The 15 minute forum tonight was led by English teacher Jas Rose. When she was a student at a nearby school, Jas was a ‘Subject Prefect’ and thoroughly enjoyed it. So she has introduced it in the English department.
Students had to go through a thorough selection process, including an application form and then a group activity. This allowed Jas to watch the candidates in action and then select the ones that demonstrated the qualities she was looking for. From this, Jas appointed a group of 13 – made up of students from Y9 and Y10.
Throughout the year, the group have met about once a month. During these meetings they have discussed a range of topics:
- What they like about their English lessons and how improvements could be made.
- Discussing specific ideas about English teaching e.g. why they struggle with the PEE process and how it could be improved:
- Good ideas from other subjects e.g. extended writing strategies that are used in geography and MFL.
There is a potential conflict when asking students to critique teaching – often what they like and might see as good teaching, is not actually conducive to effective learning – and vice versa. Jas says that this is a useful part of the role, as it allows her to open up a discussion with the students and unpick why something they might see as ‘boring’ is actually quite useful in terms of learning – so it might even improve them as learners.
- Parents Evenings – they are great to have at parents evenings as they can talk about the subject with confidence.
- KS3 anthology celebration evening – their passion for the subject can really make an evening lie this come alive.
- Y6/7 taster sessions – they can inspire younger students with their enthusiasm for the subject.
- Competitions – they are really useful when it comes to judging entries for competitions such as creative writing competitions.
How has it helped me a as a teacher?
- Revision sessions – shaping these around the specific areas that students are struggling with.
- Designing activities for younger students e.g. Of Mice & Men has moved from Y10 to Y9, so the group has discussed what type of activity might be useful and where the difficult points are – so teaching can be more focused.
- It keeps you motivated – discussing the subject you love with students who are just as passionate.
- They give you some important reminders about what’s important:
How could it be improved?
- More frequent meetings.
- Use for subject specific mentoring e.g. reading mentors; effort coaches – so those students with a growth mindset, coach those who are more fixed mindset.
What are the benefits for students?
- Gives younger students something to aspire to.
- Allows students to follow a subject specific interest.
- Allows you to share your enthusiasm for the subject with students.
- Talking about effective teaching strategies with them, helps them to become better learners.
We see this group having two main functions:
- As we continue to adopt a more evidence based approach to teaching, they can help us to review the impact of what we do.
- By engaging a group of students with current research into mindset and grit, they can start to work alongside their peers, and help them to develop as learners.