1 May 2022
In recent years the need to help pupils to develop a broad and balanced set of skills and interests has never been more apparent.
At Badminton we started a journey of creating strong systems that build through the school to enable coherent development of fundamental skills for pupils. This began pre-pandemic and the original focus was utilising the VIA character strengths to give a framework for pupils to understand themselves, others and the ways they might work effectively. Then lockdown came – once we had a moment to reflect we noticed what strong, resilient, independent learners our pupils were; opting into additional courses and activities that we were hosting on our platform ‘badmintonconnectED’ and jumping onto virtual opportunities from work experience to MOOCs, not to mention creating their own virtual events! The silver lining of the anomalous situation we all found ourselves in was the independence and leadership individual pupils were able to seize; this agency to direct their own learning had to be retained as we remodelled education back into the classroom. For us it spoke strongly to our view that we could not return to pre-pandemic routines, but that we needed to recover the best of what used to be and blend it with all that was learnt through the pandemic to make a fit for future pathway.
Future pathway = best of pre-pandemic + learning from pandemic +’thought’
The outcome has been utilising the pupil’s awareness of themselves and their skills to really enhance a metacognitive approach to all aspects of learning. This has been facilitated by a framework of tools, such as continuing use of VIA character strengths in tutor times across Junior and Senior Schools and new aspects such as Reflective Journals. The electronic Reflective Journals are spaces for the pupils to review and reflect, accessible only to the pupil, that can be shared with tutors for discussion. A fresh focus/set of questions are loaded into the journals by tutors each half term to enable review of working styles and outcomes as well as planning for next steps.
In the classroom, older Year Groups are harnessing their awareness at a higher level by taking the opportunity for more self-determined learning. In some subjects pupils can pick their learning pathways through topics, choosing the one that suits their learning style, which may involve working alone through source material, collaborating with a group or staying with the teacher, but ultimately facing the same assessment regardless of learning route. We believe that developing this approach alongside the traditional framework of study enables greater learning variety for both teachers and pupils. More generally, departments are also committed to adopting and embedding new metacognitive techniques in a more formalised manner.
Learning spaces are also changing to reflect this, be it the study booths in our library where pupils can go to work independently in a safe space or the collaboration tables in our new flexible space, ‘the Hub’, where groups can collaborate. This is yielding strong engagement and enabling preparation for the much greater independence needed for higher education.
In wider school life, the confidence from awareness of themselves and others is supporting the growing pupil voice, be it in formal roles they can apply for or the ideas they generate and bring forward independently, and increasing philanthropic work. This all adds up to an enhanced school culture of greater self-awareness and resilience, where pupils are not only given greater autonomy to reflect and to tailor their learning pathway, but to feel confident about helping others and the wider community.
Bex Tear, Headmistress, Badminton School