leading ladies

We, at Shoeburyness High School, launched our Leading Ladies project in 2011 as a way of addressing the needs of a number of Year 8 girls who seemed to be increasingly focused on the issues that affected only their own narrow world, rather than being able to take a more generous, altruistic view of life. As a result of this restricted, inward-looking approach, in some cases, the girls’ self-esteem or confidence had suffered and needed to be rebuilt.
Working with the local Baptist church’s school chaplaincy team, we pair up specially selected Year 8 girls with mature ladies from the local community, ladies whose ages have ranged from about sixty to an astoundingly spritely ninety years of age. The two groups come together for an hour each week, over six weeks or so. In that time they talk about different aspects of their lives, sharing experiences of growing up in remarkably differing eras. Each week is given over to exploring a different topic, including food, fashion and education, with the ladies being especially imaginative in producing examples of cuisine and clothing from their younger years which the girls can try for themselves.
In the course of their discussions, firm friendships and wonderful relationships develop between the two sets of people, with each learning from - and about - the other. The project culminates in a celebratory tea party, which the girls prepare and then serve to the ladies as a token of their gratitude for all the help given by them.
As we were hoping, the girls all agree that they learn much about a different group of people, beyond their normal scope of experience, and that the project makes them take more account of the needs of others, not just themselves. Our students’ self-esteem takes noticeable steps forward, as they benefit enormously from the experience of having an adult listen attentively and sympathetically to what they have to say. Equally beneficial for the girls is the fact that their misconceptions are challenged and confronted, in an understanding and supportive fashion, by somebody who is not a teacher or a parent but who is, nevertheless, very much a role model.  The impact the project has on the girls is very often delightful to see.

R.E.A.C.T. (Reading Enjoyment And Comprehension Tutition)
Students who struggle with their reading and comprehension cannot easily access the curriculum and this greatly reduces their chances of success both in their examination results and later in the workplace.
Results clearly show that R.E.A.C.T. works; over 93% of students improve their grades.
General Information
R.E.A.C.T. is an intervention scheme for our less confident readers intended for learners at Key Stage 3 and 4: the aim is to increase reading levels and comprehension of written texts.
Levels are monitored and targets set on an individual basis. Individual coaching sessions are held with R.E.A.C.T coaches who include Year 10 students who work with Year 7, Post 16 students, teachers during form periods and outside volunteers from the community who give their time to work with designated children. We are very fortunate to be able to draw on such a diverse range of coaches who really make a difference to the outcomes for our learners.  Progress is continually monitored and it is not unusual to increase a child’s reading age by up to two years in a relatively short period. 
Materials at our disposal include books, plays, e-books, Kindles, literacy games and software, as well as held computers (PDAs).
Progress is continually assessed and students regularly surprise us with their progress and enthusiasm for the programme. This is demonstrated by their attainment.
As an example, here are some subject terminology words we give to students. We ask them to read and explain the different meanings each one may have:
transcendental, contaminated, astute, molecules, commodity, denominator, extraneous etc.

VoiceMale is a Shoeburyness High School intervention project that is now entering its seventh year. We gather together around 90 of our year 11 boys who are under-achieving or might be in danger of becoming disengaged from their education and form them into a male-voice singing group. To call us a choir would be stretching it somewhat; we like to think that what we may lack in finesse and musicality we more than make up for in passion and commitment.
Usually starting in September, the selected lads practise at least twice a week for twenty minutes, in preparation for performances at a number of venues, including other year groups’ end-of-term assemblies, ours and other schools’ Christmas celebrations and local shopping centres. Recently we have extended our repertoire by teaming up with a local primary school that has followed suit and formed its own boys’ singing group. The end results have been excellent and hugely rewarding for both sets of students.
The intention behind the scheme is to raise our students’ self-esteem by getting them to work hard in an area that is largely alien to them (in this case choral singing) to produce an impressive end result. When they give their debut performances, wearing their special ‘VoiceMale’ polo shirts, the boys’ sense of achievement and pride in themselves is astonishing to see, especially when they hear the applause of an enthusiastic and appreciative audience for the first time.