We are proud to be Ofsted Outstanding 2019
We see innovation in all aspects of the school’s delivery, from the use of technology in classrooms to the design of physical spaces. Many of our approaches are rooted in an understanding of the psychology of the young people we work with and we have embedded a culture of continuous questioning, evaluation and improvement. Looking forward, we are building a research and development culture to seek out new models and methods of engagement and learning.
Stone Soup Academy is an Alternative Provision Free School based in Nottingham that opened in September 2012 as part of The Stone Soup Project. In May 2014, and again in 2019 it was rated ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted.
Our school works with local schools and local authorities to ensure that students who fail to thrive in a mainstream school environment have a genuine educational alternative. We believe that every young person should have the opportunity to succeed by being motivated and inspired. With this as a foundational belief, we aim to develop young people into unique, responsible, discerning members of society with a sense of their own value and our school is structured to nurture the social development of all the young people we work with.
In March 2013, we moved to our new site on High Pavement in Nottingham’s City centre and settled into our first classes in the new building. In the academic year 2014-15 we catered for 70 pupils aged between 14 and 16, who studied subject areas including construction, creative industries, fashion and textiles as well as traditional core GCSEs. Over the coming years we added further subjects, increasing the number of students that we work with and adding further educational bases and partnerships to our current offer.
We pride ourselves on personalising the education we provide to each student, in the belief that by re-igniting their interest in academic studies and vocational practice they will progress with us.
If you are interested in learning more about the Stone Soup Academy, would like to refer a student, join as a volunteer, or have any other questions, please do get in touch.
We aim is to give students the support they need to develop the skills necessary to re-engage with education and make significant progress in their personal and academic development.
Stone Soup Academy is an alternative provision free school in the centre of Nottingham, serving students outside mainstream education in an environment that encourages their academic and personal development. We are committed to the education and welfare of our students, with the goal of preparing them for reintegration into mainstream education or the personal skills to be successful members of our communities as they enter the world of work.
The foundation of our work is the ambition to create systems that equip young people who would otherwise be left behind. All too frequently, students who are deemed to be difficult or disruptive are faced with a future of unemployment or social disadvantage.
The Academy holds at the heart of its work the ambition to create an environment that fully equips students for their personal and academic development. Our goal is to empower each individual student to achieve in practical, functional, and long-lasting ways. To access futures that when they joined us they did not seem possible to achieve.
With this in mind, we aim to:
Provide a supportive environment that aids the learning and personal development of all students;
Prepare students, where appropriate, for reintegration into mainstream education;
Improve the behaviour and attitude of each student with both adults and their peers;
Reinforce each student’s self-esteem and integrity;
Instil an understanding of fundamental British values for citizenship.
The curriculum offered here focuses on achieving these goals through a wide range of courses to ensure continued student engagement and attendance.
We believe that a diverse curriculum encourages students to develop integrated skills that will more truly prepare them for the responsibilities and experiences of adult life. As an alternative provision academy, a creative outlet increases focus and guides learning. Here at Stone Soup we combine Functional Skills qualifications and core GCSEs in Maths and English with classes in creative subjects such as Media, Music Technology, and Creative Arts and access to Nottingham College and Nottingham Trent University. All of these are aimed at growing the skills and confidence of students as well as teaching them new crafts that could potentially turn into a career.
Students also have classes in PSHE which explore a wide range of topics aimed at equipping them for citizenship and ensuring they understand fundamental British values including democracy, rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect for and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs and for those without faith. While these are specifically addressed in form time and PSHE, these values are additionally embedded in the curriculum and environment of the Academy. We deliver these aspects through Votes For Schools, an online package that poses a question which allows for debate within the classroom.
Alongside the academics offered, we also have a system that ensures the welfare of our students by providing services to students and their families. Most importantly, our policy is to tailor the learning career of each student to their particular needs, and cross-reference initial assessment with future progress to maintain a positive learning experience.
Individual pastoral support is also available to our students, as well as both individual and group sessions with educational specialists. We maintain regular contact with parents/caregivers and outside agencies involved in each student’s welfare to provide the best possible level of support and protection for all-round development, in keeping with our mission as an organisation.
