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Resource Spotlight: Part 2
This post is all about the second round of our Resource Spotlight. The Resource Spotlight has been created as a way of sharing resources with you that we believe will be beneficial in continuing your amazing supportfor your Year 11 and Year 13 students that have left school. All the chosen resources have been taken from the 621 online resources and school activities that are made available to students through our Aspirations Programme. These resources are based on ‘Post-school Destinations’ and ‘Characteristics’. The links for all the resources are listed at the end of this post. Year 11 Post-school Destinations Resources ‘I Want To Choose My Next Steps’ – Barclays PLC. Our data shows that only 45% of the Year 11 students we asked are ‘very’ excited about their future. This content from Barclays is fantastic in supporting students in this area as it contains lots of different resources such as the ‘Wheel of strengths: Which career is right for me’, ‘getting the most out of career events’ and many more. This is ideal for assisting you in continuing the support for your students exploring their post-school destinations. ‘Career Corner’ – National Literacy Trust. We have selected this resource after finding only 63% of Year 11s have had a conversation about their future with an adult. This can be shared with your students to compliment your conversations to give them lots of great information on different careers that they may want to learn more about. Some of the career topics include gaming, law and financial banking. It also contains information on employability, which is great for helping you to encourage students to boost the skills they will need for their next steps. Year 11 Characteristics Resources ‘Calm Zone’ – Childline. Our Aspirations Programme also provides data on specific characteristics students want to improve the most. We found that 81% of 11,313 students want to improve their calmness, which is why we selected this resource. It contains activities and tools such as breathing exercises, games and videos to help students reduce stress and feel calmer. ‘What Does Your Future Look Like’ – West Yorkshire Combined Authority. Based on 11,313 responses, 72% of students want to improve their ambition. This resource is great for building ambition as it provides students with information on different career paths that they may not have considered previously. Students can also benefit from advice from people that have first-hand experience in different careers, which is a great way to get students excited and informed about their future options. Year 13 Post-school Destinations Resources ‘The Big Guide to CV Writing’- GTI Media. We found that only 45% of key stage 5 students have researched the industries they’re interested in. We believe this resource from GTI media is great for helping to further inform your Year 13s on their post-school destinations. The resource provides a step-by-step guide on CV writing and provides CV advice for different graduate professions, so your students can gain an understanding of CVs and how to tailor them to different industries. ‘The Uni Guide’ – The Student Room. It was amazing to see from our data that 74% of the 12,364 students we asked want to go to university. This guide from The Student Room provides students with information on many different aspects of university such as understanding the degrees on offer, grade requirements, and applying and preparing for university. It also covers many other topics such as halls/residence and clearing, making it a great resource for supporting your Year 13 students that are interested in going to university. Year 13 Characteristics Resources ‘Goal Setting’ – Anna Freud Centre. 75% of 11,313 students we asked want to improve their persistence. This resource, written by young people for young people, shows how goal setting each day can help you feel happier and more organised. It also contains a video explaining the advantages of goal setting to further support those students who are committed to improving their persistence. ‘Build Your Self Management Skills’ – Youth Employment CIC. The final chosen resource is all about how students can boost their initiative, organisational skills and accountability. 73% of 11,313 students want to improve their organisational skills and this resource provides tips for building organisational skills in both school and in the workplace. Resource Links · ‘I Want To Choose My Next Steps’ – Barclays PLC: https://rb.gy/dxutnb · ‘Career Corner’ – National Literacy Trust: https://rb.gy/o0y1ad · ‘Calm Zone’ – Childline: https://rb.gy/xdujcr · ‘What Does Your Future Look Like’ – West Yorkshire Combined Authority: https://rb.gy/7wttq2 · ‘The Big Guide to CV Writing’- GTI Media: https://rb.gy/4fzzs5 · ‘The Uni Guide’ – The Student Room: https://rb.gy/9psqtn · ‘Goal Setting’ – Anna Freud Centre: https://rb.gy/gysgnx · ‘Build Your Self Management Skills’ – Youth Employment CIC: https://rb.gy/dkwu7w Be sure to check out our Resource Spotlight: Part 1 blog if you haven’t already!
