National No Smoking Day

This year, National No Smoking Day was the 13th of March. Statistics show that smoking in teenagers is on the increase. This could be connected to the rise of the popularity of the Vape or E-Cigarette. As educators we are great believers in the saying ‘Knowledge is Power’. With that in mind, we are always striving to empower our young people to make sound, informed and sensible decisions.  In preparation for National No Smoking Day, we started the week by working in tutor groups and reflecting on anti-smoking campaigns to create our own campaign aimed at teenagers, an often forgotten demographic amongst those who smoke.

Displays were placed around the Academy, focusing on the facts and dangers of smoking, and a group of students (along with Mrs Whalen) were involved raising awareness of the dangers of smoking during break times on the Street. Further support will be available for students who want to stop smoking: students can email

French trip to The Opal Coast

A group of 32 of our students from Years 9, 10 and 11 recently visited the Opal Coast in Northern France with 3 of our staff members. The students all study French in the Academy and the visit was a chance for them to practise their language skills and experience French culture; learn about French history, and try some French cuisine. Students even had the opportunity to taste escargot (garlic snails!) during the trip. The students and staff were in agreement that escargot tastes like chicken!

The students and staff had an excellent time during the visit: it was a lot of fun and very educational. Some of the highlights of the trip were the visits to La Coupole (a WWII museum that is built inside a WWII missile launch bunker) and Nausicaa Sea Life Centre, which has the biggest aquarium tank in Europe, filled with sharks, turtles and many other species of sea-life.

Special thanks must go to Mrs Dunn, our Head of Languages, who organised the trip and the staff who supported the students during the three day visit. The students were also fantastic and a real credit to the Academy.

Au revoir and thank you for taking the time to read this article!

Letter from Shelter

Dear Staff and Students

Thank you so much for the fantastic number of 110 donation boxes, which were made up by Year 7 and Year 8 students to give out to people who access our services. Your generosity and hard work in making up these boxes will certainly make a real difference to the people we are giving them to.

We offer a variety of services to people across the North East who are generally experiencing a period of instability and are often vulnerable individuals.Our advisers’ efforts in providing free legal advice and support for those in the North East who are affected by the devastating effects of homelessness and bad housing, have made a difference to over 1,700 people in 2017/18.

In 2017/2018 more than 4.7 million people approached Shelter nationally for advice either online, in person or over the phone.

  • 118,626 enquiries were answered through our helpline and online services which are open every single day of the year.
  • 4,666,280 people accessed the “Get Advice” pages of our website.
  • 36,323 people received help through our face to face advice and support services.

Your support will assist our staff in the North East to continue to provide a dedicated advice, information and advocacy service directly to those in most need, as well as promote best practice and share their expertise. We will work with our national policy and campaigning teams to challenge the unfair policies and practices, which underlie many clients’ circumstances, both locally and nationally.

Very many thanks to everyone involved.

Your sincerely

Tracy Guy
Hub Manager

Shelter Donation Box Appeal for the Homeless

On Monday 10th December we went to our local branch of Shelter, the homelessness charity, to deliver the donation boxes that our Year 7 and Year 8 students have been making in their Thrive lessons this year. There were over 100 boxes! Shelter simply could not believe the generosity of our students and were amazed at the size of our donation.

We were taken around their branch and shown how they would deliver our boxes and we met some of the people who Shelter would give our donation boxes to.

We really have achieved something amazing as an Academy and we are extremely proud of the work that our young people are doing to support the local community at this time of year.

Well done to everyone involved!

Academy Remembrance Services

To remind ourselves on the true meaning of Remembrance Day, every year Miss Scott hosts an Academy Remembrance Service to each year group.

This service begins with a heartfelt reading of In Flanders Fields. This WW1  poem is read by two students from the year group. This is a point where we can all  reflect on the sacrifice that has been made across the century.

The year group services are a truly emotive and beautiful; the perfect way to commemorate Remembrance.

