During the Spring Term we’ve taken tentative steps to return to our programme of assemblies and Learning for Life sessions after two years of hybrid events, broadcasting, videos and small groups. Aside from our outside gatherings on the Fountain Lawn and last summer’s Awards events we haven’t yet had a whole school assembly inside. Instead we’ve run Key Stage events with age appropriate material for the two groups of years 7, 8 and 9 and then years 10, 11 and 6th Form.
Our weekly session is an hour which allows for various formats to be delivered. It could involve a whole school task following the assembly introduction (such as when we discussed ‘banter’ and other inappropriate or undesirable behaviour with a full discussion and questions) or we could have different age groups doing different tasks such as older ones focusing on career plans. This is a brief account of some of what we’ve been discussing:
Our take on Anti-bullying Week became a focus on being supportive and kind around school, lead by Tutors, with tasks and discussions in tutor groups.
It’s Not Just Banter is part of our sex and relationships education looking at what is appropriate and supportive language and behaviour with each other, especially between boys and girls, in light of recent reports in the national press of high profile cases of harassment. Definitions and examples were discussed to attempt to develop our students as caring thoughtful citizens with ignorance or exclusive outdated ideologies.
Internet Safety-Internet Harms looked at the lesser known risks that have emerged in recent years with guidance on how to avoid them.
Our Digital Footprint investigated how we all appear on-line and how our data, our words and our images could be used, or misused in the future due to malice or due to employers checking us out as we leave a digital trail for others to follow. Are we happy about what they’ll find? How can we control it?
Mental Health is a constant focus so we looked at what it means and what we can all do to reduce stress, to stay in control of our feelings and what to do if things don’t go to plan. We also had a guest speaker from the charity Mind to support us with this.
Networking and Social Skills. A highly popular training session for our older students involved role play on how to make friends and influence people – all vital skills for their futures. It featured an expert guest speaker on Networking, Will Kintish, who joined us on video.
Presentations Skills. Each tutor group will soon be delivering a ten minute presentation on a subject of their choice. We want the standards to be high so they’ve had various training on how best to go about the task. With this task they’ll learn teamwork, confidence, timing as well as communication skills.
Careers. We’ve brought our careers programme forward a year so it begins with year 9 and can be developed further in year 10. Both year groups have now begun their Professional Development Programme which in year 10’s case will feed directly into a special week of training before the summer with an ‘Apprentice’ style task, CV building and mock job interviews.
Mind Control. Recent assemblies have featured age appropriate introductions to Psychology to help students understand their own brain and how to use it. Older ones learnt about the changes the teenage brain goes through. Younger ones learnt how language can be used to manipulate them which leads onto what I believe is one of, if not the most important thing children can learn at school:
Critical Thinking. To be able to make decisions based on evidence is vital in leading an independent, balanced, happy and successful life. What is right and what is wrong? Should I take this job or that one? Who should I vote for? What’s going to be best for me and my family? What should I spend my money on? All of these are open to manipulation without the ability to think critically and make balanced decisions.
All of these themes are constantly revisited as they are all developing and evolving as each student grows. There’s plenty more to come during our Summer Term too.
Ayd Instone, Head of Curriculum Enrichment and Communications