Resource Spotlight: Part 1
Our Aspirations Programme currently has 621 online resources and school activities that are made available to students. We wanted to create a Resource Spotlight which will showcase resources that can help you to continue the amazing support for your Year 11s and Year 13s that have left school. The themes that were chosen are ‘Wellbeing’ and ‘Careers’. The links for all chosen resources are listed at the end of this post. Year 11 Wellbeing Resources ‘Young Minds – Looking After Yourself’ – Young Minds. From the schools we asked, we found that only 12% of Year 11 students had a high wellbeing score. This resource from Young Minds is a fantastic tool for you to continue supporting your students’ wellbeing! It contains information on a range of topics that are all based on looking after yourself. It also provides tips on how to improve mental health in certain situations. ‘Mental Health and Self-care for Young People’ – NHS. Our data showed that 24% of Year 11 students had a low wellbeing score. This resource contains six self-care videos which can be used to support and enhance all the great work already taking place in your school around mental health and wellbeing. The subjects range from self-care and social media, to dealing with change. The videos are engaging, which makes it more effective for Year 11s to watch and learn from. Year 11 Careers Resources ‘Radio 1’s Careers Quiz’ – BBC Radio One. Through Aspirations we found only 33% of Year 11s had researched industries they’re most interested in. This resource is a quick and free interactive quiz which is useful for your Year 11 students exploring career paths. It is based on 8 questions and provides career paths that may suit students’ interests and skills. We are committed to supporting your students with their future pathways, and this is a great resource to continue work in this area. ‘I Could’ – Education and Employers. This is a fantastic resource containing testimonials and advice from people in different careers. This is great for Year 11s who are looking for first-hand knowledge about careers. It also gives students access to an interactive quiz that helps students understand their strengths and provides examples of careers where they could be used. Year 13 Wellbeing Resources ‘Build Your Self Belief Skills’ - Youth Employment UK CIC. Based on 11,468 responses, we found that 20% of Key Stage 5 students have a low wellbeing score. This resource contains a lot of great information on boosting your students’ self-belief. It also provides tips on boosting motivation, resilience and positive attitude. This is a useful resource for your Year 13s leaving school and moving onto their next steps. ‘On My Mind’ – Anna Freud Centre. Our data shows that 72% of Key Stage 5 students only have a medium wellbeing score. ‘On My Mind’ from the Anna Freud Centre is co-produced by young people and contains information and tips on a range of wellbeing subjects. Topics range from self-care and helping someone else, to managing social media. This resource may be helpful to assist you in supporting your Year 13 students that have left school and may need extra support regarding their wellbeing. Year 13 Careers Resources ‘Degree Explorer’ – GTI Media. 20% of the 6,392 students we asked said a reason for not going to university was due to not knowing what to study. That’s why we chose this resource. It is a two-stage assessment that provides students with a ranked list of university subjects that match their interests. It only takes about 20-mitutes to complete, making it a great extra resource to continue supporting your Year 13 students that are interested in university. ‘Radio 1 Free Career Advice Sessions’ – BBC Radio One. Our Aspirations data showed only 45% of the Key Stage 5 students we asked had researched the industries they’re most interested in. This resource contains many links to different career advice sessions. The sessions include journalism, the gaming industry, the music industry, fashion and many more. The sessions are engaging and are easy to learn from as they are in video form. They are excellent for the Year 13s you are supporting with next steps. Resource Links · ‘Mental Health and Self-care for Young People’ – NHS: https://rb.gy/l1fydz · ‘Young Minds – Looking After Yourself’ – Young Minds: https://rb.gy/533ti5 · ‘Radio 1’s Careers Quiz’ – BBC Radio One: https://rb.gy/5pfapc · ‘I Could’ – Education and Employers: https://icould.com · ‘Build Your Self Belief Skills’ - Youth Employment UK CIC: https://rb.gy/kjvy4p · ‘On My Mind’ – Anna Freud Centre: https://rb.gy/l4lcb8 · ‘Degree Explorer’ – GTI Media: https://rb.gy/mol0je · ‘Radio 1 Free Career Advice Sessions’ – BBC Radio One: https://rb.gy/i6ythq
Personal Development in United Learning Schools: Part 2
Personal Development at Coleridge The third guest speaker at the webinar was Nicola Amner from Coleridge. Aspiration’s data showed that their students were placing limitations on themselves due to feeling as though they were behind academically. Coleridge worked on this with students and, after doing so, Aspirations showed that 84% of students were now interested in university. A problem that both Nicola and many other schools faced was budget limitation; therefore, they needed to find ways of teaching students about careers with the current resources they had available. What Coleridge did to help their students: Introduced PSHE as a lesson. This enabled students to learn about issues identified from Aspirations more regularly. Staff training. This included training on PSHE and mental health, to ensure all staff were able to support in these areas. Staff audit. This involved identifying staff with previous jobs in other sectors who could talk to students that showed interest in those industries. Used outside companies. This made PSHE sessions more impactful and interesting for students. Coleridge used outside companies such as Inform the Future, Cambridge United, and many more to deliver sessions for students. These were all chosen based on the data provided from Aspirations. “When we’ve had that data that came through from Aspirations, we could identify the areas that have come up as a concern” Nicola Amner (Assistant Principal at Coleridge) Personal Development at Salford City Academy Emma Breen from Salford City Academy spoke about what they have implemented in terms of tracking, monitoring and encouraging attendance to after-school clubs. The school has 30 clubs they continued running throughout the pandemic to keep up with the expectation of all departments running a club. They undertook a staff audit to understand any skills their current staff had, which helped them decide what clubs to offer based on staff expertise. The Aspirations registers are used for understanding which students were and were not attending the clubs on offer at the school. The data can be pulled off the system at any time by schools which Emma described as one of the great things about the Aspirations platform. The data can then be split into different groups such as year group and gender which can support schools to demonstrate impact within different student groups. Some of the ways Salford City Academy encourage students to attend after school clubs: Advertisements. Posters, social media and emails. Form tutors. Data is shared with form tutors so they can have targeted conversations with students who are not attending clubs that they have signed up for. Student voice. Students can request specific clubs that interest them. Reward points. The schools can reward students who have high attendance. “They (form tutors) can see which students are attending and which are not. They can then have that one-to-one conversation in form time to find out maybe what the reasons are” Emma Breen (Assistant Principal at Salford City Academy) Personal Development at Midhurst Rother College Phillip Lloyd from Midhurst Rother College was our final guest speaker. Their journey with Aspirations only began in February so the initial set-up, the use of the data and the next steps were discussed. As students were not in school due to the pandemic, the data from Aspirations was useful in understanding how their students were feeling when they returned in March. Aspirations data showed that low ability students were interested in very technical apprenticeship groups, and high ability students were interested in low skilled jobs. Midhurst Rother College wanted to work with these students to raise their aspirations and introduce other potential pathways. The college was also keen to adapt their offer regarding apprenticeships after Aspirations data showed half of their students were interested in that pathway and is currently not offered at the school. Aspirations helped them to create a ‘you said, we did’ culture at their college. Additionally, the college created what they call a ‘student’s learning journey’. This consists of both their academic journey and their character-building journey. Their character-building journey was informed by and created using theAspirations data, allowing them to understand the difference they are making to their students. "For us, a lot of it is raising the profile of what we are doing and having that better communication with the students" Phillip Lloyd (Vice Principal at Midhurst Rother College) If you would like to know more about the Aspirations programme, please do get in touch. Be sure to check out Part 1 if you haven’t already!
