ELA Newsletter

Summer 2021

Welcome to the Eastern Learning Alliance (ELA) Summer Term 2021 newsletter, which brings you the latest news and updates from across the Trust.

It has been wonderful over the past year seeing the Eastern Learning Alliance grow and develop. Being able to work collaboratively across the trust has helped all of us in what has been a challenging year. I hope you enjoy reading about our schools and it just remains for me to wish you a restful summer break.

Lucy Scott
CEO of the Eastern Learning Alliance

News from our family of schools

Sixth Form

Athena End of Year Fun Festival May 2021

Five-a-side football!

To celebrate this year’s Euros, as a student executive, we decided to organize a 5-a-side Euros tournament. Luckily, we managed to get 4 fantastic teams on board: England (captained by Tilly Sands), Scotland (captained by Max Pike), Hungary (captained by Eliza Lewis-Bragg) and North Macedonia (captained by Jensen Kavaney). After the group stage, Scotland and North Macedonia were the top two teams, and so went to the final. In the 3rd place playoff, England thrashed Hungary 9-0. In the final, it was a tense game and went to penalties, which was eventually won by Scotland’s Sam Castley. Thank you to all the teams that participated and hopefully in the future more will join!!

Meet Edgar the Jackdaw

Edgar (named after E Allan Poe – we don’t have ravens), the jackdaw fledgling was found hopping and screaming in the car park by Mrs G. He was unbalanced, bruised and couldn’t fly. He has blue eyes which tells us he is very young. After several attempts to get Edgar to a safer place than the car park a decision was made. As Mr G has a ready built avery (they have already rescued a dove and a duck), where better for a young bird to recuperate? Karen Gray got him a bowl for water and Miss Younge wished him well. Mrs G scooped Edgar up and took him home. A good feed on wet cat food and strawberries covered in egg, Edgar began to recover. Day one: Edgar was moved from the indoor avery to the outdoor avery. By day three, Edgar was able to fly backwards and forth and feed himself on the armoured tanks of the insect world – whole live woodlice! (Mrs G was quite upset by that – loving all things crawly).  It was time to bring Edgar back to the train so in a comfy cat basket complete with travel snacks, Mr and Mrs G released Edgar at the very spot he was rescued – the car park. He didn’t even say goodbye! Off he flew back to the train and hopefully, he will live happily ever after?


Outdoor Concert

At the end of June the Chesterton music department and 120 students put on an outdoor summer music concert. Students performed to a socially-distanced audience of families and friends. The concert showcased all of the school ensembles with everything from Mozart to the YMCA; it was very special for students to be able to give a ‘live’ concert for the first time in over 19 months. 

Royal Society of Chemistry

Over the course of this academic year the Royal Society of Chemistry have been filming a series of education videos in the Chesterton science laboratories.  

During the May half term break, Chesterton science teacher, Mr McLoughlin filmed a series of A-level Chemistry tutorial videos for the Royal Society of Chemistry. Mr McLoughlin also filmed a number of fun TikTok videos to get people excited about chemistry so look out for those on the Royal Society of Chemistry’s TikTok channel!

Trips and Activities

In the latter part of the summer term students have been able to enjoy a variety of outings and activities linked to their studies including: a GCSE theatre trip to see The Woman in Black, Duke of Edinburgh Bronze Award expedition, virtual theatre making day, Ventura design day, PSHE and careers days, an outdoor production of Romeo and Juliet, sports days and a range of outdoor learning opportunities.  We are looking forward to planning local, national and international trips from September including our popular ski trip.

The Chesterton Female Lead Society

This term saw the start of the Chesterton branch of the Female Lead Society, a charity established to encourage confidence and ambition amongst young women by giving them the skills and tools needed to fulfil their ambitions, promoting positive role models and challenging gender stereotypes and discrimination. The group have explored why organisations such as the Female Lead Society are still so important, and debated the major challenges facing women today. 

