The Brooke School mentoring program is a long standing program run weekly from September through to April to provide Science lessons to a small group of Brooke school students from years 7 or 8.
The sessions are run by Mrs Large our SEN Learning Mentor and supported by Mrs Gardner our Science Technician. The Brooke students are supported either 1:1 or 2:1 by year 12 or 13 students in the Lawrence Sheriff 6th Form community.
Each week we provide a range of fun, science-inspired, arts and crafts activities. Such activities include the children making their own working rockets, a mobile of the Solar System, making their own alien spaceship to develop their learning about the Solar System in a fun and achievable way.
When it comes to why we joined, many of us firstly chose to volunteer because we either had nothing else we preferred to do on a Wednesday afternoon, or because it looked good on our CV’s. But, as the weeks has gone by, all of us now agree that we have formed special working relationships with our Brooke School partners, and have had a lot of fun doing it.
Whilst the Brooke school students have learnt a lot about science, technology, engineering, and maths, as well as having developing their social skills and building new trusting relationships with us, we as mentors have also learned a lot from our counterparts.
In terms of developing their learning, the Brooke School teachers that come to support their the students have said, on multiple occasions, that their students are progressing well because of the program, and exhibit new and promising traits during the session. They have been increasing their engagement in certain tasks and also speaking more and more as they form a better relationship with us.
They come to the sessions with individual targets to meet in terms of their own personal learning and social interaction goals, and many students have met and even surpassed these targets, which is absolutely fantastic! Whilst the program helps the Brooke School students with social interaction, it also helps us learn how to interact with people with specific learning difficulties which we may not have had experience with yet in life.
Whilst some may consider the activities that we do in the program as being simple and unproductive, they are in fact perfectly suited for the students and are easy enough for first time mentors to adapt them to the student’s needs. From this we learn to complexities of such a task whilst still being able to deliver in a professional fashion... Not that fun isn’t had at every stage of the process, resulting in us becoming friends with our partner.
As there may have been some trepidation amongst us before the program started, because of our overall lack of experience interacting with children with learning difficulties, we were all quickly put at ease by spending time with them.
We would all recommend getting involved in the program to New Year 12’s, not only for its blatant qualification merits, but for the amazing experience you will inevitably have.
Pupils at Rugby’s Lawrence Sheriff School showed great interest is learning about money during a day of financial education sponsored by Hinckley & Rugby Building Society.
Financial education experts from the not-for-profit WizeUp visited Lawrence Sheriff, working with all of the school’s 120 Year 9 pupils as part of a careers day.
Amanda Warde, the school’s Careers Education, Information, Advice & Guidance Coordinator, said: “The students found Ed’s session and the activities within it engaging and interactive. It gave them lots of useful relatable information that they found easy to undersatand and interesting, making the world of personal finance less daunting.
WizeUp’s Ed Flack said: “We had a great day with the students, delivering three sessions on the history of money, budgeting, saving and investing.
“These were certainly lively affairs with students beginning to think about the bigger picture and how these life skills might fit into their lives after school. They all had an opportunity to run their own virtual business which was really good – and very profitable.
“This was followed up by lots of questions ranging from short selling of stocks to how income tax affects savings – great questions from a great bunch. As always, our thanks go to Hinckley & Rugby who made the day possible.”
Hinckley & Rugby’s branch & agency support officer Tracey Phipps said: “Whenever WizeUp visits a local school we are very impressed with how engaged the students are and how much they take away from the sessions. It’s great to know they are better prepared for managing their money.”
Hinckley & Rugby Building Society regularly sponsors WizeUp’s visits to schools and colleges in its heartlands.
SEN @ LSS
The Special Educational Needs Department at Lawrence Sheriff School is dedicated, not only to assisting students in reaching their academic potential, but also in helping them to learn important social skills, giving them the confidence to form peer relationships and access the curriculum independently.
We offer numerous forms of SEN provision, from one to one support to peer mentoring and social groups at lunch and tutor times. It is our duty to form strong, trusting relationships with our pupils in order to ensure that their time at LSS is a healthy, happy and liberating experience.
