Vocational antennae and the 360 Degree Me Portfolio

29 Jun

There is a sense in the digital era that the concept of a distinct professional calling or, to use a more spiritual term, a personal vocation in life, has a reduced relevance. Young people are now taking on average 4 jobs by the time they are 32, according to LinkedIn, and Forbes advocates ‘job hopping’ to maximise salaries. Indeed, at Northampton High, we use our Inspiring Futures careers programme to help prepare our students for portmanteau careers, on the back of a skills-focused curriculum.

 

In the words of Fiona Monfrooy, Executive Director of Human Resources at ING DIRECT, ‘From an individual perspective, there’s an increasing need for transferrable skills; to be more adaptable. […] A flexible work approach also means, in some cases, multiple jobs’.

 

Yet, perhaps counterintuitively, careers advice and the pathways to further and higher education, apprenticeships and courses, often appear to focus in on highly specific areas, whether that might be in traditional domains such as medicine or engineering, academic avenues like Maths, Languages and History, or within so-called vocational areas that generally support access to certain health, sporting, technical or business roles.

 

Still, perhaps the system works anyway. The UK, in spite of its Brexit travails, university fees, exam-heavy education system and supposedly class-ridden society, manages to remain flexible and competitive in an international setting. According to a recent IMF report cited by the Evening Standard, the UK has a bigger growth forecast for 2018 than any other major country. Indeed, there seems to be nothing inherent in our educational programme preventing young people with passion and energy from finding their way through the multifarious permutations of the modern workplace. So, it could be argued that we are right to signpost our students to the future by tapping into their vocational predilections and to see this approach as fully in line with our skills-based educational outlook.

 

Angela Tilby, Canon Emeritus at Christ Church, Oxford, has described vocation as being where a person’s ‘particular deep joy’ or deep-seated interests meet society’s deep-seated needs, whether religious or not. While the idea of vocation may have become more fluid in terms of the actual jobs many people end up doing, Tilby’s suggestion seems to be that there is huge emotional and practical value in trying to find the direction that speaks most to us as individuals, so that our actions have a level of authenticity that will satisfy both ourselves and the people we serve when carrying out our roles in society.

 

We introduced a formal skills education programme in 2012 with five main strands that we considered to be relevant to a modern career path, cutting across curriculum areas and at all age groups, Junior to Sixth Form. I feel our assessment of the areas covered continues to be relevant, although the emphasis has shifted because faculties and teachers have become more adept at building skills-specific activities into strategic planning, increasingly expecting pupils to know instinctively which skill set is needed to achieve a given task. We realised that what was then required was actually a deeper knowledge of what drives our students as individuals, their own understanding of personal values and beliefs, as well as an awareness of how to develop these attributes in life; what one might call their vocational antennae. We introduced the concept of 360 Degrees Me in 2015 to tackle this head-on, initially via the KS3 skills and challenge days I have written about in the past.

 

Our aim now is to help the girls enunciate, collate and illustrate their lives, their educational and other achievements as well as their personal ambitions, in the form of a 360 Degree Me Portfolio. This is an ePortfolio, or personal website, initially private and only available within the Girls’ Day School Trust network, that can be refined and developed over the years to become a living résumé for future employers or universities, to give a real insight into each girl’s potential. At the heart of the Me Portfolio is a belief that harnessing the power of technology in this way will have the added benefit of encouraging students to think critically about their wider online lives. By actively managing their digital footprints, they can avoid falling into the dangers that social media sometimes present to young people.

 

Our guest speaker at the Lower Fifth (year 10) 360 Degree Me Portfolio creation day on Friday 7 July, is Alice Gividen, an alumna of the school who now works managing the social media presence of large organisations. Alice says that the scare stories about employees losing jobs because of indiscretions online are not the exaggerations of a judgemental establishment, pointing out that most companies now engage the services of professional social media investigators before employing new staff. However, she also suggests that the savvy applicants are using this fact to their advantage, curating their social media presence carefully to show they have engaging personalities, and to highlight their positive attributes and willingness to contribute to society beyond their immediate friends and family. This is doubly important since simply deleting a dubious social media history can not only be difficult to achieve, but also counterproductive, with many employers seeing the lack of an online presence just as much a cause for concern as an unattractive one.

 

 

360 Degree Me Portfolios may not in themselves inspire anyone to develop a vision for life, they are after all just personal websites, repositories of information. However, with our help, I am confident that they will provide a stage where the spotlight can fall selectively and productively on our students, as individuals. A place where vocation can start to materialise, and flourish.