Hollywood comes to Chesterton

In May, Hollywood film star (and 2021’s Golden Globe winner for Best Actress), Rosamund Pike, graced Chesterton with her presence via Zoom as the guest of honour for the drama department’s GCSE graduate award ceremony.  The Oscar-nominated actress inspired our students with her experiences of a professional acting career and she generously gave the students advice on following their dreams. As students accepted their award they performed a single line from one of their previous performances, a style Ms Pike said Hollywood could do well to emulate. 

UKMT Maths Summer School

Congratulations to Julia in year 10 at Chesterton who has been invited to take part in the UKMT Summer school.  120 students across the country, who are among the top 1.5% of scorers in the Intermediate Mathematical Challenge are offered a place on the prestigious summer school.  Well done Julia! 

School Diversity Week

Chesterton celebrated School Diversity Week  from 21st – 25th June, an annual initiative which empowers teachers and pupils across the country to celebrate LGBT+ equality in education. During School Diversity  Week, primary and secondary schools as well as colleges across the UK celebrate lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans equality in education.   Chesterton marked the week with assemblies, rainbow ribbons, pronoun stickers, quizzes, a rainbow non-uniform day, a debate club special and culminated with a Pride party.

Downham Market

End of year trips

Year 9 students have had a brilliant time swinging through the trees and competing in team games during their trip to Go Ape, High Lodge. It was brilliant to see students working together, having fun and supporting each other throughout the day with a smile on their faces.

Year 8 all went to Eaton Vale for an exciting day of outdoor pursuit activities. Activities being led by excellent instructors included : canoeing, kayaking, rafting, buggy board making, rifle shooting , axe throwing & trapeze High Wire.

ABC Award Launched

To stretch and challenge our amazing students the ABC Award was launched this year and stands for: Action, Behaviour and Creativity. The award comes in four stages of progression starting with the ABC Bronze Award, followed by Silver, Gold and Diamond Awards and is perfect preparation for Years 7 and 8s for the DofE Award in Year 9. For the first ABC Bronze Award, students complete three challenges in each category and produce evidence to demonstrate how they have mastered a skill and conquered a task. As students progress through the stages, the difficulty of challenges grows. Students receive recognition for their hard work and perseverance in the form of student celebration, certificates and rewards. 

χαίρετε – or Greetings!

The History and Classics departments at DMA came together to organise an Ancient Greece immersion day for all year 8s on Wednesday 16th June. However, we could not run such an ambitious day without help from staff members across the curriculum. Wonderfully staff from lots of different subjects as well as the students embraced going Greek for the day and had a fantastic taste of ancient Greek life. Activities included learning the Greek alphabet, exploring different ways the ancient Greeks interacted with their gods, understanding what a dinner party (symposium) was like via vase painting and examining how archaeology tells us about ancient Greek living arrangements. We also had workshops run by the Actors of Dionysus on how to act in an ancient Greek play. The study of the Ancient World is alive and well at DMA, inspiring staff from all subjects and students alike.

Education, Educational Education!

DMA’s first outdoor production was a “real smash hit”! Students, parents/carers and staff absolutely loved the 90’s show, accompanied by some fantastic music. Set at the Athena Sixth Form College, over one hundred students took part in Education, Education, Education as either a principal character, a chorus member or as part of the band. Students have committed to weeks of after school rehearsal, line learning and practising; it’s been inspiring to work with such talented and confident young adults. Despite worrying about the weather, a few wet days forcing us to take our rehearsals indoors, the students rose to the occasion magnificently.

It was wonderful to see everyone having such a great time, actors, singers, musicians and audience alike enjoyed the sunshine and arts for the evening.

Junior Rowing

West Norfolk Rowing Club has been delighted to welcome a cohort of Yr7 DMA pupils for a Junior Learn to Row course at the Denver Sluice club. The course is being run by the club’s team of volunteer British Rowing-registered coaches and club volunteers, using stable training single boats.

The Junior rowers are learning about technique, safety, boats & equipment and fitness. Those who progress from the course can look forward to crew rowing in the club’s double and quad boats, and the opportunity to train for future junior racing events.  All the new rowers are enjoying their rowing and even after only 3 sessions, several of the new rowers have removed the support floats.

