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Term Six at Cotham Post 16

We can’t start talking about this term without reminiscing on the leaver’s event we held for Year 13 students on the final day of term 5. The courtyard space in Charnwood, which until then had been a hub of activity in assessment preparation and study groups, was transformed into a space for celebration as we said goodbye to our tenacious Y13 cohort. There is no way to overstate the enormity of what this year group have had to shoulder as the pandemic ran its course and we could not be more proud of the way they have handled themselves throughout. There were plenty of goodbye tears, but it was a great opportunity to stop and celebrate what had been collectively achieved. We look forward to celebrating the fruits of their hard work on results day in August.

Of course, no sooner had we said goodbye to our Year 13s, than our Y12s had their heads down in preparation for mock exam season. We appreciate how challenging this was for this cohort, who missed the opportunity to sit GCSE exams and have faced significant learning disruption since. We were very proud of the way students handled the experience and how proactively they sought support and guidance in moving forward. We would encourage students to make sure they have read this Post Mocks Guidance for advice on next steps and to keep making use of the NBP16 Assessment Support Hub to help develop those examination skills whilst balancing wellbeing.

Some of our Core Programme continued online this term and we were pleased to see our students engaging with such important topics as the sharing of medical data. However, we were able to return to hosting some of the sessions live, supported by the teams at PUSH and Future Quest. One session focused on the important issue of student stress and how to handle it, while the PUSH session on ‘Making A Life not just a Living’ was an inspiring exploration not just of students’ choices at 18, but of what it means to make choices in the first place. Including what factors and circumstances affect students’ choices, and how they can overcome barriers in order to make proactive, informed choices which enhance their wellbeing and ever-growing employability. This session was hosted by PUSH’s Moj Taylor (a professional actor and comedian) and PUSH’s Aron Tennant (a professional screenwriter).

There is a great deal of student achievement to celebrate this term, including that of several Y12 English Literature students who took part in the Writing Wrongs project run by Bristol University, a project about social justice, and about writing. Participants responded to a social justice issue of their choice through writing; creatively, factually, in prose or poetic form, working alongside professional writers and researchers to develop their skills. At the end of the project Lola English was awarded a special commendation in journalism for this engaging, challenging and professional opinion piece on gender diversity in the film and television industry. We are all really proud of her, and everyone who took part. 

We also offer our congratulations to Y12 Computer Science student Kaya Campbel Yadao, who has been successful in getting a fully funded place on the Girls into Electronics program.  This is a fantastic opportunity where she will learn degree level practical programming and receive guidance about career opportunities from prominent female university academics. Well done Kaya!

Towards the end of term, Year 12 students took part in our annual Futures Conference to get them thinking about life after school. Although the format was slightly different than usual with lots of external speakers Zooming in, it was great to see how well students engaged with the content. A streamlined version of the event was sent out to those students who are self isolating. We know students will be busy over the summer break thinking about applications and personal statements and will continue to support from the start of the next academic year. We have kept the wide range of resources from our 2020 event (which had to be entirely online while schools were closed) live here so that they can be accessed by any student who wants to refresh or revisit any of the information. This year’s online parent support session can also be accessed here. A reminder that, each week, students are sent a careers bulletin with live updates on Post 18 opportunities as well as current enrichment and work experience opportunities available around the city. You can access this, at any time, here.

Though they were faced with additional barriers following a number of students isolating, we were thrilled to see our student leadership team holding their first Culture Day “to collectively celebrate our differences and allow us to express our cultures and learn about each other”. The team have overcome huge challenges this year to enact their plans and we are excited to see what the next school year brings when we recruit the new leadership team in September. There are range of roles to apply for and we look forward to seeing lots of our students step into Year 13 by putting themselves forward for this. More information to follow at Y13 induction.

As always, we wish our students a restful summer break. Please encourage them to look out for the wellbeing bulletin, being emailed to them at the end of term (you can preview a summary of this here). We really do appreciate what a tough year it has been, but are looking forward to re-setting in September, with lots of exciting plans afoot for the next academic year.