Launching Period X – a whole school enrichment programme that is dynamic, engaging and motivational; creating a challenging and meaningful experience that prepares our students for whatever their future throws at them. It is designed to broaden and deepen the mind and body of our students, foster skills to differentiate our students from others, where they develop values, capacities and interests beyond the classroom. Period X should enable our students to build self-efficacy, make informed decisions when facing risks, challenging and complex contexts and develop resilience encouraging them to become confident and well-rounded individuals at school and in society.”
At Shrewsbury High School we have a long and proud history of achievement and in order for this to continue it is essential that we focus on meeting the contemporary needs of our students in order to prepare them for the world of tomorrow. It is with this thought in mind that we have created our new and exciting enrichment programme; Period X. X is the unknown in many maths problems, the X factor is a special talent or quality, something that cannot be exactly defined. It is this special talent and quality we seek to find in our students. By definition Period X will be dynamic, engaging and motivational so that is eagerly pursued by our students and adapts to accommodate their changing needs. Our programme will add value to our curriculum and will be a core part of our school day where students can practise their character virtues and acquire skills, knowledge and experiences relevant to our local area and hinterland, reflecting the far-reaching catchment of our students.
As a result, we have engaged all pupils, parents and staff in the planning stages of Period X, inviting them to identify the skills they think are critical to develop and contributing to ideas regarding topics.
The programme has been divided into 4 themes; Mental Wellbeing, Physical Wellbeing, Personal Development and Creativity, with each theme having a series of topics to develop skills in that area. For example, mental wellbeing consists of strategies for coping under pressure, mindfulness and self-defence, as well as addressing the statutory government guidance and relationships and sex education. Physical well-being will provide health related topics such as preparing healthy meals and lifestyle choices regarding exercise, gardening, creative play and exploring our local footpaths through navigational walks. Our Personal Development theme will address skills such as leadership, developing thinking skills, team building, construction and first aid.
Finally, the Creativity block will provide an opportunity for students to opt for activities they have an interest in or would like to develop a skill in such as Upcycling furniture, basic car maintenance, history of art, Amnesty International, bushcraft, crocheting and many more.
Each year group will rotate around the themes to allow for programming of specific areas such as food, gardening and yoga and to provide specialist teaching. This rotation also allows us to address the key times each year for specific year groups, for example, year 9, 11 and 13 will have a mental wellbeing block prior to summer and mock exams and year 6 girls and year 8 boys will have mental wellbeing in the run up to common entrance exams.
When you are only seen around school in your PE kit, it’s a bit of a surprise to people to hear that you have a variety of talents, feel passionately about education in all its forms and like to share this to encourage others to understand what can be gained from the experience you are offering. Many of you will have witnessed this at our annual dance showcase at Theatre Severn, where I am always keen to point out the capabilities – other than technical dance skills – that are developed through hard work and commitment to a production.
Having taught for twenty-one years in a variety of different educational settings I have gained great experience in identifying the different activities that allow students to develop particular skills. My undergraduate degree is in Physical Education where skills such as communication, cohesion, confidence and leadership are inherent in the subject. As a previous Head of Girls PE, I recognise in particular the importance of being a strong and supportive role model for students, providing opportunities that challenge and stimulate students to develop resilience and achieve success. I have managed outreach programmes across partner primary schools and co-ordinated many productions and projects with a cross phase approach, working to ease the transition from primary to secondary education.
As a Head of Dance in my previous post I was fortunate to work with in a Performing Arts Faculty that developed and implemented many cross curricular projects bringing together specialisms from a variety of subject areas and encouraging students to think outside the box. After formalising my skills in this area with a Master in Performing Arts in Education I recognised the importance in having a strategic approach to providing enrichment to students outside of the prescribed curriculum and am really excited to develop my role at Shrewsbury High School with the aim of motivating other to see the rewards of such a programme.
In terms of its effect on pupil and staff wellbeing, it is already clear that taking this strategic pause at the heart of the school week to devote real and precious time to our life skills course is well worth doing. Here at Shrewsbury High School, we recognise that providing a curriculum that is dynamic, that changes to reflect the world around us and that meets the needs of our students is vital as we move forwards. As we planned for the launch of this new programme, Mr Payne, wrote about the thinking behind it in his blog: Curriculum Matters