WNRC captain Nix Marston said “It is great to see a keen group of young rowers start together, supported by their parents. We hope they will enjoy the river and the community spirit of the club, and that this can be the start of a strong association between WNRC and DMA”.

Girton Glebe
Primary School

Year 6 Leavers

This term we say a fond farewell to our fabulous class of Year 6 pupils who move on to secondary school in September after seven years at Girton Glebe. We are so proud of the pupils for all that they have achieved in their time with us, especially after such challenging times during the pandemic.  The pupils marked their final year with us with an outstanding performance of Lights, Camera, Action and a party with their classmates with catering provided by the team at Chesterton College.  We wish them all the very best with their transition to secondary education and will miss them all in September.

The Cavendish School at Girton Glebe

This term we have seen a portion of our school site undergo structural refurbishments to accommodate pupils from The Cavendish School for September 2021.  We are delighted to be able to host TCS at Girton Glebe until the main site is open at Impington in January 2022 and look forward to welcoming pupils and staff after the summer break.

Race across the World Champions

Girton Glebe staff and pupils were recently crowned champions of Cambridge United’s second Race across the World event, having been victorious in the regional heats held back in May.  In competition with three other schools from the eastern region, our staff and pupils had to tally as many minutes exercise as possible over a 7-day period which ultimately saw us finish in first place after a week of running, skipping and cycling.  Cambridge United produced an article which contains an interview with two of our Year 6 pupils and can be found here!


Wellbeing Survey

This term we have also conducted our College staff wellbeing survey, and we were delighted with the results. Despite an exceptionally challenging year, the feedback from staff was more positive than ever; over 20 of the wellbeing statements were rated more than 4/5 for satisfaction. These included some fantastic positives, such as ‘I enjoy my work’, ‘staff have good relationships with each other at school’, ‘staff have good relationships with pupils’ and ‘there is someone at work, who seems to care about me as a person’. The wellbeing of all our staff is a priority, which is why the Department for Education has trusted us to represent the East of England and North London in two special projects that we are currently undertaking: the Flexible Working Ambassador School project and the Workload Reduction Toolkit review.

Trips and Visits

It has been fantastic to see trips making a reappearance across the College! This term we have had students out at Mount Battenfield on their Duke of Edinburgh Bronze expedition, as well as Geography and Environmental Science trips exploring Cambridge and Suffolk. This builds on our virtual exchanges with Japan earlier in the term. We are looking forward to next term, where we will see residential trips back on the list of opportunities and are hoping to visit Iceland, Japan and many more exciting destinations!

IB Middle Years Update: IVC officially a candidate school

After nearly a year of preparation, we are delighted that Impington has officially been confirmed as a candidate school for delivery of the IB Middle Years Programme (MYP). We will now go through a rigorous year-long authorisation process in order to gain full status as an IB MYP school. We are extremely proud to have achieved this in our thirtieth year as an IB World School, and once the programme starts in September, we will be the first state school in the UK to offer the MYP, the Diploma Programme (DP) and Career-related Programme (CP)!  

Archaeological Dig

We have been very fortunate to have the Histon and Impington Archaeology Group conducting a dig on the College site over this academic year, continuing work starter before the COVID-19 pandemic. They have been searching for traces of the medieval and earlier settlement of Impington, and have made some amazing discoveries. These have included  ditches/pits and a hearth which were dated by pottery in the fill to the eleventh/twelfth centuries. Pottery dating from the Romano-British and Anglo-Saxon periods, was also recovered. Their most recent find is what is believed to be a medieval corn drier. Our students have been lucky enough to have tours and workshops as part of the iCAS programme, visiting the site and examining soil samples and pottery sherds.

