We are proud to be Ofsted Outstanding 2019*** TES 2020 Winners of Alternative Provision school of the year ***
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 Academy based in Nottingham that opened in September 2012 as part of 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 that they will progress with us.
If you are interested in learning more about 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/RSHE 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/RSHE, 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.”
Younes completed his Qualified Teacher Status in Mathematics in 2002 at the University of Nottingham. Younes holds a master degree in Business Studies.
Younes worked in 4 different mainstream schools since 2002. One of the schools he worked at was in a bilingual international school in the Middle East for two years. During his career, Younes held different positions from Maths teacher to Head of Maths to Assistant Principal to Vice Principal to Principal.
In his role as Vice Principal Younes oversee:
Younes is a big believer in embracing all students, making a commitment to do whatever it takes to provide each student with the support they need to be successful in their future.
Younes said” I am so please that I joined Stone Soup Academy. Here, all staff see the potential that has been missed by others and we find the unique strength of every single student. Here staff teach students the way they learn”
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.”
I joined The Stone Soup Project back in 2010. The Project then went on to gain Free School status and became an Academy in 2012. We were based for 1 year at the Sycamore Centre, and in 2013 we moved to our new premises at High Pavement. In 2017 the Academy gained an additional site (Richmond House) ,this now accommodates our Yr 9 provision from which the Operations team works. As Head of Operations I have 3 other staff in the Operations team, 2 of which are at Richmond House and the 3rd on reception at High Pavement.
Operations covers a wide variety of work from HR, Finances, development of the Academy, support for SLT, teachers and engagement being the core support for the Academy. This is a very varied position and one that I am passionate about with lots of interaction with the students and staff. I feel very proud and privileged to work in such a diverse and family orientated environment. I am looking forward to the next chapter in the history of the Academy.
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.
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.
I have worked in education for the last seven years in different roles and in different settings from primary to secondary mainstream and also a trust AP. I began volunteering as a TA at the Spring College which was part of the Redhill Trust working with 11–16-year-olds on a daily basis, teaching them PSHE sessions and also mentoring them during their time suspended from school. I soon found that my love of music, fashion and football was an in with most students and it was easy to build relationships with some of the most high-profile students across the seven trust schools, it was here that I soon found a real passion to help and support the young people I worked with, not just in school but in their lives outside of education to. I have built numerous resources and delivered many PSHE sessions tailored to the issues facing our young people in an ever-evolving world.
I eventually went on to apply for a deputy head role at the Redhill Academy Trusts Reintegration Centre, where I stayed until earlier this year. I have always related to the students I have worked with from situations in my own life and I feel being open and honest is a great way of gaining trust and guiding the students to be the best they can be, I look forward to helping them and being someone, they can rely on to have their back, with a firm but fair approach. Having been a scout for Nottingham Forest Football Club and also a DJ for many years I hope we can find some common ground to break the ice and build some great foundations for building some bright futures.
Having started teaching in 2015 as an English Intervention Specialist, I adopted the teaching of Maths alongside this in 2018. I try to draw on the outside world to ensure this two subjects are engaging and positive. Maths and English are vitally important to our young people, in both the academic setting and as importantly in being able to self-express and give voice to their thoughts, feelings and beliefs. That importance is what drives me to help young people achieve in any setting and what I hope to communicate and inspire the students towards. I find these lessons enjoyable and I tend to hope this helps.
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.
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.
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.
Laura studied Sport and Education at Nottingham Trent University and graduated with honours. Laura started her career by volunteering at a number of mainstream schools during her degree and found it challenging but rewarding. Laura joined the Academy in 2013 as Teaching Assistant before shortly moving into a behavioural / pastoral role. Working closely with the students Laura realised the importance of safeguarding when supporting vulnerable young people and in 2015 Laura was given the opportunity to lead the administration of safeguarding as Deputy DSL.
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.
Before graduating from Nottingham Trent University with a degree in Youth Studies, I had been involved in various volunteering opportunities in my local community supporting young people. Coming from a disadvantaged background myself, I have a vested interest in working with young people who may be in similar situations.
In particular I have a passion for supporting young people in achieving their full potential academically.I feel privileged to have been given the opportunity to work at Stone Soup Academy and make a difference to young people’s lives daily.
Amy graduated from Sheffield Hallam University in 2013 with a degree in Accounting and Financial Management, however decided she wanted to pursue a career in teaching instead and in 2014 completed her PGCE in Secondary Business Studies.
Amy has 5 years of experience teaching, having worked with children with many different additional needs and who could not access education in a mainstream setting, needs including; Autism, ADHD, Dyslexia, Dyscalculia and many others.
Amy joined our Stone Soup family into our Key Stage 3 setting to work with our Year 9s as a class teacher, adding 3 new subjects to our Year 9 curriculum; ICT, Business Studies and Science. Amy will be using her experience to help re-engage our learners into the education setting and give them a positive and welcoming start into Stone Soup Academy.
Taylor has only recently just joined Stone Soup Academy becoming a member of the English faculty in June 2021.
I am keen to support the personal and academic development of students by helping them achieve their full potential by preparing them for a bright future.
Michelle has over 17 years of extensive experience working with send main stream students.
Starting out has a Send specialist intervention teacher where she lead on BTEC vocational courses in Business, Health and Social Care, Sports leaders and OCR speed keying qualifications for students with specific learning difficulties. These courses prepared students with work based knowledge and were key for their future employment.
Michelle has experience in managing an alternative provision unit within a mainstream school and has priorly worked alongside the SEND team as a community tutor/SEND assistant, where she became dedicated in managing the implementation of an inclusive curriculum and supporting the students to have access to effective inclusive teaching for them to receive high quality outcomes.
Michelle also has a wealth of experience with writing and leading on EHCP’s, CBT, Autism, ADHD and Social, emotional and mental health issues.
In the last four years I have gained experience teaching at Stone Soup Academy, Nottingham Girls’ Academy, John Ferneley College and NUAST, teaching English Language and Physical Education. I have also gained more subject knowledge by working for AQA from 2018. Before that, I taught at West Nottinghamshire College for 16 years.
At West Nottinghamshire College I developed a wide portfolio of teaching skills over a variety of subjects. I also became an elected ending on 2007 and represented Great Britain as a Staff Governor and athlete at the World Duathlon Championships in 1903.
I have achieved various qualifications including The Post Graduate Certificate in Education (PGCE), The Professional Certificate: Teaching Adult Literacy (both from Nottingham Trent University),
BSc (Hons): Sports Studies and English & Literary Studies and PGCert: Sports Development from Worcester University and Gloucester University respectively.
I am excited by the prospect of working with and developing the English Department at Stone Soup Academy.
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.