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The endless opportunities to inspire individual excellence at Bethany

This week, our Bethany School blog has been written by Miss Mills, Assistant Head of DLS and Head of Years 7&8. She writes about stretching and challenging personal and social development at Bethany School.

Stretching and challenging personal and social development at Bethany school

“It is important that they [our children] are encouraged to fulfil their full academic potential, but of equal importance is preparation for the ever changing world beyond education – a world of both challenge and opportunity.”
– Headmaster’s welcome on website

Much has been written about the need to develop soft skills in preparation for success in an increasingly digital world; the need to capitalise on all the things we can do, that machines and Artificial Intelligence cannot. These skills can be difficult to quantify but are readily observable in many aspects of Bethany life: within the curriculum, PSHCE syllabus, the tutor programme, our enrichment activities, sporting calendar, and other extra-curricular events such as production and school council.

Twice a week Years 7 & 8 have tutor time and this term we have focused on stretching and challenging personal and social development. Activities include progressing from recognising skills to thinking analytically as well as creatively. Pupils are rewarded with merits for spreading key messages within the school community, presenting an opinion as well as offering advice or putting themselves in someone else’s shoes as these demonstrate the foundations of self-awareness, communication, and leadership skills.

Most recently we have focused on maintaining high standards in friendships and how to set healthy boundaries. This life skill is essential as pupils mature and develop greater autonomy. Pupils engaged well and soon overcame the teenage awkwardness that is inevitable when discussing relationships, challenging themselves to empathise and active listening.

In classrooms Year 7 & 8 pupils are also challenged in ways which foster personal growth. Recently, Year 8 English teachers ran a balloon debate which pushed many pupils outside of their comfort zone, with a number of these surprising themselves with their ability to think on their feet and communicate clearly. Stand out individuals were Lily Williams, who made fabulous progress to speak eloquently about Emeline Pankhurst, Alexander Donald, who was passionate, demonstrating strong debating skills with excellent arguments, and Cayden Wang, who overcame challenges to win the debate, arguing for Pele’s place in the balloon. Henry Hingston, Mia Castle and Lucien also impressed when, as a group, they used strong arguments and persuasive devices to convince their classmates that Charles Dickens should remain in the balloon.  

57,997 Hot Air Balloons Sky Stock Photos, Pictures & Royalty ...

A further example comes from Geography. Year 7 undertook a fieldwork exercise where they mapped out the school with a personal response to different locations using emojis. This seemingly simple activity challenged pupils to reflect and think critically as well as manage their time and take responsibility for themselves. Ms Shaw was impressed with how well the group carried out their work.

A smiling face emoji | Download on Freepik

Perhaps the most current example of personal development comes from Production. This week we will be dazzled by the cast, crew, and musicians of School of Rock. To be a part of the production, pupils are held to a high standard. They need to demonstrate a strong work ethic and, in return, they develop a full range of skills. Alfie Bennett has developed his use of voice to consider the character he is playing and the genre of musical theatre, and performers Keelan Stubbs and Josh Rose have developed their timing and physicality, pushing themselves to progress as performers since the start of September. All pupils involved have grown immeasurably in confidence and none more so than Florrie Dearing and Nelly Adams who now enjoy working with their older peers as Production has enabled them to develop positive working relationships across Key Stages.

There are endless opportunities to inspire individual excellence at Bethany.

Miss C Mills
Assistant Head of DLS and Head of Years 7&8