Student Successes at IVC

As always, our students have been up to some amazing things outside of College. Particular highlights include Year 10 BTEC Performing Arts student, Maddy C., who has successfully gained a place at the National Youth Theatre company starting this summer. Maddy will be walking in the footsteps of many acting giants, including: Helen Mirren, Daniel Craig and Orlando Bloom. This term Maddie and the other students in Performing Arts were treated to a workshop from Impington International College Performance School alumna, Nikki Trow, who returned to teach during the final term of masterclasses before the Summer Showcase rehearsals begin. Thank you Nikki for sharing your professional experience with our students!

Avni B, along with her brother Aaron (who will be joining us in September in year 7) also won the FIRST LEGO League Championship last week, with their teammates from Cambourne Electronics and Robotics Club. Avni and Aaron will be going on to represent Cambridgeshire at the national finals, and we can’t wait to see how they get on!

We are also extremely proud of Peter B, who continues to wow us with his mathematical ability. Following a long string of successes in the UK Maths Challenges and Olympiads, Peter is one of 120 students who has been selected across the UK to attend the National Mathematics Summer School.


Excellent results again at IIC!

This year, we have continued to build on our successes with the International Baccalaureate Diploma and Career related Programmes with 100% of our students passing.

In the IBDP, our average point score stands at 36 in comparison with the global average of 33 and 26% of our students gained fantastic 40+. 38% of our students were awarded bilingual diplomas truly reflecting our international name.

University destinations for IBCP and IBDP students reflect the high calibre of academic ability demonstrated by our results, with 43% of students taking up places at Russell Group Universities, including the University of Oxford, the University of Durham and the University of Edinburgh.

Sports’ Scholarship Programmes

Sports’ Scholarship Programmes

Our sports scholarship programmes are going from strength to strength, with our football scholarship provider Norwich FC’s promotion to the Premier League – a move that will surely benefit our students.

Welcoming Our New Students in 2021

On the back of our successful online taster event, we look forward to welcoming our 2021 cohort into our new sixth form building, the Alan Rogers building, which will be opening in September.


Building Update

We are very excited to now be in the position to welcome our first pupils from Grandin Class for their transition visit to the temporary site Cavendish House based at Girton glebe Primary.  The Cavendish school will be opening to year 7 pupils in the temporary building for the first term of the 21/22 academic year.

Building works on the new Cavendish School permanent site are well underway.  The site now has over half of the classroom spaces delivered and in place, the modular sections are built offsite by MacAvoys in Ireland before being arriving in the UK to create our specially designed and bespoke school for Autistic pupils.

We are looking forward to the naming of our classrooms in celebration of neuro diverse individuals, if you have a pupil joining us please enter your classroom name suggestions here


On June 22nd TCS senior leaders met with Her Majesty’s Inspector from OFSTED for our pre-opening inspection.  After a full day going through ours school policies, proposed practices, planned provision and the checking of the suitability of our building sites we are delighted to say that OFSTED were very complimentary about our inclusive practice, provision and the quality of the knowledge and leadership at all levels in place for The Cavendish School.

This rigorous process has led to their recommendation to the Department for Education that we are ready to open in September for pupils.

Our School Community is growing - Successful recruitment of pupils and staff

It has been a very busy term for recruitment of pupils and staff at The Cavendish School. 

We have a full year 7 cohort of 10 starting with us in September who have all started on their transition packages to ensure a smooth start.  We are fast filling our primary places as we have a further 20 pupils in years 3-6 already confirmed as joining us in January 2022 in our new building.  If you would like to request a place at TCS, this can be done via the Annual review process of your child’s EHCP.

The Summer term has also seen the first of our staff start, joining TCS is Stephanie Smith (Deputy Headteacher) and Lisa Lincoln (Business and Administrative Manager).  Our appointments for September have already been confirmed and include our Assistant Headteacher for Lower School, Jake Allcock, our Therapists (Donna Guest (OT) and Lucie Cox (SaLT) as  well as a Forest School leader and two experienced Level 3 teaching assistants. 

The applications to join the team at The Cavendish school have been so strong that we have already started welcoming some staff for our January 2022 start on our Impington Site.


Euro 2020

One of our Year 7 students, Sam, was delighted to have been chosen to take the match ball on to the hallowed turf of Wembley for the Euro 2020 final. Despite England losing the match, Sam had a fantastic time as he shared a moment in the nation’s sporting history. 