Social Group/Lunch Group
Many of our students who may have a form of Asperger’s Syndrome or Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) can find the very basics of social interaction incredibly challenging. We therefore have set up several social groups for SEN students to meet and interact with one another once a week in a safe, peaceful environment. During these sessions students are encouraged to talk about their feelings as well as any anxieties/issues presented by the school environment. These issues are then discussed by the group as well as potential coping strategies and advice.
We also use these sessions to help students to work on their social skills, using fun activities to learn and practice various forms of social interaction from asking a friend round for dinner to understanding challenging concepts such as idioms and irony.
At lunchtimes we have a less structured lunch club. Whilst this club is open to all students we have several ‘regular members’ who come along to play games and relax in a less socially intimidating environment than the playground.
Autism Awareness Committee
Just launched this year is our Autism Awareness Committee. At LSS, we feel it is of great importance to raise awareness of ASD in order to help our pupils to understand and be mindful of each other’s needs. The committee, staffed by pupils from years 7-13, meet twice every half term to discuss new ways in which they can educate and inform others of the ins and outs out autism, from making their own posters to put around school, to co-writing and delivering assemblies and debates. Not only is the committee vital in helping others to understand and empathise with pupils on the autistic spectrum, it is also a way of empowering those students by giving them the opportunity of having their voices heard and their story told.
Real Business Challenge
On Friday 13th February, a seven strong group of Year 9 and 10s travelled to Birmingham City Football Club to partake in the regional finals of the Real Business Challenge; a competition between schools to find the best young entrepreneurs across the country.
The team were faced with the long-winded challenge of designing and creating an app to inform people on the Los Angeles Special Olympics in July. However, it was more challenging than expected. As a group, we had to make decisions based on people’s strengths and weaknesses, but also to revolve around timed deadlines that certain pieces of work had to be handed in by.
The social media campaign was put together by J Lisztwan and J Mabey. As a pair, they applied their social media knowledge to create a pin-point plan based around the top four social media platforms. They also managed to come up with the app and campaign name whilst thinking of a suitable hashtag to use: #jumpmyhurdle. Alongside this, they, with the help of A Suresh, had the idea of setting up a twitter account to bolster the group’s presentation. This was aided by enlisting the help of Jackie Chan to boost advertisements across the platforms.
Another key part of the challenge was the poster. Y Aravindan worked on this aspect for most of the morning, basing it around a “more is less” idea. The poster was a picture of one of the special Olympians from team GB hoping to secure another gold medal this year. The Real Business Challenge team said that the poster is going to be put up on one of the bus stops outside our school in the near future.
The main part of the challenge was to design and create the centrepiece of the presentation: the app. J James and J Beaman were taken by Como, a company that allows you to build your own app, to learn the basics of the software. Once they came back, they began right away, working tirelessly for the best part of three hours creating the app. They came up with the idea of making a fantasy team of Olympians to follow through the Special Olympics. This was highly commended by the Real Business Challenge team.
Towards the end of the day, the groups, along with all other schools, had to present their ideas to a panel of five expert judges. They were all looking for different things: link to Special Olympics, presentation, viability of the campaign and app design. After much deliberation by the judges, the awards of Best App, Runner Up and Overall Winner were announced. The first to be awarded was the Best App, and one of Como’s employees took to the stage. He said that all of the apps had been quite admirable ideas, but one had stood out to him overall. The winner was eventually announced as Lawrence Sheriff School, and the app created by the team has been shortlisted to possibly be put into the Apple App Store and Android Google Play Store.
The second award was the runner up prize, and this was awarded to Hall Green School. The last award was the most highly received: Overall Winner. Not only would this mean being regional winners, but the winning team would be treated to an all-expenses paid VIP trip to London for the final. This included a Parliamentary reception and a trip to the west-end, as well as a meal out. As the presenter stepped up to take the microphone, the tension in the Jasper Carrott Suite was increasing. The winner of the regional final was Lawrence Sheriff School.
Congratulations to the team of: S Basford, J James, J Beaman, Y Aravindan, J Mabey, J Lisztwan and A Suresh, who will now progress to the national finals in London on the 17th of March.