Students Win Big Bang Competition

Students from West Lakes Academy have won first place in a schools’ science and engineering competition organised by Sellafield Ltd. The team of six year 9 students from the Egremont academy fought off competition from three other local school teams to win £1000 to attend the Big Bang Science Fair in Birmingham next month. The Big Bang Fair is the largest celebration of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) for young people in the UK.

Students were set the task of designing a bridge set in a local town to a specific budget and within a time frame, while considering environmental and building costs. Each team had six members who all had their own job roles to consider.

Hugo Graham, a science teacher at West Lakes Academy commented, “The purpose of the competition and the science fair in Birmingham is to inspire, engage and challenge pupils and to open their eyes to the possibilities of a career in STEM. I’m over the moon about how well our pupils did. They thoroughly deserved it, they worked really hard, the teamwork was exceptional and they had fun in the process. They’re looking forward to what comes next. I’m so pleased that these opportunities exist, and that Sellafield was able to put on this competition.”

Luke Pae said, “I found the event really enjoyable, it taught us how to use our education in a practical setting. Having the opportunity to attend the Big Bang Fair next month is really exciting, I’m looking forward to taking part in such a large scale event.”

Christina Smith added, “The team worked together really well, we each had our own clear roles and this helped us to work more efficiently. There was some strong competition from the other teams but the design of our bridge ensured it was strong and sturdy and we also took into account safety features. We were really shocked and happy that we won.”


The winning team were: Sasha Shaw, Benedict McLoughlin, Daniel Huddart, Christina Smith, Imy Marsh and Luke Pae

Year 13 students honoured at awards evening

The achievements of Year 13 students from West Lakes Academy have been recognised at the academy’s annual awards evening. Parents, students, teachers and governors joined together at The Whitehaven Golf Club on Thursday evening for the celebratory event which acknowledges the students who have excelled over the last two years in the academy’s sixth form.

Guests were entertained by pianist and academy alumni Eli Hughes and enjoyed a two course dinner before students were presented with their awards by the teachers who had nominated them.

Over 25 awards were handed out on the evening, including accolades for services to the academy, overcoming adversity and excelling in each subject area. Notable winners from the evening include Luca Kovacs who won three awards for biology, maths and the principal’s award. Will Vernon picked up two awards for ICT and the governor’s award and Emily Cockbain also collected two awards for media studies and services to the academy.

Pastoral head of sixth form, Rachel Denwood commented, We are very proud of our students and the annual awards evening provides a fitting tribute to those students who go above and beyond in their studies. It was a fantastic night, the students all enjoyed themselves and it was lovely to see so many staff attend to celebrate alongside their students and to recognise their hard work and dedication.”

All of the photos from the evening have been added to the academy’s Facebook page.



New Teacher Internship Programme

West Lakes Teaching School is delighted to have been awarded funding from the Department for Education to run an internships programme for prospective teachers.

The internships programme, which will run in the summer term 2019, is aimed at attracting new mathematics and physics teachers to the profession.

Targeted at second year undergraduates studying physics or mathematics at university, the internships scheme will offer a four week long placement in one of three west Cumbrian schools: Cockermouth School, Furness Academy or West Lakes Academy.

Interns will get the opportunity to observe expert teachers, support students with experiments, and plan and lead parts of lessons. They will take part in weekly training sessions at West Lakes Academy and will be mentored by an expert mathematics or physics teacher in their placement school.

As well as giving the interns a taste of life as a teacher, the programme will help them to prepare to apply for a teacher training place in September 2020, once they have been awarded their degree.

Director of West Lakes Teaching School Alliance, Abby Deeks said:

“There is a pressing need to recruit high quality physics and mathematics teachers into schools on the west coast of Cumbria. Schools struggle to recruit subject-specialists in these two areas and, as a result, students’ outcomes in these subjects fall significantly behind the national average.

“Our aim through delivering this scheme will be to inspire all interns to apply for initial teacher training courses in 2020-21, to complete this training in west Cumbrian schools, and to go on to become the high quality physics and mathematics teachers that our west Cumbrian children need.”

Head of West Lakes Academy, James Jackson added:

“On the back of it being confirmed by the DfE that our GCSE progress score for 2018 was in the top 14% of schools in the country, to receive this fantastic news made it quite a week! We look forward to welcoming potential teachers to West Cumbria to show them what a rewarding and exciting profession this can be.”

There has already been significant interest in the internships scheme from undergraduate students at both Durham University and the University of Central Lancashire. If you are a second year mathematics or physics undergraduate and would like to find out more, please contact



Principal’s Texts

Every Year 12 student has received their own personal copy of the Principal’s Text for each of the subjects they are studying in the sixth form at West Lakes Academy.

Each of the books has been individually nominated by each department as being the stand out, must read book for all 16 to 19 year olds studying their subject.

They have been chosen to expose the students to broader aspects of their subject and enrich their experiences.

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Train to Teach with West Lakes Teaching School Alliance

Initial Teacher Training

Train to teach in West Cumbria on the outskirts of the Lake District.

West Lakes Teaching School Alliance is excited to be working with Durham University to provide high quality School Direct Initial Teacher Training in 2019-20.

We are currently recruiting initial teacher trainees against the following subject courses for a September 2019 start:

  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • English
  • Geography
  • History
  • Mathematics
  • Physics

Please visit our West Lakes TSA website for more information and how to apply.