Personal Development in United Learning Schools: Part 1
We recently held a webinar ‘Personal Development in United Learning Secondary Schools’, where we hosted some brilliant guest speakers who were all leading on personal development within their schools. The idea was for schools within UL to share their PD ideas and initiatives, and allow other Leaders to ‘magpie’ anything they felt could also work for their school and students. “Real Leadership is about where you see those great things working for you” Ben Antell (United Learning Regional Director). Personal Development at The Regis Caroline Saunders, Assistant Principal at The Regis School opened the webinar. When looking at their Aspirations data, they found that 44% of students wanted to know more about current affairs. Therefore they adapted their PSHE programme to incorporate this topic in more depth. Caroline also spoke about how the Regis School had aligned the tutor programme with both the OFSTED criteria and the ‘Regis 10’, 10 characteristics promoted throughout the school, such as respect, positivity and determination. The Regis found Aspirations a useful tool for student voice, discovering that students wanted to become more organised and take part in more extracurricular activities. The data also helps the planning of themed weeks such as their annual food drive, where all students take part in donating two tonnes of food. “We’re really working hard to make sure that our students leave us as responsible, respectful and active citizens, ready for adult life” Caroline Saunders (Assistant Principal at The Regis School) Personal Development at Walthamstow Academy The next guest speaker was Dan Seed, Vice Principal from Walthamstow Academy. Dan talked about how they used their Aspirations data to improve student wellbeing. Walthamstow used the data to prioritise their students into three categories, all with different needs, and adapt their approach accordingly. For example, where a group of Y7 students were identified as feeling generally unhappy, their Heads of Year organised an Art Therapy group, which proved to be especially successful, resulting in a notable improvement in their wellbeing scores. Dan & his team also designed a 12-week scheme of work for PSHE lessons, around issues such as anxiety post-lockdown. The idea of these sessions was to improve students’ ability to independently manage their wellbeing, addressing worries about falling behind academically and including reflective activities such as understanding the nature of happiness. “We actually found out some really important things that led to some children being safer” Dan Seed (Vice Principal at Walthamstow Academy) If you would like to know more about the Aspirations programme, please do get in touch. Check back soon for Part 2!
Personal Development Post-Pandemic: an open letter to the Department for Education
You can find a link to download a PDF printable version of this document at the end of the page May 2021 FAO: Sir Kevan Collins Department for Education, 20 Great Smith St, London SW1P 3BT Personal Development following the Pandemic: An open letter to the Department for Education Dear Sir, As we start to emerge from the pandemic, educators across the country are turning their attention to personal development for students. At this critical point of supporting students, we must ensure the focus is not only on academic attainment, but also on supporting children beyond the grades. On the 14th April 2021, a panel including Sir Jon Coles and Edwina Grant OBE, and an audience representing a broad range of the education community, met to discuss their recommendations to the DfE and yourself as Recovery Commissioner. A link to the conversation can be found here. This letter is a result of the discussion, where we hope to address concerns within the industry and suggest appropriate solutions for the coming months and years. There was a great deal of consensus about the ways in which educators will be able to address anticipated challenges in the area of personal development. The recommendations fell into three primary areas for consideration: 1. Make personal development relevant and cohesive. The voice of the young person needs to be more than just a headline. Bespoke support for individual students and increasing the relevance of the support offer to each young person is the right thing to do. The Big Ask is a good starting point; however, we need to continue to think carefully about the information we need, and how this collection of data will be followed up. We should aim to create a common set of goals for the sector to unite around, retaining the sense of community created over the pandemic. For example, if young people would most benefit from work experience, sport and creativity, what are the practical solutions to enable schools to provide this? 2. Take community into account and support brokerage, not just initiatives. Regional variation and a local understanding of how particular geographies and communities have been impacted, means that a focus from central government on supporting the work to improve commissioning and integration of services between schools and regional institutions is crucial. The local support out there is good - let’s get it to the people who need it. 3. Opportunity not anxiety. We need to create a narrative that neither encourages anxiety around catch-up, nor conveys to young people that they have ‘gaps to fill’, when they have made sacrifices to support those at greater risk. We now have a unique opportunity to ‘reset’ and develop a system of education and development in the UK that is about more than exams; one that is laser-focused on providing relevant opportunities for every young person to excel. We have a duty to rise to this challenge and start repaying the debt to our young people. For example, digital literacy has come on leaps and bounds in the last twelve months and a coherent strategy should underpin the recovery that blends the best of in-person and digital delivery. I hope you find these points pertinent as you lead Covid recovery planning in schools. We look forward to your response and to finding out how this community can support you in developing this vital programme of change. Kind regards, Matthew Lees Founder, East Learning “Personal development is important because education is personal development. It’s about developing people: that’s the purpose of our work, all of the time. The broader aspects of personal development beyond academics are much harder to measure, so they can get lost or overlooked. Even though in our private lives as employers, work colleagues or friends, we think about all of these broader qualities as absolutely fundamentally important.” Sir Jon Coles, CEO, United Learning
