Thrilled to announce our 16th Quality Mark Beacon School: Rockwood Academy
This was the first Quality Mark review process, undertaken fully online because of the COVID-19 context and lockdown. To achieve this status at any time, is impressive, but to do so whilst operating virtually, innovating and moving to online and blended learning, ‘live’ home schooling, during a time of national emergency and much uncertainty is all the more remarkable. It reflects upon the dedication and total commitment of Rockwood Academy staff, senior leaders, and students, to their Holocaust education, that they undertook this review process at such a time. It has reaffirmed to the Centre that the Quality Mark process remains important, relevant and possible, whether in person, in-situ visits or online and testified to the opportunities and challenges the Holocaust teaching online can bring… we were inspired and learned so much from this Quality Mark experience, and we are grateful and humbled by all those who contributed to such a vibrant and memorable day.
In Mr Gurds Singh (Beacon School Lead Teacher), Rockwood Academy have a quiet, reflective and committed Holocaust educator, gifted teacher and aspiring middle leader, determined to develop Beacon School status and provision. He enjoys the respect and collegiality of his department and the support of colleagues across the school; all have embraced the Beacon School programme and adopted the scheme of work and the Centre’s pedagogy. All this has been made possible by senior colleagues Mr Malik (Beacon School SLT link) and Ms Darr (Headteacher) whose support in facilitating curriculum opportunity and innovation, CPD access and networking, has ensured Holocaust education is a right for all learners. Senior leaders recognise the whole-school benefits of quality provision for and experience of Holocaust teaching and learning, they appreciate the academic and holistic outcomes that such a profound and rich learning experience provides – including during periods of COVID lockdown, providing online and blended learning about the Holocaust. That the Centre’s ‘Being Human?’ lesson could be delivered so powerfully and effectively, in a ‘live’ online lesson, was a revelation. Mr Singh and Mr Malik delivered a masterclass – this was fantastic to witness and experience virtually, for its quality of learning, but also because neither the integrity of the resources/materials or subject matter was compromised.
In committing to the Beacon School programme – Rockwood Academy has relished the opportunity to invest in staff with the programme’s FREE access to specialist CPD and embraced research informed practice. The outcome is a rich and vibrant Holocaust curriculum; a strong scheme of work, authentically linked to the school’s character, values and mission, and ambitiously embedded within its disciplinary distinctive context. Combined with impressive enrichment opportunities, Holocaust provision at Rockwood Academy is resulting in impressive and creative student outcomes. It demonstrates just what is possible when professionals work together in a spirit of openness, collaboration of specialism and vision.
Together with the UCL Centre for Holocaust Education, Rockwood Academy has truly embarked on the ‘Beacon School journey’ to its fullest – it is an immense team effort and we are delighted to partner and re-designate the schools Beacon School status for a further three years. It is this review’s contention that few schools could boost such a consistent, values driven and strong civic, lived embedding of Holocaust education and advocacy within its SMSC provision, culture and community ethos than Rockwood Academy.
Key strengths of Rockwood Academy’s quality provision for and evolving specialism in Holocaust education include:
- The quality of teaching and learning, and the outcomes for learners, particularly within History, has benefitted from Beacon School status. Mr Singh/Mr Malik’s outstanding online/remote lesson, observed for this review, was full of integrity & quality T&L.
- Beacon School status plays a crucial part in securing excellent SMSC provision and this should be widely celebrated.
- Headteacher Ms Darr is an articulate advocate for Holocaust teaching and learning and appreciates its contribution to the curriculum and the Rockwood Academy experience. She is rightly proud of Mr Singh’s Beacon Schools work to date and is committed to supporting its future development. It is rare to see such outstanding leadership articulate the potential and need for Holocaust education so powerfully as evidenced in this review
- Commitment to developing opportunities in keeping with a spiral curriculum.
- Senior leaders and teachers are committed to the principle that all learners have the right to access quality Holocaust education.
- The scheme of work/learning is enhanced by a range of UCL Centre for Holocaust Education materials, and richly informed by its pedagogy and educational principles.
- The centrepiece of Rockwood Academy’s strength in Holocaust education is built upon quality teaching and learning: the online lesson observed for the purposes of review bore all hallmarks of quality teaching, rather than just quality teaching about the Holocaust.
- Personal stories were a feature of the Holocaust scheme of work that the students found particularly compelling, especially the thread of Leon Greenman and family.
- Strong and supportive leadership from the Mr Malik as SLT link has been critical to the success of the development of Holocaust teaching and learning at Rockwood Academy and in enabling specialist UCL CPD opportunities for staff.
- Mr Singh’s knowledge, commitment and emerging specialism in Holocaust education is widely acknowledged as the impetus of the project. He has been able to communicate the programmes goals quietly and effectively to fellow colleagues across the school to ensure movement towards an inter-disciplinary approach.
- Rockwood Academy students were found to be articulate, thoughtful citizens; keen to learn, respectful and are the school’s best advocates.
- The school’s Beacon School work undoubtedly contributes positively to safeguarding, developing learners’ emotional literacy and citizenship.
- The Beacon School project has been instrumental to staff and school engagement with academic and educational research.
- The emergence of their creative but disciplinary distinct Holocaust provision in RE and English is ambitious and innovative. The embedding of metacognitive opportunities and literacy gains within Holocaust related schemes or lessons is outstanding.
- A creative and cultural commitment to Holocaust provision and practice prevails: building on both Beacon School and Echo Eternal opportunities.
Our Quality Mark review process confirms that Rockwood Academy’s Holocaust education is a powerful contributor to both a curriculum that informs, engages, empowers and inspires its learners and driver for school improvement. Given so much excellence, it is fitting Rockwood Academy be recognised for its innovation in, provision for and commitment to quality Holocaust education with this prestigious award.
The Centre’s Nicola Wetherall MBE remarked:
‘It was an absolute pleasure to virtually visit Rockwood Academy and learn more about your impressive provision for and quality teaching and learning about the Holocaust and your innovative and ambitious commitment to develop genocide education. That despite a global pandemic, a school in lockdown, its staff were agile enough to ensure innovative, quality Holocaust teaching and learning only demonstrates the utter commitment to and regard felt for the value of Holocaust education. The outstanding online lesson observed was evidence that would counter concern regards whether meaningful Holocaust learning would/could/should be possible online or appropriate remotely. This Quality Mark is richly deserved recognition of your collective efforts: the support of a passionate and gifted senior leader, curriculum leadership of a talented practitioner and middle leader – all in a spirit of openness and collegiality – in a school where relationships and personal development matters. Thank you to the students who spoke so eloquently and openly about their learning and to the staff and senior leaders who gave me precious time to reflect upon the impact of their work. Together, Rockwood Academy students and staff, have and are achieving so much. You should be very proud, congratulations to you all on this award.’
This is another example of the Centre’s successful and impactful partnering with schools and their networks across the country. Rockwood Academy epitomises the ethos, aims and ambition of the Centre’s Beacon School programme: all involved in the school’s Quality Mark process, including Centre mentor and Executive Director, Professor Stuart Foster are proud of the achievement, but with the school open to development and refining of practice we all look forward to seeing how its Holocaust teaching and learning develops. This online Quality Mark review found, in Rockwood Academy, the epitome of what a #BeaconSchool should be; a blend of ethos, curriculum, leadership, CPD, values, opportunity & enrichment. Congratulations!