Teaching | 8th March 2021

The Science of Teaching Science

Having an effective understanding of science is incredibly important both for the individual and society. Children are entitled to know how the world works – without this knowledge their lives aren’t as rich. A good understanding of science will allow them as adults to make informed decisions on important matters, such as voting, or receiving a vaccination as has been seen recently. And it opens doors to numerous careers in a huge range of fields, not just the ‘traditional’ science professions.

Our approach to teaching science is different from some schools, as they will use an inquiry-based learning approach, which involves minimal guidance from the teacher and pupils designing their own experiments to check their own hypotheses. For example, this could be asking the children to look at a bug and see what they can find out. However, an increasing number of studies show this is ineffective as, without having the right knowledge in place, children won’t know the questions they need to ask to get the most out of the approach.

To teach science effectively we, and all Paradigm schools, use a ‘knowledge-first’ system instead, which focuses on teaching children the scientific knowledge before anything else. The teacher breaks problems into manageable parts and shows the solution to each, before the children practice using similar problems. By doing this, the children then have the foundation they need to be able to do the inquiry-based learning effectively. It also helps the children develop essential skills such as problem solving, understanding scientific texts or extrapolating accurate conclusions from results.

Another way we improve science outcomes is to meet regularly with teachers from the other schools in Paradigm Trust to share ideas. A large proportion of time is spent discussing ways in which children can be better prepared for the move from primary to secondary school, and how to make science effective from Nursery to Year 9. We have found by doing this there is now less disruption when pupils move from Year 6 to Year 7 and their learning experience is far smoother. Much of this work is led by Ben Rogers who is on the Education Committee at the Institute of Physics, and on the editing panel for the Association of Science Education journal. He is also part of the Ofsted Science advisory group.

Since Paradigm began working this way more students have been successful in science GCSE, and more high grades are being achieved. The number of students choosing to study a science subject at further education level has increased, and at every level of schooling it is noticeable that children are achieving better results and becoming more engaged in the subject.

Announcements | 8th March 2021

Year 11 update

08 March 2021

Dear Year 11 students, 

Following on from the Ofqual announcements and subsequent assembly last week, I felt it important to write to you all to update you on the very latest information. 

  • Teachers can use a range of evidence to make a judgement of the grade they are performing at.
  • Students should only be assessed on what they have been taught. Centres will need to provide accessible questions and tasks for lower attaining students and appropriately demanding questions and tasks for higher attaining students to support higher grades.
  • Every student will have the right to appeal their grade.
  • Students will receive their results for GCSEs on the 12 August.
  • Ofqual will put in place the technical framework needed to implement the arrangements for students completing vocational qualifications.

We are still awaiting further exam board clarification on the evidence body we will be using to assess students and how we will be assessing students in school between the information being released and 18 June. Once I have this information and Ipswich Academy’s internal quality assurance processes in place I will share this with you. 

The grades will be evidence informed. We will only be able to submit a grade for a student if we have sufficient evidence that they are working at that standard. 

All staff are very much looking forward to welcoming you back on Wednesday 10 March as you go into your final months as Ipswich Academy students. You all need to prepare yourself for the last uphill push, as staff we will push you to reach your potential, you need to show the willingness and determination to reach the top.  

Do not give up Year 11!  You have been on an incredible journey, keep working hard and know that every piece of work you complete will still make a difference.

Yours sincerely, 

Abbie Thorrington

Uncategorised | 1st March 2021

Update from Miss Thorrington regarding the wider opening of Ipswich Academy

01 March 2021

Dear students, parents and carers,

Following on from the Government announcement last week, and my subsequent correspondence, I am detailing below key information relating to your child’s education provision from Monday 8th March 2021. Paradigm Trust and Ipswich Academy are currently updating their risk assessment for full school re-opening. Once this has been approved, I will be sharing it with you. 

Full-opening of Ipswich Academy:

At present, the Government guidance states that students must return a negative lateral flow test prior to returning to the classroom. As a direct result, I have made the decision to stagger the start of the students’ return back into the classroom. The following groups will be attending on the to the following dates:

Monday 8thTuesday 9thWednesday 10thThursday 11thFriday 12th 
Open forKey worker and vulnerable studentsKey worker and vulnerable studentsKey worker and vulnerable students.
All year 10 and 11 students 
Key worker and vulnerable students.
All year 7, 10 and 11 students
All year groups back

Students who have not consented to testing will start back to school on the same day that their year group does. We strongly encourage you to sign up for the lateral flow testing to ensure that we create the safest learning environment for all students and staff. Please consent to testing by clicking here if you have not done so already.