9712 students, 143 questions: Aspirations Insights 2020
You can find a link to download a PDF printable version of this document at the end of the page This report contains data and insights collected from 9,712 students across England over the course of the Autumn Term 2020. The data was collected through the Aspirations programme, a way for schools to enhance and measure the impact of their personal development programmes through the use of student data. We have tried to pick out the most interesting and useful trends to include—although as we have well over 1 million data points from 143 questions, we have had to leave a huge amount out! We hope that this data will prove highly relevant and useful to anyone involved in child development—whether in a school setting or otherwise. We have steered clear of making any inferences or recommendations based on our findings, instead focusing on the data itself. Meanwhile, you can find a bit more information about the questions we asked in the Appendix. This blog was born from the Aspirations Newsletter, which you can subscribe to here! Who are the students? Our data comes from 27 secondary schools around the country, from the Northern borders right down to the South coast. Many of these schools are in areas of high deprivation, some with as many as 60% of students eligible for Pupil Premium. However, just over a quarter of students are from schools with Pupil Premium rates lower than the national average of 17.3%. Careers and next steps after school The chart below shows the most commonly chosen industries in response to the question “which of these do you think you might like to work in?”. While it’s great to see so much variety, it should be noted that only 35% of students said they had properly researched the industries they are most interested in—and more concerningly, this was as true for Year 11+ as for Year 7. In terms of next steps after school, we asked students what options they were considering and which they believed they wanted to do most. 74% of those asked are considering university, with the most common reason given being “I want to increase my career prospects”. For those who weren’t interested in university, the most common reason selected (by 26%) was ‘just not interested’—closely followed by ‘too expensive’. ‘I’d rather do something else’ was fourth on the list, selected by just 19% of those students not considering university. Of those students who listed ‘just not interested’ as one of their reasons, 89% do not have a family member who has been to university. Finally, we asked students whether they had had a ‘proper’ conversation with an adult about their future. Only 51% said yes—although one quarter of those students did not think those conversations had been useful. The figure was higher for Year 11s, although at 63% perhaps not as high as we might like to see. Wellbeing Mental Wellbeing: My Feelings My Feelings uses the Short Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale (SWEMWBS) as a way to monitor wellbeing. While it was designed for use at cohort level, it provides a useful data point (alongside others) for schools to identify individuals who might need additional support. Our data shows that 20% of young people report as having low mental wellbeing. This proportion goes up with age groups, and is also noticeably higher for young people with SEN or eligible for Pupil Premium. However, those groups also have (slightly) higher-than-average proportions with high mental wellbeing. Interestingly, while there is no clear correlation between levels of Pupil Premium and the proportion with low scores, the proportion of students with high scores was noticeably greater in areas with over 30% PP—at 16%, versus 11% for those in schools with less than 30% PP. Comparing these numbers with data collected prior to lockdown there has been a slight downward shift in the average wellbeing score, although the proportion of young people with ‘low’ scores has slightly decreased from 22% to 20%. Looking at different cohorts, including year groups, distribution shifts are minimal and too small to conclusively say there has been a meaningful change. This mirrors data collected and analysed by other organisations, including in the Department for Education’s State of the Nation 2020 report which concluded that “children and young people have had quite stable personal wellbeing during the coronavirus”. Other safeguarding and wellbeing questions The SWEMWBS questions are accompanied by a second quiz covering various topics related to safety and wellbeing, from getting enough sleep and healthy eating to feeling safe at home and in school. Responses to some of these questions, from 8,667 students, were as follows: Some of the things we found interesting when digging around in a bit more detail: As they get older, fewer students consistently get enough sleep to not feel tired. However, there was some good news on this metric: it was the only one to improve significantly following lockdown! Now, 57% say they get enough sleep all or most of the time—up from 51% pre-Covid. Students are getting less exercise as they go up through school, with the biggest ‘drops’ between Year 8–9 and Year 10–11. All measures relating to self-esteem dropped with age and are markedly lower for PP students than for others. 17% of students never or almost never feel comfortable with the way they look; the same proportion never or almost never believe it when someone says something nice about them. Of the 2% of students who reported ‘never’ or ‘almost never’ getting enough to eat, only 40% were eligible for Pupil Premium. PP students are more likely to say they ‘never’ or ‘almost never’ feel safe at school—at 9.1%, versus 5.4% for non-PP students. This was also one of the statistics that varied the most by school, from 3% to 15%. Meanwhile, Year 7 students are the most likely to say they feel safe all or most of the time (80%, versus an average of 75%). We checked our pre-Covid stats to see whether this was perhaps the result of bubbling—as many students who say they don’t feel safe say it is due to older/bigger kids, or bullies—but no, last year more Year 7’s felt safe all or most of the time too. Skills and character development We also collect a lot of data regarding students’ skills and characteristics—asking how they rate themselves now against objective scales, as well as whether they want to improve. Finally, we ask students to shortlist just five of the (many) different areas they have