Please see below information for Seva School parents.
Please see below information for Seva School parents.
Please see below information for Seva School parents.
152 Syon Lane, Osterley. This is now the permanent home of Nishkam School West London (NSWL). Our journey began back in 2013 when it first opened in a derelict building on London road in Isleworth, not too far from the new school site. Since then, with the grace of the Almighty, NSWL, rated outstanding by Ofsted, moved to its permanent site. There have been many challenges on this journey, testing the resolve and resilience of those involved and strengthening the belief that actions born out of humility and selflessness will transverse those barriers we often struggle to overcome; age, religion, gender, appearance to name but a few. Having had to stay longer than expected in our temporary site, with the planning approval in hand, building work finally commenced in 2017. Few schools are fortunate enough to have such vast grounds to call home coupled with state of the art facilities creating an environment for teachers and children alike to prosper.
With its prominent school gates, a magnificent fountain at the centre of the school’s main entrance and green gardens all around, it is very hard not to be genuinely in awe of the immense size of the school grounds and one can appreciate the eye for detail and the precision and quality when it comes to adding the finishing touches to each and every classroom. At the centre of the building lies an area which is used as a ‘Faith space’. With its huge sky light and openness, it invites and also allows the children of all year groups to come together and share their values and virtues.
Whilst many parents and teachers would have been busy planning vacations and geta ways, the staff and pupils at NSWL were planning the much-talked about move to the new building. But before the big move could take place, part of these preparations included the opening Thanksgiving ceremony where the Sikh holy scriptures, the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, arrived at the school for an Akhand Paath (continuous reading of the scriptures over forty-eight hours). The school, with its fresh new interior, was transformed into a spiritual place of worship. The school assembly hall and the ‘Faith space’ became the centre of attention.
The voluminous space was cleaned and prepared for the arrival of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji. Through volunteer efforts a stage was built and reams of fabric were draped all the way around to create a truly magnificent backdrop. Flower wreathes and bouquets lay with soft elegance and beauty. The bike sheds outside were converted into make believe kitchens where the ‘Langar’ (free, blessed food from the Guru’s kitchen) was going to be prepared and a washing area was set up alongside too. The school diner served as a space for everyone from the congregation to sit together and enjoy the ‘Langar’. Countless volunteers and sewadars travelled from far and near to be involved.
This three-day program brought families and friends together to enjoy taking part in something for the common good. One of the three halls housed an exhibition on forgiveness and the journey and achievements of Nishkam School Trust.
Alongside the forty-eight hour recital of the Sikh holy scriptures, workshops and activities were set up for children of all ages. The children enjoyed workshops based on the lessons learnt through our Guru’s teachings but were also given the chance to reflect on these values and virtues that guide us in our spiritual journey.
For many, young and old, the three-day event proved to be challenging yet fulfilling. Many had only slept a few hours for the duration of the program yet, lack of sleep did nothing to stop the incredible flow of energy that could be felt and the willingness to go on doing ‘Sewa’ or selfless service.
With funding for the school building being stretched to its absolute limit, parts of the school grounds still needed further work. Through a tremendous volunteer effort from local residents, teachers, parents and the wider community, a huge area of neglected woodland was cleared. Approximately 30 tonnes of rubbish were removed in 10 days to provide over 3500 square meters of space for our children to add to their already amazing school.
Overcoming the many challenges witnessed throughout this journey makes one reflect on the presence of a higher authority, one which is forever forgiving and limitless in its wisdom and love. Because of this belief a Thanksgiving ceremony of this nature is a way to show both gratitude for the opportunities given to us but also recognise that such opportunities are born out of sacrifice, humility and compassion.
The final prayer or ‘Ardas’ bought together teachers, pupils, parents and the wider community. Silent prayers were answered and hopes for a prosperous future could be felt on the horizon. As a Catholic prayer was shared by our principal, it too, carried a message of love and prosperity. The concluding blessing from Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji was a universal message; sending out peace and tranquillity and to remind us that each and every one of us is in control of our destiny.
The A-Z of opening a new school building – a guide to the thrills and spills of preparing for the grand opening
A is for advertising, because as a new ‘brand’ in the local school market, both teachers and families need convincing that you are the right choice for them. Information evenings, branded materials, Facebook and Twitter campaigns, getting people into the new building and talking to the local community at every given opportunity have very much been the order of the day.
B is for bus service and the new-found ability to plot postcodes onto google to design transport routes. After tenders, information sessions, surveys, planning meetings, liaison with the council and other problem-solving discussions, we will be proud when the service is finally up and running.