 

 

Mr Henry Rickman, Deputy Head

References:

https://blog.linkedin.com/2016/04/12/will-this-year_s-college-grads-job-hop-more-than-previous-grads

https://www.forbes.com/sites/kaytiezimmerman/2016/06/07/millennials-stop-apologizing-for-job-hopping/

https://www.theguardian.com/ing-direct-being-human-in-a-digital-world/2016/oct/25/the-future-of-work-how-will-you-adapt

http://www.standard.co.uk/news/politics/britain-s-economy-to-grow-more-than-rivals-as-imf-alters-postbrexit-forecasts-a3517281.html

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p0572yj6

Inspiring Futures presents Enterprise Week

23 Jun

Enterprise education is not an attempt to get students to go off into the world of business and set up their own company, although in some cases students have gone on to do so. It is more about facilitating them in their development of the necessary skills required to move into the work place. This might include elements of business or marketing but it might not.

 

At Northampton High School we have developed, through our Inspiring Futures Programme, a set of exciting events that enable students to build on their transferable skills and to fully prepare themselves for life after school. This year we kicked off this inaugural three day event with the Year 10 annual Future Focus Day.

 

The students met Susannah Poulton who works for the UK Department of Trade. Susannah explained in vivid terms how important Modern Foreign Languages are in the business world and Mrs Hill, Head of Languages helped by taking part in a spot of spontaneous interpretation, much to the astonishment of many of the girls!

 

 

 

Later in the day Charlotte and her team from Sykes and Co, a tailored recruitment firm based in Towcester, delivered a rich and detailed seminar on interview technique, setting up some entertaining role play situations. Finally, came a presentation and discussion session from three very close friends of the school, Mark Bradley, Katie Fisher and Sally Hadfield, all with daughters in various year groups and all with amazing personal work and life stories, to bring a taste of how varied and fascinating modern career paths can be. We were also lucky enough to hear from Hannah Cooper  from Liz Male Consulting who explained her role with Social Media in business. This was particularly interesting as her role has not long been in existence, highlighting the extremely dynamic world of work that our girls will be moving into.

 

 

On day 2 we were joined by Lucy and Ilga from Bright Green Enterprise and the Year 10’s were joined by girls from 6.1 in a fun filled and competitive task to design a charity that would focus on specific communities in Tanzania. This form of Social Enterprise is something that is very close to the hearts of students and staff at NHS because of the large amount of charitable work that goes on in school throughout the year. The groups worked together closely and the two year groups made an excellent partnership bringing in ideas from a range of viewpoints. The winning team was a charity that focused their efforts on upcycling bicycles and sending them to Tanzania to improve transport opportunities for their given community, having identified this as a need of the people who lived there. Yambike was the chosen name and the overall work from this group just clinched the win.

 

 

 

The final day saw a similar structure with the same team from Bright Green Enterprise joining us to bring  together the Year 8 and Year 6 students  to create some ethical designs of products that would make a difference. We were thrilled with the team work, the ideas and the final pitches from all teams. The innovation that the girls demonstrated and the support that they gave one another was truly inspiring. The day started out with the older girls  taking the lead and supporting the Year 6’s to put forward their ideas. However, because of the hard work of our Year 6 staff in terms of enterprise education, by the middle of the day, the Year 8’s were finding that they were learning just as much from their younger peers as they were teaching them. A very clever pen, aimed at increasing literacy and numeracy where education is limited, was the well deserved winner of the day, although the other teams were also strong and the final decision was an extremely difficult one.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Enterprise education is a high priority for the Government in the UK and something, which we take seriously at Northampton High School. The transferable skills that our girls gain through such activities are invaluable and serve them well in their academic studies as well as when they leave us at the end of Sixth Form to embark on the next stage, be it higher education or the work place. By allowing them to develop these skills, we endeavour to give all our students the best possible start to life outside of school and make sure that they are equipped to face the challenges that they might meet in the future.

 

We would like to extend thanks to all who were involved, guest speakers, staff and students alike, who made this event so successful. We very much look forward to developing this further next year and seeing what new ideas the girls bring to the table.

 

Rebecca Kneen, Deputy Director of Sixth Form & Head of Careers

Opening the lid on Mental Health

16 Jun

In a recent education update that landed in my inbox, I was particularly taken by a document published by the House of Commons. [1] The Health and Education Committees have worked together to produce a report on the role of education in children and young people’s mental health. Indeed, the topic of the mental health of young people has (and rightly so) been a very hot one in the media recently, helped by the openness of the younger generations of the Royal Family.

