27 April 2021
Tes has shortlisted Berkhamsted for the Independent School awards 2021. Berkhamsted’s highly impactful Learning Leaders programme has earned national recognition in the category of ‘student initiative of the year.’
Tes are a leading education publisher and advocate excellence and innovation in teaching and learning. Their celebration of remarkable schools is a highly prestigious annual award ceremony. This year’s ceremony will be held virtually on Friday 30 April.
Berkhamsted’s Learning Leaders Programme was established in 2019/20, with the first cohort serving until January 2021 before handing over the reigns of this prestigious programme to a new group of Sixth Form students.
As well as for my own personal development, my primary motivation was to contribute to making the school a better place to learn.
Acting as academic ambassadors, the Learning Leaders influence school strategy and teaching and learning policy. They communicate with students from Y7-13 enhancing the impact of their learning. This student led initiative breaks educational traditions and enables students to excel their learning skills. This empowerment is expected to benefit Berkhamsted students, not just in the classroom but far beyond wherever their future takes them. Berkhamsted students aim to refine the leadership and metacognition skills that will not only guide them to their first employed role but propel them to their first promotion.
Orlando Alexander, a current learning leader said “I really like getting involved in as many things as possible, whether that is music, debating or a physics club, so the Learning Leaders programme felt like a brilliant opportunity to broaden my horizons whilst also helping younger pupils to develop their learning skills.
“I would like to use the knowledge and skills I have gained throughout the programme to support the learning of younger pupils at Berkhamsted through workshops, presentations and revision advice booklets. As part of this, I hope to be able to visit Senior School lessons to pass on some tips in-person and answer any questions they may have about how to learn and revise effectively.
“I have found it really interesting to learn, from a scientific point of view, why certain learning techniques work better than others; in fact, once I became aware of this, I really started to notice that different learning approaches yielded tangibly different outcomes.“
The Learning Leaders initiative has been at the heart of Berkhamsted’s successful Digital Learning strategy.
The cancellation of GCSE and A Level exams and the uncertainty caused by the COVID pandemic placed an extra challenge upon the Learning Leaders. Enhanced motivation, direction and reassurance provided by the Learning Leaders helped senior school students to thrive throughout the school closures.
Learning Leader Hugo Lindsey said “As Year 12s, we experienced our GCSEs being cancelled last summer, as have the current Year 11s. We have shared strategies for revising effectively as well as maintaining a healthy approach to revision throughout the uncertainty.
“One of our current projects is to provide revision tutorials to aid younger pupils in their approach to preparing for exams. Many of us feel that this is something that could be improved at the school, and we are grateful to the school for empowering us to make the changes we feel are necessary.
“From past experiences, we believe younger students can benefit from support with exams much earlier, and so we highlighted this is an area we want to particularly focus on. We also feel that it would be most effective coming from older students, and we hope we can offer advice to best prepare them for exams, which are a necessary and important aspect of education.”
The Learning Leaders recognise how crucial learning is beyond the educational setting. They have explored the professional world and discovered the critical skills that may be required for their future in an ever-changing world.
Joo Wei Yeap was a Learning Leader for 12 months until January. She said “The opportunities of the Learning Leaders programme offered a plethora of vocational activities, which I perceive as incredibly useful for any professional prospective endeavours. This was a great chance for me to challenge myself by adapting to different leadership roles.
“I was able to hone my soft skills by engaging with professionals and diversify my knowledge about different work environments. The most important skill that I was able to hone in the programme was my interpersonal skill. Working with other students of similar work ethic encouraged many intellectually stimulating discourses and collaborative initiatives.”
“Having been in similar positions as students of our age or younger, we were able to offer applicable advice in our presentations. Our empathetic perspective allowed us to create a more inclusive learning community. As learning leaders, we aimed to alleviate the academic pressure that weighs on students and motivate them from a more accessible standpoint.”
The Learning Leaders have embodied the School’s values – Aim High with Integrity, Be Adventurous, and Serve Others. They have shown exemplary levels of trustworthiness, commitment, enthusiasm and energy. They have shown an ability to articulate the benefits of soft skills and a growth mindset to peers and younger pupils with Berkhamsted Boys and Berkhamsted Girls, and have a willingness to help others.
The result of this leadership excellence is cementing Berkhamsted’s growing reputation for developing remarkable people – enabling pupils to thrive not only academically but also in subjects such as music, drama, sport and outdoor education, before transitioning from students to leaders in the world of work.