18 May 2020
Since school buildings were closed across the UK on 20th March, pupils at Bruton School for Girls have been receiving their education remotely via Microsoft Teams. The timetable has been adjusted to ensure staff and pupils have regular breaks away from their devices while still delivering the full curriculum and this seamless approach has been incredibly well-received by parents and girls.
But what to do for students in Year 11 and Upper Sixth unable to sit public examinations? As seen in May’s edition of Independent Schools Magazine – www.independentschoolsmagazine.co.uk – the senior academic staff created an innovative way to deliver a meaningful learning experience for this group of students. The result is a bespoke Bridging and Enrichment Programme that includes important life skills such as cv writing, interview skills, cooking and finance alongside academic preparation work.
The starting point was looking at the skills that needed developing within each group so that students could move on to the next stage of their education confident and well-prepared. As a smaller school we were able to take an individual approach and considered every girl’s needs based on the next stage in their journey. In Year 11, girls have two hours a week per chosen A Level for introductory teaching; linguists have sessions with our language assistant; scientists are developing skills with specialists; and statistics has been timetabled for girls aiming to pursue subjects such as geography and psychology. A few girls are not moving on to A levels, and for those keen to pursue childcare courses we arranged for them to spend time with our Nursery Manager for initial training.
The element of choice was vital so students would understand and engage with these programmes, which in Year 11 can include an accredited course in Driving Theory, Sign Language or Food Hygiene. Sessions in cooking for life, finance and tax, tutorials in writing CVs, performing well at interview and navigating the practical aspects of the transition to university will all help equip girls to thrive in the outside world.
Our entire Upper Sixth cohort is bound for university in September and so they have been set a research project linked to the Covid-19 pandemic. They are investigating their subjects with a staff member most closely related to their future undergraduate field of study and are benefitting from expert advice from their mentors. The project work is helping to develop skills such as complex data handling, coding, scientific reporting and even script-writing for one girl destined for a drama course. The students are really enthused by their projects which will prove to be an interesting talking point at a future interview.
This part of the project is supported by a range of skills useful for undergraduate study, delivered both in-house and via MOOCs hosted by UK universities, and tailored to the needs of each student, to include courses for non-native speakers of English. In addition, a module of life skills such as First-Aid, Teamwork and Leadership is on offer, as well as a chance to improve their mastery of various software packages and more specific skills such as TEFL or Web Design.
The staff have been remarkable in adapting to teaching through Teams, but also planning, delivering and supervising these new courses. It has also given them the opportunity to broaden their teaching and enthuse the girls about their subjects – teaching for learning’s sake rather than to an exam specification. Parents have been incredibly supportive and the girls amazingly positive and enthused. We are proud to have 100% attendance in both programmes and feel confident that our students will have a relevant, interesting and stimulating summer term.