 

As educators, we tend to find that, whatever the latest initiative is to support young people, the words ‘….they should teach that in schools’ strike a rather discordant note. After all, between the ever more rigorous demands of the curriculum, GCSEs, A Levels, university entrance tests and interviews, delivery of high quality sport, drama and music, how do we begin to fit in financial education, healthy living, online safety and the myriad other excellent ideas into the school day.  That is not to suggest these aren’t really important matters; they very much are but teachers are not trained in these areas, never mind wondering where we might squeeze in that lesson on loans and interest rates!

 

A recent article in the Independent [2] newspaper, suggested a range of “Life skills that should be taught in schools but aren’t”. Amongst them were: how to cook a roast dinner, managing your tax affairs, sexual values, respecting boundaries and being in tune with your mental health.

 

It is the latter of these that particularly struck me and on which, more anon. Although I interrupt this thought with a further one which ponders how many of those listed were skills which we would previously have seen passed down through generations and communities. What role has been played, in losing these skills, by the perceived lack of community in our lives? – but that is perhaps a blog post on its own.

 

So to return to the topic of mental health and the role of education, I feel both hugely positive on the one hand and somewhat frustrated on the other.  On the one hand we are more open about the mental health problems which face some young people and they are, themselves, more able to articulate these problems to peers and adults. In addition, parents and professionals are more comfortable with the topic, on the whole, than we would have seen in the past, making the taboo lessened if not totally quashed.

 

The flipside to this is that we have opened Pandora’s box without fully realising the consequences or putting a safety net in place to capture its contents. According to Greek mythology, after the contents of Pandora’s box were released, only Hope was left in the bottom when she closed it up again and, in this myth, we can see an explanation of why, when all else in life could seem to be bleak, we still always have Hope.

 

The aforementioned House of Commons report made certain recommendations and I feel proud that Northampton High School is a step ahead on this.  Strengthening the training of staff in mental health first aid was one recommendation and I am pleased to say that we trained sixteen teaching and non-teaching staff in Mental Health First Aid earlier this year in an attempt to ensure we have a whole team of staff to cascade knowledge and work hard with our students, in recognising signs of distress. If you are interested in what this training entails, I have included a link at the end [3] and Ms Margareto discussed it in her blog post in March. The report also welcomes the Government’s commitment to make Personal, Social, Health and Economic Education (PSHEE) mandatory in schools.  Through not only our Radically Enriched Curriculum (REC) periods, but through the interactions, conversations and activities in tutor time, we already lead the way in this area.  A final major recommendation of the report was that links between schools and Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) should be strengthened and here is the safety net for the opening of Pandora’s box. Staff can do so much to support young people in need in school, but fully trained and experienced professionals are vital and it is to be hoped that funding into these specialist services will be a priority of our new Government.

 

In conclusion, I firstly cannot overlook the role of 21st Century life on the mental health of young people; we have only scratched the surface of the possible consequences of social media, an ‘always switched on’ generation of young people, sleep deprivation and harmful online content; this again is a post in its own right and understanding the role of these issues in the mental health of young people will make a big difference. In the meantime, we have much of the Hope from Pandora’s box to keep us going. We can also give thought to the balance in our school day of subject-specific education against life skills and co-curricular matters and the external influences upon young people’s mental health.

 

Adèle O’Doherty, Deputy Head (Pastoral Care and Guidance)

[1] https://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201617/cmselect/cmhealth/849/849.pdf

 

[2] http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/life-lessons-taught-in-school-6-experts-personal-finance-sex-education-pshe-peter-tatchell-chef-food-a7522476.html

 

[3] https://mhfaengland.org/

Education for Centurions

19 May

During the autumn term, I was fortunate enough to attend a conference where the keynote speaker was Lord Jim Knight, Chief Education Advisor at TES Global, visiting professor at the UCL Knowledge Lab and a member of the House of Lords. He served as an MP from 2001 – 2009, during which time he was a minister for rural affairs, schools and then employment before becoming a cabinet minister.

 

 

His speech was entitled “Education for Centurions” where he considered the prospect of those students who are now starting school living into their hundredth year and beyond. With such longevity, people will be working longer, and changing professions more frequently; some of the careers our students will pursue haven’t even been invented yet! He talked also about lifelong learning, where the current model of three separate stages of education, employment, and retirement will be replaced with continuous learning and working, with an overlap also between working and retiring. I would also add that I hope to be learning well into my retirement! Lord Knight’s message was simply this: that in a world of lifelong learning we must pass on to our students a passion for, and a joy in, learning.