said they want to get better at or learn more about as a priority for this term. Many of the most commonly chosen topics named by students as a top-5 priority to focus on this term were skills—including Work Experience, Creativity, Self-development and Sports & Fitness. The former is particularly popular, coming out as the most prioritised area by students—closely followed by University and College (Full Time). Meanwhile, while no characteristics made it onto the list of the top 20 most prioritised areas for immediate development, students clearly indicated that they wanted to work on a number of these aspects. There was also a strong correlation between those characteristics in which students self-rated the most poorly, and those which students stated they wanted to improve at. PSHE topics The final quiz relates to topics typically covered through a school’s PSHE curriculum—from learning about the environment to current affairs. Looking across all our schools, a desire to learn more about finances consistently came out on top—while also scoring second-lowest for current understanding. Meanwhile, staying healthy and staying safe both came high on the ‘want to know more’ list but also scored well for current understanding. Appendix: Background & Context All data was captured using Aspire, an online development coaching platform for students. Aspire starts by asking students to complete ‘quizzes’, covering the following topics: Me, My Future, My Feelings, My Wellbeing, My Skills, My Characteristics, and My World. Questions are asked in a variety of ways, for a variety of purposes: some are to help the schools get to know their students (e.g. asking about responsibilities at home in order to identify any young carers); some are to help students self-assess for specific skills or characteristics against descriptors, in a way that raises aspirations and boosts confidence; some are to learn what students want to develop in order to better tailor support. Many quizzes draw on existing, well-researched question sets and frameworks; for example My Feelings consists of the SWEMWBS questions and My World covers many topics recommended by the PSHE Association. Interested in Personal Development? Sign up to the Aspirations Newsletter for regular(ish) updates including recommended resources, great practice from our schools, and trends on student needs and interests across the country Sign Up! #202021 #Data #Insights #Trends #PersonalDevelopment
Beyond the Grades: Personal Development post-Pandemic
On the 14th April we gathered a panel of experts for our roundtable event, discussing how best to support students’ personal development in the coming weeks, months and years. The personal development of students is a priority for all schools, even more so post-pandemic, where we know that the opportunities students have lost out on go considerably beyond their grades. Our panel included representatives from across the education industry: Sir Jon Coles, CEO of United Learning Edwina Grant OBE, Executive Director Education and Children’s Services, Lancashire County Council Mel Haselden, Principal of Salford City Academy Jay Richards, Founder of Imagen Insights Matt Lees, Founder of East Learning As a result of the discussion, we have put together an open letter that we will be sharing with Sir Kevan Collins at the Department for Education, who is in charge of Covid recovery planning in schools. It was a brilliant conversation and we have produced an overview below. Because there were so many compelling points made during the event, we will be sharing more detail about each of the discussion points in further blog posts - watch this space! “It is really important to listen to young people” Sir Jon Coles The first point was that the voice of the young person should be more than just a headline. Bespoke support for individual students and increasing the relevance of the support offer is the right thing to do. They don’t want to be told, ‘you need to do this’, instead, they want to be asked about their interests and aspirations, and be given the appropriate support. Our latest research shows that only 50% of students feel like they’ve had a conversation with an adult about their future. “Defining what we really need and trusting the professionals in our area, are the 2 things I want to see.” Edwina Grant, OBE There are lots of regional variations when it comes to support for students, as well as a local understanding of how particular geographies and communities have been impacted. This means that it’s going to be more important than ever for central government to focus on improving commissioning and integration of services between schools and regional institutions. The local support out there is good - let’s get it to the people who need it. “What I’m most proud of with lockdown is the community ethos, we’re in this together, building on the strengths we have in our local community” Mel Haselden Our panel spoke about making sure schools are aware that relevant support exists in their local area, the need for some kind of process to set up arrangements to support schools in areas where this does not currently exist, and how can support be provided in a way that works for schools and their timetables . "We don’t need to get anxious about this – adding anxiety will not help our young people.” Edwina Grant, OBE We need to create a narrative that neither encourages anxiety around catch-up, nor conveys to young people that they have ‘gaps to fill’, when they have made sacrifices to support those at greater risk throughout the past year. We need to take time to define the terms ‘recovery’ and ‘catch up’ so we have a deep understanding of it and can apply this knowledge to our support offering for students. “This is a great opportunity for a ‘reset’ within education, we should be open to trying new things” Jay Richards We should all be open to trying new things and leave behind our fear of innovation that can be so prevalent within the education sector. This is our chance to try something different and test what really works rather than relying on pre-pandemic assumptions. Again, we want to say a huge thank you to our panelists for participating in such an insightful and thought-provoking discussion. It was truly inspirational to hear experts within the industry speak passionately about what we can learn from the pandemic and how we can improve our support offering for young people, beyond their grades. If you’d like to find out more about our Aspirations programme and how we can support your school and students with personal development beyond the grades, please do get in touch!