Work for students from Monday 8th March- their year group start date: 

On Friday 5th March all students will be emailed their timetable for the week beginning 8th of March. Students will attend a live base group session each morning followed by a variety of pre-recorded lessons and written activities. 

Asymptomatic testing: 

In order for us to abide by Government expectations for students to undertake a  lateral flow test three times on site and then again once at home in the first two weeks after school reopens, we will be following a precise testing timetable. 

DateYear group AMYear group PM
Thurs 4th March1110
Fri 5th March79 – PARDI
Mon 8th March89G
Tues 9th March1110
Wed 10th MarchNo testing7
Thurs 11th March8

Text messages confirming exact times have been sent to parents – if you are still unsure please call us.

Will will continue testing beyond Thursday 11th March following a similar timetable to ensure students are tested 3 times in line with the guidance. 

We will be sending out a separate text message detailing the specific time slot for students to attend Ipswich Academy for testing, testing will be done in teaching sets. Students should attend promptly and enter the school premises by the double gates by the carpark. Students will then be directed towards the Sports Hall. If you have not received a text message by 4pm on Wednesday 3rd March, please contact the school. 

As per Government guidance, students will then be given their home test kit following the successful completion of their three in school tests. Students will not be given home test kits if they have not completed tests under supervision in school. 

Students who have tested positive for Covid 19 in the last 90 days cannot have a lateral flow test until after this date. If this is the case for your child, please inform the school so that we are aware. 

The school day from Wednesday 10th March:

We will be staggering the start and end of the school day. Year 10 and 11 students start at 08.45 and finish at 15.00. Year 7, 8 and 9 students start at 09.00 and finish at 15.15. Students will enter through specific doors, staff will be on hand to supervise students. 

Face coverings:

Face coverings will be mandatory for all students and staff whilst on site at Ipswich Academy until at least Easter in line with Government guidance. The only   exceptions will be:

  • those who are exempt, if your child is exempt then please make contact with the school prior to the 8th March;
  • when eating and drinking;  
  • participating in exercise or strenuous activity during PE lessons.

We encourage all students to bring their own face covering to school each day along with a sealable plastic bag for them to store their face covering whilst eating and drinking. We will have a small number of face coverings which we can supply students with in the event of theirs breaking.

We take the safety of the students and the staff very seriously at the academy and there will be a clear behaviour policy in place around the appropriate wearing of masks. We appreciate your support in reinforcing the importance of face coverings to your children.  

School uniform and PE kit:

Other than in exceptional circumstances, or in line with changes to Government guidance, we will continue to follow our standard uniform policies and staff dress code.

Uniforms do not need to be cleaned more often than usual or using any different methods.

If you envisage an issue with your child wearing the correct uniform, please contact the school prior to our full re-opening so that we can support on a case by case basis. 

On days where students have PE, students must come to school wearing their PE kit. There will be an opportunity for students to change into their school uniform after the lesson if they wish. 

Free school meals:

The National Voucher Scheme will end on Friday 5th March. Students requesting a packed lunch will therefore need to collect it from the school between 12.00-12.30pm on the days prior to their full-time education commencing. 

Laptop returns:

Until further notice students who were loaned a laptop can continue using them at home, this will enable students to complete additional work on Google Classroom at their convenience. 

Work for students if they have to self isolate:

For students who have to self isolate we will continue to provide school work via Google Classroom. We will provide more specific information about this if your child has to self isolate.  

Finally, and more positively, we are looking forward to welcoming students back to Ipswich Academy. As you know, we have been open during the whole lockdown and it will be good to get everyone back to classroom learning as soon as possible. The students are what make Ipswich Academy such a special place to be and I look forward to their return.

Thank you for your ongoing support. Your positive comments shared on the work we have been doing has been much appreciated and has been so reassuring to hear. I will communicate with you again once the risk assessment has been fully approved.