 

Our challenge therefore as educators today is to prepare our students for this future. Adaptability, resilience, creativity, taking risks, embracing change – these are all qualities that our future workforce must possess in order to start afresh in a second or third career and reinvent themselves in another professional role. Lifelong learning will not be sufficient in this new model of overlapping learning and employment. If one is to continue to enjoy a balanced personal and professional life, embracing the changes that will come it, is a lifelong LOVE of learning which we must nurture in our students today. There is nothing more satisfying as a teacher than to have students who are engaged in and beyond the classroom and who have a passion, not just for the subject but also for learning new skills, experimenting with new ideas, extending their knowledge and improving their own personal best, whether in an MFL classroom, a science lab or on the sports field.

 

I have spent a fair bit of time recently accompanying my two sons to numerous university open days as they each make their choices for the next stage of their education pathway. What has struck me is the changing face of assessment at many of these institutions. Having listened to what employers want, assessment programmes have been developed accordingly. Employers are looking for so much more than the ability to pass exams; they want good communication skills, the ability to work collaboratively and the resilience to bounce back. University assessments are increasingly being designed to reflect this need, with collaborative tasks, podcasts and presentations alongside the more traditional end of course formal examination. Assessing performance and skills is becoming more popular and presents another challenge for us as secondary school educators: the need to prepare our students for those formal public exams at the ages of 16 and 18, but also to look beyond this to what employers require of the workforce of the next generation and to prepare our students accordingly.

 

As teachers, we also consider ourselves to be a community of professional learners, constantly seeking to improve our skills, extend our knowledge and develop our craft in the classroom. We recognise that a good teacher never stops learning, whether that is by enrolling on a professional development course, undertaking a project in school, working with colleagues or sharing good practice. On more than one occasion recently I have had to bite my tongue when, on one of the aforementioned university open days, lecturers told the assembled sixth formers and their parents that one of the main differences between their teachers at school and their university lecturers was that the latter group are actively engaged in research, whereas their teachers are not. This is just not true! Increasingly, schools are engaging in action research as part of the professional development of their staff. One aspect of my new role as School Consultant Teacher  involves me conducting my own action research project and there are now a number of staff currently engaged in evidence based professional development here in school, working on projects which will directly benefit and impact on the learning of our students in our classrooms. Our students will be used to a member of staff or an inspector coming to observe a lesson, for a variety of reasons. They will be less used to groups of teachers in their lessons, but this is now happening more frequently in school as our teachers engage in action research as part of their own joint professional development. Using the Peter Dudley Lesson Study model, colleagues are working collaboratively on a number of different initiatives to enhance our students’ learning experience. So far girls have been willing participants and have welcomed staff into their lessons, recognising that we are lifelong learners and also passionate about what we do, thus modelling the behaviour and attitudes we want to instil in our students. In an age where artificial intelligence is developing rapidly, the world needs teachers like never before: passion for and involvement in lifelong learning is as crucial for the professional learning community here at Northampton High  as it is for our future centurions whom we seek to educate and inspire.

 

Mrs Deborah Hill, Head of Languages Faculty and School Consultant Teacher

 

Sir Jim Knight’s keynote speech, Firefly conference November 2016

The 100 year Life by Lynda Gratton and Andrew Scott.

Peter Dudley:  www.lessonstudy.co.uk 

Out of School Hours

5 May

Activity at Northampton High School does not come to an end at the close of the school day or indeed at the end of a term. The school is lucky to have an extensive site and great facilities that it is keen to share with the wider community.

 

The school Sports Centre incorporates a fitness centre and fitness studio, swimming pool, tennis courts, squash courts, netball courts, sports hall, an all-weather pitch and an extensive sports field. For more information e-mail: sportscentre@nhs.gdst.net

 

The community gym is open every evening and on Saturdays and Sundays for members. As well as the fitness suite there is also a programme of fitness classes on offer each week and you can book the squash, tennis and badminton courts.  Although membership is for over 16 year olds there are opportunities for a family swim on a Sunday and family use of the tennis courts.

 

 

The sports facilities are also used extensively by a wide variety of local swimming, football, hockey, badminton, tennis and netball clubs as well as local primary schools who make use of our swimming pool during the school day.

