School focus: Mercia School

Mercia School offers an education that is traditional and academically rigorous.

Monday, 11th November 2019, 4:27 pm
Updated Friday, 15th November 2019, 5:37 pm
Pupils at Mercia School are given the opportunity to study a range of creative subjects as well as vocational ones

But while the discipline model is unconventional to some, it ensures standards remain high and positive attitudes towards learning are fully embraced.

Students are offered a knowledge-rich, academic curriculum that gives them an insight into the human heritage and an understanding of our world.

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The family lunch programme in place at Mercia School

The school motto is ‘Let us be united by knowledge’ which aims to promote core values of continuous learning and helps staff to support pupils with genuine passion and commitment for their own learning.

Deputy Headteacher Joshua Fisher said: “We want kids to learn lots of powerful knowledge which we believe will mean they can go into society and contribute really well. Pupils do a lot of knowledge work and apply it to the skill sets they need.

“In terms of our values as a school we talk about being committed, being determined, showing brilliance where possible and we talk about virtues a lot, what makes a good person – somebody who is gritty, somebody who is kind, somebody who shows gratitude – that’s part of our mantra too and those are dotted around the school.

“But, it all stems down to the fact we’re a very traditional school that believes in hard work, believes in real determination and knowledge and the arts as well so it’s not traditional to the detriment of something more creative..”

Mercia School students serve each other during the family lunch style service

The school on Carterknowle Road offers a broad and balanced curriculum, designed to not only challenge pupils to the highest level and ensure they continue to achieve but to also prepare them for life beyond secondary school.

The core curriculum includes vocational subjects such as English, maths and science while celebrating the creative side too.

On top of that students are given an enrichment curriculum Monday to Thursday offering them the chance to take part and enjoy access to a wide range of new experiences and subjects.

Mr Fisher said: “One of our goals is to ensure that every single child has at least six extracurricular opportunities throughout the year and that’s compulsory.

At lunchtime students at Mercia School have a different topic for discussion

“This half term they’ve elected into languages enrichment or science enrichment. Some of the kids chose French or German, some chose Italian, and we had University of Sheffield Mandarin speakers in.

“In science, they did scientific experimentation and it was focused around more Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) really, so some did cookery with our chef Chris.

“The key thing is the students choose that and we do all we possibly can to make sure they can do the subjects they have a passion for. Our core curriculum and enrichment curriculum means they get a really broad ‘diet’ of subjects across the year.”

The school day is also longer than at Mercia School due to the enrichment curriculum with doors closing at 5pm Monday to Thursday and at 3.45pm on Friday – just one of just several differences that makes the school stand out from others in the city.

Deputy Headteacher Joshua Fisher with Prue Leith, from Great British Bake Off

The extended day incorporates self-study time, personal reading and reflection to promote continuous learning.

Another aspect of the school is the family lunch programme - something which recently won the approval of Great British Bake Off’s Prue Leith.

Speaking of Prue’s visit, Mr Fisher said: “She absolutely loved it, she sat with the children and met with the chef.

“She was really complimentary about the family dining experience – the children sitting together, having a conversation and the fact that teachers are with them making sure they’re OK.

“She loved the menu our chef Chris puts together, it’s varied and takes the pupils around the world really. We introduce them to the widest range of cuisines as we possibly can which will only help them in the future.”

When the clock strikes 12:15pm, instead of pupils pulling out their lunchboxes they queue tray in hand ready to be served a hot meal.

Then for the first 30 minutes of their hour-long lunchbreak they sit on tables with a teacher and discuss specific topics of the day, while enjoying a freshly cooked meal, just like many would at home.

Each student is given a different job, whether it be collecting the food, serving it or clearing away afterwards.

“We have a diverse school community” Mr Fisher added. “So we can’t have a school menu that isn’t inclusive. The majority of the menu is vegetarian or fish, we don’t have any meat on the menu.

“The reason for that is we want to be environmentally conscious and sustainable but more importantly it’s super inclusive for all faiths and backgrounds.”

Once lunch is over, one pupil from each table stands up and shows their appreciation for someone in their life, giving them thanks and linking it to the topic they have discussed.

Then for the last 30 minutes children enjoy free play or can take part in a number of lunchtime clubs.

After school pupils can take part in everything from creative and performing arts, or sports electives such as fencing, archery or lacrosse.

Mercia School are recruiting for various roles in the 2020/21 academic year. To find out more email [email protected]