Abbie Thorrington

Uncategorised | 24th February 2021

Update from Miss Thorrington

24 February 2021

Dear students, parents and carers,

Following on from the Government announcement on Monday, I would like to share with you the initial ‘headline information’ relating to your child’s education provision from Monday 8th March 2021. 

Extensive planning is already underway at Ipswich Academy to ensure the safety of staff and students, I will share plans with you in due course once they have been consulted on and finalised. 

Full-opening of Ipswich Academy:

Students will return to secondary education from Monday 8th March in line with Government guidance.


Students who have consented to testing will participate in the asymptomatic testing programme to help break transmission links by identifying those who may be carrying the virus unknowingly. Students will be tested three times on site and then again once at home in the first two weeks after school reopens. We are currently planning the timetable for testing and not all students will be tested at the same point.  Students who have consented will not be returning to the classroom until they have reported back with a negative lateral flow test.

Again, following Government instructions, we will then be providing students with home kits for twice weekly testing thereafter.

Testing is voluntary, but strongly encouraged by the Government. If you are yet to consent for your child to undertake lateral flow testing in school, please click on the link to complete this. 

Face coverings:

Face coverings will be mandatory for all students whilst on site at Ipswich Academy until at least Easter in line with Government guidance. The only   exceptions will be:

  • those who are exempt, if your child is exempt then please make contact with the school prior to the 8th March;
  • when eating and drinking;  
  • participating in exercise or strenuous activity during PE lessons.

The expectation of all students is to maintain the safety of themselves and the safety of others. For this reason, we will have a clear policy around the correct and appropriate wearing of face coverings in school. Students will be made aware of this policy and will be expected to adhere to the rules in place. 

Prior to school re-opening, students need to continue with the fantastic work they have been completing remotely. All staff are incredibly proud of all students and  the work they have completed. I would also kindly ask parents and carers to complete the short questionnaire by clicking on the link to help us review and evaluate the online provision that we have been providing for students. 

In the coming week I will be working on the logistics of reopening Ipswich Academy and will be sharing these with you in advance of 8th March. If in the meantime you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact the school. 

Thank you for your ongoing support. 

Abbie Thorrington

Teaching | 15th February 2021

Learning Through Lockdown

Despite the current challenges around the majority of our pupils learning from home, we have started the term on a high by ensuring children both at home and in school experience the same quality-first teaching and learning they would get in the classroom. 

This is as a result of the extensive planning and preparation we had done before the start of the year. We took the findings and insights we gained during the first period of lockdown last spring and summer, and with other Paradigm Trust schools built a robust plan of action which we could apply should we need to close and engage in remote learning again. 

Our preparation continued when children returned to school in the autumn. This included training staff and students to use Google Classroom, discussing a remote learning pedagogy with other Paradigm schools and planning the logistics that were necessary to be able to deliver effective teaching online to all its pupils.

 So when the official notification that schools would be closed to all children (apart from vulnerable and key worker children) was received, we were able to move swiftly to remote learning with a minimum of disruption. 

Now we are delivering a full and engaging timetable of blended learning, through recorded lessons and live sessions which follow the same structure as an in-school lesson. We also provide online activities which support the children’s learning.

One of the major challenges during the first lockdown was the digital divide, with many families unable to access the online resources available due to a lack of appropriate devices and/or a reliable internet connection with sufficient data allowance. To overcome this challenge we have issued school laptops to any children who are learning from home and don’t have suitable access to technology. Where families don’t have access to WiFi, we’ve purchased dongles and data for them. Non-digital resources, such as exercise books, are also issued to pupils and we have stocked up on extra resources such as glue, paint and materials for Art which can be picked up from school for pupils working from home.

It’s extremely important to us that all our pupils continue to get the support they need, so all students have Base Group Time as normal and weekly assemblies. We make sure pupils receive at least two welfare calls a week, and our excellent pastoral team is available all day, every day to respond to any needs our students have.

We are also working hard to continue our provision for SEN pupils, with one-to-one video calls, phone calls and TA support in many of our virtual lessons.

Lockdown is undoubtedly a challenge, but one we are meeting head-on. It is an opportunity to adapt and improve our teaching and learning, both in the classroom and remotely online. As we would do in normal circumstances we are seeking the most effective ways to teach, testing different innovations and then sharing those that have been proven to be effective with the rest of the school and the entire Trust. It is our goal to always deliver an effective, challenging and interesting remote learning experience for our pupils, so they can all achieve their best.

