21.11.2022 Educator Insights

First Give and the English curriculum

First Give have partnered with Bedford Academy for the first time this year, and we are thrilled to hear from Miss Smee how well the programme complements their year eight English curriculum

The English classroom, a place of exploration and discovery. Often synonymous in people’s minds with extended writing and stories. However, it can be so much more, as I found out when we partnered with First Give and added them to our balanced curriculum.

Over two hundred students, eight English classes actioning social action projects. It sounds like a logistical nightmare. Our journey together started with two key observations; speaking and listening skills were lacking in our KS3 curriculum and after two years of teaching challenges due to the pandemic we needed to reimagine what high quality teaching should encompass. After three years I’m secondary schools the pandemic brought my core of teaching back into focus. My background in politics always influenced my teaching, however I found it difficult to balance perceived progress centred outcomes with my own vision of a whole child education. One of my colleagues had worked with First Give previously in a London secondary school and was a huge supporter of the brilliant work they do.

At first glance the programme may seem the most natural fit with subjects such as PSHE, which I do not doubt it is. However, it is also a brilliant addition to any English classroom. Over the course of two months we delivered the programme to our Year 8 students interweaving First Give’s well structured and resourced lessons, with our own lessons studying public speaking, persuasive writing skills and an MP letter writing class. It provided an opportunity to develop essential literacy skills that will serve far beyond the end of this year’s programme.

First Give is structured in such a way that makes it an easy fit in the English curriculum. Students get a chance to develop their speaking and listening skills, something essential for their later life. As well as develop their transactional writing skills. Hollistically it also encourages students to actively participate in their communities fostering a greater understanding of different people and contexts. Such skills are essential to reach the top in English, a a priority within our department. Throughout the process Magdalene at First Give gave brilliant advice and guidance.

This year has been such a success with both students and staff that I hope to see it become a regular addition to our curriculum moving forward

This year has been such a success with both students and staff that I hope to see it become a regular addition to our curriculum moving forward

Miss Shereen Mee, Teacher of English, Bedford Academy