Building a strong school community is key for building better pupil relationships and also a sense of pride. This can be difficult for students in different years. Some schools have tried vertical form time, where members of the form come from the different year groups. This can work but makes assemblies and targeted information difficult to coordinate at times. Other ways may include whole school activities such as introducing competition through various house groups or sporting activities, various clubs and activities. These are all great ideas, but sometimes does always actively encourage cross year group or cross-curricular participation.
A great way to forge relationships is to foster a community that cares for each other. A positive way to do this is to introduce mentoring. As part of a large project, I am running this year, I aim to do just this. Hopefully bringing students from different years together (ks3, to begin with), working together to then deliver sessions to year 7 in some key subject areas such as Science, P.E, Maths, ICT and History.
It is a way of challenging the ablest students, who are so keen, and also because they work with pupils in other year groups it builds relationships and gives them a sense of achievement too. So far this seems to be working well, with the girls that are being mentored in year 7, giving good feedback from the sessions and the girls running the sessions really enjoying the responsibility it gives them.
It amazes me how much work and talent goes into preparing one of these short 20 minute sessions, the girls think of everything from the delivery to the PowerPoint to worksheets, with very little teacher input. The topic areas are designed not only to challenge the girls working to deliver the sessions but also the year 7s to whom the sessions will be delivered. For example, in science they have had a session on Variables and planning and will do data analysis and graph interpretation, skills in which not only ks3 struggle with but even up to ks5. In P.E they have looked at Netball skills and teamwork.
Not only does the mentoring build a community, and help the new year 7s settle in better, but also teaches our girls valuable lessons such as responsibility, teamwork and meeting deadlines. The information is then shared through the larger school and public community via Twitter and the school website; further promoting good practice in our school and bridging that school/parent gap.
The article originally appeared in the February edition of UKEdMagazine,which is freely available on Issuu
Aaliya Khan is a science teacher at St Anne’s Catholic School for Girls, after graduating from Imperial College London, she embarked on a teaching career. She loves bringing fresh ideas into the classroom and has presented at #TMEnfield. @Miss_Khan868 follow on Twitter.