C is for community, without whose support, optimism and commitment to the cause the job would be nigh on impossible.
D is for decant, which is basically moving house, but with 25 other people all at the same time. Never have plastic crates and sticky labels taken on such an important role. Well done to the staff for practising the value of tolerance during that particular exercise.
E is for excitement. The journey is hair-raising at times, but it is so exciting, and we have harnessed the school community’s excitement by offering visits to the new site and giving regular updates across a range of media.
F is for faith because when we have been confronted with seemingly insurmountable problems, prayers have been answered and we have been guided to solutions.
G is for guard dogs, who so loyally and successfully protected our site while it was being built, along with their equally intimidating owners.
H is for hard hat, an essential item from the PPE set if you want to walk around and assist in key decisions such as trunking in classrooms, CCTV, colour schemes, signage and lock suites. Apologies do however go to all of the colleagues’ hair dos that have been messed up over the past 8 months.
I is for interviews, which have taken place in all sorts of offices, classrooms, other schools and even other cities. Over 25 appointments and promotions later, we are delighted with the team of teachers and associate staff we have assembled.
J is for jack of all trades, and having to be every member of SLT simultaneously, which is a brilliant exercise in confirming or casting into doubt what you thought you knew about your skillset.
K is for the ‘k’ in 5k, 10k, 15k etc. We say it all the time but what does it actually stand for? Unexpectedly, the answer is kilo. Not a day has gone by over the last few months without discussing how much ‘k’ something or someone is going to cost and whether or not this is value for money. Benchmarking and sourcing a range of quotes have been essential in maximising our use of the allocated ‘k’.
L is for learning and lessons. We are very much looking forward to focusing on learning and teaching in September once we have put all of the other layers in place – this will be our reward. Learning is of course our core purpose in schools, however, if any of the other areas of leadership in our A-Z are not functioning, learning is affected, so it has been important for me to remember that learning and teaching is part of just one of four domains in the National Standards of Excellence for Headteachers.
M is for huge mounds of earth, kindly left behind by the construction company and described as ‘landscaping’. Even if you have officially moved in, this does not necessarily mean that the building work has been completed.
N is for ‘Nothing’s ever simple’. Display boards are a good example, with only one board in each classroom part of the deal, we clearly needed a lot more. How much will they cost? Where is that unplanned budget coming from? Who supplied the original boards so we can match them? Who is going to go round each classroom with the tape measure? How many days is it going to take to fit them all? We have learned quickly not to say the phrase ‘That will be an easy job’.
O is for overtime, if such a thing exists in school leadership. I was asked by a former colleague just before A Level results week what it was like to live in ‘the wonderful world of no accountability’. He has no idea!
P is for pigeons, who had a wonderful time gorging themselves on the grass seed intended to create our football pitches. P is therefore also for problem-solving and liaising with the local rugby club to agree a deal to use their pitches until ours are ready.
Q is for questions and the start-up phase raises many. A willingness to seek advice when required and the humility to tell people we will get back to them with an informed response has led to us having the right questions to answer more often than not.
R is for residents and reconciliation. They may have taken our case to the high court in their attempts to prevent the school from being built, but recent meetings have been much more collaborative and investing time in positive relationships now could save a lot of time in the future.
S is for snagging. The building may be beautiful but as with all things created by human hand, imperfections are never far below the surface. Although at time energy-sapping, pursuing these items now is vital so that we are not left with the bill once the building’s guarantee expires.
T is for the Trust, who have saved us so much time by providing numerous templates and example documentation, advice based on opening three other schools and support in areas where we lack skills or knowledge. NST is a great example of how a free school trust can work very effectively.
U is for unpredictable. It is said that no two days are ever the same in teaching, and this theory is certainly true when you are opening a school building. The incredible range of themes and issues that arise keeps things interesting and life is definitely never dull. We try our hardest to stick to the plan, but also set some time aside for the unexpected.
V is for volunteers. This school’s community is simply a joy to work with. Never before have I seen parents and friends of the school bringing timber in for an allotment, weeding and clearing the grounds, helping to sort out the overwhelming number of deliveries or even raising £7000 to stock the library through fundraising at the summer fayre. Long may this invaluable source of help continue.
W is for walk-in fridge. This voice of experience says that even though you may be excited about possessing such an item in your school make sure you know where the emergency release button is located when you get shut in.
X is for ‘X marks the spot’. When moving from one site to another we realised quickly the importance of informing Google, Bing, and the other main search engines that our address had changed. It took a couple of deliveries being sent to the wrong school site for us to cotton onto why it was happening.
