February and March 2019

Looking back over the last two months in the Sixth Form, it is clear that our students have spent much of this time looking forward.

In February, Year 12 Parents were welcomed to an Information Evening which explored the process of applying for, and funding, Higher Education once their daughters’ A Level studies come to an end. Both students and parents enjoyed the insights of Rob Evans, Head of Admissions at the University of Sussex, into how best to plan for a future involving Higher Education. Year 12 students have also benefited from guidance on how to safeguard their mental health and well-being, when making the transition to university, provided by Dr Emma Till of the university of Winchester. The whole Sixth Form, meanwhile, attended the RAP Project’s Big Leap Presentation, which explored ‘the dramatic transition from school to university’, with an emphasis on staying safe in an environment that offers new opportunities, freedoms and challenges.

The Year 12 Life Skills and Choices Programme has seen students preparing for work experience and the possibility of a GAP year, whilst also providing opportunities to practise ways to effectively manage stress as end of year exams approach. A number of Year 12 students have also taken a significant step toward the kind of independent study required at university by delivering presentations based on their own research conducted for the  Extended Project Qualification. Topics have included ‘The Role of Prisons’, ‘Alzheimer’s and the NHS’ and ‘Child Development – Nature vs. Nurture.’ Year 13 students, of course, find themselves near the end of this process of preparation for Higher Education, a GAP year or employment, and many of them have been finalizing their ‘firm’ and ‘insurance’ choices for the institutions they hope to attend next year.

As well as thinking about the future, Sixth Form students have also been encouraged to stay rooted in the richness of the present moment. Jan, our school counsellor, has provided all students with an introduction to mindfulness, which involves cultivating the habit of attentive presence in the moment, and which has been linked compellingly to improved mental health and well-being. Actively cultivating positive mental health was also the subject of a Sixth Form assembly delivered by Old Girl  Gemma Dawkins, who will continue to champion mental health through our Elective programme next term. Well-being, of course,  is also something that can be discussed and promoted at home,  and the evidence-based Five Ways to well-being is a great way to continue this dialogue: https://fivetothrive.net

One notable way in which our students have being living fully in the present moment is through the making of music. Four JCG students were PwC Jersey Young Musician of the Year finalists in March, and two Sixth Form students, Julia (voice) and Lydia (brass), claimed the overall prize and the Jersey Symphony Orchestra award respectively. Sixth Form students, and a number of their teachers, also played their part in the outstanding community choral performance of Carmina Burana.

In March, Year 13 enjoyed the famous ‘Jelly Beans’ assembly, in which the sweets (whether or not they survive the whole assembly!) are used to visualize the number of days we have to seize, enjoy and make the most of in our schooling, and in our lives beyond that. As Year 13 are urged to ‘carpe diem’, they prepare to hand over roles of responsibility to Year 12 as they take the final steps in their own journey through the College. This half-term has seen students interviewed for the various roles on the Senior Student Leadership Team and, whilst the process of making selections from such an incredibly strong field of applicants is a difficult one, we are enormously excited about announcing the new team on the last day of term.

 

 

 

 

 

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January 2019

With the new year upon us, our Sixth Form students have been preoccupied by other kinds of new beginnings: what life will bring when they leave Jersey College for Girls. As Year 13 deliberate over the various offers they have received, whilst continuing to attend interviews and auditions in some cases, Year 12 students have begun researching courses and institutions under the auspices of their dedicated Higher Education Enrichment Tutors. Some students have indicated that they have an aspiration to study Medicine, Veterinary Medicine or Dentistry, or to study at Oxford or Cambridge, or to take a Gap Year or proceed directly into employment. All three groups, the last of which will work closely with our Employability Co-ordinator, will follow bespoke programmes in parallel to the Life Skills and Choices support offered to all students.

The decisions facing students concerning where and what to aim for as they finish school can be daunting, and we aim to facilitate as much research as possible so that students can make informed choices. This month, Sixth Formers have attended our very own JCG Careers Fair, at which a wide range of local organisations offered information, opportunities and even the occasional free pen. Unfortunately, in a familiar feature of island life, adverse weather conditions prevented a representative of the University of Southampton from visiting JCG, but her presentation – on choosing university courses – made its way be email and was delivered to Year 12 nonetheless! As well as looking forward, it was also a pleasure to look back on past successes when Year 12 were presented with their GCSE certificates; their outstanding achievements in Year 11 should help to motivate and inspire them in the Sixth Form.

Year 13 students have had a demanding to start to term, as well as an important opportunity to assess their progress towards the post-18 goals they have set themselves, in the form of mock examinations. As a year group, they have taken an impressively scholarly approach – hardworking students being much in evidence in the Sixth Form Centre during their mock weeks – and the important business of responding to feedback is well underway.