 

During school holidays for pupils and children in the wider community, we host Kings Camp http://www.kingscamps.org a charitable organisation that run sports activity camps and Mad Science Camps http://www.madscience.org/ .

 

 

A Saturday morning in term time will see the NMPAT Queens Cross Centre in operation at the school running sessions in music, art and drama http://www.nmpat.co.uk/out-of-school-activities/regional-music-and-performing-arts-centres/queens-cross-music-and-performing-arts-centre

 

The school hall offers an excellent community venue for events but is also a regular venue for groups such as Masque Youth Theatre Company, https://masqueyouththeatre.co.uk/about/venue/

 

and Northampton Bach Choir http://www.northamptonbachchoir.org.uk/

 

 

Other groups using the facilities range from the NCT, Blood Donors, Rotary events, The Diocese of Peterborough, SANDS and private functions.

 

The school is proud to be able to offer its facilities for use beyond the school day and term. The site is open from 7 am until 10 pm during the week all year round and 8 am until 6 pm at weekends. Community use of the facilities in this way is mutually beneficial and many of our pupils and their families participate in these clubs and groups. Pupils enjoy being able to bring their friends and siblings along to their school to share in the activities and facilities on offer.

 

Anne Headley, Director of Finance and Operations

Developing a future Gauss?

31 Mar

The word ‘mathematics’ is taken from a Greek word meaning knowledge, study, learning. There are a range of views among mathematicians and philosophers as to the exact scope and definition of mathematics but what is for sure is that mathematicians seek out patterns and use them to formulate new conjectures.

 

Practical mathematics has been a human activity from as far back as written records exist. The research required to solve mathematical problems can take years or even centuries of sustained inquiry but sometimes take only minutes.

 

Johann Carl Friedrich Gauss was one of the most influential mathematicians in history and was born in 1777 in a small city in Germany. The son of peasant parents (both were illiterate), he developed a staggering number of important ideas and had many more named after him. Many have referred to him as the princeps mathematicorum, or the “prince of mathematics.”

 

Young Gauss and the Sum of the Natural Numbers

 

Gauss told the story of a time, when he was a boy, the teacher ran out of stuff to teach and asked them, in the remaining time before playtime, to compute the sum of all the numbers from 1 to 20.

 

Gauss thought that 1+20 is 21. And 2+19 is also 21. And this is true for all the similar pairs, of which there are 10. So… the answer is 210.

 

One can wonder what would have happened had the teacher asked for the sum of the numbers from 1 to 19. Perhaps Gauss would have noted that 1+19 is 20, as is 2+18. This is true for all the pairs, of which there are 9, and the number 10 is left on its own. Nine 20’s is 180 and the remaining 10 makes 190.

 

Or perhaps he would have thought the sum to 20 adds up to 210, and 20 less is 190.

 

Since starting at Northampton High School, I have had the pleasure of working with some fine mathematicians and I can truly say that all the students I teach are fantastic. Perhaps there is a modern day Gauss amongst them. It is our aim to help students develop a love for mathematics.

 

This year we have had great success in the National Maths Challenges and for the first time we entered a Sixth Form team into the team challenge. We hope to develop this involvement further in the future. Alexandra Daly again produced a fantastic result in the National Cypher challenge coming 1st in Cypher A.

 

In addition, we have been looking at the way we track progress and after each assessment students are issued with a list of topics to work on. We encourage the girls to use MyMaths, an interactive online teaching and homework subscription website for schools. Building pupil engagement and consolidating maths knowledge helps to become more confident even if they are not a “Gauss”.

 

Mr Ball, Head of Maths Faculty

Building resilience

17 Mar

What is resilience?

 

Resilience can be defined as: a person’s capacity to handle environmental difficulties, demands and high pressure without experiencing negative effects (Kinman and Grant 2011 – lead Professor at Bedford University and Chartered Psychologist).

 

It is a word that is used quite a lot in the media and in education but what does it look like? How do young people acquire it? We tend to idealise childhood and adolescence as a carefree time, but youth alone offers no shield against the emotional hurts and traumas many children and young people face.

 

At School, the pastoral teams work closely with girls to encourage and support their development of resilience because we know that adolescents have to deal with problems ranging from adapting to a new phase of education, falling out with friends, and possibly traumatic family situations in addition to the uncertainties that are part of growing up. Building resilience can help our girls to manage stress and feelings of anxiety and uncertainty.