Y is for yesterday, meaning every job on the list in August ‘needs to be done yesterday’ as the opening day looms large on the horizon. Any friends who have started talking about teachers’ six week holidays over the last month have received a glare or two.
Z is for ‘Zones 1, 2 and 3’, the most commonly used words on our quotes for the purchase and installation of Audio Visual equipment. The bewildering array of spec on offer means that in an area where you might have presumed to have some knowledge, you in fact have absolutely none. At least I now know what lumens and rifle mics are.
Taking on this role has been a brilliant experience so far. It has taught me to appreciate all of the things around me in a school that we take for granted and just presume will be set up and run effectively. I look forward to the next chapters in our story.
Tom Cragg, Principal, Nishkam School West London
GCSE Results – 2018
I am delighted to report that our students have achieved an excellent set of GCSE results for the second successive year.
Nishkam’s values led approach to education has helped shape the character of our year 11 students and those self-same values, such as optimism, diligence and determination have also provided GCSE results that should make all those associated with the school feel humble but proud.
It is the individual work of students that combine to create the school headlines. Those headlines this year include:
I am indebted to the tremendous work of all the staff at Nishkam High School that helps guide and inspire our students. I am a fortunate school Principal to work with and lead such a talented group of people.
My thanks also to parents and the wider community who have helped our children steer a path through what are regarded as the most demanding examinations of recent times. I look forward to seeing many of our students extend their journey with Nishkam by returning into our sixth form when the new academic year commences in September.
A Level Results – 2018
I am delighted to report that students at Nishkam High School (NHS) achieved a 97.9% pass rate and for the fourth successive year our pass rate is ahead of the national average (97.6% for 2018). These results are particularly impressive in light of the extensive changes to over twenty-four Advanced Level courses this year. Those changes have increased the content requirement in terms of both quantity and degree of challenge; furthermore, students now sit linear examinations in all subjects. Linear examinations test all learning at the end of the two year courses and our students are to be commended in terms of their response to these changes.
The number of ‘A’ grades achieved has increased from last year, as have the number of ‘B’ grades. The Average Point Score achieved by our students is our highest since the opening of the school back in 2012.
In terms of destinations, 80% of students have followed up their UCAS applications by accepting their places at university; the other 20% of students had not made UCAS applications and will, instead, enter the workplace either through full time employment or via the National Apprenticeships Scheme.
I am sure that we would all like to recognise the efforts of our sixth form students and congratulate them. I would also like to thank their families for unstinting support over the past two years. I am equally sure that we would like to thank all of the teachers at NHS for their work in helping students navigate a path through their time in the sixth form and assisting them in securing such positive outcomes.
Our very best wishes to all of the Nishkam students who now leave our family and my personal thanks to them for being such great ambassadors for our values led approach to education.
Ingestre Hall June 2018
A record breaking 96 pupils from Nishkam Primaries in Birmingham, Wolverhampton and London joined together for a 3-night visit to Ingestre Hall Arts Residential Centre. This was the largest group Ingestre Hall has ever accommodated since its opening in 1961.
Ingestre Hall was built in 1613 and sold by the 21st Earl of Shrewsbury in 1961. The sale stipulated that the hall “must be used for the purpose of promoting the arts and education”. Ingestre Hall hosts schools and youth groups for children between 7 and post 16 from all over the world and provides enrichment of education and life experiences for children and young people through the creative arts. It is the only Arts Residential Centre in the UK and Nishkam Primary School have been visiting the centre for the past 4 years.
Ingestre Hall projects its aims to extend the legacy of Ingestre Arts to be nationally recognised as a centre of excellence where children and young people’s horizons are broadened and where they are inspired and motivated to achieve their full potential in an aspirational environment where creativity and sense of self is valued and encouraged to blossom. The centre’s aim resonates with our aspirations as a Trust and we have been fortunate to build upon on experiences year after year.
This year our visit was planned to encompass the theme of Forgiveness. To enable pupils to artistically explore the value of forgiveness they were required to understand what it means to forgive and how liberating the act of forgiveness could be. This sparked many discussions about their own experiences with forgiveness and ultimately the burden of holding a grudge with friends and peers.
Based on these discussions our pupils devised a dance, drama performance, music ensemble and some fabulous art work representing forgiveness in all its essence. By the end of our visit our pupils could clearly demonstrate their understanding of forgiveness and why we hold this value in such high regard at our primary schools. Their art work was to an excellent standard and has since been shared with all staff across the trust.
