We recently interviewed Cally Northam, PA to the Principle at Co-op Academy Leeds, to find out how the school uses Student Planners to help create a sense of community in a school where 50 different languages are spoken on a daily basis.
Cally started by explaining how the planners are used within the school. ‘It’s part of their equipment, the expectation is that the student has the planner with them at all times. As well as a place to record homework deadlines we use the planner as part of our weekly Power Word challenge. School-wide students are asked to use a chosen word in their lessons and are rewarded with a stamp in their planner for doing so. In this way we can create a community spirit around the challenge and make stretching the student’s English skills a fun exercise.’
Cally continued, ‘We use the planners to help generate a sense of community amongst our students. The ability provided by Penstripe to easily create our own content using their online design tool has meant we can produce a planner that integrates the particular challenges of our environment into the pages and make the planner an indispensable part of the school’s educational experience.’
At Penstripe we are always conscious the planners are needed right at the very start of term. Cally explained why this is essential, with the planner used as an integral part of the new student welcome. ‘We introduce the planner to the students at the start of term at our Meet the Tutor sessions. We invite parents/ carers to attend and walk them through the content of the planner. We’re careful to include all the information in the planner needed at home to support the students – uniform requirements, welfare signposting, contact numbers, etc. We find these sessions really help to provide families with a support mechanism, the initial face-to-face meeting coupled with the year-round information source available in the planner means our families feel they are part of the school community.’
Cally finished by explaining why a paper student planner will always be preferable to a digital planning solution within the school. ‘A great many of our students come from financially challenging home situations. We are careful to provide the same opportunities for each and every student and feel it would be unfair to request students use a homework app when they may not have access to a personal digital device or the internet at home. We love our Penstripe planners and they are here to stay, they are a fantastic tool for the students, staff and parents to use on a daily basis to support the study of our ambitious curriculum.’