 

However, being resilient does not mean that young people will not experience difficulty or distress. Emotional pain and sadness are common when we have suffered major trauma or personal loss, or even when we hear of someone else’s loss or trauma.

 

Dr Ginsbury, a leading paediatrician specialising in Adolescent Medicine at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, US has identified 7 “C”s of resilience. These identifiers are what we encourage and foster at Northampton High School.

 

Competence – the feeling of knowing that you can handle a situation effectively

 

During PSHEE sessions, students are given scenarios that young people face regularly such as falling outs with friends, bereavement, stress and many more and discuss positive coping strategies to deal with these.

 

Confidence – a young person’s belief in her own abilities

 

This is about focusing on the best in a young person. Getting to know our girls, developing a close tutor/tutee relationship is crucial so that we can praise their qualities, personal achievements and academic success.

 

Connection – developing close ties to family and community, creating a sense of security leading a young person to connect with others

 

Recognising our values and core beliefs as a person so that young people understand what constitutes a healthy relationship. Working with peers, staff, the community and parents in a positive way helps a young person foster healthy relationships.

 

Character – how a young person develops a solid set of morals and values to determine right from wrong and to demonstrate a caring attitude toward others

 

Fundraiser for Plan UK, the School Charity

How older girls modelling positive behaviour influences younger girls to treat others with respect and tolerance. Working not only as a school community but smaller communities within that, such as the House system, tutor groups, charity working groups, and many more. 

 

Contribution – understanding the importance of personal contribution and how that can serve as a source of purpose and motivation

 

We encourage girls to take part in as much volunteering and charity work as time permits. Sometimes young people may feel helpless but can be empowered by helping others. Duke of Edinburgh Award Schemes, National Citizens Service, House charities and Form charities are opportunities for each young person to contribute in some specific way.

 

Bis Sister Little Sister Breakfast

Coping – learning to cope effectively with stress through developing positive and effective coping strategies

 

Guidance by staff, tutors and parents enables a young person to model positive coping strategies. The Big Sister Little Sister programme builds ties with older girls who share their experiences with younger girls, in order to provide them with the right guidance in how to cope with a stressful situation and advice on which person from their network of support can assist.

 

Pancake Races

Control – young people who realise that they can control the outcomes of their decisions are more likely to realise that they have the ability to bounce back. Empower girls.

 

Tutors and teaching staff dedicate a lot of time to talking with girls, providing guidance and support in their personal endeavours and academic needs. The partnership between staff, girls and parents is very important to us as we aim to nurture and promote confidence and competence in our girls.

 

There is no simple solution to guarantee resilience in every situation but we believe that knowing girls well and the adequate training and experience of staff can help girls develop the ability to negotiate their own challenges and to be more resilient, more capable, and happier.

 

Staff Mental Health Training

Recently, a cross section of teaching and support staff were trained in a Mental Health First Aid course, designed to equip staff with the skills needed to support girls who face mental health issues. We know that mental health and emotional problems often develop during adolescence. With greater awareness and understanding of these issues, we are able to provide help to prevent the emotional or mental health problem developing into a more serious state.

 

Even our Prime Minister, Teresa May’s speech signalled a ‘long-awaited and much-needed shift in thinking’ on Mental Health and the government’s recognition ‘..that the key to creating a mentally healthy society is held within our schools, communities and workplaces, not just in our health service…. This is perhaps the most vital context to help prevent mental health issues. We need the whole school to take responsibility for our children’s wellbeing’. This is a welcome approach and focus as mental health influences how we think and feel about ourselves and others. The capacity to learn, communicate and to form, sustain and end relationships, coping with change, all test our resilience.

 

We aim and believe in fostering an environment that enables girls to develop their emotional and spiritual resilience which allows them to enjoy life in school with a positive sense of well-being and an underlying belief in their own self-worth.

 

Sonia Margareto

Head of Pastoral Care

“In Loco Parentis”

3 Mar

In a few weeks’ time, my usual brood of children will temporarily drop down from 3 to 2. One will be participating in the Year 8 trip to Normandy whilst the other will be heading for the ski slopes of Alpe d’Huez  on the Junior School trip the following week. Apart from the logistical headache of collecting one at 11pm one night and dropping the other off at 3am four hours later, the fact that our normal family of five will be four for two weeks is a rather curious feeling.

 

As a parent, it is only natural to worry about your offspring – will they be homesick? Will they eat enough? Did I pack enough socks/snacks/sun cream (delete as applicable!). What if they’re ill? But as a parent and a teacher with experience of many school trips, perhaps my level of anxiety is less, simply because I know what goes on behind the scenes before, during and after any school day trip or residential.

