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Reading Girls' School newsletter - 24 january 2020

Principal's message - "It's not what you do, it's why you do what you do" .... PART 2

In last week’s article I shared with you the principles behind our curriculum provision. However, I focused on what is commonly known as the ‘academic curriculum’. The often forgotten other side of the coin is the ‘personal development’ curriculum.

It is a statutory duty for schools to deliver key topics so that students can understand what is means to be a good citizen. Traditionally schools will deliver this through Form Tutors. However, at RGS we have worked very hard to eradicate non-specialist teaching from our classrooms. In addition, we believe that personal development is not something that you can ‘teach’ in a classroom. Rather, it is more important to expose students to experiences either directly or indirectly.

You will be aware of our RGS PLEDGE that provides opportunities for the girls to engage with ‘the real world’ through their community and charity work. However, a significant feature of our personal development programme are our termly PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT (PD) DAYS when we invite our industry and community partners, who are specialists in their field, to deliver the age-appropriate sessions. We have our third PD of the year coming up on Thursday 30th January.

Learning on these days is equally important to the academic curriculum. We do not just want the girls to be entertained. A key objective of the day is that they identify and reflect on what they have learned. Indeed, in some cases, we have arranged follow-up meetings for some girls with companies because it has triggered a career interest. You can see below an example of ‘PD day reflection journals’ from the December 2019 PD day at which the Reading East MP, Matt Rodda delivered a session.

SIGNIFICANTLY, the feedback that we receive from our guest deliverers is extremely positive. We ask for formal feedback from each deliverer. I have included some examples from December 2019 PD day to share with you. The irony is that each one is an indication of the good citizens that our girls are. Our guests speak very highly of them and it is a justification in itself for WHY WE DO WHAT WE DO in our delivering personal development curriculum.

Some of our PD Day partners include:

  • KPMG
  • CISCO
  • Redwood Technologies
  • Thames Water
  • Study Higher
  • Army
  • RAF
  • Barclays Life Skills
  • Education Business Partnership
  • West Berkshire Council
  • Reading Borough Council
  • School Nurse

Jon Gargan, Principal

STEM

As part of their STEM day this week, the year 8s had a visitor from Dr Macleod of the University of Reading talking about Polar Regions.

Apps for Good - STEM

Year 7s have been designing 'Apps for Good' - using Vodafone resources to design an app to raise awareness, to help people or to overcome a community problem. They have been set homework for this - to talk with friends or family or other people they know outside of school about their ideas for their app, and get feedback. Would other people use the app? What would they like it to do? How would they use it? On the next STEM day, the teams will be developing their ideas further and hopefully their market research will help with this.

Mr Marsh and the Year 7 and 8 Science Club enjoyed observing ‘Elephant's toothpaste’ – a foamy substance caused by the rapid decomposition of hydrogen peroxide using potassium iodide and warm water as a catalyst. The girls had researched the experiment before science club and made suggestions for the following weeks' investigation.

National Citizenship Service

Reminder - Year 11 Assembly - Thursday 30 January

Year 7 girls have been designing posters for the Anti-Bullying Ambassadors.

Increasing Student Participation

Talking Tokens

'Talking Tokens' are issued by the classroom teacher and/or teaching assistant to pupils who participate to questions and/or ask questions during lessons. Pupils are encouraged to write their name and year group on the back of the 'Talking Token' and place them into the relevant 'Talking Token' collection box for their year group. At the end of each term, all 'Talking Tokens' are placed together and a pupil is selected at random. The more 'Talking Tokens' a pupil collects for contributing answers to questions in class, the more chances they have to win a prize.

At the end of thtis week the following number of 'Talking Tokens' collected by each year group were:

  • Year 7 - 199
  • Year 8 - 46
  • Year 9 - 19
  • Year 10 - 17
  • Year 11 - 16
  • Total number of 'Talking Tokens' collected this year across the whole school are 3441.

Teaching and Learning

Has your lesson been REAL (Relevant, Engaging, Active Learning)?

Using REAL tokens students have the opportunity to give instant feedback to staff about their experiences within the lesson.

Students are provided with a token and at the end of the lesson, are asked if their lesson has been R.E.A.L. (Relevant, Engaging, Active Learning). Students theen place their token into the 'Yes' or 'No' box, which is in every teaching classroom. Staff then uses this information to make any modification to their delivery of their lesson. These tokens are then collected in at the end of every week and counted.

Results for this week: Monday 20 to Friday 24 January 2020

YES - 1776 tokens

No - 185 tokens