide.

David Attenborough, who many see as the face of BBC wildlife programmes, narrated this series. Originally from Leicestershire, he has had a huge impact on many people across generations as he has brought the wonders of natural life to our homes.  He is a household name and yet had a very modest start to life.





How does this affect Spark?


As we are already a month into this new year, it is probably a good time to reassess what we would like to achieve from this year. What impact do we want to make? It might be as simple as taking a reusable cup to the takeaway coffee shop. It could be as simple as refusing the plastic straw for your soft drink.

As teachers, we enter the profession because we want to make an impact on a young person’s life. We might even giving back to the community that gave to us during our educational years.

Seeing students get the ‘lightbulb’ moment, when a concept they have been struggling to grasp suddenly makes sense, is most rewarding. Or when interest is sparked in a topic that makes students inquisitive and leads to a dozen or so questions, making both ourselves and the students become animated about learning and discussing a topic.

That is at the forefront of our mission here at Spark, to make an impact and to encourage others to do the same.

So, what impact would you like to make this year? Comment below to let us know!

Spark Top Tips for GCSE Maths Exam Success

For those of you who are looking towards your GCSE revision now, here are our Top Tips for GCSE Maths success!

Getting formulas onto one page.


When revising for Maths, creating a formula sheet is an effective way to kick-start your work! You should include formulas that will and will not be given to you in your exam. This will also give you a quick point of reference when doing revision practice. By constant referral to your formula sheet you will find it easier to memorise them and to use them more accurately.

Past paper practice.


This is single-handedly the most important tip out there. With Maths, there is nothing more valuable than practising questions. By marking your attempts against official mark schemes you can see where you have gone wrong and what examiners are looking for.

Balance revision.


In GCSEs, pupils often miss out revising certain topics because they think it is beyond their understanding. If you have a weak link, work to improve your confidence because it can stop you gaining marks in questions that relate to your ‘strong’ topics. Focus your revision on the topics you are struggling with so you aren’t blindsided in the exam.

Revise your calculator.


You NEED to know your calculator inside out. It is so easy to mess up the answer to a whole question because you inputted a number incorrectly; you rounded too soon; you put the brackets in the wrong place. Don’t let your hard work and revision be ruined in the exam by silly mistakes on a calculator.

Time yourself.


When attempting past papers to begin with, give yourself more time than is allocated because you will need to refer to your notes and look things up. The closer the exam gets, though, the more important it is to practise papers in timed conditions. Furthermore, you need to get to a point where you don’t use your notes to help you. You might think to yourself that you will be fine and remember them on the day, but if you don’t try to go ‘blind’ beforehand, there is a risk you will draw a blank with certain methods and formulas when you really need them!

If you take these tips on board, success will follow.

Headteacher Talk: Thoughts on the New Year

On behalf of everyone at Spark Academy, our Headteacher Gemma has a few words to help welcome in the New Year.

With the Christmas holidays in full swing I thought I’d turn our attention to the new year ahead.

The end of a year brings reflection of the past and hope for the future and for this reason it is the time when many people will be making resolutions.  However, for our Year 6, 11 and 13 students it symbolises the beginning of the end of their current adventure in education.

Before they can move on to their next new quest in education or the workplace though, there is a lot of hard work ahead.  This can be a stressful and upsetting time, however with a few simple considerations it can be challenging, manageable and rewarding.


What’s the best way to approach revision?


Here are just a few tips to make sure you don’t burn out and actually enjoy your last phase of your journey!

  1. Plan: make sure you have a realistic revision schedule that you know you can stick to. If you always play football on a Thursday at 4pm, don’t include that as a time you will be revising!
  2. Early: Make sure you give yourself plenty of time to revise for your subjects. Do not leave it until the week before! Now is a great time to plan and start your revision. You should have an idea of where your weaknesses are and so can spend more time on those areas.
  3. Achievable: Psychologists have confirmed that any goals should be split into shorter, more achievable tasks. For example, you are more likely to complete 3 hours of Biology revision if you split it up. Try revising for 45 minutes, and then have a break.
  4. Revitalise: You need to step away from the revision and take time to revitalise your brain! Take a 20 minute break, have a chat with friends or go for a quick walk in the fresh air. This will just give you enough of a break to be recharged for your next session.
  5. Eat: Ensure you eat well, this includes fruit and vegetables and drink plenty of water. Try not to consume too many sugary drinks or coffee as these will disrupt your sleeping patterns.
  6. Sleep: revising late into the night is not the best solution! The next day you will be tired and cranky and unable to revise effectively.


Happy New Year!


I hope all of our students come back refreshed and ready for the new challenges ahead. I myself, am excited for the new year at Spark, and being in our new Belgrave Headquarters!

It just leaves for me to say, I wish you all a happy, healthy and prosperous 2018!