Giving pupils a head start

Published

Pupils at Lyng Hall School and Specialist Sports College have a head start when they begin their GCSE courses. By the end of Year 9, they will already have completed the Certificate of Personal Effectiveness (CoPE) and Wider Key Skills (WKS) courses, accredited by ASDAN.

“The students feel they are up and running, and ready to take on their GCSEs,” said Chris Green, Deputy Head of the Coventry secondary.

Lyng Hall has 700 pupils, many of whom are new arrivals from abroad. But the indigenous population also brings its own challenges. “A significant number of our parents are unemployed and some are in prison. Fewer than 10% of families own their own home, and we have more children on the child protection register than any other school in the city,” Mrs Green said.

Against this often-difficult backdrop, Ofsted judged the school as good with outstanding features in its last two inspections. Last year, 50% of pupils achieved five or more A* to C grades at GCSE including English and maths. In 2013, that is expected to rise to 60%.

“We expect all pupils to pass GCSEs, and so open the door to university. It is the only way to change a child’s world and we aim to get as many as we can there” Mrs Green said.

CoPE forms a key part of teaching and learning. Students who arrive at the school for the first time in Years 10 or 11 cover the same material as the Year 9 pupils, but in a three-week intensive 75-hour course, delivered by Mrs Green.

The components of CoPE, and Wider Key Skills, are built into the normal curriculum for Year 9s. “Because it is integrated into normal lessons in every relevant subject, the timetable is not disrupted and teachers know what is expected of them,” Mrs Green said. “Students like the fact that it’s portfolio-based so they can watch it grow as they complete each piece of work.”

Mrs Green said that attendance visibly improved amongst Year 10 and 11 students doing the three-week intensive CoPE course. “Students who might normally attend for only 80% of the time will suddenly come in every single day,” she said. “They find it incredibly engaging.”

Priyanga Vijayakumar, aged 13, said: “I enjoy CoPE because it gives opportunities for independent learning and research.”

Meanwhile, India Kane, aged 14, said CoPE had helped her come out of her shell. “I’ve always been quite shy so having to prepare and deliver presentations has helped to bring me out of myself.”

Mrs Green added: “While it’s difficult to quantify CoPE’s impact on the school’s examination performance, we know that pupils’ confidence and self-esteem have increased, which must help. And although these qualifications do not add to our achievements as a school in league tables we will continue to do them this year, next year and the year after that because we believe in their importance.”