Lancaster Girls’ Grammar School is an 11-18 girls' grammar school
To explore ways of equipping students with resilience and other life skills to give them the confidence to move out of their comfort zones. To support staff in creating safe ways for students “to fail” and share good practice across the community.
When the going got tough, girls had often given up. Research had shown that resilience often only develops as a result of failure.
The focus was on action research and making links with other schools and outside agencies e.g. the primary mental healthcare team. These findings were used to enrich the curriculum and create opportunities for staff CPD.
All staff were encouraged to trial practical ideas in the classroom e.g. strategies for supporting revision with emphasis on progress over time rather than instant achievement. Students were encouraged to reflect on “how” they learned rather than just “what” they learned. The wellbeing of staff was also a focus with support on revising working practices.
Work with the Youth Sport Trust was used with Year 13 to teach and reward a broad set of life skills. These principles became part of induction for Year 7 and 12 students and were reinforced in assemblies and prize night. They were also included in new parent information evenings. Another project used YouTube based videos, shown in tutor groups, which inspired increased aspiration and resilience in an accessible form. The UNICEF Rights Respecting School Award was considered as a way of evaluating and bringing together these initiatives.
Pupil Attitude Questionnaires, student focus groups, school council
Attendance improved across the school and was recorded as an area of strength. There was a more positive approach to wellbeing at an early stage, Year 7 students felt they were developing confidence and were trusted to do things on their own. GCSE results improved – in 2017 80.3% A* to A, placing the school in the top 25 for attainment nationally. A Level results also improved with 73% A*-B in 2017.
We feel that our learners are more equipped to challenge themselves. As we move to linear qualifications we are keen to develop study skills, alongside life skills, but there is an added emphasis on equipping yourself for the long journey through the qualifications. We have seen a renewed focus on staff and student wellbeing, As a senior leadership team I think we have learnt to forge links outside of our school, to seek and to share, and to encourage links amongst staff, students and parents more actively.
Jen Pardoe, firstname.lastname@example.org