Kerrie graduated from Nottingham Trent University with a first class honours degree in Design Technology with Secondary Education. Kerrie started her career in mainstream secondary schools and over 18 years in 3 schools she was promoted through Head of Department to Assistant Principal to Vice Principal.
Kerrie has now worked in alternative provision since 2014 taking on the post of Principal of Stone Soup Academy in 2018.
Kerrie is passionate about creating unimagined futures for students, many of whom have faced challenges and adversity in their lives by the time that they arrive at Stone Soup Academy.
Kerrie says “Here at Stone Soup we are making a positive difference to lives and I am privileged to lead our school as we progress into the future.”
Prior to moving to Stone Soup Kevin spent 8 years working in an outstanding boys SEBD school in London supporting some of the most deprived and challenging young people in the country. Originally trained as a PE specialist Kevin prides himself on his ability to build positive relationships with students and their families, helping those who have struggled in mainstream to re-engage and achieve their potential.
In his role as Vice Principal Kevin oversees the pastoral care and behaviour support offered by both our engagement and teaching teams and works closely with our referrers to raise student attendance and ensure the needs of our learners are met.
Oliver is in his sixth year at Stone Soup Academy. He initially came into the school to help students through stand-up comedy workshops that he had developed based upon his successful stint as a stand-up comedian.
Through delivering the workshops, Oliver found that he had a passion for helping students overcome barriers to engagement and helping them to learn in a fun and stimulating way.
Oliver spent time with the Academy’s engagement team, seeing what they do on a daily basis and how they helped the students in the school to re-engage with their education. After spending time with the engagement team Oliver realised that he wanted a future working within education to help provide a positive and balanced experience for students that hadn’t yet experienced one.
Oliver now works on the engagement team full time and has recently been promoted to Head of Engagement and wants to help make the Academy an amazing experience for all the students who attend Stone Soup Academy!
He says: “I love working at Stone Soup Academy, helping students who haven’t engaged as well in mainstream and showing them there are different ways to engage in school. Seeing students that you work with start to love what they do in school and go onto their next steps, confident and happy with what they want to do in life, is the best feeling ever.”
Shortly after graduating with a First Class Honours degree in Childhood Studies, Becky started her journey with Stone Soup Academy at the beginning of 2015 as an Engagement Team Assistant and has recently taken on a new role as Assistant Head of Engagement.
Alongside her degree Becky studied a Counselling qualification, which gave her a strong ability to listen to and value the voice of young people. This is an area that she feels is vital and has positively implemented at the Academy through the introduction of a student council and work on student leadership. She states “I endeavour to provide every student I work with the ability to believe in themselves. They may need additional support but they can achieve and I believe in them and expect them to achieve. I feel for young people, having someone listen to them and have faith in them is paramount. Schools are extremely influential in children’s lives and I welcome being part of this and playing a positive role”.
Becky highlights that her role at Stone Soup Academy allows her to make a difference to the lives of young people who for whatever reason did not engage with mainstream school. She states, “I always try to instil into our students that despite your circumstances you can and should follow your dreams and achieve your full potential. Then, when they leave us and go on to college placements or apprenticeships, knowing you played a part in that is one of the best feelings.
Helen’s career spans over three decades and has been dedicated to promoting inclusive practice: empowering teachers to provide high quality personalised learning experiences and supporting learners to value their individual differences in preparation for adult life in a diverse society. In a previous role as a County Advisory Teacher for Special Education, she has been responsible for delivering training on inclusive practice to schools across the country. At the heart of the training was Helen’s commitment to working in partnership with parents, teachers and agency staff as the most effective way to support students achieve their best outcomes.
As a SENCO, Helen is qualified to carry out a range of assessments to identify potential barriers to learning and she is also a qualified assessor for exam access arrangements.
Previously Assistant Principal at a local secondary school, Helen has a degree in history and a Master’s Degree in Special Education.
Matt Murphy arrived in Nottingham in 1996 to study at Nottingham Trent University. After graduating with a degree in Contemporary Arts, he went on to work for Nottingham City Council’s Youth Service in a range of music-based projects in the City. Matt returned to NTU to gain his teaching qualification and worked at Holgate Academy in Hucknall as a music and music technology teacher for 6 years, delivering GCSE and BTEC Music and Music Technology courses.
