Head's Blog

It's Good to Talk!

12 February 2021

It's Good to Talk! Podcasts! Whatever next?

I had a super 45 minute chat today with 3 of our Year 11 students Head Boy Milo de Gorter, Head Girl Samantha Gomez and Deputy Head Girl Amaya Sokhi. We were getting together to plan out the format and content of the podcast we are recording together with the Bellevue Head Office Communications Team. Me doing a podcast! What next Tik Tok?

The focus of the podcast is Post 16 Options, how Webber prepares our Year 10 and 11 students to follow their different and individual pathways to success and to share with the listeners their own experiences, process and choices.

What struck me listening to this representative group of confident, articulate and proactive young people was what a tough and challenging experience the last year has been for them. Normally they would have attended numerous Sixth Form and College Open Days, Apprenticeship Fairs, Taster Days, tours and interviews to shop around and really get a feel for which post 16 route, school and courses are the best fit for them and their future plans. They would have been able to chat to Sixth Form Tutors and course leaders, look at sample work and spend time in the Common Room or in lectures and tutorial sessions speaking to students and getting under the skin of the place to see if it would be a match for them.

But instead the doors are sadly closed and the human face to face interactions have been replaced with recorded virtual tours and pre-recorded presentations. This makes it really difficult for our Year 11s to pick up a vibe, a culture, the atmosphere and ethos of a school or college........the beating heart of a place which they can relate to and feel that they could be a part of. It is such a big and important decision that they are having to make remotely.

The equivalent would be to ask an adult to buy a house without setting foot over the threshold or buying a car over the internet without sitting in it and going out for a good long test drive to see how it handles!

This Year 11 group has enormous potential and a great deal to offer the schools and colleges they will be going to once they make their applications and secure their strong GCSE results and place of choice.

Not least their flexibility, adaptability, resilience, patience, good humour, engagement, work ethic and commitment to just keep on going especially during the ongoing uncertainty of how their GCSE grades will be allocated. Keep logging on, turning up, working hard and looking optimistically to a future where they will be able to spread their wings and fly again!

However what really struck me was how much we had all enjoyed just chatting together informally, catching up, swapping updates and reconnecting.

This is why I think the Virtual Break Out Rooms are being so well received with children of all ages, particularly when they are used at break time, lunchtime, in Form or PSHCE lessons to allow social interactions and time just to 'hang out' with their friends and new classmates.

This has been a key theme in both the recent Student and Parent Surveys, the value and positive impact of finding time not just to teach and learn in Virtual Webber but to build in time too to connect, to chat and catch up and reconnect on a personal level and how important this is for our children's well being and mental health.

So today instead of a half-term assembly we are all spending time in our breakout rooms or form hangouts to socialise and catch up before the holiday.

We will share our podcast with you once it's ready and you can hear for yourself what a great group of young people we are lucky enough to have leading our learning community at Webber.

 It is good to talk! Let's all spend some time this half term doing just that with family, friends and loved ones. I wish you all a restful break. 

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