10 May 2023
This academic year, Woldingham’s Director of Empowered Learning is spending a day each term shadowing one student to better understand the student experience. Following stints in Year 10 and Lower Sixth, on Friday 5 May, Caitin D showed Mr Kellaway “a day in the life” of Year 7.
Mr Chris Kellaway, Director of Empowered Learning and Teacher of Theology
Deciding to spend my day with Caitin on Woldingham’s ‘British Icon’ fancy dress day (part of the school’s Coronation celebrations) was a great idea! The day began with tutor time, with Caitin’s tutor, history teacher Mrs Manktelow, dressed as a suffragette. I was dressed as cricketer Jonny Bairstow and was surrounded by Emma Raducanu, Princess Diana (going to the gym), Posh Spice, Kate Moss, John Lennon and Caitin, who came as herself (as she is an icon, she calmly assures me). For good measure, she was wearing a sparkly silver hat that Elton John would’ve been proud of. The Year 7s were very excited about their fancy dress and enjoyed completing a Coronation quiz in tutor time, which was won by John Lennon (Faith) with Princess Diana (Odette) in second place.
Following the excitement of the quiz, we headed to a Latin lesson with Dr Dixon, also in Marden, where we had to write down five facts about the Roman baths in Rome. I was impressed by how much they knew and it was great to see the girls engaging in and enjoying Latin. Having not taught Year 7 for a few years, I was reminded of the amount of organisation needed by the teacher – clear instructions, spare paper, textbooks, glue… Dr Dixon was ready for every eventuality. This was very different to the classics lessons I experienced back in the 90s, taught by a Jesuit priest with rote learning of vocabulary as the sole focus. Instead, the lesson was fun and engaging.
Next, we ventured to a different part of Marden for history with Mrs Neale, moving from what happened in the Peasants’ Revolt of 1831 to what caused it. The students discussed how the poll tax was the main reason before being introduced to a stretching GCSE style question – ‘To what extent was the Black Death a cause of the Peasants’ Revolt?’ They worked together in pairs to explore reasons, writing these on post it notes to discuss in their next history lesson.
At break, we swept upstairs to Marden dining room for banana cake, a chat with friends and to gather books for science and French. We then raced to the Science Centre on other side of the school, arriving just as the bell chimed and me, a little out of breath. Miss Cripps went through a chemistry test the students had taken, with the girls making notes of any corrections. I was impressed by the maturity with which they went about their task and their willingness to learn from their mistakes. A particular highlight was hearing them singing the pH song to the tune of “I can sing a rainbow”! I also enjoyed Miss Cripps’ firm request that they draw an angry face on their test if they wrote volume instead of amount. Specifics are crucial in science and it was a fun way to emphasise this.
Next, we upped our steps by returning to Marden for a French speaking test, which the students were apprehensive about. Each student had a slot with Mme Poullain to test their French and I enjoyed hearing the confidence with which they prepared and then conversed. Languages are such an important skill that we, as adults, recognise. It is good that all Mardeners are exposed to these subjects. I’m delighted that Caitin is learning Spanish alongside French and Latin.
After a wonderful Coronation celebration lunch, I re-joined Caitin for English in the library. English teacher Mr Baker and Librarian Ms Owens guided them through an independent reading challenge project on a range of texts – novels and non-fiction. The students will present back to the class next week. They are also completing Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream with Mr Baker. It was exciting to see that they are exposed to a range of texts and skills, with an opportunity for independent study at a young age.
Our last lesson of the day was maths with Mrs Turner (dressed as Scary Spice), where we were dividing fractions and simplifying. In a series of challenges, the students applied the “KFC” concept (keep the first fraction the same, flip the second fraction over and change the divide to a x). The lesson finished with the students checking their learning through a white board challenge before mathematician of the week was awarded to Coco for first struggling and then figuring it out. This is what learning is all about and it was great to see this celebrated in the last lesson of the week.
I came away impressed at the hustle, bustle and busyness of Marden life and have requested to teach Year 7 again next year. If we could all see life through a Year 7 lens it would be enthusiastic, exciting and fun.