The Student Support Programme (SSP) is a scheme that allows our older students to help other students in their academic studies and it has continued and developed even during virtual learning. The 'regular' scheme involves volunteers from Year 12 and 13 offering support to students in the lower year groups in a subject of their choice. These choices are then matched with teachers' requests for support in their subjects. Students involved attend regular training at which support strategies and feedback from teachers is given.
With the cancellation of the (I)GCSE exams the scheme was expanded 'virtually' to include our Year 11 students and, spanning across five weeks, has proved to be an amazing opportunity for all the students involved.
Here's how one of our Year 11 students, Rishabh, described the scheme and his experience.
"The objective is to be able to help younger students with subjects we might feel confident with, and support them through assignments etc. The programme takes into account what subjects and what year groups a student would feel at ease teaching, and is very much geared towards the comfort of the student in question.
We were able to support students in subjects ranging from Drama to Maths, from Year 7 all the way to Year 10.
Despite the natural drawbacks of a virtual learning environment, I think that the SSP has allowed us to connect with younger students, give them advice, and overall ingrain the sense of community that we cherish here at Alice Smith. It has also been a chance to not only further our understanding of our chosen subjects but also to be introduced to the vast field of pedagogy.
Through the numerous training sessions, we learned about the ways to best use our time and support the class and overcome any technical difficulties we might face. We were also taught about differentiation and the role of adapting subject material to the needs of each individual student. It pushed us to reimagine how key concepts or ideas might be geared for the multitudinous learning styles in a class.
The feedback from younger students has been very positive, saying that the volunteers have been “very supportive and always there to help and to answer [their] questions” and that when they “were confused with something, they explained it very well”. Some students also said that they “found it useful as [they] wouldn’t distract the rest of the class by asking questions” and could “ask questions which [they are] not comfortable asking teachers, in a student to student way”.
This experience has been completely eye-opening and a lot of fun; I can’t wait to take part again next year."
Many thanks to Rishabh, and all the other SSP participants across Years 11, 12 and 13, who have taken part in the scheme this year. You've made a real difference!