Collaborative Learning Projects

We coordinate and organise a wide range of Learning Projects across our alliance. These projects, competitions and events allow for collaboration between pupils in our alliance schools, and allow us to work together to show off the best of the East End.

Some projects take place on a rolling basis whereas others are termly or annual. Many of our Learning Projects are already well established in the area, such as our Spelling Bee, which is currently attended by 36 primary schools, and our Newham Debate Leagues for Primary and Secondary, run in partnership with Debate Mate.

We are extremely receptive to new projects, and if your school wishes to collaborate on any new projects, please get in touch through the Contact page.


The Newham Spelling Bee 2019

The Newham Spelling Bee returned for its seventh year at Elmhurst Primary, which is organised by the Newham Spelling Bee Team, (a group of dedicated teachers Miss Rehman and Mr Sheppard from Elmhurst, Miss Soyinka from Vicarage and Miss Hamida from Essex Primary Schools, Newham library services and Elmhurst Teaching School Alliance). This year’s tournament began in the spring as Newham pupils in Years 3, 4, 5 and 6 were tested in their schools to select teams. Semi-finals were held in mid-June, which decided the 12 teams that would progress to the final.

On Monday, 8th J u l y 2 019 , St Francis, Shaftesbury, Gallions, Plaistow, Hallsville, Star, Apex, Selwyn, Essex, Monega and Dersingham and Carpenters Primary Schools went head-to-head, with two schools competing at a time. They were tested in their year groups on spellings. Then pupils in Years 3 and 4 had to play hangman against the opposing school with Year 5 and 6 tested on word meanings. The final challenge for Year 6 pupils were “conundrums” which rearranged words for the spellers to decipher. Despite how difficult the words were the children did amazingly. They had to spell, know the meaning of and work out conundrums on words like ‘polytetrafluoroethylene’ and ‘arachibutyrophobia’, which (as we all know) is the fear of peanut butter sticking to the root of the mouth. Judge Janet Vickers called the Newham spellers, "Super dedicated to learning such difficult words."

Awarding prizes and entertaining everyone to lighten the mood was the poet Justin Coe, who wrote the super funny poetry book, ‘The Dictionary of Dads’. The children found him to be absolutely hilarious and he had them in stitches of laughter. He got them to participate in song-like poetry and even brought up teachers to perform, showing the children how much fun words can be.

St Francis Catholic Primary School children were announced as the winners, after a tie with Shaftesbury Primary School, where they had to compete against each other for the first place. Therefore St Francis Catholic Primary School won Gold, Shaftesbury Primary School won Silver and Plaistow Primary School won bronze.

All the children from all the schools did amazingly and we can’t wait to see them all again next year!


Poetry Retreat

Pupils from Y5 have once again taken part in the exciting Poetry Retreats, along with pupils from Nelson, Vicarage, Gallions, Star, Keir Hardie and Holy Trinity schools. One group took part from 5th-8th November 2019 and another on 19th-22nd November 2019. Children visited the New Forest, and spent four days exploring nature, thinking about life and turning their ideas and experiences into thoughtful and interesting poetry. The visits are led by Jonny Walker and Adisa, and they were joined from Elmhurst by Ms Robinson and Mr Creighton. The children experienced long walks, thunderstorms and all the challenges of being away from home, but showed strength of character and a sense of fun. The brilliant anthologies of their writing will be released soon. Well done to all children who took part - we are very proud of your poetic nature! Why not find one of the poets and ask them to share a poem or two with you?

                                  image 1.JPG  image 3.JPG  image 2.JPG  image 4.JPG



Working in collaboration with Debate Mate, Elmhurst Teaching School Alliance has founded an exciting Newham Debate League. We now have active Primary and Secondary leagues, with many schools from across the borough taking part. Participating schools receive support from DebateMate mentors, who help to prepare them for frequent competitions.

Elmhurst students have been making their voices count in the East London Debating League this year. The 19-school competition, which sees teams of pupils from across Newham compete to be crowned oratorial champions, saw the second of its three rounds draw to a close last week. The prestigious annual competition, which is run jointly by the Elmhurst Teaching School Alliance and charity Debate Mate, has seen pupils as young as 10 tackle complex issues ranging from the funding of space travel to electing headteachers. Elmhurst's team, made up of year five and six pupils, has so far won three of its four debates and is ranked second out of the 19 schools. In Debate Mate's national league, Elmhurst's squads have so far claimed victory in all eight of their matches. The third and final round will take place on 23rd May 2019 at Elmhurst Primary School. Here are some pictures from the last event:

pic 1 and 2 combined.jpg 

If you are interested in promoting debating within your school, or if you wish to join the primary or secondary Newham Debate Leagues, contact DebateMate at, with ‘Joining Newham Debate League’ in the subject line.


Speechmaking Event

Elmhurst Teaching School Alliance organises learning projects for pupils to develop their speaking skills through Speech-Writing and Speech-Making. The ETSA Speechmaking Festival ran on 30th November 2018 and took place at NewVIc college. 

Dates will be confirmed for the 2019 Speechmaking event in due course. If you would like to express an interest in this, please contact Sam Creighton



Bee Competitions

In recent years, ETSA has been developing a range of increasingly successful and well-attended ‘Bee’ competitions, including a well-established Spelling Bee and Geography Bee. These competitions for Key Stage 2 children have seen up to 36 local primary schools come together to take part.

The ETSA Newham Primary Spelling Bee has grown year on year and currently the majority of Newham schools take part each year. Children are given an incredibly challenging set of one hundred words to learn, and participating schools run their own Spelling Bee clubs to help train and support them. Then pupils come together at Elmhurst Primary for Semi-Finals and, for those successful schools, the Final. The Final Round this year requires pupils to identify the hundred challenging words by their even more challenging definitions. Rubina Rehman leads the Spelling Bee, and as well as taking part, she can advise schools outside of Newham on how to set up their own Bee. Contact Rubina Rehman –

Elmhurst Teaching School Alliance is now registering schools for the Newham Spelling Bee Competition 2019. Click here for further information and to book your place.

The ETSA Newham Primary Geography Bee is a great initiative to build up pupils’ core knowledge of Geography. Pupils are given a study pack containing information about countries, capitals and flags, and they are guided to research independently about population demographics, mountain ranges and so on. Schools select three children to represent the school at the annual Geography Bee competition, which is a four-round contest to identify the Geography Champions of Newham. 

On the 6th March 2019, Elmhurst Teaching School Alliance hosted the fifth annual Geography Bee at Elmhurst Primary School, facilitated by Jonny Walker. Eighteen schools took part and fought it out to the bitter end. Pupils had an extensive revision pack to learn from, but extra research was definitely necessary as pupils had to name rivers from their consonants only (for example: YNGTZ and LMPP) and to name cities from just a picture. After several gruelling rounds and a close-fought battle, Gallions and Colegrave progressed to a gripping tie-break. Well done to the eventual winners, Colegrave.  Here are some pictures from the event:

geography bee 2019 photos.jpg

Click here for further information on this years Geography Bee event and to book your place. 



back to top