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Learners at Dorset school improve literacy skills through CoPE

ASDAN’s Certificate of Personal Effectiveness qualification has boosted the literacy of GCSE students at Corfe Hills School as well as helping them develop essential skills. Trish Rickaby, the school’s ASDAN Co-ordinator, tells us more.

CoPE is timetabled for one hour every day in Key Stage 4 at Corfe Hills School, Broadstone, Dorset. Evidence from their CoPE portfolios shows that the literacy skills of this year’s Year 11 cohort improved enormously. The sheer volume of work they produced and the detailed feedback we gave them in class enhanced their writing skills. The majority of the candidates met or exceeded their target grades in English language and literature during the summer 2017 exams, putting them in a strong position for progression to post-16 education. 

One of our excellent former CoPE students came to us with significant literacy difficulties but he gradually improved his literacy skills. He progressed to complete CoPE Level 2, followed this with successful sixth form study and, finally, received the offer of a place at Bath Spa University. I am certain that CoPE played a key role in this learner’s success as well as boosting his confidence enormously.

Skills development

Through CoPE, learners develop good communication and presentation skills as well as the ability to solve problems. They also learn how to work independently ­– each student has a checklist for the project they are working on and it is their responsibility to work methodically through their tasks. They are expected to manage their own workload and, instead of coming to us with a problem, we encourage them to come to us with solutions.

Students also learn to work effectively as part of a team. One project we do regularly, which students enjoy very much, is creating a magazine about a country of the learners' choice. They research aspects such as the culture, religion and politics of that country, and work as a team to produce the final publication. If anything goes wrong, or if a member of the team cannot attend class for some reason, the students must work together to find solutions and complete the tasks to meet the deadline. Such teamwork and problem solving skills prepare them for further study and training, and the eventual workplace.

Short Courses

During the summer term of Year 10, we broaden their learning experience by creating personalised programmes which incorporate modules from ASDAN Short Courses, the favourites being Animal CareFootballFoodWise and the popular RSA Opening Minds. Students study this curriculum between late June and Christmas of Year 11. This approach gives the students choice over their learning which in turn engages and motivates them.

Promoting progression

CoPE helps learners to progress to the next stage, whether this is education, training or the workplace. Whatever learners’ academic ability, they are better prepared for the workplace if they have completed CoPE because it equips them with the essential skills employers tell us they need our young people to have.

One student who completed the Animal Care Short Course and CoPE is now studying animal care at a local agricultural college, and we have many other examples of positive post-16 destinations for students who have completed ASDAN courses.

We have been delivering CoPE for more than 12 years now at Corfe Hills School. Senior leadership remains committed to the course year after year because they can see the benefits it brings to learners. I would recommend that other schools deliver CoPE to provide students with a challenging yet enjoyable curriculum which prepares them for further education and beyond.