Throughout the visit pupils demonstrated independence and were commended on their participation. They enjoyed social time just as much as their artistic learning experience and made some wonderful new friendships. It was a privilege to accompany them on this visit and we are extremely grateful to parents for supporting this visit.
The following video provides just a snippet of our moments at Ingestre Hall this year:
Teachers as role-models found to be central to good character education – report
Staff acting as role models and positive teacher-pupil relationships are key for schools that place character education at the heart of their vision, according to a new study by the Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues at the University of Birmingham.
The research reveals the importance of staff viewing themselves as character educators, aiding the development of a shared “virtue literacy” among students at primary and secondary level.
The study also found pupils at the University of Birmingham School and the City’s Nishkam High School displayed higher levels of moral reasoning compared with a national survey of more than 10,000 pupils. On average, pupils across these schools displayed over 50% agreement with an expert panel in responding to moral dilemmas as opposed to 43% nationally. The research assessed the pupils’ ability to reason autonomously, suggesting school activities that encourage independent critical thinking and reflection help with moral decision-making.
The Jubilee Centre’s Schools of Virtue report, published today, also highlights how personal qualities with a strong moral dimension, such as honesty, respect and gratitude, are more likely to be selected as being important to students when compared with other qualities.
The report coincides with widespread interest in the promotion of character education in schools. The development of character has been identified as one of 12 strategic priorities in the Department for Education’s Strategy 2015-2020.
The new study focused on three Birmingham schools – two secondary and one primary – that place character at the heart of their ethos. Researchers explored the perceptions of teaching staff and pupils using a combination of interviews and a survey of pupils.
In the report’s Foreword, Gary Lewis, Chair of the Association for Character Education, echoes the report’s findings on the importance of a whole-school approach to character education so that it permeates “all aspects of the school community, including the curriculum.”
Lewis says: “Employers are now making it abundantly clear that successful applicants for jobs need much more than a string of examination results. They want individuals who are able to work collaboratively in teams, to show leadership and initiative when necessary, and perhaps most importantly, they want employees who are able to interact confidently, politely and with emotional intelligence. These requirements sum up the aims of character education in a nutshell.”
The report found pupil engagement was enhanced by both staff commitment to character development and the careful planning of the academic and non-academic curriculum.
Notes to editors
For media enquiries regarding the Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues and for interview requests please contact:
Communications and Web Officer, Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues
+44 (0)121 414 4846
Centre Manager, Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues
0121 414 3602
Communications Manager (Social Sciences and the Arts), University of Birmingham
+44 (0)121 414 9041
Out of hours, please call +44 (0)7789 921165 or email email@example.com.
About the Jubilee Centre
The Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues is a world-leader in rigorous academic research into character education. The Centre was founded in 2012 by Professor James Arthur.
Based at the University of Birmingham, it has a dedicated team of 30 academics, who specialise in a range of disciplines: philosophy, psychology, education, theology and sociology.
The Jubilee Centre operates on the basis that teaching good character, which can be demonstrated through moral virtues such as honesty, self-control, fairness, and respect, is possible and practicable. It is about equipping children and adults with the ability to make the right decisions.
The Centre works in partnership with schools and national professional bodies on a range of projects that contribute to a renewal of character and values in individuals and in society.
The University of Birmingham was named The Times and The Sunday Times University of the Year 2013/14.
We are delighted to announce the appointment of our Principal, Tom Cragg starting officially in January 2018, in preparation for the beginning of the secondary phase in September 2018.
Tom studied German and French at Lancaster University, then qualified as a Modern Foreign Languages teacher at the University of Leeds in 1998. He has since spent 18 years working in two outstanding London schools, taking on a wide range of roles and responsibilities.
Tom began his teaching career at St. Mark’s Catholic School in Hounslow, and was quickly promoted to Head of Languages. He spent six years as Head of MFL, but also took on the role of Gifted and Talented lead teacher and in his final year became the school’s first Advanced Skills Teacher in light of his track record of high performance in the classroom.
Tom was a founding leadership team member of Chelsea Academy from 2009 (its inaugural year), which was judged to be outstanding in both 2011 and 2012. Particular achievements as a direct result of his leadership include the Investors in People Gold award, the NACE Challenge Award, and SSAT awards in three separate categories for outstanding performance at GCSE level in August 2016. Most recently, in July 2017, Tom was at the heart of an outstanding Section 48 inspection as line manager of the RE department.
As a long-standing resident of Isleworth, Tom is looking forward immensely to taking on the exciting challenge of leading this all through school and furthering the reputation of Nishkam as an outstanding centre for values-led education and academic excellence, working within the heart of his local community.