A timely reminder to balance academic rigor with a commitment to looking after ourselves came from an excellent assembly, delivered by members of the Durrell team, on the well-established benefits to mental health and well-being of feeling connected to the natural world. Another assembly saw us celebrate the wonderful reasons staff had to award Achievement Marks to Sixth Form students in the Autumn Term. These ranged from ‘repeatedly high quality homework submissions’ and ‘excellent sustained effort commitment and participation’, to being ‘an excellent role model and Peer Mentor’ and an ‘amazingly kind caring’ Buddy! Congratulations to those who won prizes for amassing the most Achievement Marks.

As January drew to a close, we welcomed John Sullivan, of Elite Survival Training, back to Jersey to address the Sixth Form. Speaking separately to Year 12 and to Year 13, John addressed questions of leadership, teamwork, grit, determination and ‘feeding the rat’: doing what it is that you truly love and which truly excites you! John’s visit contributed to Year 12 Leadership and Teambuilding Day, at which all Form groups led an activity, which they had devised in preparation for the event, to test their peers’ capacities for collaboration and listening! The day also included a workshop in which students reflected on the attributes of effective leaders and team members: both those they currently possess, and those to which they aspire. Our Principal also invited the students to consider the legacy of leadership: as leaders of the College, what do they want to leave behind when they move on at the end of their studies? During the day, students were introduced to the procedures for applying for positions on the Senior Student Leadership Team, and we are excitedly expecting a wealth of strong applications: https://www.jerseycollegeforgirls.com/school-life/sixth-form/

As part of our ongoing efforts to cultivate an A Level Mindset, our focus in January has been on ‘Attitude’ and on ensuring we maintain a Growth Mindset. Every conversation we have with young people can reinforce the message that grit and passion, and not just innate talent or natural ability, allow us to make extraordinary progress, no matter what our starting point: this belief can be nurtured, and it is extremely powerful.

 

November and December 2018

The final weeks of this term have been busy and rewarding for the Sixth Form. As well as carol singing in St Helier for our House charities, Sixth Form students prepared 14 beautiful Christmas hampers for young residents of a shelter run by the Jersey Association for Youth and Friendship. The generosity and community spirit of our students suggests they may not have needed the moral guidance on such matters provided by the wonderful College production of A Christmas Carol; however, the show was a triumph and we are very proud of the Sixth Form students involved, on and off stage.

Just as impressive as their theatrical talents was the sporting prowess the Sixth Form displayed in the ‘Us vs. Them’ netball match against Victoria College. Even more important than securing a crushing victory (24-7!) is the fact our students raised just under £200 for Talitha Arts, our Sixth Form charity.

The Life Skills and Choices programme has continued to equip our Year 12 students to respond to a range of challenging situations throughout their lives. Recently, we have enjoyed a highly personal, moving and, ultimately, uplifting exploration of mental health presented by Dick Moore, as well as engaging with issues of body image and self-esteem with local charity You Matter. As the holidays drew nearer, we welcomed Philip Blake to offer a timely reminder of the dangers of driving (or being driven by someone) under the influence of drink or drugs.

When November gave way to December, the embargo on Christmas decorations was officially lifted and the Sixth Form Centre became a hub of festivity – including an awful lot of singing – within the College! It has been encouraging to hear the Sixth Form in such good voice since, as well as filming a performance for the BBC to use in this year’s Christmas lectures at the request of Old Girl Laura Voak, we are now preparing to end our term with the long-anticipated House Choir competition!

Amidst all the acting, singing and goal shooting, academic work has continued unabated. Students have been put through their paces in practice interviews for subjects ranging from Chemistry and History to Physiotherapy and Pharmacy. We have been grateful to so many members of the island community for offering their expertise to help with these. We are delighted to have sent students to interviews for places at Oxbridge, and for courses including Medicine and Nursing; regardless of the outcome, we are enormously proud of what they have already achieved.

With January ‘mocks’ appearing on the horizon for Year 13, it is important to remember that some commonly used revision strategies – such as re-reading, highlighting and summarizing notes – are not those which cognitive science and educational research suggest are most effective. For a concise and accessible summary of the approaches to revision which are likely to yield the best results, we recommend the website of the Learning Scientists: http://www.learningscientists.org/blog/2016/8/18-1

 

 

 

October 2018

For Year 13 students, the past month has been dominated by revising, polishing and submitting UCAS forms; for some, the process has already come to an end and, excitingly, university offers are starting to come in. Even as we think about our oldest students leaving us, we are making plans to welcome a new cohort into the Sixth Form next year. Year 13 students have joined members of staff in visiting all of the island’s 11-16 schools, and in welcoming some of their students to College for ‘taster days’, to speak about the possibilities of studying at College post-16. It has been inspiring to hear our students reach for metaphors like ‘family’ and ‘second home’ as they seek to describe their relationship with their school. 

