Aim: To develop girls' confidence to express themselves, to feel involved and valued.
Background: It was felt that too many pupils were being passive learners and that as they got older, they lacked the skills and confidence that they needed, for example for interviews and public speaking. It was also recognized that staff had to develop ways of teaching that ensured everybody was involved without feeling under pressure.
Lessons called "Here I Am" were introduced to Year 7 by the English department. After CPD, a "hands down" policy in lessons was introduced. Staff formed pedagogy triads to share and develop ideas.
“Here I Am” was extended into Year 8 who were taught skills such as debating and speaking in business pitches. Following staff feedback on triads, TeachMeets were introduced instead as a way to share new strategies and ideas for active learning and pupil engagement across the whole staff.
The work on "Here I Am" was consolidated in Years 7 and 8. A second generation of teachers was trained to deliver the materials which meant that the emphasis on developing oracy skills was disseminated to new departments. Aspects of citizenship which could be delivered through "Here I am" were identified; for examples girls formed mini political parties, developed manifestoes and canvassed each other. This enabled them to appreciate the role of public speaking in politics and government. New opportunities for leadership were also identified for Key Stage 3 students.
Impact: "Here I Am" lessons were observed as part of Performance Management and judged as outstanding. Pupils were graded as Developing, Secure and Excellent. The majority of students were secure and about a third were seen to be excellent in their oracy skills. Over one third of the Year 9 cohort, the first to experience "Here I Am" in Years 7 and 8, went on to be part of the school’s Leadership Academy, training as leaders in English, Science and Maths. They achieved a Level 2 qualification in leadership skills, an opportunity which was previously only open to Key Stage 4 and Key Stage 5 students. 43.9% of teachers rated the TeachMeets as one of the most useful forms of CPD. 93% of teachers believed ‘leadership uses professional development to encourage, challenge and support teachers' improvement,’ with 7% neutral. Similarly, 93% of staff agreed that ‘leaders have created a climate in which teachers are trusted to take risks and innovate in ways that are right for the pupils.’
Reflections: The most successful aspects have been encouraging staff to plan activities which enable a sense of ‘Here I am’, and the “Here I Am” lessons themselves. The challenge has then been facilitating opportunities for the entire year group to show “Here I Am” attitudes in practice in the school. The hope is to see all Year 9 pupils engaged in a leadership capacity in some way in the school. Exam requirements and Ofsted frameworks may change but it is important to define excellent pedagogy as a school community. The project has enabled the school to keep a clear focus on this at a time of change in education.
Contact: Anne Murphy firstname.lastname@example.org