Beyond the grades: how some of our schools are supporting students with PD in the Summer term
We’re passionate about student-led personal development, which is at the heart of our Aspirations programme. As we come to the end of the term and schools have settled back into face-to-face teaching, it’s time to start thinking ahead and planning for personal development in the Summer term. We’ve already seen some great ideas from schools we’re currently working with, so if you’re looking for inspiration, take a look at some of our favourite initiatives below! Podcasts Audio resources are currently popular with students and a podcast is a nice break from looking at a screen all the time. So why not think about starting your own next term? Hyndburn Academy created a popular ‘sports podcast’ for students to listen to over lockdown, and it’s been so successful that they’re continuing with this even now students are back in school. All you need is an area to talk about, some willing student and teacher volunteers and a laptop or computer to record your conversation. Extra-curricular clubs If you haven’t already, then now is the time to start getting extra-curricular clubs up and running again ready for the Summer term. It’s important to make sure students continue to have plenty of opportunities to develop skills beyond the grades. Extra-curricular clubs are also great for their well being. Our schools are back to running extra-curricular clubs, with sports such as football and rugby starting as well as performing arts. Some clubs are also continuing to run virtually, such as art clubs. Talk to your students We believe that students should be the ones to identify their priority personal development areas, which is why the Aspirations programme gives them the chance to identify areas for improvement and specify what is important to them. We also know how important it is to students to engage in those 121 development conversations with an adult. Even with a year of lockdowns, Irlam & Cadishead Academy have conducted 121 conversations with 86% of their students & logged them onto our platform. This tracking system has enabled the school to monitor which students have had a development conversation and who still needs to be followed up with, as well as to quickly see what the conversation was about and how the student is feeling. Live Q&A sessions about careers Careers often comes out as a priority for students to learn more about and is frequently identified as an area where they need more support, especially in Key Stages 4 and 5. One example from a school actively promoting different career paths is Seahaven Academy, where they have introduced ‘Seahaven stories’. This involves careers professionals doing live Q&A sessions with students about their career paths; so far they’ve had speakers from the Director of Coaching at England Rugby and a London Police Officer. Next term it’s expanding to include Seahaven alumni to try and encourage students to feel they are able to relate to the speakers. PSHE drop down days or lessons There’s going to be a lot of focus on assessments and grades in the Summer term, but education isn’t just about the academics! PSHE drop down days or lessons are back, with students focusing on relationships and sex education (RSE) as this is something that was missed over lockdown, as well as areas such as LGBTQIA. Enrichment programmes During lockdown many schools kept up their focus on Education with Character, through introducing weekly ‘character’ challenges, such as learning a new hobby or practising a skill. Some school are continuing with their ‘weekly character calendar’ post-lockdown, with activities such as learning magic tricks or listening to TED talks. Hopefully these ideas have been helpful and have given you some inspiration about how to prepare to support students with personal development in the Summer term. If you’d like to find out more about our Aspirations programme and how we can support your school and students with personal development beyond the grades, get in touch with us.
Back to school: top personal development areas to be aware of as you head back to in person teaching
As schools across the country settle back into full time face to face teaching, some pupils will find the transition back to the classroom more challenging than others. During the Autumn term 2020, we collected insights from over 9,000 students in schools we work with in England to find out which personal development areas were the most important to them. We were able to gather these insights through our Aspirations programme, which helps schools identify skills gaps for individual students and then embed tailored support into their curriculum. Our survey focused on 4 key areas for schools: Careers and next steps after school Wellbeing Skills and character development PSHE topics These insights can help you to identify key areas to focus on for your students and support them effectively over the next couple of months. Who are the students? We surveyed 27 secondary schools, many of which are in areas of high deprivation with as many as 60% of students eligible for Pupil Premium. Additionally, 14% of the students surveyed were classed as having Special Educational Needs. Careers and next steps after school We were pleased to see a lot of variety in industries when students answered the question: “which of these do you think you might like to work in?” However, only 35% of students said they had properly researched the industries they are most interested in. And, most interestingly, this was as true for Year 11+ as for Year 7. We also asked students, when they leave school which options were they considering and believed they wanted to do the most. 74% state university, with the most common reason given being “I want to increase my career prospects''. For those not interested in university, the most common reason selected (by 26%) was “just not interested”. Of these students, 89% do not have a family member who has been to university. Only 51% of students said they had had a ‘proper’ conversation with an adult about their future and a quarter of these did not think those conversations had been useful. For Year 11 students this figure was slightly higher at 63%. Wellbeing We use the Short Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale (SWEMWBS) as a way to monitor student wellbeing. We found that 20% of young people reported low mental wellbeing scores. This proportion goes up with age groups, and is also noticeably higher for young people with SEN or who are eligible for Pupil Premium. When comparing with insights collected before lockdown, there has been a slight downward shift in the average wellbeing score, although the proportion of young people with ‘low’ scores has decreased slightly from 22% to 20%. Other interesting wellbeing findings were: Some good news regarding getting ‘enough sleep to not feel tired’: 57% of students said they get enough sleep all or most of the time, up from 51% pre-Covid Students are getting less exercise as they go up through school years All measure relating to self-esteem dropped with age and are markedly lower for Pupil Premium students than for others Of the 2% of students who reported ‘never’ or ‘almost never’ getting enough to eat, only 40% were eligible for Pupil Premium Pupil Premium students were more likely to say they ‘never’ or ‘almost never’ feel safe at school Skills and character development One of the main benefits of our Aspirations programme is that it focuses on identifying students’ needs by engaging with them to find out the support they want and need, rather than basing this on assumptions. We asked students to shortlist just five of the (many) different areas they have said they wanted to get better at or learn more about. The top 5 topics were: Work experience University and college (full time) Creativity Self-development Sports & Fitness Although no characteristics made it onto the list of the top 20 areas students wanted to prioritise for immediate development, students clearly indicated they wanted to work on the following aspects: Calmness Persistence Patience Organisation Ambition PSHE topics The final quiz relates to topics typically covered through the PSHE curriculum: from the environment to current affairs. A desire to learn more about finances consistently came out on top, while also scoring second-lowest for current understanding. Staying healthy and staying safe both came high on the ‘want to know more’ list but also scored well for current understanding. How can insights from the Aspirations programme help my school? All of the insights in our report were drawn from real students in real schools and captured through Aspire, our online development coaching platform. When a school joins the programme, we are able to quickly and effectively capture insights specific to the school and year groups. Schools can then use this information to inform the support they put in place for students, whether that be through setting up additional extra-curricular activities or embedding support into the curriculum, such as in PSHE lessons. The programme starts by asking students to complete ‘quizzes’ covering the topics: Me, My Future, My Feelings, My Wellbeing, My Skills, My Characteristics and My World. Some are designed to help schools get to know their students better and some are to help students self-assess their needs. Our aim is to help schools systematically measure and then incrementally close the opportunity gap for young people across the UK. Click here to see the full report.