News | 11th February 2021

House Competition: February to March timetable

Announcements | 25th January 2021

Year 10 Virtual Parent Consultation Evenings

Teaching | 21st January 2021

How our pedagogy is improving pupils’ prospects

Pedagogy is the manner in which we approach teaching. 

All schools in Paradigm Trust follow the same pedagogy – quality first teaching at all times, for every student. We are always informed by the latest research, but focus on teaching in a way that is effective, rather than fashionable in education pedagogy.

With pupils only having a finite number of hours in school, the time we have to educate them is limited. It is absolutely crucial to optimise what they get out of those hours, so having an effective, well thought out and proven pedagogy is essential. 

Our main influences are Teach Like a Champion – a collection of techniques which combine to deliver incredibly effective learning – and Rosenshine’s Principles of Instruction, which establishes ten different strategies for teaching and assessing. Unlike many of his contemporaries, Rosenshine’s work is evidence-based, so Paradigm Trust knows for certain these methods are effective. The two works complement each other, providing a well-rounded base on which to build our pedagogy.

By using the same pedagogy across Ipswich Academy we can achieve a continuity of practice which is of great benefit to both pupils and staff. It means that there is a consistency in the way we teach, in the way we behave and in the way we apply our rules that runs all the way through from Year 7 to Year 11. Uncertainty is detrimental to effective learning, so having continuity in teaching and language is of great benefit to students. It is especially effective when we welcome a new intake of Year 7 students from fellow Paradigm Trust schools Murrayfield Primary Academy and Piper’s Vale Primary Academy; they are used to the pedagogy and settle in quickly.

While consistency is important we know every class and every child is different so we encourage all our staff to adapt, intelligently and with a strong understanding of the underlying rationale, to fit the needs of the pupils and subjects. Our pedagogy is designed to be flexible, giving teachers the tools to work in each individual situation.

Having this shared set of strategies naturally leads to improvement. With every school in Paradigm Trust using them, it makes it easy for us to get together and share strong practice. When one teacher makes a small adaptation which proves to be successful, it’s easily shared and applied across classes and schools.

By implementing this shared pedagogy we’ve seen a culture shift both in the classroom and in the curriculum, with improvements across the board in behaviour and engagement. Outcomes in lessons are much better and we are seeing a consistently higher level of effort in all classes. Effective use of pedagogy leads to effective teaching, which leads to effective personal development for students, alongside brilliant exam results and, ultimately, the best chances in life.

News | 18th January 2021

Lockdown House Competitions

Announcements | 18th January 2021

Year 11 consultation letter

18th January 2021

Dear Year 11 students, 

Thank you to all those that joined my assembly this morning to update you on the consultation process for GCSE and A Level examinations. 

Up to this point, you have all worked diligently and maturely in the face of what I think have been the most challenging circumstances learners have ever faced. Despite this pandemic causing huge disruption to your learning last year and this year, you have all made progress and shown that you are strong and resilient. 

We do however need to look to the future. The government is deciding how these grades will be calculated. Again, I need to stress that this is a consultation, no decisions have been made. 

Below are some key points that form the consultation:

  • assessments to take place in late May/June;
  • grades to be based on student current performance and NOT where we ‘think they would be at’;
  • teachers should assess students on the areas of content they have covered and can demonstrate their ability, while ensuring sufficient breadth of content coverage so as not to limit progression;
  • exam boards to provide papers for students to sit and for teachers to mark;
  • an opportunity to use coursework and own papers;
  • exams boards to provide support on grading;
  • exam boards would then quality assure the approach taken by each school, working together to ensure their approaches are consistent.

Students, parents and carers can comment on the consultation process. Please click on the link.

There were some frustrations voiced in the assembly today, a lot of you feel a sense of anger towards the way in which your exams are being handled. This is your opportunity to have your say. Following this, put your frustrations to good use and apply to your learning. We are all on this journey together and as always, we will support you in any way we can.

My final message continues to be- do not give up! You have been on an incredible journey; turn up to all your online lessons, keep working hard and know that every piece of work you complete will still make a difference.

Yours sincerely, 

Abbie Thorrington

Last updated January 18, 2021