Matt joined the Stone Soup Academy team at Easter 2015. In this time he has successfully taught GCSE and BTEC Media courses.
Steph has been interested in creative arts since a very young age. This became a real passion for her once she completed her GCSEs and A-levels, and she continued to push boundaries in order to develop her creative skills while completing a Bachelor of Arts course at Derby University. She graduated with a First Class degree in Computer Games Modelling and Animation, taking part in several artistic projects as a freelance artist in Derby as a result.
Steph’s first experience of teaching was when she was welcomed back to her old university course as an Associate professor. While not always a life long dream, this fuelled Steph’s aspirations to pass on her knowledge and support those with raw talent. Since then she has been a teaching assistant working closely with SEN students, as well as a Secondary School art teacher. Now studying to achieve her teaching qualification, she continues to put in a lot of effort into inspiring a new generation of artists.
She truly believes that “there is no can’t, only try and try again”; she lives and works by this quote, and instils this attitude into her students to help them build confidence in their own abilities.
Steph has been at Stone Soup for 2 years, and says: “Stone Soup Academy is like no other school that I have come across. It’s bizarre but in an amazing way! Staff and students work together and for each other in order to get the best out of everyone. There is no divide, only Stone Soup, and you can see this from what each and every student is able to achieve in their time here. It is a pleasure to be a part of these students’ education and see them gain the confidence they may have lost!
Duncan has been a teacher of both English and Sport for the last 5 years. Having started his teaching career here in England he then moved to teach abroad for several years, which gave him the wonderful opportunity of learning new cultures and experiencing the differences of teaching elsewhere.
Sport has always been an integral part of his life, studying Sport and Education at university here in Nottingham and regularly committing to local sports teams. Here at Stone Soup he is able to use his knowledge and passion for sport to deliver a high quality BTEC Sport course.
Duncan joined the Stone Soup team in early 2016 and is thoroughly enjoying developing his skills as well as those of the students.
Michelle started working at the Stone Soup Academy two and a half years ago as a domestic cleaner around the school. Michelle quickly realised that she would like to put her wealth of knowledge and experience of counselling into practice within a more support-focussed role to assist students with their personal barriers and feelings. Michelle now works full-time as an Engagement Team Officer providing bespoke pastoral support to all students of the Stone Soup Academy.
Michelle has an extensive background in Counselling and Child care, and she gained a BA Hons degree in Humanistic Counselling practice, Diploma in Counselling Children and Adolescents and an NVQ 3 in Childcare.
Prior to working at Stone Soup, Michelle has worked with survivors of rape, childhood sexual abuse and domestic abuse. Michelle also has vast experience of working as Nursery Nurse Early Years Practitioner, but felt that her particular skill set was best suited to supporting adolescents and young people.
Visual communication of any means is incredibly important to me. While working at Stone Soup Academy I feel this is a vital tool in supporting students to express themselves. Giving students the tool of a camera to explore, play and represent their own world through the medium of a lense.
Whilst working at Stone Soup Academy I have gained QTS status through Bishop Grosseteste University. A fantastic and humbling opportunity provided to me by Stone Soup, which in turn, has ensured I have had the best support in my own journey and in being able to support the students in the most innovative way.
Since then, he has worked both nationally and internationally in Further and Higher Education to make music education accessible to all.
Josh believes in creating tailored learning experiences for each child and he is delighted to share his knowledge and experience with the students at Stone Soup Academy.
After leaving secondary school, Jordan studied Business Studies at college and gained experience working within a customer service environment.
Jordan progressed into a role as a Learning Mentor within a Nottingham based alternative provision before starting his new role with the engagement team at Stone Soup Academy.
Robin graduated with a degree in Fine Art in 2013, and has a background in teaching, having received a PGCE in 2016. Since then he has worked in multiple schools and alternative provisions across the country, joining the Stone Soup team in 2018 as part of the engagement team. He has always felt that his strengths lie in creating and maintaining positive relationships with pupils and in supporting them pastorally in order to facilitate their learning and allow them to reach their potential.
