The Westwood Academy is the first non-church secondary state comprehensive school in the United Kingdom to be awarded a Cross of Nails by Coventry Cathedral for its work on peace and reconciliation and on community cohesion – local and international. The Westwood Academy has become one of 10 International Cross of Nails Schools in the world. The cross of Nails is a symbol associated with Coventry Cathedral: a simple cross of three nails was made from nails of the roof found in the ruins of the old Cathedral.
At The Westwood Academy we recognise that the personal development of pupils, spiritually, morally, socially and culturally, plays a significant part in their ability to learn and achieve. We therefore aim to provide an education that provides pupils with opportunities to explore and develop their own values and beliefs, spiritual awareness, high standards of personal behaviour, a positive caring attitude towards people and an understanding of their social and cultural traditions.
As a school, we aim to provide learning opportunities that will enable pupils to sustain their self-esteem in their learning experience. We want them to develop a capacity for critical and independent thinking and this is done through the teaching of the curriculum and other experiences, some noted on the following pages, organised for our pupils.
As a school we aim to foster their emotional life and express their feelings; Peer Mentors, Pupil Voice, Youth Inclusion Worker and an outstanding pastoral system (Ofsted 2010) will allow that. Our pupils and staff are encouraged to experience moments of stillness and reflection in assemblies, services in our Peace Garden and celebrating the seasons (Lent, Ramadan, Diwali to name a few). We encourage our pupils to discuss their beliefs, feelings, values, responses to personal experiences and tragedies and to form and maintain satisfying relationships.
We encourage our community to consider and celebrate the wonders and mysteries of life through events, lessons and seasons and we are actively involved in Community Cohesion events. Ofsted inspectors have judged our community work as
Visitors are welcome into our school. Parents are encouraged to see the school as their school and not just their children’s, recognised in a publication ‘School leadership for Public Value by Denis Mongon and Charles Leadbetter IOE press 2012, in which we were used as a case study, again Ofsted judged parent’s involvement to be good. Links with the Church are fostered through links with The Westwood Church, Youth for Christ, Nexus, The Crusaders, Coventry Cathedral, the Food Bank and Coventry City Mission. We welcome visitors and speakers from other major faiths; we regard home-school links as crucial enabling parents and teachers to work in an effective partnership to support the pupils.
Pupils are taught to appreciate their local environment and to develop a sense of responsibility to it.
Our School Choir is equally popular with pupils and some of them have joined the Cathedral Choir. The Westwood Academy has become a centre for peace and reconciliation, a place of Community Cohesion not just for our own school community but for the local and international community.
Our pupils have been involved in Peace jam for a number of years, and in 2010 they met with Jose Ramos Horta and became Peace jam Ambassadors and in the words of Archbishop Desmund Tutu “it seemed like a crazy idea at the time, but it has gained momentum and made a huge, huge difference in the lives of many young people, by giving them hope and direction.”
With all this in mind and many other community initiatives The Westwood Academy was granted the Cross of Nails. It is a symbol associated with Coventry Cathedral: a simple cross of three nails made from the nails of the roof found in the ruins of the old Cathedral. This now stands on the altar of the new Cathedral and has become an international symbol of peace and reconciliation. Cross of Nails Communities exist all over the world in churches, prisons, schools indeed anywhere where the work of peace and reconciliation is important to that community; only 10 schools in the world are already “ICONS” (International Cross of Nails Schools). The Westwood Academy is the only non – denominational “ICON School”.
So what does “reconciliation” mean in reality at The Westwood Academy?
At The Westwood Academy we are committed to reconciliation peace and forgiveness in our daily practice of education from the practicality of our behaviour policy, to Community Cohesion our links with local, national and international networks, families’ charity and development work.
CROSS OF NAILS AWARD
On Thursday 1 December 2011, The Right Reverend Dr Christopher Cocksworth, Lord Bishop of Coventry visited the Westwood Academy. The Westwood Academy is the only non-church state school in the world with a Cross of Nails awarded by Coventry Cathedral for its work on peace and reconciliation, its spirituality and effort on community cohesion. Bishop Christopher met with former Head teacher Roger Whittall, toured the school and met a group of 6th formers to discuss topical issues. The emphasis of the visit was spirituality in a secular secondary school.