Eco Champion!

Rhys has embarked on an ambitious project to turn an area of the school field into a wildlife garden. Rhys wrote to Miss Owen Head of School outlining what he would like to do to improve the school grounds. It is really pleasing to see his hard work and effort in doing something that will benefit the school community. He is also making felt bugs to sell to raise money for equipment and seeds.

Woman In Black

Our Year 10 Drama group were delighted to be able to enter a theatre again when they went to see The Woman In Black at the Cambridge Arts Theatre. This was a fantastic opportunity for students after having theatres closed for the past year. Students have since been reviewing the elements of design, direction and acting choices, fully unpicking the choices that were made in this chilling production. We cannot wait for more opportunities to enter the stalls again in the near future – especially ones that have the hairs on our neck standing on end and a few jump-starts to keep the fear factor high!

Local Artist

Year 8 students were really excited to collaborate with local artist Louise Beale and contribute to a large quilt of work as part of Ely festival.  The quilt is made up of squares showing what makes them happy and each student designed their own patch.  The work was displayed in the beautiful venue of Ely Cathedral from 19th June onwards.

News from across the Trust

Sport Centres

Welcome Back!

On Monday 12th July, we received the much-awaited news that the restrictions that have governed the sports centres over the last 18 months are to be lifted from next week (Monday 19th July).

Not only will this see the welcome return of the last remaining organised groups to our sports halls, gyms, 3G football pitches and exercise studios, sports centre members will benefit from increased capacities across swimming pool sessions, the fitness suites and group exercise classes.

With an updated activity programme along with the anticipated return of a number of favourite sports hall activities, we look forward to welcoming both existing and new members through our doors at Witchford, Impington and Chesterton once again very soon.

Membership Update

All three sports centres run a range of membership options as well as pay as you go fitness and sports activities, please visit your local sports centre website for full details including membership sign up and online booking.

With the relaxation in operational restrictions, next week also sees the important restart of the younger stage swimming lesson programme at both Chesterton and Impington, a provision that has been sadly missed by local communities and has been widely recognised by both Swim England and the Government as one of the significant impacts of the pandemic with the development of this key life skill on hold until now.

An extensive Swim England lesson programme is in place once again at both Chesterton and Impington with classes available to both members and non-members, taken by fully qualified and accredited instructors that include: Group lessons,  1-2-1 private sessions, Intensive small group crash courses (during the school holidays), Rookie lifeguard sessions, Full lifeguard courses, Parent and baby sessions. and Adult classes

To find out more about the swimming lesson programme and class availability, please email the Chesterton Sports Centre team or ">Impington Sports Centre team.

Summer Holiday Fun!

Holiday and family fun activities are available to book across all three sports centres with Witchford hosting a series of tennis camps over the summer break. Football and tennis camps are on offer at Chesterton and both football and netball courses available at Impington. Family and holiday pool sessions have been added to the pool timetables at both Impington and Chesterton over the summer holiday with a range of floats fun and inflatable sessions on offer. Please check your local sports centre website for holiday activity details, updated pool session times and online family fun session booking.

In addition to the holiday camp activities, the Ofsted accredited Monstrous Fun holiday club is back providing a popular childcare option at Impington throughout the whole summer holiday break. The holiday club provides a full day of childcare (8.30am – 5.30pm) for just £30 and offers a wide range of activities including swimming each day, trampoline sessions, arts and crafts, parachute games, bouncy castle sessions, mini athletics and outdoor games to name but a few!

For full details and how to book please take a look at our leaflet. 

Birthday Parties!

Parents and children alike will be delighted to hear that birthday parties are available to book again. The 3G pitch at Witchford is available to hire for football fun parties while the sports hall has always proved a popular option for roller skating, trampoline and bouncy castle parties. The ever-popular pool inflatable fun sessions are on offer once more at Chesterton and the recent arrival of the ‘Determinator’ pool challenge is a new feature at Impington. Bookings are now being taken with advance weekend slots filling up fast so contact your local sports centre now to avoid disappointment!

