The Sixth Form Literary Society
A Level English students from our two schools meet regularly to discuss unseen contemporary poetry.
The project was planned as an A Level enrichment opportunity of equal benefit to both schools. Queen's Gate is a girls' school; the Oratory all boys till the Sixth Form. We wanted to expose the pupils to academic discussion with the opposite sex before university! In addition, in preparation for A Level examination- and possible university interviews- the opportunity to discuss unfamiliar contemporary poetry is crucial.
The initial pilot event was very popular with pupils, teachers, parents and SLT alike and so approximately half-termly meetings have taken place ever since.
The partnership was straightforward to set up, through direct contact between Heads of English, via a speculative email from the HoD at Queen's Gate, the independent school in the project. Having identified the desirability of her A Level English students working with boys in developing their confidence in discussion work, the independent school HoD researched the closest boys' school in the area and got in touch.
Having an attractive space with large tables for group work was conducive to success, as was the supply of a generous quantity of snacks!
The ratio of staff to students was about 1:10 on each occasion and each session lasted for about 1h15, it having been decided it was better to 'leave the audience wanting more'. Teachers drew on their personal interests and knowledge to prepare the resources which became increasingly uncomplicated as we went on. Also uncomplicated has been the mode of arrangement directly between HoDs; this has minimised the administrative burden.
The pupils love these sessions which have taken place principally in the Queen's Gate School Library, but also at the London Oratory; they ask eagerly when the next meeting is. The discussion of the poetry is part of building a super-curricular culture in both A Level groups. The connection between the departments has led to other collaboration.