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New specialist STEM Stream launched

New specialist STEM Stream launched

Barbara Freeman / Categories: News

Nova Hreod Academy is launching a new specialist pathway in Swindon for students who have a keen interest in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects.

From September 2022, Year 6 students who enjoy academic study and have a keen interest in STEM subjects will be able to apply to join a new programme called Catalyst. This specialist stream will allow them to benefit from a more in-depth and fast-paced STEM curriculum, and to enjoy a range of extra-curricular opportunities to support their interests.

Alongside the academy’s existing strong academic curriculum, the Catalyst programme will involve a specially developed timetable to target subjects that will support students in pursuing careers in STEM. This will include additional modules on engineering and computer science. Students involved will be active participants in the wider school community, and will be encouraged to take on leadership roles within Nova Hreod’s house system.   


Nick Wells, Headteacher at Nova Hreod Academy, said:

“We are excited to be launching our new Catalyst programme, which will offer specialist provision from September 2022 for young people in Swindon with a particular interest in and aptitude for science, technology, engineering or maths. Catalyst will sit alongside our already robust curriculum and extracurricular offer. It will provide a greater depth and focus for those who are keen to pursue STEM careers.

“In developing the programme, our aim has been to reflect the skills, knowledge and capabilities that are needed in the STEM workforce of today, and the strengths we know local business leaders are looking for in the next generation. Speaking to local families, we are confident that Catalyst will meet the ambitions and interests of a growing number of young people in Swindon who want to capitalise on the opportunities of working in STEM. Swindon has a rich history in technology, engineering and design innovation. Our Catalyst stream will prepare students with the knowledge and skills they need for their own futures and the future of their town.

“We are unapologetic about our high standards at Nova and this provision will be no different, suiting highly-motivated students who want both a challenging curriculum and opportunities to contribute to the overall life of the school. We are looking forward to receiving applications from students across Swindon who are committed to their education and able to demonstrate the Nova values of drive, integrity, scholarship and contribution.


Students in the Catalyst STEM Stream will further benefit from links with industry, as the school builds upon its partnerships with academic institutions and local businesses to develop a unique STEM provision in Swindon. It will mean enhanced opportunities for Catalyst students to access activities that will support their aspirations within the STEM professions. Catalyst students will develop further employability skills and industry knowledge. Working with these organisations will benefit the school more widely through the development of work placements and mentorships.

Ailsa Firth, HR Director at Arval UK Ltd, said:

“As one of the largest local employers, we value building relationships with hard-working and motivated students who are adaptable in any given situation – something last year has taught many of us. Now lockdown is easing, we are entering a new digitally focused world which is evolving daily and therefore adaptability has become a key fundamental skill within any business. Now the Arval Inspires programme has started to reach out to students again, we hope we can pass on some of our skills, knowledge and business expertise to the students involved and build on the STEM skills developed at the school.” 

Arval established its “Arval Inspires” Programme in 2018 to support the education sector and is proud of the close partnership which has developed with Nova Hreod Academy.”

Sam Greer, Education & Employability Manager from SSE plc, said:

“SSE are really excited about showcasing the wide variety of careers within the energy sector from engineering through to sustainability.  There are many technical and business-related opportunities and we look forward to working with Nova students to help them understand these.  We can offer apprenticeships, trainee engineer and graduate vacancies for when they first leave school, college or university.  Once within our group we have different businesses and many pathways open to them. We look forward to supporting the STEM careers programme at Nova.”

Catalyst will open to Year 7 students in September 2022, with 30 places being available in its first year. Applications will be invited from students who have accepted a place at Nova Hreod Academy and completed an assessment and interview process. More information is available on the Nova Hreod Academy website: www.novahreodacademy.org.uk/catalyst-stream.

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