Isaac Newton Academy wins Shine a Light Award


Isaac Newton Academy has won the Secondary School of the Year Award at an awards ceremony in London for its continued commitment to developing its students’ communication skills. The 2018 Shine a Light Awards, run by learning company Pearson in partnership with The Communication Trust, took place on 22nd March 2018 and were hosted by stand-up comedian, actor and TV writer, Adam Hess.


The 2018 Shine a Light Awards is a national awards scheme that celebrates innovative work and excellent practice in supporting children and young people’s communication development. There were 10 awards in total, with winners and highly-commended finalists chosen by a panel of experts in the sector.


Isaac Newton Academy aims to support all students in the acquisition of excellent reading, writing and communication skills. Given that 62% of its students have English as an additional language (EAL), their successes in this field to date are impressive, and last year saw them placed in the top 1% for Year 11 progress.


The school has partnered with a speech and language specialist as well as a school counsellor. This is in addition to having its own team of special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) staff who monitor the development of beginner EAL students. The academy offers an ‘enrichment programme’ involving students, staff, parents and external facilitators. As part of this, students with speech, language and communication (SLC) issues can attend a weekly extra-curricular Social Club to build their conversation skills.


Another significant factor in Isaac Newton’s win was its use of the Harkness Method: an open, student-led approach to education that involves minimal intervention from teachers and staff. This encourages every student to contribute, and helps to develop key SLC skills.


Rachel Macfarlane, Principal at Isaac Newton Academy, said: “It is such an honour for Isaac Newton Academy to receive the Secondary School of the Year Award. The importance of SLC development at the Academy can be seen through our Harkness teaching style and our unique BRIDGES framework, which underpins everything we do. Through our culture of Growth Mindset, we are proud and excited to see the progress made by every student and it is wonderful that these measures have been recognised through the Shine a Light Awards.”


Stand-up comedian and actor, Adam Hess, host of the 2018 Shine a Light Awards, said: “The dedication of Isaac Newton Academy is outstanding. As a child, I struggled greatly with dyslexia and an immense fear of public speaking, if it wasn’t for the support I received when I was younger I wouldn’t be in the position I am today.


“It is fantastic to know that other children and young people are being given the support they need to lern, thrive and achieve their goals. Isaac Newton Academy should be very proud of its award.”


Sharon Hague, Senior Vice President at Pearson, says: “Our warmest congratulations to Isaac Newton Academy. Through our innovative clinical assessments, Pearson is committed to supporting those working to help people overcome challenges in speech and language. For six years we have run these awards as we believe it is so important to recognise and celebrate the incredible, but often unsung, work being done across the country to change the lives of children and young people by helping them to develop their communications skills.”


Octavia Holland, Director of The Communication Trust, said: “Congratulations to Isaac Newton Academy and everyone who triumphed at the 2018 Shine a Light Awards. They have shown what can be achieved when expertise, enthusiasm and dedication is given to children and young people who struggle to communicate. These awards highlight the very best practice that is taking place in settings across the country."


The Shine a Light Awards have grown in popularity since their launch during the National Year of Communication in 2011 (known as the Hello campaign). To date, the awards have celebrated the work of over 120 teams and a wide range of individuals, including young people with severe and complex speech, language and communication needs (SLCN).


For further information about the Shine a Light winners and highly-commended finalists, visit and follow us on Twitter #awardsSAL.