This month, Stoke Newington School’s ﬁrst ever sixth formers begin their further education right here in N16.
Stoke Newington School, a Media Arts and Science College, is described by the Learning Trust as ‘one of the best state schools in North London’. Celebrating its diversity, Ofsted noted 17 different languages spoken at the school in their 2004 report, and recognised a responsive approach to teaching, noting that ‘students with special educational needs make good progress, as do students with English as an additional language’. Craig Hewitt, director of the new sixth form, agrees, ‘The very reason we were encouraged to extend our provision to sixth form students was because we are such a high performing specialist school. Our contextual value added score puts us in the top 10% of schools in the country.’ Although the school is famously oversubscribed, much to the frustration of local families, the sixth form is currently just under its maximum capacity. So opportunities to get places on the further education courses are refreshingly realistic.
With Media Arts and Science College funding, the school facilities have grown over recent years to include numerous computer suites, TV and radio studios, digital recording and editing equipment. As well as having access to these facilities, the sixth formers will beneﬁt from refurbishment. ‘We are creating a separate, dedicated, high quality space for the sixth form. This will include a private study area, common room and sixth form administration ofﬁce. The whole area will be wireless enabled.’ Sixth formers will also be given new privileges, trusted to carry mobile phones responsibly and wear appropriate clothes of their own to school.
Pupils will be taking Level 3 (AS/A2) in options such as Moving Image Arts and Media Studies, alongside more traditional core subjects. We asked Mr Hewitt to explain what exactly is involved in some of the newer subjects. ‘Moving Image is a course which focuses on the study of ﬁlm, documentary and animation. It involves both creative elements (for example, pre-production work and a practical production), and critical responses such as studies of ﬁlm, documentary and animation from technical and historical perspectives.’
Another course option for the sixth form is DIDA, offered amongst a range of Level 2 (GCSE level) courses. ‘Diploma in Digital Applications is a one-year, full-time course comprising of four units: using ICT (Information Communication Technology); multimedia; graphics; ICT in enterprise. The course focuses on how ICT is used as a powerful tool in real life situations. The qualiﬁcation is paperless, making study dynamic and interactive.’ The range of courses is reﬂective of the focus on creative learning. ‘The school is a vibrant, purposeful and caring environment with high expectations and innovative, effective teaching leading to high achievement. The sixth form will be an extension of this approach, with the emphasis on academic excellence and development of pupils’ wider interests.’
For many, the sixth form is associated with new experiences. However, Mr. Hewitt believes that the continuity for those staying on will be a huge beneﬁt in their studies. ‘Having teachers who know their strengths and weaknesses… will ensure they achieve; not having to worry about going into a new environment, getting to know new people, new systems… is very important as Year 12 particularly is actually very short – exams start in May. Some people even take units in January, so having some time to ‘settle in’ to somewhere new isn’t really an option. Looking at the bigger picture, most students at sixth form will be going away to university in two years’ time so will get plenty of experience of new people and environments then.’ A large proportion of Stoke Newington School leavers already go on to further education, so we asked Mr. Hewitt how they plan to encourage university applications. ‘The school already does a lot of work in this area, for example, arranging university visits through the Aim Higher initiative. Clearly, much of our work in the sixth form will be focused on informing the students about all of the higher education options and supporting them through the application process. This will happen through personal development sessions, visits and individual tutoring.’
With repeated year-on-year academic improvements at the school, the main goal for the new sixth form is to continue with these achievements, a goal that Mr. Hewitt recognises lies within the school dynamic. ‘Teachers at Stoke Newington have again demonstrated fantastic enthusiasm, creativity and professionalism in planning and developing new curriculum materials to ensure that our sixth formers enjoy top quality teaching and learning from the very beginning of their courses. Obviously we are aiming to achieve the kind of exam success at AS and A2 that we have done with our GCSE results, which have doubled in the last 6 years to 62% (5 A*-Cs).’
With a small number of places left in this year’s sixth form, the school may be able to accommodate a few late applicants. But interested parties will need to contact them quickly, as they will already have missed important teaching and activities.
For contact details and further information about Stoke Newington School, Media Arts and Science College visit: http://www.sns.hackney.sch.uk/