A girls’ school in an area of high deprivation in South London commissioned us to deliver a two weeks summer school aimed to facilitate the transition from primary to secondary for new Year 7 students. Our brief was to ensure the students felt comfortable with their new school and perhaps most importantly, their fellow students. Being a summer school, we also wanted the girls to enjoy it. So rather than have them sit down at desks and handing out exercises (which would have bored us too), we came up of with a different and more appealing way to improve literacy and tackle all of the above.
Using only the technology available in the school (iPads and editing software), the girls ended up making a film about Southwark, the area where they live and where their new school is located. This, of course, involved a lot of fun and team building; but at the same time, they had to do the storyboarding, the research, decide who they wanted the film to feature, and book meetings with those people (that’s right, 10 year olds phoned and emailed major business leaders to arrange meetings – not us). Not to mention that they then had to put everything together, teaching themselves (we admit, with a bit of our guidance) how to use the same editing software that the BBC uses.
By the end of the summer school, all students recognised that their literacy levels have improved. They now feel comfortable in asking questions, and feel more like enablers rather than passive receivers. Experiences like phoning the Station Manager at Waterloo or the Head of Marketing for St Thomas’ Hospital and arranging meetings with them gave them the belief that anything is possible – and they can make things happen for themselves. Their parents also recognised that their daughters feel more comfortable with the prospect of starting school in September and have noticed a positive change in their attitude and confidence. We can’t wait to see what these girls achieve over the next few years; the possibilities really are endless.