Paul joined the Academy in June 2016 having spent more than 10 years in alternative and special schools. Paul is passionate about enabling students to fulfil their maths potential. Many students struggle in main stream maths because they don’t have the necessary attention paid to the individual way they approach the simple basics. These individual ways are usually mainly correct and need slight adjustments to enable correct answers to be obtained. Paul has attempted to enable success for the students by modifying the way students find their answers.
Paul has introduced GCSE maths for the majority of the students. This has been done by using a 1 year curriculum model. Fractions are looked at not just in the realm of number but also when we are looking at area and perimeter, mean, mode and median, so the student have economy of learning.
Kerry is soon to complete her third year of teaching and has taught a variety of subjects but the main subjects have been Religious Education and English.
Kerry studied Philosophy and Religion at Wolverhampton University and has always had a passion for reading literature by the greatest minds of our times. After gaining her PGCE at Newman University Birmingham, Kerry started her teaching career in a Catholic Secondary School, this taught her many things about forming positive relationships with young people and experimenting with different pedagogical approaches.
Kerry believes that Stone Soup is like a big family unit and we all work together to inspire the young people that they can have an incredible future. Kerry joined the Stone Soup Academy team in September 2018 and teaches English and Animal Care.
After receiving his PGCE Qualification from the University of Nottingham, Darrell taught in many different mainstream schools across the East Midlands for fifteen years before arriving at Stone Soup Academy in November 2016.
As part of the fantastic team that is here at the academy Darrell thoroughly enjoys teaching Maths to our students and has now been entrusted to add a little spirituality to the Stone Soup family ideals through the provision of a Religious Studies course.
Darrell firmly believes that each and every student should be at the heart of their own learning experience and this is why he feels perfectly at home here at Stone Soup Academy.
Richard graduated from Keele University in 1997 with a joint honours degree in English Literature and music. He completed his PGCE qualification in 2001 and went on to teach Music and English at several schools across Yorkshire including at one of the top ten independent schools in the country where he was Director of Music. The highlights of his music teaching experiences were leading groups to perform at the Lincoln centre in New York and at York Minster.
He brings a wealth of experience having taught in every sector including Secondary, primary and independent and has a proven history of raising standards and results in the schools he has taught at.
Richard moved to Nottingham in 2014 and joined Stone Soup in May 2016. During this time Richard has led the transition from being an English functional skills centre to the point where the English department now offers a two-year GCSE English literature course as well as a GCSE in English language and level 1 and level 2 functional skills.
Richard had enjoyed English and reading through his life and he went on to study English literature at Keele university in 1993. Initially teaching music, Richard focussed his career on teaching English 5 years ago and he has taught the subject in several schools in Nottinghamshire including the West Bridgford school and All saints Catholic school in Mansfield.
Richard enjoys life at Stone soup because of the amazingly positive relationships he has with the learners and the challenge of raising expectations and aspirations of the students each year.
Osiris first joined Stone Soup Academy as a volunteer in hopes of gaining some experience in British education. Two years later, Osiris has become the “American guy” and a long term member of the Engagement Team.
Having been a part of a program similar to Stone Soup in his high school and carrying much of the same ethos, Osiris remembers the impact his teachers had on him and wanted to make the same kind of difference in the lives of young people who needed and deserved it.
Imani began working at Stone Soup Academy in Febuary of 2018 after graduating her degree in Criminolgy and working with vulnerable young people and their families in homelessness situations.
Imani has a vast interest in vulnerable young people, especially those on the fringes of society.
Imani works with in the engagement team as a personal coach, supporting young people back in to lessons, following their progress and attainment and liaising with parents and referrers.
Having completed her first successful year at Stone Soup Imani has recently been working with our new KS3 provision supporting Year 9’s in their journey to our KS4 provision.
Imani prides herself on her rapport with our students and is dedicated to their personal development.
Ronald migrated to Nottingham, England in 2001 from the twin island Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, where he also trained and worked as a secondary school teacher. Just prior to migration ,he completed his Master of Arts in Education, focusing on Sociology of Education, completing his thesis on Equality of Educational Opportunity.
