Here I Am
At Upton Hall School, we want every single pupil to feel valued, involved and noticed. In order for them to do this, they have to have the confidence to include themselves in lessons and activities. Staff also have to develop ways of teaching that ensure that everybody is involved without feeling under pressure.
We recognised that we were expecting pupils to be involved in activities and be confident without actually teaching them how to do this. As a result, we felt that too many pupils were being passive learners and that as they got older, they didn't have the skills and confidence that they needed when it came to things like interviews and public speaking.
As a result of this, last year we embarked on a project called Here I am.
In years 7 and 8, all pupils have a series of lessons where these vital skills are taught. The focus in year 7 is to gradually build up confidence, getting pupils used to speaking in front of others, giving opinions, teaching public speaking skills, giving verbal feedback to one another, recognising that telling one another how to improve is really useful and the one way to actually improve. These lessons culminate in pupils giving a speech to their class and putting these skills into place. In year 8, we teach the pupils how to refine these skills. They are taught how to debate properly, how to deliver monologues and again, how to give opinions and take feedback.
Alongside these lessons, we now have a 'no hands up' policy in lessons. As a result of doing this, pupils now expect to be questioned at any time in a lesson. Staff have come up with many more creative ways of randomly picking pupils and as a result they can no longer 'opt out' of any part of a lesson. This makes lessons much more pacy, questions more targeted to particular pupils so that we can make sure that all are adequately stretched and supported.
In giving feedback about their lessons, many pupils tell us that they feel that they are valued as individuals in lessons and that all contributions are valued by their teachers.