The service ends with staff and students paying their respects to the fallen soldiers by planting their dedicated wooden crosses in the Garden of Remembrance. Each cross is  dedicated to a soldier who lost their life in the war, many of  research members of our family who lost their lives in the World Wars, some of us choose to dedicate these crosses to those ‘known only to God’, the Unknown Soldiers.

At the end of the day, we end our commemorations by gathering in the street for our annual two minute silence where we reflect on the passing of the soldiers who fought our wars and shaped the world we live in today. It is particularly significant this year with the commemoration of 100 years since the Great War.

‘Loved and were loved and now we lie in Flanders Fields.’

Written by Abbie, Rosie and Emily.

Remembrance Day Activities

Over the course of the first four lessons, there have been many engaging activities being held all over the school. For example, on the staff car park, there are many fascinating workshops about Anderson Shelters, tanks and spitfires.

The Anderson Shelters are a new addition to our schools remembrance-themed activities, a set up simulation so students can go inside them and experience what a war raid would have entailed. In 1939, the cost of an Anderson Shelter was £13. The Shelter would have been built into family’s garden’s to use when air raids took place to shelter from bombs and damage caused by aircraft flying over head. It was an remarkable experience for the students to be surrounded by authentic artefacts from both Great Wars. It was quite a surreal experience and one that our school is feels deeply appreciative to have hosted.

Across from the shelters, there was almost a “mini museum” of artefacts and pictures from the “Battle of Britain”. This consisted of army uniforms, chess games, gas masks, record players and cutlery. It was great to be able to see students getting involved with the visitors, asking questions and trying on the uniforms as we, as a school, see that it’s very important to get educated on World War 1 and 2.

Also, there was a suffragette’s workshop which highlighted the social changes of women and women’s rights from the 1900’s till now. It showed the difference in women’s fashion, jobs and how women were granted the right to vote. It was compelling to see how much society has changed over the past 100 years.

It was extraordinary to see students getting so involved in each activity around school and showing respect at this significant time of year.

‘Lest We Forget’.

Written by Abbie.

Edited by Faith

The Royal British Legion’s Theme for 2018

Every year, the Royal British Legion have a theme for Remembrance Day. This year, as it marks 100 years since the war came to an end, the theme is simply ‘Thank You’. It is a simple, but poignant message; the charity want to say ‘Thank you to all who served, sacrificed and changed our world’.

So, in honor of this message, we have decided to create an ode to this in the form of Art. In addition to the ‘They Shall Not Grow Old’, artwork students completed yesterday, several students and members of staff have came together to create a poppy collage in the words ‘Thank You’.

As said by one of our contributing students, Callum: “Fellow students here at Joseph Swan have all been very enthusiastic to participate in all Remembrance activities. We are so proud to be given this opportunity to contribute in making something in honor of such an amazing cause!”

This will be center stage in our Art Commemoration Memorial, for everyone to take in and admire. It is a beautiful piece of inspired Art work and one that really showcases our appreciation as both a school and a community to those who lost their lives in the Great War and those who continue to serve and protect to this day.

What we want students to take from this artwork and the entire day in general is that the reason we celebrate Remembrance is to show our appreciation. It is much more than just another day, it is very deeply meaningful and  emotional day for everyone here at Joseph Swan and across the country as a whole. Although the poppy installation can be seen as just a piece of artwork, it has much greater depth and meaning because of the intentions and thoughts behind it and we truly hope it highlights how much important we value Remembrance.

So, on behalf of everyone here at Joseph Swan and our community, we would love to say THANK YOU!

Written by Abbie and Rosie. Edited by Faith

Remembrance Respect Day

Yesterday, we began our Remembrance Day commemorations by hosting the Colours of Remembrance and the Run for Remembrance (in which the students very successfully surpassed the 2,500 km target!). These were both excellent ways of raising both money and awareness at this very important time of year.

