On 12th November the BFSS Director, Imogen Wilde, visited Jack Petchey Academy in Hackney to attend one of the sessions run by TalentEd (formerly Spire Hub) to which BFSS gave a grant of £13,228 earlier in 2015. TalentEd works with schools in low income areas to help high ability Year 10 students to improve their GCSE grades and their academic and career options. It offers small group sessions run by retired teachers focusing on study skills and helping to raise aspirations. BFSS is supporting sessions in schools in Hackney and in Hastings.
Imogen joined one of the weekly sessions for 24 Year 10 students which started with an opportunity for the students to enjoy pizza as they talked in groups to the retired teachers and also to a number of university students (from UCL and SOAS) who act as mentors and offer advice to help encourage the school students to aim high in their studies and their career options. The students then got down to work in groups. The sessions are carefully planned, involving interactive tasks and reflection. Imogen has reported as follows:
“The session which I attended focused on presentation and debating skills. The students broke into four groups, which were each given a set time to prepare their case for or against a particular motion. Each group had to nominate one of their members to propose and another to second the proposition (or to argue against/second the argument against). Other members had to marshall their arguments in support of/against the proposition so that they could contribute to the debate too. The particular topic in the group I sat in on was to do with video games, so no research was necessary, rather the challenge was to produce convincing, well argued points. The retired teachers were on hand to advise on structuring the argument.
After the preparation time, the teams came together to debate the particular motion. I sat in on the debate in which two teams debated the proposition to do with video games. The speakers were very impressive and the arguments very well marshalled. When the debate was over, the teachers conferred and reached a decision on which team was the winner, which was a very hard decision indeed given the standard of debate. The teachers then gave very constructive feedback to the teams. I have no doubt that the skills which the students will have learned – and had opportunity to demonstrate in the debates – will stand them in good stead in their studies and will also have provided a great boost to their confidence.”