Pupil power

It's a challenge persuading teenagers to show up for after-school study skills sessions. "You've got to make people see that it is not a geeky thing," says Becki Carter, 17. "A good way of doing that is making the evening a student responsibility." And that's what has happened at Notre Dame High School in Norwich for the past two years.

The 2005 team of GCSE students is busy planning the third spring revision session for their year group. "Two of this year's organisers acted as Year 10 student reporters at the 2004 evening," says maths teacher and the event's instigator Andy Eaton. "The hope was that having done that they might want to get involved when it came to their turn. It worked." Such events rely on the commitment and imagination of the students. One priority is that parents should come: "It's an opportunity to show them that revision has changed since their day and how they can best help their children," explains Anna Cox, 17, one of the 2003 team.

"In the past it has featured teachers showing off the memory and Mind-Mapping techniques we want the students to consider," says Andy. "In 2003, we had an example of kinaesthetic learning related to biology with students pinning internal organs to a body outline. And the next one promises to be one of the most student-active so far with a pupil performing a rap version of his geography notes and a proposed mass outbreak of juggling as part of a series of 'brain gym' exercises."

Josie Gurney-Read, 16, says other attractions include a Top of the Pops pastiche as a way of presenting the best revision tips. "Also, we won't be relying on slide presentations as much as in the past," she says. "Better to go for posters around the room and see if we can show how they can help to reinforce the memory." Playing a pivotal role in this training is University of the First Age development manager Elaine Abbott. "The Year 11-organised evening is exactly in tune with our principles of student active involvement - it is by participating that they become both engaged and reflective."

There's relatively limited involvement of male students in the nitty-gritty of organisation - "The girls are more conscientious," confirms Anna Cox.

But "the boys could be relied on to carry off the more jokey parts of the evening".

"There's also a lot to be said for not getting only the so-called 'good'

students involved," says Elaine. " I've known taking part in such events 'save' individuals on the brink of exclusion."


Notre Dame High School: www.ndhs.org.uk University of the First Age: www.aoy.org.ukindex.php

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