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Anglo European School’s Study Club enters its ninth year

As the Anglo European School Study Club enters its ninth year its popularity and success continues to grow. This unique resource is open to all pupils free of charge every day before school from 8am, during lunch time and after school until 5pm. It offers independent learning where pupils choose to attend whenever they wish for as long as they wish, as long as they have school work to complete.

David Barrs Co-Head Teacher had a vision that all pupils should be offered the opportunity to complete all assignments and homework, whilst fresh in their mind, within the school environment, thereby extending the school day and alleviating the stress of homework away from the home.

With so many parents working long hours, homework can be an added burden. Added to this, the schools unique ethos contributes too many pupils choosing to travel long distances and time becomes a key factor in stress at home at the end of the day. Offering a resource where there are resources and staff on hand to give support and guidance to any pupil should they need it, alleviates this issue.

The Anglo European Study Club opened its doors in the spring term of 2007, with one member of staff whose challenge was to integrate this resource into the normal school day where pupils and staff were all familiar with the benefits that could be afforded by using it.  Mrs Hill, the Study Club Manager, quickly recognised that communication and promotion would be key to this, and regular assemblies with pupils and communication with all staff have greatly contributed to its success. By the end of the first year it was apparent that its success with pupil’s attendance meant that additional staffing was required and Mrs Whitehead joined the team. The aim at this stage was to promote the resource as soon as pupils entered the school, with the view that they would continue to use it as they progressed throughout their school life. During this period, it was recognised that those pupils who travel on the school buses were missing-out on having the opportunity to use the resource as travel times are controlled. To meet this demand lunch time Study Club was introduced and managed by Mrs Whitehead.

As the popularity of the resource continued to grow with pupils, additional staff members have been introduced into the team and three members of staff are available to support and guide the pupils. Staff who work in the resource are completely committed to giving all pupils who attend the support, guidance and help that they can to ensure that the pupils can complete the task they have. If this is not possible pupils can be re-directed to the many subject specific clinics that are available to them to use within the school.

All pupils within the school are familiar with the resource and fully recognise the benefits that they can get from using it. Pupils are aware that they should only use the resource if they have a task to complete, whether that be homework or revision and attendance is therefore very high for all three sessions of Study Club, with After School Study Club attendance consistently in excess of 50+ pupils every evening. Those attending can be from any Year group, those who can complete the task in hand without assistance and those who require support, all know that there will always be a member of staff available to assist them. Creating a stimulating ever changing working environment for the staff who never know what subject area or at what level they might be required to give support in.

When asked how pupils feel they have benefited from using the resource, comments have included:-

“I didn’t come in Year 7, but then my friends started to go, so I thought it would be easier to do homework than go home and then trying to get on with it.

I found I liked the atmosphere because there are people around you and people to help you. If I was to do my homework at home, like I use to, it would be in the lounge but here there is noise, but its good noise”.

“Coming to Study Club has benefited me in revising for exams and completing my homework the resources are good there are computers that I can use and there are always staff here to help. Also I enjoy knowing that I can get all my homework done then go home and have my own free time”.

“I come when I need to do my homework, not every day. I come and work independently but I know there will always be someone there to help me if I’m stuck”.

 “I’ve attended since Year 8, it’s good, I think it’s had a great impact on me because you can get stressed out at home but at school I feel less stressed in Study Club. I like that I can come and do what I need to do and just go. It’s in a good place where there is plenty of room, better than a class room, we have good resources and we can ask the Study Club staff for anything, if they don’t’ have and they will get it for us quickly”.

“We do not have a computer or printer at home so I would really miss it. I will always use it because it helps me and it’s a really nice place to come”.

By using the resource, pupils can benefit not only from having staff on- hand to help them, if they require it, and all the resources they may need, it also fosters friendships across the school within different Year groups, where pupils work together to help one another.

As each new academic year commences, Mrs Hill sets- out to achieve another goal. Over the past two years, the focus has been around ensuring that those pupils taking their GCSE exams are fully prepared. By focusing pupils at the beginning of Year 10 on the benefits of preparation through promotional assemblies it has been Study Club’s aim to ensure that all GCSE pupils have the opportunity to use the resource. This has proved extremely successful during the last academic year, and currently by the end of the autumn term 2015, 148 of the 209 Year 11 pupils currently on roll, have already used the resource, with on average 25+ Year 11 pupils using the resource every evening, in addition to other pupils from different year groups.