These sentiments were also perfectly encapsulated in what one Year 12 student wrote as part of her application for the role of Peer Mentor: ‘that word “belong” is the one I feel is the most important out of our school values; however, during Year 7 I used to wonder how anyone could belong to a school the way they belong to their family. But now, after having spent 5 years here, such a large portion of my life, I understand. Students spend up to 8 hours a day in the walls of JCG, which is why I believe it is so important to make it a loving environment that everyone can view as not an institution, but a second home.’ Peer Mentor training is well underway and, after half-term, Year 12 Mentors will join Student Support Prefects in offering guidance and assistance to younger learners in the College. 

As well as thinking about the well-being of students lower down the school, Year 12 students continue to reflect on how to promote their own safety and happiness through weekly Life Skills and Choices sessions. This month, the students have debated issues relating to pornography, body image and gender stereotypes, and they have also attended presentations on how to mitigate the dangers posed to themselves and their friends by alcohol, and on mental health issues facing young people today. These sessions have been facilitated by representatives of the local charity You Matter, and visiting speakers including Natasha Devon, the UK government’s former mental health champion for schools. Importantly, engaged and insightful feedback from students continues to shape the future of this programme.  

Sixth Form students have been prominent in community service and fundraising over the last month, and they made a considerable contribution to the College’s International Food Festival, which raised over £1100. This first half-term came to an impressive conclusion with the hugely successful Sixth Form Spectacular, in which our students sang, danced, played and joked their way to more than £1300 for our Sixth Form charity, Talitha Arts. The strength of Sixth Form students as performers, and as organisers, was also in evidence in the House Play Competition, which raised money for all of our House Charities whilst seeing Garrett-Anderson crowned winners for their production of Davey Anderson’s Blackout, a powerful exploration of a young person’s descent into violent criminality.  

Amidst all of these exciting and enriching contributions to their wider community, Sixth Form students continue to be enormously busy with their studies! As such, our focus this month has shifted to the A Level Mindset concept of Systems, which entails organising learning (managing the capture and recording of information through methods like note-taking) and organising time. All students should now be engaged in a weekly review, in which they set aside an hour to do the following: check their notes from the week are well-organised; summarise learning through diagrams, mind-maps, or condensed notes; identify challenging material requiring further thought or assistance; create a prioritised ‘to do’ list of tasks for the following week.  

These weekly review sessions provide an ideal opportunity for parents to engage in conversations about learning at home.

September 2018

 

As always, the first few weeks of the new school year have gone by at a tremendous pace. Nowhere is this more so than in the Sixth Form, where our students have already encountered a wide range of opportunities and experiences.

In Year 12, more than 40 students have successfully applied for the role of Junior Prefect: they join the Student Leadership team and will be supporting the work of specific Departments or Faculties of their choosing. In addition, a number of students have applied for the role of Peer Mentor, which will enable them to support the progress and wellbeing of our younger learners. As part of their Elective programme, Year 12 also attended a talk about the potential dangers to relationships and mental health posed by the widespread consumption of online pornography, and they will have an opportunity to discuss and debate these issues in a future session.  In addition, Year 12 students benefited from a stimulating session, from Elevate Education, covering essential strategies for adapting their study habits to meet the challenges of A Levels.

Elevate Education also spoke at our Sixth Form Information Evening, and we were delighted to welcome so many parents, of Year 12 and Year 13 students, to this event. The presentation we delivered at this event is available here: https://www.jerseycollegeforgirls.com/school-life/sixth-form/

Many Year 13 students are busy completing their UCAS applications in readiness for the deadlines of 5th October (for Oxbridge, and Veterinary/Medicine applicants), and 12th October (for other applications).  Fortunately, they still found time to play rounders and other games (including a memorable Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin impersonation competition!) with their peers in Year 12 to welcome them to the Sixth Form during our Bonding Day. We are very grateful to Becca and Emily (our Head Girl and Deputy Head Girl respectively) for their organisation of this event.

All students in the Sixth Form are continuing to think about, and cultivate, an ‘A Level Mindset’ with the help of their tutors and teachers. At present, our focus is on the first and overarching element of the VESPA model: ‘vision’. Vision refers to how well a student knows what she wants to achieve: to how clear, and powerfully motivating, her picture of the future is. A crucial part of developing a clear vision is transforming abstract dreams into more clearly defined goals; goals come with an actionable plan for achieving them, and we can all help the young people in our care to reflect, and act, on this difference. If parents would like to open up a conversation about vision at home, here are some questions that might help to get things started:

  • What are some of the problems in the world that you want to help to solve?
  • What do you want to achieve for yourself or for other people?
  • Where do you see yourself in 5 years’ time?