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Reflections During Isolation

In our latest isolation blog, Laura Bradbury-Grubb, Head of Sixth Form, discusses the impact of the lockdown on post-GCSE education. 

The hustle and bustle of our beautiful historic Manor, surrounded by picturesque gardens and filled with conversation and laughter, has temporarily been replaced by my kitchen table, a laptop screen and views of my garden – not quite the same!

When the Prime Minister announced in March that “all UK schools will close their doors from Friday” my mind began to race…thoughts of not being in school at such a crucial time of the academic year, the effects on our sixth formers, exams, questions around induction days, the thought of missing key trips and more. I took a deep breath, hit the pause button and began to make a list! I needed to reset and begin thinking about how our Sixth Form could run remotely and how we could continue the high levels of support and reassurance that our sixth formers both expect and need.

How have I found lockdown personally?

Lockdown is challenging; the usual forms of communication and socialisation are no more. Our movement has been restricted, our usual habits have changed and our resilience has been tested more than ever…but we are increasingly finding new ways to adapt. Although lockdown has been difficult, it has certainly made me step back and appreciate the slower pace of life.

How have I found lockdown professionally?

Being a Head of Sixth Form during this time has encouraged me to embrace new ways of thinking. This includes adapting to new forms of communication and technologies, considering ways to run a virtual induction programme for prospective students and developing an online platform for UCAS and HE support. Making sure that our sixth formers have the level of pastoral support and guidance that they need during this time away from school is very important. There are many aspects of remote learning that are set to remain in place once we return to school and I am sure that all of us will have found something new we intend to continue with once lockdown is lifted.

What has been happening in the Sixth Form?

This time of year is usually very busy for Sixth Form and lockdown has not stopped that, it has simply meant that we have had to adapt our usual methods of delivery. You will likely be familiar with our newly developed ‘Step into Sixth Form Programme’ that launched in May. This initiative features a fortnightly release of A-level subject materials to ensure that students have the opportunity to fully immerse themselves in their chosen subjects. It is a fantastic way to ‘try out’ subjects also prospective students to engage with peers and find out more.  It is also a great way to make new friends prior to starting Sixth Form.  SGGS staff have worked hard to develop this exceptional programme and the quality of materials, variety in tasks and insightfulness of sessions has been very well received.

Microsoft Teams has also been a brilliant asset. Not only have students been able to maintain much-needed contact with their teaching staff and peers but they have also been able to engage with A-level subject materials and assignments in preparation for the completion of this academic year. Year 12 students have their own Team that is dedicated to UCAS, HE guidance, wellbeing, work experience opportunities and much more.

This week will see the launch of ‘Securing Your Future,’ our rigorous programme of support for students in Year 12 as they consider their futures and begin the journey to university, apprenticeships or the world of work. This will be a long-term programme that has been designed to support students as they explore their next steps.

This week will also see the launch of our ‘Subject Taster Sessions’ for Year 11 students. This will complement our ‘Step into Sixth Form Programme’ as it allows for prospective students to engage in lessons with our specialist subject teachers as well. All of the participants will gain valuable insight into what studying at SGGS Sixth Form looks like.

What is coming up in Sixth Form?

Our annual Sixth Form Induction Day is held in June.  Due to current restrictions, we are unable to meet our new students in person.  However, we have risen to the challenge and have put together a series of induction sessions that will really showcase who we are and what it would be like to join us. Students will hear from me, the rest of the Sixth Form Team as well as some of our current students, to find out what our Sixth Form is really like. The Learning Committee and Deputy Head Girl are working on a ‘Course Insights’ Q&A session as they are all too familiar with the burning questions they are likely to receive!

Amongst all this planning, we are also working on a series of Results Day scenarios as we are not yet able to confirm what format this day might follow. If we are unable to meet with you in person, rest assured that this day will go ahead. Whilst these are unprecedented times, we ensure that you have the day you deserve.

What am I looking forward to?

I am looking forward to being reunited with my sixth formers and having all of these conversations in person!  I am also looking forward to meeting my new sixth formers and getting back into the swing of everyday life. The renovations to the Manor have continued throughout lockdown and I cannot wait to see them as we settle back in to the ‘new normal’.