ELA response to Ofsted Review of Sexual Abuse in Schools and Colleges

In light of the publication of the Ofsted Review of Sexual Abuse in Schools and Colleges Review of Sexual Abuse in Schools and Colleges it is vitally important that we respond with openness and honesty working with all members of our community (staff, students, parents and governors) to ensure we are taking appropriate action to safeguard all our students and ensure that the practices and processes in place ensure sexual harassment is not tolerated across the Trust. Most importantly of all we need to ensure the culture in our schools is one where young people are able to report abuse and harassment and trust us to respond robustly.

  What we have done so far:

  • All ELA Schools to carry out the Ofsted audit relating to sexual abuse in April of this year
  • All ELA schools completed a detailed review based on the Ofsted review recommendations.
  • All ELA school leaders have attended a range of training from the National College and NSPCC
  • All ELA Safeguarding Leads and RSHE (Relationships, Sex, Health Education) Leads attended a Trust lead workshop on the ELA response and action in relation to Ofsted’s review of sexual abuse in schools
  • We have introduced the ELA 5Rs (RSHE, Research and Training, Reporting, Recording, Responding and Reviewing) to support tackling Sexual Abuse across our schools
  • All ELA schools have completed a detailed action plan using the 5Rs framework to ensure we are delivering Ofsted review recommendations.

What we are doing next:

  • ELA Safeguarding Leads and RSHE (Relationships, Sex, Health Education) Leads will work with the Deputy CEO (ELA safeguarding lead) to carry pout peer reviews in all our schools, these will include:
    • Review of the RSHE curriculum
    • Meetings with staff to assess training provided
    • Meetings with students to discuss their experiences and the culture in the school
    • Review of schools recording keeping in relation to sexual harassment
    • Meetings with school leaders and governors to assess practice and ensure a zero tolerance culture in relations to sexual harassment is being embedded
We will be keeping all members of community updated as we continue to work on ensuring the culture in our schools is one where young people are able to report abuse and harassment and trust us to respond robustly.

Alliance Estates

The Trust central team have been working hard over the last term across all the schools in the trust.  Some of the larger projects they have been involved with are: 

  • Refurbishing “The Hub” at Witchford Village College 
  • Remodelling an area of Girton Glebe primary to house the students from the Cavendish school 
  • Refitting music rooms at Impington Village College 
  • Essential roof and guttering maintenance  
  • Creating an Outdoor dining area at Witchford Village College 

The schools have a busy summer ahead with many projects planned.   By September we would hope the following works are  

  • new slabbing frontage of Witchford 
  • Creating an Alternative provision at Downham Market Academy 

  • Window work at Athena College is due for completion  

  • Chesterton community College is using a grant from Wolfson College to create a breakout space 

Alliance IT

1:1 device scheme
iPads fully deployed at WVC delivering access to all students across the whole school. The iPads have been heavily customised to offer a bespoke educational experience for our students, keeping them focussed and engaged, and removing distractions. This experience will set a new standard across our schools improving outcomes and engagement as we roll it out.
Edulink as a standard
This term has seen the parent communication and administration system Edulink One delivered to Downham Market Academy and Chesterton Community College bringing the best in breed parent platform to all our secondary Colleges. We have seen this platform revolutionise the link between parents, teachers, and students. With the ability to share more electronically we expect to dramatically reduce our use of paper, and our energy drain for printing.

Further reading on our family of schools

► Hear more from our parent community on how we tackled the challenges of online learning in lockdown –  Multi-academy trust rises to the challenge of Covid-19 safety and online learning

► Exciting developments are progressing at The Cavendish School, Cambridgeshire’s first special free school for young people with autism with the appointment of a new Deputy Headteacher 

Opportunities with Eastern Learning Alliance

There are a number of vacancies across our family of schools, including exciting opportunities to join The Cavendish School’s governing body. 

Find out more about our current vacancies by visiting our website – easternlearningalliance.org.uk/vacancies/ 

Site Search