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Listening To Students Helps Us All

18 april 2014

“You have to let students know that they matter to you, that you expect them to do really well and that you care for them” - Dr Russell Quaglia, surveyor of 1 million children in the US and UK.

Last week we looked at how parents can help their children and the whole family be prepared for exam season, whether it be the high profile and high pressure IB and IGCSE exams, or the internal exams that we set towards the end of the year to help measure progress.

At times like this it is important to be seen to hear what your children are saying and feeling and of course to guide them on a successful path to organisation, commitment to work and learn but also to have a break and recharge the batteries and make the most of the time they are awake whether it be educational, recreational or social. It is with this ethos in mind that we are holding in school next Tuesday our first secondary school Student Leadership Forum. The quote at the beginning of my piece today is actually talking about how important students are in helping to create a good school, but the quote works of course equally well at home. Although you may feel it is obvious, it often gets overlooked.

This is our first Student Leadership Forum at BISS Puxi and we are trialling this at first with myself and other fellow teachers and Assistant Heads for Key Stages: Mrs White, Head of the IB Academy, Mr Kelly, Head of Key Stage 4 (Years 10 & 11) and Mr Lancaster, Head of Key Stage 3 (Years 7 to 9). We think it is really important to time this before our current set of students leave before the exams.

This is a chance for any student to constructively raise and ask questions about anything to do with school life from lessons, to ECAs the dining hall and the uniform to name the typical themes. Sometimes what the students want and need within a school is overlooked, but our students are engaging more than ever this year. Every form has student reps that are canvassing and passing on ideas that are constantly helping shape a better school.

This term a talent contest and a charity Day of Silence have been instigated and last term before and during the breaks of The Crucible you will have seen students raising money for the Student Council so that they can be a more independent organisation with the ability to recommend and self-fund some events and basic amenities. Next week as a teaching team we intend to start doing walk throughs of lessons to see how many of the school’s aims are being carried out in lessons. Things that matter to us such as the use of High Performance Learning techniques, making lessons fun and engaging and making sure your child is on track and supported, are things that as professionals we aim to be doing, but by the end of this school year we hope to include students on some of these learning walks to see if they agree with what we see and if not, why not.

Some recent academic research identified the following as things that matter to students that can affect their academic success:

A sense of belonging, heroes, sense of accomplishment, fun and excitement, curiosity and creativity, spirit of adventure, leadership and responsibility and the confidence to take action.

We recognise that the sense of involvement and being listened to gives our students an example that they can follow in all areas of life. The above 8 steps works at home, at school and beyond in the wider world. Please talk to your children this weekend to encourage them to take part in what we are doing; listening to them is a vital part of making school and family life better for all. If a student feels that sense of belonging, then we can all work on the many types of accomplishments and ways that our young people can be seen to be achieving...

- Chris Share, Head of Secondary

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