ASDAN news bulletin
For the students of Writhlington School, helping an Argentinian community in Cordoba to build a school was a truly humbling experience. Back home in Somerset, they had just moved into their brand new buildings, constructed at a cost of £26 million.
“The paint was barely dry when our pupils walked into their new school at Easter. Everything had been done for them,” said Graham Getheridge, post- 16 support and guidance manager at the Business and Enterprise specialist school.
“But in Argentina they were working with the locals to make sure the young people had a school to learn in. The experience really helped them to see the importance of playing an active and positive role in the community, and making the most of your own position to help others.”
The trip was run with schools expedition organisation World Challenge and the activities students carried out were put towards the Certificate of Personal Effectiveness (CoPE) at Level 3. This meant that, as well as a fresh perspective on the world, the young people were able to get a qualification worth 70 UCAS points (equivalent to an A at AS Level). CoPE has been offered to students at Writhlington for the past four years and was initially targeted at those who were disaffected and at risk of not achieving.
However, the benefits of the course soon became apparent to staff who watched as their pupils grew in confidence, and became more motivated and engaged in both their own learning and in the life of the school. Now CoPE is offered to all post-16 students; more than 80% gain the qualification and can use it to enhance their chances of getting into university or gaining employment.
“When the new cohort of Year 12s arrived at school in September, there was a real buzz of excitement about what activities they were planning as part of CoPE for this year. It was wonderful to see them so enthusiastic,” Graham added. In recent years, the huge variety of projects initiated and carried out by CoPE students has ranged from running fashion and talent shows to raise money for charity, to creating an orchard and participating in peer mentoring programmes with younger students.
Staff have noticed a change in students’ attitudes and approaches to learning – something they believe links directly to
the skills they are developing through CoPE.
“Previously, students might have seen non-contact lessons as free time,” Graham said. “Now they look at it as time for independent study, for taking part in all their various CoPE activities and for planning how to use their time wisely. They are much more productive and more engaged, despite quite a hefty workload.
“Since doing CoPE, our Level 3 performance points have risen to 810, the highest in the school’s history. We believe ASDAN has had a significant impact.”
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