IRIS Learning Trust was formed in June 2018 and is based in the North East of England. We are proud to serve our communities and aim to offer outstanding educational provision.
The Trust believes that to be successful and promote a culture of excellence and aspiration, we need to place improving te lives and outcomes of children at the heart of everything we do.


create a culture of high expectation and commitment to success


through our daily work secure excellent academies for our local communities

grow and learn together

work with children and families to create great places of learning for all

IRIS Learning Trust

Corporation Road




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0113 3200 750 if you have any queries.

Corporation Road, Sunderland, Tyne And Wear SR2 8PL

0191 553 7750

Valley Road Academy

Spring 1 2017


In Year 4 our topic for Spring 1 2017 is the Shang Dynasty, this can be viewed below:

Oriental museum

As part of our Shang Dynasty topic, year four visited the Oriental museum, which is in Durham. We looked at many artefacts from the dynasties of ancient China. We then chose our favourite artefact and sketched them including as much of the detail as we could. Next we did some foil embossing, where we copied some of the patterns from the artefacts. We then worked as a group to use these pieces of foil to decorate a Chinese pot.

After lunch we heard the story of how a Chinese emperor tried to make his wife smile. We dressed up to play the parts of the characters. The king would set the beacons a light so that his army would rush to him however he wasn’t in any danger. This kept his wife happy but unfortunately when he did need help his army thought that it was just another prank.

We learned about oracle bones and how the Shang people would use them to make predictions and contact their gods. The Shang were one of the first to create writing and modern Chinese writing still uses similar images.

Before we left, there was just enough time to take part in some clay making. The Shang would bury their relations with burial gifts. We used some of our sketches to recreate these with clay.


As part of literacy work, year four have been writing instructions. First we discussed recipes and ingredients from China as our topic is Shang Dynasty. Then we cooked some egg fried rice in class and made notes. We then improved these notes using features from the year four checker such as fronted adverbials, determiners and expanded noun phrases using adjectives and prepositions. In our summary we described how the egg fried rice tasted.


We have been looking at healthy and varied diets in design and technology. We then researched popular and traditional foods from China as part our Shang Dynasty topic. Moon cakes are a traditional Chinese treat that have a flavoured filling. As a focused task we tasted different types of jam and then chose which one we would use as a filling in our own moon cakes.



Beamish outreach team visited school on Monday 30th January 2017. Our focus was to learn more about forces and pressure. We discussed how important coal mining was in Sunderland. We found out that they made the river Wear deeper so that larger ships could collect coal. In 1725 we began to use steam engines to pump water out of the coal mines so that they could dig deeper and get better quality coal.

We looked at a miniature steam engine in our class room and talked about how it worked. We then made the steam engine power a set of gears. This showed us that a steam engine would keep providing power much longer than a horse would be able to.

After that, we instigated how much weight could be added to a train before it wouldn’t be able to go uphill. We then explored ways that would keep the train moving by adding more weight to the front of the train.


On Wednesday 1st February 2017, year four visited Beamish to take part in a STEM activity. This was to follow up the work that we have done in school looking at forces and pressure. Once we were at the Victorian school, we created arrows that could be fired. We slid the arrows onto the launch pole and pumped air into the tube. We could see the pressure rising on the gauge and then we pressed a button to launch the arrow to hit a target that was on the wall. On our second attempt we could either add more pressure before launching the arrow or alter the tilt angle.

After this we looked at a real steam engine train. We spoke with the squire, a maid, a horse keep and a steam engine driver. They each told us what they thought about the steam engine train and why they had that opinion. We then had a debate as to whether we thought that we should use steam engines or stick with horses.