Aspirations Explorers’ Academy is a resounding success

The spring term ended on a high for fourteen students from Oak Hill Academy and Oriel Academy when they graduated from the ‘Explorers’ Academy’.

The students, all in Year 6 at the two primary schools which are both operated by Aspirations Academies Trust, had been identified as more able in a variety of curriculum areas.

Aspirations Explorers’ Academy was established to provide a programme of opportunities for learning at greater depth. Based at Rivers Academy, it is led by English teacher Hollie Smith: “Aspirations Academies strongly believes in applied learning where students can apply knowledge to real world situations. Our Explorers’ Academy is all about bringing together a variety of academic subject areas and developing new skills and enhanced understanding. It’s been a privilege to work with this particular cohort of children. With a small group you can really get to know the students and watch them progress.”

Aspirations Academies students at Westminster

Aspirations Academies students at Westminster.

The programme runs throughout the spring term each year and is based around a theme. “This time our theme was ‘Explore the Ocean,’” explains Hollie. “We looked at the effects of plastic in the sea and how we could combat the problems it causes. We also made 3D fish in DT out of card, made boats in Engineering and a ‘concrete’ poem in English. In our science session we did some experiments looking at how to separate sand, water and iron, and in art we made stained glass effect windows using tissue paper in the shape of animals and things we saw on our visit to the London Sea Life Aquarium. We are so fortunate to have all this on our doorstep so the children are able to build cultural capital while they learn.”

The variety of activities on offer is part of the attraction for the students involved: “I really enjoyed the food tech session,” says 11-year-old Chloe. “We don’t get to do cooking at primary school so it was something new. We made pizza in the shape of fish! I feel that Explorers’ Academy has helped me understand what it’s going to be like when I go up to secondary school.” Year 6 classmate Reece agrees: “Explorers’ Academy has stretched me and given me a head start for secondary school in September. It’s been fun learning new things with my friends. I’m excited about moving schools in September.”

Turtle pizza

The food tech sessions produced some amazing aquatic-themed pizzas.

A graduation ceremony was held before the end of term at which pupils were presented with their certificates.

Aine Linney, Executive Principal of Oak Hill Academy and Oriel Academy commented, “We’re really proud of the pupils who took part in the Explorer’s programme in what was already a busy term. They took on the challenge and flourished!”