Ready for work event

This week we welcomed over 20 employers in to the academy as part of our careers programme of study. Careers education plays an important part role in our curriculum, that supports students’ interests, strengths and aspirations and highlights students’ achievements.

We held a ready for work event for Year 10, where students had a number of mock interviews with visitors from the world of work.  Our students fully engaged in this and made a great impression on our visitors.  Employers commented on the drive and ambition presented by our students and their polite and respectful approach. The students spoke highly of the experience and would recommend this event being held again. It was a fantastic event, to provide our students with the opportunity to meet employers from different areas of employment is invaluable.

The next steps in the academy’s career programme for Year 10 students will be a week of work experience taking place in March.

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Literacy Project Winners

To help raise the profile for vocabulary, across the academy all year groups were asked to create something that represented the concept of tier 2 and tier 3 words during literacy time in tutor. Tier two words are the vocabulary we would use across the whole curriculum, whereas tier 3 words is language associated to a particular subject.

There were many fantastic entries, ranging from a beanstalk to a robot! However, the final winners of the project are Amy Whyte, Mary Jane Cooper and Robyn Henderson from 8LCL who will be awarded 50 merits each for their fantastic enthusiasm and effort for the project.

When asked about how they came up with their creative project they said: “When Mrs Campbell told us about the literacy project, we decided to work together as friends. We originally came up with the idea of making a tree when we saw Miss Walter has a vocabulary tree in her tutor room. We also thought it was a good idea as we are currently learning about rainforests in geography. By placing tier 2 words in the shrubbery, like ‘explain’ and ‘evaluate’, and tier 3 words at the top of the tree we aimed to symbolise that tier 3 words are of a higher level and more sophisticated. We are delighted we won the project – we can’t believe it!”

Students take part in police workshop

Cumbria Police, staff from Manchester HMP and the Cumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Peter McCall visited students at West Lakes Academy to discuss a range of topical issues including knife crime, child sexual exploitation, sexting and drugs.

The ‘Actions have Consequences’ workshop saw students take part in interactive sessions and presentations about the different social issues they may encounter while growing up.

Paul McGovern MBE from Manchester HMP gave the students real examples of teenagers involved in criminal activity and spoke about how quickly it can change the lives of all those involved. He was also keen to challenge the belief ‘that it doesn’t happen in Cumbria’ and assured students that help was always available via the school or the police if they needed it.

Students were also visited by two trained police dogs who performed example search and arrest exercises. The dangerous effects of illegal drugs were also discussed. Volunteers from the audience were set a number of physical tasks to do whilst wearing special goggles that impairs their vision and judgement the way someone under the influence of LSD would be.

At the end of the session the Cumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Peter McCall presented the academy with a certificate and a special plaque that the academy can present to a student each year, who has gone out of their way to help out in the community.

Vice Principal, Sophie McCabe said, “We jumped at the opportunity to deliver the sessions, it is so important that we engage with community events and provide our students with the opportunity to understand the work of the police force.  It is vital that we work collaboratively to address social issues.  The sessions made students aware of the consequences of poor behaviour choices, and reinforced that they are responsible for their own behaviour and their own actions.  The sessions were a huge hit, the students spoke really positively about them, they were informative but fun, staff and students really enjoyed them.”

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Students at West Lakes Academy took part in a 12-hour sponsored dance-a-thon to support their 2019 Rock Challenge performance.

The pupils gathered at the academy on Sunday to enjoy a range of dance workshops alongside The Whitehaven Academy’s Rock Challenge team.

They have already raised over £600 to go towards the costs of competing this year from ticket sales from a Christmas variety show and a Prize Bingo night.

Last year, the academy won the Northern Premier Final in Grimsby and were runners up in the National Premier Final in Milton Keynes with their performance Strike, Protest, Revolt, Red October, about the Russian revolution.

Year 13 student and rock challenge choreographer Beth Walker said, “The dance-a-thon was a big success. For the second year running we joined together with Whitehaven Academy to raise money for a shared cause and have fun. The total amount raised from the event is yet to be confirmed but we’re confident that alongside our future fundraising efforts we will raise enough for this year’s competition. Rehearsals are underway for this year’s performance, it has lots of potential and I’m excited to see what we can produce.”

The academy is holding a talent show on Wednesday, February 6. Tickets can be purchased from the academy for £4. All money raised will go towards the Rock Challenge team.

Due to its success last year, the team has already qualified for the premier division of the northern final in June. They will showcase their new performance for the first time at the Sands Centre, in Carlisle, in March.

Rock Challenge sees each participating school put together an eight minute dance and drama production on a theme of their choice.

Leadership Prefects 2019

Each year in the spring term Year 10 students have the opportunity to apply for a position as a Leadership Prefect.  This is a very important role that most of our students aspire to. Prefects are the face of West Lakes Academy on parents’ evenings and important events as well as undertaking other duties.

We are delighted to announce our new Leadership Prefects for 2019.  Once again it was a tough decision as there were so many quality applications (the most applications ever received). The 25 successful applicants were awarded their prefect ties by Mr Lester during a special presentation in assembly.  Leadership prefects are appointed on their strength of application and interview and have to demonstrate leadership skills, commitment to the academy and wider community.

We are proud to offer a range of leadership opportunities including subject prefects and ambassadors and these are all represented by badges.