Personal development in schools, part I: Why it matters
As part of our recent webinar, 'Personal Development in a Pandemic', we asked a few teachers from our partner schools what Personal Development means to them, and why they feel it's so important. “Personal development for me is about everything that’s not part of the curriculum. It’s developing the student as a whole child, and seeing them as a whole child, and not just their GCSE results” – Emma Breen, Assistant Principal, Salford City Academy 1. Privilege During the webinar, Assistant Headteacher Leanne Earle raised the subject of privilege - not necessarily in the financial sense, but appreciating, as an adult, the role which parents play in developing us as people. She recalled little things like her parents taking her to museums, or showing her around the local university and explaining what a university was. She knows this type of support played a substantial role in her development, but is not something all young people are lucky enough to get—particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds. "In school today, there are a lot of children who don’t get that kind of personal development at home. And it’s not that parents don’t want to do it; sometimes they can’t, or sometimes they don’t know how to." It is that privilege - or absence thereof - which Leanne says makes having a strong PR provision in schools so vital. "To me, personal development in school is so important because it’s something that we can add to a child’s life—so that when they come out of school, they can stand as equals with people who have had that privilege. We need to make sure that everybody gets a fair chance." 2. Gaps in knowledge Building on Leanne's point about privilege, Emma spoke about assumptions regarding key skills which we often take for granted. She was surprised to see 'basic' skills, such as patience or organisation, rank so highly in Aspirations data as areas students said they wanted to improve in. "Sometimes they haven’t that role model; they haven’t had people who have taught them how to be organised, how to stay calm, to be empathetic towards others, to be kind to others, to be tolerant towards others." This awareness of those presumptions, Emma says, has changed the way she views the PD provision at her school. "I think what I’ve realised is that we have to start with the basics. Don’t assume that students have got certain skills or that they’ve been taught how to do certain things." 3. Connecting with disengaged students Finally, Emma spoke about using PD as a way to engage students who weren't previously getting the most out of their school experience. She talked about identifying a group of KS3 boys who had been in trouble a few times for behaviour and weren't engaging well with the Aspire programme or with school in general. Emma and her colleagues ran a group session with them to discuss their interests and learn why they hadn't been participating in any of the after-school activities available. "Some of it was really simple—some of them were just a bit too cool for school, so unless they’re invited specifically to a club, they’re not going to come because it doesn’t look ‘cool’ within their group." What Emma found was that, when those students were presented with the list of opportunities available and personally invited to the ones which they showed interest in, they were much more likely to show up - and keep showing up. "One example was a boy who hadn’t been to anything all year, we looked at what his interests were and he said 'actually, I fancy trampolining', which I run - and next minute we had him there every week." But of course, trampolining isn't for everyone - and not all of the students found something on the list which they were interested in doing - so Emma and her team had to get creative. Digging deeper, they learned that the students had a shared interest: bike maintenance. After asking around, Emma was able to find a local bike mechanic who volunteered to come into the school and run regular sessions for them. "From monitoring that group, their attendance in school clubs did improve, their low-level behaviour incidents did decrease... and it engaged them back into school life." Emma says that spending that little bit of extra time with students who needed extra support in order to discover their interests and invite them to specific activities - or, in certain cases, organise additional ones as part of an intervention - has worked wonders, especially with SEN students. "If they’re invited to it, they feel more comfortable in attending... that worked particularly well with our SEN students" So what does this all mean for you? Now that Leanne and Emma have convinced you how important PD is in schools (if you weren't convinced already!), read on to Part II for their tips on how to go about delivering a great programme—in or out of a pandemic. If you have any PD stories or perspectives of your own that you'd like to share, we would love to hear from you! Please get in touch on Twitter or by emailing us on firstname.lastname@example.org
Personal development in schools, part II: How to get it right
This post summaries some of the key insights and tips given by a panel of Personal Development experts during our recent webinar, based on their experience running programmes in their own schools. It follows on from our last blog post, which focused on what PD means to our panellists and why it's so important to them. In no particular order, this is what they recommended: 1. Get buy-in from staff & SLT “You’ve really got to have senior leadership on board” – Emma Breen, Assistant Principal, Salford City Academy Effecting any kind of change in a school is hard; if you don't have buy-in from your colleagues it will be nigh on impossible. Ensuring that your colleagues/employees understand the value of PD in schools and are on board with the plan to deliver it will go a long way towards setting you up for success. “You’ve got to get the buy-in of your staff… show them something simple that they can offer can have a really big impact on students” – Phil Harter, Director of Engagement, Hyndburn