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.