Today, we begin the second day of our Remembrance, with many activities spanning across the course of the day. We are delighted to be joined by many amazing guests such as tour guides from Beamish Museum and serving members of the armed forces. It is a brilliant opportunity for students to be able to speak and interact with these guests and have a true perspective of different aspects of service today as well as an understanding of the nature of lives of both civilians, and those in service, in the past.

Regrettably, we often find ourselves getting so caught up in everyday life that it’s possible to forget the true meaning and significance of Remembrance Day.This is why, as we do every year, we have the Academy’s Remembrance service, the predominant part of all our Remembrance commemorations. This is lead by Miss Scott. This is always an emotive service and presents the perfect occasion for us all to truly reflect and honour all those fallen soldiers from past wars, and those still serving today. All members of the Academy also receive a wooden Remembrance cross, which they can dedicate to someone personal to them. The cross is then planted at the end of the Remembrance service in our memorial area within the Academy grounds, as a sign of respect. Respect is the principal reason why Remembrance Day is so widely honoured and here at Joseph Swan Academy; it is our main ambition to pay tribute on this momentous occasion of the Centenary of the Armistice of The Great War.

At the end of this afternoon we will come together as a whole academy to hold our official period of silence together, on The Street (the central area of the Academy).

It is sure to be a fantastic but also deeply emotional day for both staff and students, just as it is every year.

“Forever lost, forever changed. We care, so we remember.”

Written by Rosie
Edited by Faith.

Colours of Remembrance

Over the course of Period One, students watched an interview about an astonishingly emotive film titled ‘They shall not grow old’ made by Director, Peter Jackson, who is most well known as director of the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit franchises.

‘They Shall Not Grow Old’ is a truly incredible commemoration to all the brave soldiers from World War 1; it reminds us all of how we shouldn’t and will never forget the sacrifices they made.

Jackson has taken the old silent, black and white, raw footage of real events from the trenches and brought them to life by colourising them with the remarkable cinematic effects we have today. He used forensic lip readers and voice actors to capture the regional accents particular to each regiment, thus making the film more genuine and authentic and giving us a sense that we can hear those lost voices from the past.

Jackson wanted to portray the real lives of these soldiers, not just tell a generic story about war. His aim was to show that these men, often seen in the grey grainy images of WW1 that are so common to us, were more than just soldiers. These men were sons, fathers, brothers, friends, people– who deserve to be remembered. They were people who found time to enjoy each others’ company and entertain each other with jokes, music and companionship as well as being men who missed their families and their homes and who feared what the next day would bring. Jackson said ‘I wanted to reach through the fog of time and pull these men into the modern world, so they can regain their humanity once more’.

In our tutor groups we drew inspiration from the film and created our own pieces of art work, inspired by these reinvigorated images. We took black and white photographs of the trenches and soldiers and added colour to them. We shared Jackson’s motivation to reach across the century and breath life into these old images.  We feel this recognition of the individuality and humanity of the soldiers  is a very important and poignant message that people should be aware of. Surely this is the true meaning of Remembrance.

The art pieces will be used to create an artistic  war memorial here at Joseph Swan Academy to signify 100 years since the end of the Great War in 1918.

‘They Shall Not Grow Old’ can be seen in cinemas and on BBC2 at 9:30pm on Sunday at 9:30pm.

Written by Rosie,

Edited by Faith.

The Purple Poppy

Generally, Remembrance Day is focused on the commemoration of those who lost their lives fighting on behalf of their country in all wars, past and present. The Red Poppy has become the renowned symbol of our respect to fallen soldiers, however, the impact on the lives of animals is often overlooked.

In 2006, the ‘Purple Poppy’ was designed in order to encourage us to remember the animals who have been victims of war. The animals that did not give their lives willingly to be of service for humans; rather their lives were taken from them.

During the First World War alone, around 8 million horses and donkeys this was in addition to the millions of dogs, cats, pigeons, elephants, oxen, camels and canaries (!) who also died as a result of war.

Those who choose to wear the purple poppy do so to remember these deaths, just as the symbol of the red poppy is used as an image of honor and remembrance of lost human lives.

Written by Emily, Edited by Faith.