Education Case Studies

Self Awareness paves the way for Sixth Form in school merger...

Grammar School at Leeds
Leeds, West Yorkshire

Leeds Grammar School and Leeds Girls High School merged in September 2008 to form a new school for boys and girls. The new school is known as The Grammar School at Leeds and consists of four distinct sections for pupils aged 3 to 18: Rose Court Nursery and Pre-Prep has 300 pupils, Junior School has 440, Senior School has 1,170 and the Sixth Form has 470 students.

Christine Jagger had been a Tutor for 10 years before taking over as Head of Sixth form at Leeds Girls High School. The merger saw her take over as Head of Sixth Form in the newly created The Grammar School at Leeds.

Services used

  • online Footprint® diagnostic
  • Personal Statement report
  • Approach to Learning report
  • Approach to Teaching report
  • Student Self Awareness workshops
  • Self Awareness INSET session

Overview

A programme combining staff/student workshops, a student working/learning style diagnostic and Self Awareness reports to help maintain pastoral excellence whilst accelerating achievement of cohesiveness and effectiveness in a co-ed sixth form resulting from the merger of two smaller, single-gender schools.

The challenge

The challenges for the Head of Sixth Form revolved around merging two schools with different traditions and genders, for boys and girls, their tutorial teams, heads of departments and the different approaches to tutoring that exist.

The expectation was that individual pastoral care for each boy or girl would be maintained and continue, as it did previously, at the two smaller schools. This quality pastoral care had been recognised as strengths in both schools’ recent inspections. With 2300 new students in the new Grammar School at Leeds it was important to be able to offer a high level and quality of pastoral care – believing as the School did that this was fundamental to excellent exam results.

Also at the heart of the two merged schools were the relationships between staff and students – based on mutual respect and a commitment to fulfilling each student’s potential. In many ways, they defined the Sixth Form experience. Students don’t wear school uniform – instead, students are expected to dress in a manner that is appropriate for a professional environment.

This was symbolic of the difference that Christine Jagger, the Head of Sixth Form, saw between GCSE and A level students:

“At A level, students need to be individuals – aware of themselves and their strengths in order to be successful. However, students need to be supported both pastorally and academically through this transition, at an early stage of their first term. This is especially important as we have about 15% of the new lower sixth form A level intake that is totally new to the school”

In addition, the Sixth Form A level timetable is very busy and students have to work to a high standard from the very start of the first term. Not all students are able easily to do this, however, mainly due to nature of course work and the modular approach of the curriculum. Without other signposting, it was possible for Tutors to be unaware of these problems until the beginning of the Easter term.

The solution

The School used Self Awareness reports as an essential part of the induction process to create a positive dialogue between students, heads of departments and tutors.

The School firmly believed in the educational partnership between students, their parents and teachers. To this end they offered a ‘Lower Sixth Form information evening’ in mid September for parents and tutors. They discussed necessary teaching strategies to fulfil the potential of each student – Self Awareness Approach to Learning reports helped inform an un-biased, non-academic, positive description of each student to support the dialogue and allow all parties to learn from each other.

In the first week of the new autumn term all year 12 students take part in a 1 hour Self Awareness Induction Workshop, to allow them to explore the process of becoming self aware and explore learning styles and preferences.

Students then completed the Footprint® diagnostic. Tutors and students then worked with their personal Approach To Learning reports – allowing a head start, being able to work with learning styles and associated strategies from the beginning of the first term.

To support the School’s ethos of providing a warm, encouraging and empathetic environment, all the Lower Sixth Form Tutors, Head of Careers, Head of PHSE and Heads of Departments undertook a Self Awareness INSET session. The focus of the training was about becoming both ‘self aware’, as a teaching professional, but also ‘student aware’.

The training explored the many approaches to learning of students, their motivators and how to effectively communicate with each of them – as well as the importance of soft skills in education. Teachers also worked with their own Approach to Teaching reports. Tutors used the In-tune® matching tool to objectively identify the differences between their own and their students’ styles. This supported production of personalised learning strategies and, at times, a sense of much-needed perspective.

The Grammar School at Leeds will continue to use Self Awareness and its programme to help Sixth Form students with the enormous adjustment from GCSE up to A level and the IB programme –  starting the process of making them individual learners and aware of themselves.

For the tutors and heads of both year and department, it will allow them to work closely together to support, positively inform and personalise the learning of their students.

The results

As Christine tells us:

“I have been using the Self Awareness workshops for 4 years and the students enjoy them because they are not being lectured to and can participate in a non-confrontational, interactive and empowering process.

They place themselves into their own personality groups and this is often the first time that they have been able to appreciate the working strengths they possess and start to become self-confident.

Self Awareness’ structured reports quickly allow Tutors to understand the approach to learning that works best for each individual student – saving valuable learning time at the beginning of the Sixth Form.


The reports also helped identify those students that might find the pace of A levels difficult to adjust to, highlight possible issues and teaching strategies to assist. This has allowed our tutors to identify potential problems that students may face at a very early stage saving valuable learning time for the students and their tutors”

And of the INSET training, she continues:

“The feedback from the Teachers after the INSET was so very positive. One comment in particular summed up the training session. ‘He said that if it was a film review it would be ‘5 Stars Unmissable!’’ I haven’t seen some of my colleagues so fired up for a very long time”

The future

The Grammar School at Leeds will continue to use Self Awareness and its programme to help Sixth Form students with the enormous adjustment from GCSE up to A level and GSAL's "IB programme" –  starting the process of making them individual learners and aware of themselves.

For the tutors and heads of both year and department, it will allow them to work closely together to support, positively inform and personalise the learning of their students.

matching tool to objectively identify the differences between their own and their students’ styles. This supported production of personalised learning strategies and, at times, a sense of much-needed.