Academy 2. Use data to drive decisions Take the time to understand what your students want and need to develop. That way, you can direct your efforts where they can have the most impact—either because it's an easy win, or because you know a lot of students will want to engage. “Look at the data, and work on the things that you can really see an impact in” – Emma 3. Ask for help You can't do everything yourself! Everyone working in education has one thing in common: we want to help young people reach their potential. If you ask around, you'll find there are plenty of ideas for activities and opportunities - and colleagues willing to lead them! “Utilise other people as much as possible because you can’t change things yourself! Share ideas, work with other staff – there will be loads of staff who will help on leading on this and delivering it for your school” – Emma 4. Start small “Keep it manageable.... don't be tempted to do 50 different things to try and tick all the boxes.” – Phil Whether you're running the Aspirations programme or not, if you followed tip #2 and started off finding out what your students want then you'll no doubt have a laundry list of skills and topics your students want to learn! But biting off more than you can chew is an easy way to undermine your own ability to deliver a valuable PD programme. “Start small… Get little wins in early, then you can start to do bigger things” – Emma Sometimes, starting small and working your way up to bigger and better things is best. Remember that you can't please everyone, and that doing one or two things really well is much better than struggling to do lots of things – especially at the moment! 5. It doesn't have to be perfect! “At the minute the easy option is to do absolutely nothing. To say 'right, we’re in a national lockdown period – so extra-curricular or enrichment or education with character, we’re not interested in it'... but we're doing what we can"
“If it isn’t quite right, it’s okay, we tried it. What we know for sure is that a lot of the students wouldn’t get that experience unless they were doing it through us.” – Phil Chasing perfectionism can lead to overthinking, 'analysis paralysis', and ultimately your students missing out. It's much better to try something, have it not go perfectly, and learn how to make it better, than to spend so long planning that nothing happens. 6. Track your impact Data doesn't come just at the start! Remember to keep gathering intel on how students are engaging with and benefiting from your plan, and what they (and your staff) think can be done to improve it. “Knowing the impact that [activities and interventions] have on our students is really vital so that we know what things work, what things don’t, being able to track them. Having an identification and tracking system in place means that we know we’re doing the right things, and that we’re not just doing things for the sake of it.” – Leanne Earle, Assistant Head, Harrop Fold School 7. Be Adaptive This one builds on everything we've discussed above. Being flexible and adjusting to the shifting needs and interests of your students, the staffing and resources available, and even at the moment to lockdown measures, is hugely important. “We're using the Aspire data and making sure that we get it right if we can - but it’s okay if we don’t… We’ll be honest with ourselves and say, you know, their feelings might have changed over time, the offer we’ve got might not be quite right… We're prepared to change direction and say “well, we've had a fair go but we’ll go down a different route this time.” – Phil Closing thoughts Planning and delivering an effective PD programme isn't easy, but if that's what you're setting out to do we hope the tips above will come in handy. If you're looking for PD activities or inspiration for your students, and in particular online resources you can recommend during lockdown, you might find some of our free resources useful: Our PD Calendar, in which we provide weekly activities for KS3, 4 & 5 Our Resource Bank, containing a wealth of free online resources which your students can use independently to develop key skills and characteristics, or to learn about careers or post-school destinations Our 2021 Aspirations Calendar, charting key dates and observances to inform and inspire themed PD activities If you have any PD tips or perspectives of your own that you'd like to share, we would love to hear from you! Please get in touch on Twitter or by emailing us on email@example.com
The 2021 Aspirations Lockdown Calendar
We recently shared our Personal Development resource bank including hundreds of online resources—from articles to courses to games—suitable for students to help further their knowledge and skills beyond the academic curriculum. While these are all available within the Aspire platform for registered students (including personalised recommendations based on their age and chosen priorities), we hoped teachers might also find the bank useful to identify and share specific resources with their students. To accompany this—and to make the task of identifying and setting tasks that little bit easier—we have also launched a Personal Development Lockdown Resources calendar. The calendar consists of two weekly themes each week: one based on developing key skills & characteristics; and the other focused on world knowledge, careers, or post-school destinations. Each theme has been chosen to reflect the interests, needs and ambitions of over 13,000 students as indicated in their Aspirations personal development plans last term. You can read about what we learned from the first 10k of these students here, and more about Aspirations here. Each week we'll recommend a different resource and activity for each theme for KS3, KS4 and KS5. We've already released the first two weeks' activities, which cover calmness, personal finance, organisation and staying healthy. You can view the calendar, as well as the activities for every week, here. If you have any recommendations for future weeks, we would love to hear from you! Please get in touch on Twitter or by emailing us on firstname.lastname@example.org