Personal Development Day
As the whole school take part in Personal Development Days, we caught up with the Heads of Year to find out what the students spent Thursday 17th November doing.
Year 7 spent PD day at Blackburn Cathedral. The day started with a short meditation session where students prepared themselves for the day ahead. Following this students had a number of activities to complete at stations around the cathedral. This was described as a pilgrimage for the students - the journey they would take at the cathedral would help to bring them closer to God. These included making prayer plaits, lighting candles, and writing short confessions. Students had the opportunity to have a really good look around the cathedral when they moved between activities. When each activity was completed students received a star for their activities booklet and once all 12 stars had been collected students received a scallop shell badge - the emblem of Saint James. After lunch students took part in a Eucharist service. Throughout the service various elements were explained to the students so they had a deeper understanding of the service they were taking part in.
Tom Fairhurst, one of the Year 7 students who attended the trip to the Cathedral, said, “I learnt lots of brilliant things such as if you forgive someone for something bad they’ve done to you then the hurt begins to fade away.”
Miss Daisy Seville, Head of Year 7, said, “It was a really worthwhile day for our students as is allowed them to gain a deeper understanding of the Christian faith in an interesting and hands on way. Students were extremely positive about the experience and learnt a lot"
Whilst Year 7 were in Blackburn, Year 8 students remained at Saint Aidan’s and spent time focusing on and developing their leadership and team building skills. They were tasked to design a toy to be sold this Christmas and pitch their idea to the rest of the class during period 5. The groups completed tasks that helped them learn about what type of team member they are from organisers to what sort of leader they are.
Joe Newsham, Year 8, said “I learnt lots of things such as the type of leader I am and what my skills are as a leader. I also learnt how to create a pitch and how to work in a team with people who I wouldn’t normally work with.
Mr Paul Tyson, Head of Year 8, said, “As students were not limited by today’s technology we had some very interesting ideas (many that belong in a Sci-fi film). The effort put into the day by the students was outstanding, many working through their lunch hour to get their presentations ready.”
Meanwhile, Year 9 start the very important decision process of picking options for Key Stage 4 in December. This PD day was designed to help them thoroughly investigate their choices beyond Saint Aidan's, understand what was necessary to follow pathways and to consider skills and qualities they have.
Miss Amanda Dixon, Head of Year 9, said, “The day was useful for all students, helping them to find a starting point in their future careers. It opened their eyes to many opportunities and gave them a good indication of what subjects and grades to target when they move up to KS4.”
Year 10 Personal Development Day was centred around Healthy Relationships. Loudmouth: Education through Theatre told Zach and Bree’s story about power and control in relationships; The Children’s Society delivered a session about sexual exploitation; the school nurses taught about the importance of contraception and the prevention of STIs and there was also a session about the dangers of sexting.
Niamh Sheridan, Year 10, said “I learnt a lot of valuable things and key information, like what to do or who to call in serious situations. Another thing I learnt is that things are better when you speak to someone. Overall, I found the day very useful.”
Mrs Helen Cross, Head of Year 10, said, “Students thoroughly enjoyed the day, even though some were cringing at certain points. The drama performance was very hard-hitting and students found it highly enlightening. I’m sure that all students went away from the day more confident in making informed choices about their relationships now and in the future.”
Year 11 spent the day exploring different revision skills. With mock exams just around the corner, Year 11 students spent the day developing lots of revision strategies including planning their revision schedule; how to make effective revision notes; using flashcards to test knowledge; and creative ways of using mind maps. They also made their own revision podcasts for Science.
Adele Cummings said, “I learnt different ways in which to revise such as mind maps, trigger cards, sticky notes, videos and cue cards. I learnt how to create a revision calendar. Overall I found the day useful and will be using these revision techniques for different subjects.”
Natasha Corrigan added, “I found the day very useful. It has been very beneficial and I found all the sessions engaging. I especially enjoyed learning about the Connell method of revising and that will be something I try to use in some of my revision notes in the future.”
Mr Darren Elwell, Head of Year 11, said, “The best part of the day was seeing the students leave each session with revision materials they can immediately use at home to supplement their own studying. It was also great to watch them memorise lots of seemingly unrelated items in a short space of time by linking them into a story!”
Miss Sophie Huddart, T&L Co-ordinator for the day’s events, said, “'It was a fantastic day for everyone involved, the classrooms were buzzing with excitement and students enjoyed learning about a variety of topics from innovative ways to revise, aspects of a healthy relationship, exciting careers options, team building exercises and also the spiritual side of things for year 7 at Blackburn Cathedral.”
Head Teacher, Mr Andy Smith, added, "Our students all benefited from doing something completely different at our PD Day on Thursday, whether that's Year 7 visiting Blackburn Cathedral in preparation for our own end of term service, Year 11 brushing up their revision skills in time for their mock exams, or all the year groups in between. Students may not have been in Maths, English or Science yesterday, but a lot of really important skills have been learned. We're all looking forward to next term's PD Day now!"