 

In my professional career, I have undertaken many duties on trips which can be part and parcel of the job: dried up tears, mediated in teenage squabbles, cleared up sick, accompanied injured students down a mountain in an ambulance, acted out concussion in the A&E department of an Italian hospital, effectively bribed a child to carry on walking in the Lake District using chocolate raisins and even re-dressed an infected in-growing toenail on a daily basis! Perhaps the person who said “never work with animals and children!” was right?

 

But alongside the less glamorous side to the job is the immense pride I feel when a student overcomes their fear of heights, or picks themselves up after falling over on the slopes, or makes a purchase using a foreign language or even just looks at something with new found awe and wonder. Effectively, you get the buzz of parental pride, just with someone else’s children and that is what makes me get up for work in the morning.

 

Ski Trip Austria 2016

The concept of  “in loco parentis” is not a new one. Teachers have a duty of care to pupils which derives from ‘common law’ i.e. developed through decisions of the Court as opposed to law which has been determined by Parliament and set down in statute.  Traditionally, the term “in loco parentis” was used to describe the duty of care that a teacher has towards a pupil, to the effect that a teacher has a duty to take the same reasonable care of the pupil that a parent would take in those circumstances.

 

“In loco parentis” originally embodied the nineteenth century common law principle that a teacher’s authority was delegated by a parent so far as it was necessary for the welfare of the child. A court held, in 1893, that “the schoolmaster is bound to take such care of his pupils as a careful father would”.  During the 1950s and 1960s, case law was developed further by the courts. In 1955, it was held that “a balance must be struck between the meticulous supervision of children every moment of the day and the desirable object of encouraging sturdy independence as they grow up”. Teachers’ professionalism was recognised by the courts in 1962, where the “standard of care expected of a teacher was held to be that of a person exhibiting the responsible mental qualities of a prudent parent in the circumstances of school, rather than home life”.

 

The current standard of care expected of a teacher is that of a reasonable person in the circumstances of a class teacher. It has been recognised that a teacher’s duty of care to individual pupils is influenced by, for example, the subject or activity being taught, the age of the children, the available resources and the size of the class. Furthermore, it is clear from case law that the standard of care expected is the application of the ordinary skills of a competent professional, the skill and care of a reasonable teacher. If it can be shown that a professional acted in accordance with the views of a reputable body of opinion within their profession, the duty of care will have been satisfied, even though others may disagree.

 

Normandy Trip 2016

So as teachers, it is our duty to assess the risks, plan for many eventualities (including those curve balls that life sometimes throws), oversee the many and varied activities that our students participate in, rejoice in their successes, commiserate when things don’t go according to plan and bring them home to their parents full of stories of new experiences and with a little more independence and resilience. It’s not that dissimilar to part of the role of being a parent.

 

So as the departure dates approach for my own daughters, I will endeavour not to show that I am anxious, I will revel in their excitement and intrepidation. I will hug them a little tighter and wave them off on their travels. While they are away I will sleep a little lighter but ultimately I am safe in the knowledge that they are in the best hands as they broaden their horizons beyond the confines of the classrooms at Northampton High.

 

Imogen Tansley, Subject Leader Economics and Business

Let Them “Shine”

24 Feb

This year at Northampton High School, as part of our outreach programme, we have run the SHINE- ‘serious fun on a Saturday’ project. SHINE is an education charity that gives children the opportunity to acquire the skills and confidence they need to turn their potential into success at school and beyond. The charity assisted us in providing ten workshops to twenty-four Year 5 girls from local primary schools.

 

The workshops cover a variety of subjects including geocaching, drama, forensic science, water works challenges, Atomic Science and engineering to name but a few.
These sessions have either been presented by external experts or school staff have volunteered their time and the project has been coordinated at the School by Claire Tilley, Physics Technician.

 

 

Below is an account of one of the sessions which was run by Anne Buxton, Librarian and Leona Heimfeld, English/Film Teacher.

 

Anne Buxton, Librarian

 

When I volunteered to run a SHINE session in Spring 2016 I hadn’t any idea what sort of session I would deliver. However, after a very successful summer term shadowing both the Carnegie and Greenaway book awards (the latter with girls in the Junior and Senior School) it seemed an obvious activity to try with the girls during my session with them in November.

