Taking Responsibility in Key Stage 3 at WASHK
I’ve been an English teacher for 11 years, and have taught pupils from all over the world, from London to Bogota to Moscow. Teaching is my passion, and I have enjoyed every second of every lesson throughout that time. Nothing in life brings me more pleasure than seeing my pupils throw themselves into a new topic, or seeing the spark of understanding ignite as one of my pupils masters a tricky concept or new technique.
After spending 4 years as the Head of Intensive English and Head of Years 7&8 at our sister-school in Wycombe Abbey Changzhou, I moved to WASHK in August 2021 to open up Key Stage 3 as we expand into secondary education. I’m very proud to be a member of the WASHK community.
Head of Key Stage 3
Year 8 Form Tutor
It is a pleasure every day to be surrounded by wonderful and dedicated teachers, to work with our fantastic Key Stage 3 team, and most all to be able to play a part in helping our outstanding pupils reach their full potential.
For me, education is about so much more than just learning facts and figures. Education means helping children to develop into the best, most well-rounded version of themselves that they can become. One of the key facets of this is learning to take responsibility for yourself and those around you.
This is hugely important for all children of course, but especially for our Key Stage 3 pupils at WASHK, many of whom will shortly be taking the enormous step of moving by themselves to another country as they take up offers at some of the best boarding schools in the UK and beyond.
I am a firm believer that the best way to have children take responsibility for themselves and their actions, is to give them responsibility.
Andrew Parr explaining to parents
ECA for UK School applications
That’s why I have made it one of my goals for Key Stage 3 to create as many opportunities as possible for our pupils to take responsibility into their own hands, whether it be for themselves, their classmates, the school community or even their role in the world as a whole.
Responsibility around School
One of the key ways we have done this is by creating positions of responsibility for our pupils. This year we introduced Key Stage 3 Class Prefects. These pupils, chosen by their peers and teachers, take charge of several important tasks. Day to day, they assist with keeping an eye on behaviour in their classes, reminding pupils of the importance of neat uniform and speaking English. At the end of lunch break it is their job to make sure all pupils are lined up and ready to return to class.
They also act as a liaison between the pupils and teachers, making sure the pupils have a voice in several aspects of school life. Beyond that, they have also done a fantastic job helping out with school events, notably acting as ushers during our Autumn Parent-Teacher Conference. Thanks to their work, the whole event ran very smoothly, with parents greeted at the entrance and shown to where they needed to go.
It’s not easy to hold a position of authority at a young age, but I’ve been delighted with the way that all of our prefects have stepped up to the task. They have taken their positions extremely seriously, and shown great fairness, vigilance and leadership in everything they have done – skills which I’m sure they’ll call on time and time again throughout their lives.
Best of all, they have done it with a smile on their faces. As a Year 6 Prefect Sophie told me, ‘I enjoyed helping out in the school community, like taking people to the right classrooms on parent teacher conferences. I felt needed and important. I’ve always wanted to be the best person I could be. Being prefect helped me achieve that.’
Responsibility as a World Citizen
Learning to be a responsible person goes beyond just doing your bit to help out in the classroom and around school. It also means having an awareness of the world around you, and the role you play in that world.
Our Head, Mr Tuckett, leads the way on this. Mr Tuckett regularly holds assemblies on current affairs and world events. In these sessions he educates the pupils on what is going on in the world around them, and the social and historic context for those events.
Even more important however, Mr Tuckett encourages our pupils to take their own interest in world affairs, and to educate themselves further in the world around them.
We also believe in giving our pupils the chance to take action as they work towards becoming socially responsible members of our local and world community. This year we’ve done this through our work with the charity Box of Hope. Pupils were encouraged to fill and decorate boxes with key everyday items which will be distributed disadvantaged children around the world.
They stepped up to the challenge admirably, in total putting together more than 200 boxes of useful and important items for those in need.
I’m also proud to see the incredible work that a number of our Key Stage 3 pupils have done as members of the Eco-Warriors club, giving up their own free time to help encourage and implement an increase in recycling within our school and beyond.
Pupils also got involved with the ‘Operation Santa Clause’ project this year, dressing up in Christmassy clothes and giving a small donation.
A Year 7 Prefect Evangeline gave up some of her time to help out with this scheme. Evangeline, who got an offer from Cheltenham Ladies’ College, remembers it fondly – ‘One of my favourite memories of being a Prefect was going around the school and collecting the money that students were donating to the charity as that was meaningful. I loved that I could assist teachers and set an example for my other classmates.’
Responsibility for Your Own Future
There are other important reasons to help our pupils develop responsibility and independence too. Many of our Key Stage 3 pupils are applying to study at boarding schools in the UK.
Moving alone to another country at a young age is an enormous challenge for a child to face. Those schools need to know they are accepting pupils with the resilience and the skillset to meet the challenge.
To me, that means we are morally obliged to make sure that our pupils are ready and able to not only to survive, but to thrive in, and to truly enjoy, the experience of studying abroad.
Not only do we help pupils build the character and resilience necessary, we also help make sure they are able to show off those skills to make sure they get the school offers they deserve.
This is done in part through our one-to-one interview practice sessions, where pupils have the chance to practice interview technique, gain experience and ask questions about what to expect.
It’s not just with the teachers - Mr Tuckett, personally runs one-to-one sessions with every pupil who has an interview coming up.
We have received a huge amount of feedback from a number of the most highly-regarded schools in the UK that our pupils are their favourite to interview.
While pupils from elsewhere are reeling off a rote-learned spiel about ‘what is my favourite book’, our pupils are able to engage in genuine and meaningful conversation with the interviewer, to really show off not only their academic ability but their true character too.
The results of these interviews speak for themselves. This year alone our Key Stage 3 pupils have received offers from top UK boarding schools, including Rugby, Benenden and Cheltenham Ladies’ College. I have no doubt that thanks to the skills they have learned during their time at WASHK, all of these pupils will go on to achieve the greatest success and happiness at their new UK schools.
Responsibility for Your Own Future
We do everything can to help our pupils become responsible young people. For all our work though, it’s not something easily measured – we can’t say that pupil X has become 75% more responsible over the last 6 months for example. That’s why it’s so satisfying to me when I get to see real life examples of our pupils taking responsibility entirely by themselves during our everyday lives.
I recently shared a story in assembly which I think demonstrates the effect that giving pupils the chance to show responsibility can have.
Walking up the stairs between classes, I noticed that a protective barrier leading upstairs to the roof had come loose and fallen down. Not wanting a younger pupil to end up in an out of bounds area by mistake, I stepped over to put it back in place.
Before I could move though, one of our prefects, walking by herself and with no idea she was observed by a teacher, put down her things, stepped over and hung the barrier up safely once again, before picking up her bag and getting on with her day. Without needing to pause to consider, she had seen the situation, realised what it meant, and gone out of her way to make things a little bit better.
To me, that is a remarkable act of awareness and maturity. Just one of the thousands of remarkable acts I’m certain our pupils will go on to perform throughout their educations and their lives.