Having arrived in England , he continued his teaching career , working at different levels of the education system-Colleges , University and Secondary to gain a better understanding of same. He gained his QTS from the University of Derby in 2009 ,having been exempt from his NQT year. He has acquired most of his experience while working as a supply teacher ,at many different secondary schools in Nottingham , Derby and Leicester. He has always had an active interest in all sporting disciplines, especially Football and Athletics
Over a decade ago, Stone Soup started as a small community project in Nottingham. Having recognised a gaping need in the community, the Project began by offering an alternative provision for students through music. Initially only operating in a small studio and within schools, the project quickly grew to require additional space. This took the form of an alternative provision centre, with facilities for 50 students in part-time music and construction courses.
With the opportunity to apply as a Free School, Stone Soup seized upon this chance for progression and was accepted. In September 2012, a temporary school opened in St. Ann’s, Nottingham, and began working with local schools to provide a wider set of educational opportunities for students. During this time, a project to refurbish the new facility was underway which operated as a training programme with apprentices undertaking much of the work.
Stone Soup Academy opened its new premises in April 2013, now located in the heart of Nottingham city centre in the historic Lace market area. Immersing the students in an area that is itself inspiring and professional was a priority for the governing body, offering the city centre itself as an extended classroom.
An assessment by Ofsted in 2014 found the Academy ‘outstanding’, an accomplishment of which we are incredibly proud. However, we have not allowed it to make us complacent and have continued developing our facilities and services. The school has taken on additional students, developing a variety of avenues for working with learners who need specialised attention beyond an alternative provision. We have supplemented this by working closely with families to provide evening schools, as well as electronic learning for students who may have complications from home or hospital.
We have an ambitious set of plans for the future which are constantly in the process of being developed and realised. These include an expansion of opportunities for off-site learning, immersing students into a working business environment to foster self-reliance, ambition, and practical skills. In preparation for employment, we are looking to provide our students with supported work experience in retail, catering, creative industries and enterprise.
A large part of our commitment to our students is to improve long-term outcomes by equipping them for the future. We have set up a range of enterprise opportunities which enable students to develop practical work skills and start creating marketable items. Our enterprise activities are based around making a positive impact on local schools, businesses, and communities.
One of the earliest projects we developed involves the external restoration of buildings around Nottingham. Students worked on site, removing windows and bringing them back to the school to be refurbished. These have then been returned to the original sites and replaced.
The success of this scheme has led to the initiation of additional enterprise projects. Students have been able to create items for sale to both the local community and on the internet, combining practical abilities with the development of employable skills. We have also encouraged them to begin compiling work as budding designers, and several have submitted work for national competitions. Soon, we will be looking to receive public commissions for student work.
When I arrived at Stone Soup Academy, I felt as if the education system had given up on me. Traditional schooling had failed me as a student, failing to support me in the ways I needed in a time of need. I was labelled as ‘difficult to work with’. I was excluded from multiple schools, this led to a lot of anxiety and a complete lack of ambition and self-confidence, especially academically. I had completely given up on myself and felt like others had too.
I did not recognise it at the time, but Stone Soup was my last chance for an education and though it was a long and challenging journey, Stone Soup supported me and encouraged me to explore interests and talents, things that had been forgotten due to my difficult time in mainstream school. I was given independent support that was tailored to my needs, such as one to one mentoring instead of a regular form tutor. I was often given opportunities to reflect on my own behaviour in an understanding environment, enabling me to progress as an individual and to gain a focus on positive behaviours instead of challenging ones.
My most memorable moment from my time spent at Stone Soup Academy was when I was announced as student of the term, this was my first ever positive academic achievement. My progress was recognised by everyone! I was rewarded with a trip to Sea world in Birmingham and a trip to Five Guys. I had never felt so acknowledged as a student before.
I am eternally grateful for my support at Stone Soup and for the inspiring and patient individuals I crossed paths with. I am now in my second year at The University of Derby studying a Degree in Creative Expressive Therapies, aiming to one day support students who are also too often described using the label ‘challenging behaviour’. Without the support I was given by Stone Soup Academy, none of this would have been possible.