Parents Students


Frequently Asked Questions

What is STEM?

STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. The STEM curriculum focuses on the skills required to be at the top of these fields.

What is the Catalyst Stream?

Catalyst is a specialist provision for ambitious students who have a keen interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) subjects. Catalyst students will benefit from an in-depth, fast paced curriculum including engineering and computer science, and enjoy a range of extra-curricular opportunities designed to support their interests. Catalyst students will gain additional benefits from links with industry as the school builds upon its partnerships with academic institutions and local industry to develop a unique provision in Swindon, further enhancing opportunities for Catalyst students to join in activities that relate to STEM careers.

How do students get into the Catalyst Stream?

In order to be considered for the STEM Catalyst Steam, parents first need to apply for a place at Nova Hreod Academy for their child. Applications are made via the annual Swindon schools admissions process with Swindon Borough Council.

Parents are advised to put Nova Hreod Academy as their first preference school, or as one of their three choices while they find out more (the deadline for applications is 31st October).

Once a Year 7 place at the school has been offered and accepted, the selection process for the STEM Catalyst Stream commences. When parents have accepted their child’s place at Nova Hreod Academy they will receive an invitation for their child to sit the entrance exam. This will take place on Saturday 23rd April 2022.

Pupils will also be invited to deliver a five minute presentation about a STEM topic of their choice to demonstrate their knowledge, understanding and passion. Topics could include renewable energy, coding and artificial intelligence, hydrogen and electric vehicles, the homes of the future, or any other field where the applicant has a keen interest. This will take place on Saturday 7th May 2022.

Parents will be informed within two weeks if their child has been successful and has gained a place in the Catalyst stream.

Why are you asking pupils to take an additional test?

Whilst we will have reading, writing and maths SATs data for children who are offered a place at the Academy, this often does not arrive in school until July and this is too late for deciding places in the Catalyst Stream.

We need to ensure that pupils placed the Catalyst Stream are able to cope with the highly academic curriculum.  It is important to us that children are taught at the right level for them and we would not wish to place a child under strain by teaching them at a higher learning level than they are capable of.  Pupils will therefore take a verbal reasoning and a non-verbal reasoning test.

When will I be informed if my child has passed the entrance exam?

The entrance exam will take place on Saturday 23rd April 2022, with the interview on Saturday 7th May 2022.  You will be informed if your child has a place in the Catalyst Stream within two weeks.

What do I do if my child doesn’t get a place in the Catalyst Stream?

As you will have already completed your school choices on the Swindon Borough Council Admissions Form and selected Nova Hreod Academy, your son/daughter will be offered a place at Nova Hreod Academy by the local authority.  Nova has a strong record of school improvement, and is one of the top performing schools in Swindon.  We are confident that your child will thrive and achieve well at Nova.

If you did not wish to accept a place at the Academy, you will need to notify Swindon Borough Council’s Admissions Team who will work with you to allocate your son/daughter a place at another secondary school in Swindon. 

What is expected of Catalyst Stream students?

All of the Catalyst Stream students are expected to abide by the following principles:

  • Remain amongst the highest-attaining students in formal assessments
  • Be active in school activities
  • Participate in extra-curricular activities
  • Offer leadership to others & be positive role-models
  • Maintain high attendance levels
  • Aspire to attend a top university​

How does the Catalyst Stream differ from normal classes?

We offer the following to Catalyst Stream students:

  • Increased lesson time in the STEM subjects
  • Access to STEM based extracurricular activities
  • Higher Education guidance & Career advice
  • Leadership & role-model opportunities
  • Adapted pastoral and tutor support.
  • Teaching by staff who are adept at working with high ability students

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