When asked his thoughts on what impact he felt Study Club had on his Year group last year Mr Burrows commented :-

“The Study Club is a lifeline to GCSE success, it’s as simple as that. It’s no coincidence that those students who performed the best, were the same students who had the self-discipline and work ethic to make use of the business-like and supportive environment of the Study Club every night after school until 5pm. Highflyers like Jelani Watson-Gayle, Pippa Blunden and Harry Tomsett had a lot of extra-curricular commitments and were still able to get the best out of themselves thanks to the Study Club and their own perseverance in using it.

Similarly, students who hadn’t given a good account of themselves in the past, post-mock exams, were able to turn things around and get good results. That’s because they changed their ways and buckled down. They became regular faces in the Study Club from 8am until 5pm, every single day. This was from late January right up until May. I wish I’d had a Study Club for my GCSEs, I had to use my grandparents’ house”.

Miss Dempster past Year Leader commented on the impact Study Club had on a particular student in her Year group:-

“I never appreciated how much Study Club can help students grow in confidence and overcome some of the challenges they face at secondary school until I worked with Mrs Hill, our Study Club Manager, as a Year Leader.  One of the students in my year group was struggling with completing homework as they did not always understand what to do.  I suggested going to Study Club to help overcome this and it was met with worry from the student.  They reluctantly agreed to go and see what happened.  As soon as they arrived Mrs Hill introduced herself and put the student at ease, from which point forward, they attended regularly and credited the support received from Study Club as one of the reasons for their success at GCSE and beyond.  Study Club provides a safe and supportive environment for all students to complete work and gain extra guidance and support and I know students of all abilities and years appreciate it and find it invaluable, especially when worrying about exams”

When asked her opinion as an overview of Study Club Mrs Keans Science Teacher commented:-

“As a teacher, I have found the Study club has been a very useful resource. I know that if my Year 7 students forget their instructions about using Showmyhomework they can obtain guidance at Study Club (and so avoid a homework detention!).  Similarly, if a student has missed a lesson, the staff at Study Club will find the appropriate topic in a Revision Guide, to help the student to cover the missed work.  The staff are also adept at helping students to find appropriate websites to tackle individual research projects.  I particularly valued the help given to a GCSE student who was struggling to prepare for his Controlled Assessment.  Mrs Hill kindly took the time to familiarise herself with the precise requirements of the assessment in order to guide the student through his preparation.  Many thanks to all the staff at the Study Club”! 

Mrs Hill believes that:- “With the ever increasing expectations on parents, more families find themselves in a situation where both parents work long hours, putting greater pressure on the family unit when they join together at the end of the day. This is a time when they should have family time together and not have this compromised by the additional stress of completing homework. By offering a resource that enables pupils to choose to attend if they have homework to complete both before and after school, it is meeting two requirements; it not only takes the pressure away from the home it also give pupils empowerment to be responsible for their own learning making them independent, self-disciplined learners who will develop the independent commitment to learning that is required of them to achieve the very best GCSE grades”.

When asked, parents have expressed their delight at how the resource has impacted on their children and their home life, commenting:-  

“Just one of the greatest things that The Anglo European School offers.

My daughter, Serena, finds this club very useful to her; it contributes to how well she does at school too.  “One continuous day’s work, better than bringing it home to do” says Serena. She enjoys the atmosphere around her, the help she receives from Mrs Hill, when stuck on tricky homework. She makes use of all the resources that are available to her.

Once homework is done, she has the evening free to relax and continue with her outside school activities.

Serena’s life has been so much more organised since attending Study Club. Thank you very much for offering this club! We are truly grateful to the staff”.

Another parent commented:-

“I would strongly recommend any parent to encourage their child to attend Study Club. Mrs Hill gives every child tremendous support. It is a welcoming environment with all the resources required at hand to help with any homework, revision or questions your child may have and there are other students of all ages and abilities that attend who all help each other.

Mrs Hill provided fantastic support for my son who attended regularly from year 7-11”.  

A template such as this, is certainly a great additional resource that any school could replicate. By giving the pupils, rather than the parents, the responsibility of choice, it is not an ‘After School Club’ rather an independent learning resource and therefore holds no responsibility to the school for the pupils time once they have completed their chosen assignment. Resources such as this give flexibility to the extended school day and works particularly well in areas where pupils commute to school, as well as to those who live in close proximity. Additionally, by offering a Study Club resource at lunch time it ensures that those pupils who travel by school transport, and therefore must leave at the end of the normal school day, are not penalised from having use of the resource and the support and guidance of the staff within it. This also ensures that at all times the school is offering independent learning opportunities for all pupils when they are not in lesson time.