 

The CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal was established in 1955, for distinguished illustration in a book for children. It is named after the popular and highly influential nineteenth century artist known for her fine children’s illustrations and designs. Awarded annually, the Medal is the only prize in the UK to solely reward outstanding illustration in a children’s book. Previous winners include Levi Pinfold, Raymond Briggs, Shirley Hughes, former Children’s Laureates, Quentin Blake and Anthony Brown, and current Children’s Laureate, Chris Riddell. In school we shadow the award in real time over a number of weeks trying to work out who we think the overall winner should be and then waiting to find out if the judges agree with us at the awards ceremony in June! Marks are awarded out of ten for artistic style, format, the synergy of illustration and text and overall visual experience.

 

As I would have just over an hour with the girls it seemed sensible to make this a timed activity, in effect, speed dating with picture books! Ms Tilley divided the girls into groups and each group had an attached member of staff or sixth former. One of the Sixth Form became our time keeper, each book being allocated six minutes to be read and swiftly judged. The girls rose to the occasion, quickly understanding what was expected and making very perceptive comments about the books.

 

The girls’ overall favourite was There’s a Bear on My Chair by Ross Collins which “Reminds us to share. Shows us not to hold a grudge” –   Eleanor.

The actual winner, The Sleeper and the Spindle written by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by Chris Riddell, was also popular but did divide opinion. The girls weren’t always sure about a Queen going on an adventure and leaving the Prince behind!

 

Mrs Heimfeld – English/Film Teacher

 

The second part of the session aimed to develop engagement with the books into a creative act. Equipped with their evaluations, the girls set out to make a film trailer for an imagined movie of the books. First, each group decided what genre the film would encompass (romance, adventure, fairy tale or comedy) and chose a suitable background and music. Next ideas were story boarded, considering how to best convey the plot and the spirit of the illustrations. The production was cast, a director chosen, and locations were scouted. Then they took the iPads and with just half an hour to complete the projects, began filming. The results were imaginative and faithful to the books, with the girls translating the often subtle and particular nuances of the illustrations into moving pictures.

 

 

Sources:

https://northamptonhigh.fireflycloud.net/film/shine-greenaway-prize-films

http://www.carnegiegreenaway.org.uk/

https://www.shinetrust.org.uk/what-we-do/shine-saturday-programmes/serious-fun-on-saturday/

 

 

Resilient Minds

3 Feb

“If you can keep your head when all about are losing theirs” ……. Joseph Rudyard Kipling

As part of our ongoing commitment to develop resilient minds in our pupils here at Northampton High School we are about to launch a programme based on the research of the Positive group. http://www.positivegroup.org/

 

Positive are a specialist learning provider working across the corporate, public and educational sectors. Their work is informed by research in psychology, neuroscience and the medical sciences. They use the relevant principles of psychology and human behaviour to develop practical, versatile tools and techniques that enable individuals and teams to manage pressure and adapt to change and uncertainty in our ever evolving world. A group of our staff are at present receiving training in the delivery of this programme and the science behind it, using a number of app based tools. These will range from an Emotional Barometer, self-talk, an inner coach, a positive data log and a virtual pinboard. These will also be underpinned by a series of Mindfulness sessions.

 

 

Advances in neuroscience have shown how emotions override the brain’s operating systems, constantly influencing how we think and behave; often without us even knowing. By improving emotional literacy, we can improve both psychological health and performance. We change our minds all the time but we can also change the way our brains work by making new connections. If we focus purely on the negatives we get very good at it!

 

 

The first tool the pupils will be introduced to is the Emotional Barometer, which is a visual metaphor tool, designed to track and display your mood state over time and how we cope with stress and pressure, (see the Yerkes-Dodson model above). It will give students an insight into their emotions, how they affect their thoughts, feelings and behaviour and provide them with a basis for developing emotional literacy.

 

We all talk to ourselves and it can have a significant impact on our psychological health and quality of life. The tone and context of this inner dialogue impacts how we think, feel and behave. The self-talk tool and inner coach will enable the students to become aware of their own inner dialogue and supports anyone in a challenging situation to seek solutions and opportunities and to let go of negative cognitive patterns quicker. By improving emotional literacy, you can reduce psychological problems.

I have already attended the teacher training sessions and found it to be one of the most engaging I have ever experienced. The combination of science, knowledge and practical application was expertly done and it will help build resilience and improve the health and wellbeing of all our pupils.

 

Michele Langhorn

Assistant Head (Staff Development and Wellbeing)