To encourage and train girls to speak out in lessons and beyond.
After attending the International Girls’ School Conference in Washington DC it was apparent that in other schools there was a priority on training girls to speak out to transform their learning dialogue and to develop their leadership skills. Comments at CCHSG parents’ evenings and reports had frequently commented on how “quiet” students were.
“Find Your Voice!” was launched at a whole school assembly. This included focus on learning conversations in the classroom (peer to peer),learning conversations outside of the classroom (e.g. Philosophy of History, peer-led subject clinics, student–led societies) and public speaking. Student researchers were appointed to analyse and feedback on the impact in the classroom. A page in the girls' planners was introduced to log their reflections and achievements in public speaking. Girls were entered for public speaking competitions: ESU, Oxford and Cambridge debating competitions and Jack Petchey Speak Out. All girls had 1:1 learning conversations with their tutor.
The girls hosted two school visits to talk about their research (Upton Hall School being one, as a partner PTI School). A Pastoral Team Twitter feed was set up to alert girls to “speak out” opportunities and to celebrate and encourage them. A team of students gave talks to Year 5 students and parents at local primary schools to dispel the myths surrounding grammar schools. Girls were successful at the English Speaking Union, Jack Petchey Speak Out Bar Mock Trial, and Gepp and Sons Debating competition.
Girls became involved in the Essex Youth Parliament. Year 9 girls were National Science Competition winners, giving their winning presentation (in German) to children in Austria at the final (entry for this competition was student-led). Robust tutor time activities that focused on Find Your Voice! were embedded. Teaching and Learning initiatives focused on peer-led learning dialogues. More assemblies were student, rather than teacher-led. Leadership Awards were given to acknowledge student success in this area.
Subject and year reviews, student logs
Impact: The impact and opportunities that came from shining the spotlight on this area could not have been envisaged. Tutor time was transformed with formal speak out opportunities, outstanding competition success and an overall increase in student-led initiatives. The Leadership Conference in Year 11 was one of the highlights, with a built in celebration of speak out and a training element.
Reflections: Personally, I have learnt a lot about driving a whole-school community with a vision and building a team of interested colleagues to lead. We understand that it will always be work in progress, as new students and staff arrive and the vision and challenge has to be kept alive. In spite of pressures to deliver increased examination content at KS4 and 5, we still need to make room in our lessons and the wider school to hear and be led by the learning voices in front of us.
Contact: Maria French, firstname.lastname@example.org