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The Dawning of a New Era

Thesan was the Etruscan Goddess of the dawn: so it was rather apt that last Thursday, Thesan’s Academic Director was involved in supporting three year groups during the first whole-school ‘Drop Down Day’ at Queen Margaret’s School, York. The girls were off normal timetable for the day and benefited from a variety of sessions delivered by both in-house staff and external providers. Building on our work with Queen Margaret’s pupils over recent years, Thesan’s role was to provide Study Skills Support, including organisation skills, revision expertise and research on memory for learning.

The day began with an A Level Marathon Training workshop for the Lower Sixth. Starting with the end in mind, students had the opportunity to play the role of a university admissions tutor. By considering what makes a strong UCAS candidate at the beginning of the workshop, students were able to evaluate their existing strengths and identify areas for development. 

The girls valued the experience of considering how their university application might look: for some it was a wake-up call to the need for providing evidence for their attributes. For the majority, though, it was enlightening how much evidence they already have and can build on over the coming year before applying to their chosen institution. 

Another very popular session involved considering what makes an ‘Academic Outlier.’ Using an example of a real-life outlier who achieved an A* in English Literature and went on to study the subject at Oxford University, the girls worked collaboratively to consider how they could become an outlier in each of their subjects. Student feedback on the workshop was very positive:

“I found the workshop interesting and interactive: it teaches you things and makes you think about A Levels more deeply.”

Smart Strategies for GCSE Success

Year Five spent their session focusing on Revision Skills and Well-Being. The one hour ‘Memory Clock’ revision model focused on how to work smarter, rather than harder, something which was crucial for Queen Margaret’s pupils as they are already committed to a full programme of academic and extra-curricular activities. Incorporating research into the most effective way to organise revision, the girls then considered how to interleave topics in order to enhance recall. 

After lunch the focus turned to Well-Being. The girls were taught the symptoms of stress and strategies for managing these. This included strategies for stress management during the revision period and on exam days, including the importance of good sleep hygiene. 

Connie commented, “the workshop has taught me how to use time productively and manage anxiety right before an exam, as well as how you need to support one another during exams and stressful times.”

Back to the Future

The final session, delivered to Year Four, began with a time-specific question: what would you like your life to look like at the age of 30? The pupils created a ‘Vision of the Future’ and then worked their way backwards to consider how they might achieve this vision.

They examined the importance of study habits such as allowing sufficient time to practise what has been learned, good sleep hygiene and the ability to delay gratification by working hard now to reap academic rewards later.

We discussed with the girls the importance of detaching their self-esteem from their academic results, promoting the idea that successful learners do not fear failure, but use it as an opportunity to refine their learning.

During the second half of the workshop, the girls worked in teams to design a board game to teach players about successful study habits. There was a high degree of enjoyment during this activity, which cemented the pupils’ earlier learning.

Following on from their ‘Excellent’ ISI Inspection earlier this year, Queen Margaret’s continues to lead the field in providing innovative, iterative Study Skills Support for every girl throughout the school

The Thesan team look forward to working with the Upper Sixth in November on ‘Smart Strategies for A Level Excellence’ and again with the GCSE pupils and Lower Sixth in February, followed by each of the Key Stage Three year groups in March.

Sue O’Leary-Hall, Thesan’s Academic Director:

“Queen Margaret’s girls are pulling away from the pack with their best GCSE results in five years and exceptional value added at A Level.  

It stands to reason that there is a correlation between the input of high quality teaching and Study Skills Support and their output of superb examination results.”

To find out more about Thesan’s Study Skills Support, including Revision Workshops from Key Stage 3 to A Level, please do get in touch with [email protected]

Cost: £16/head for a two-hour workshop, £22.50/head per half-day or £35/head per full day’s workshop .

2019 Summer Highlights... 

from Toddlers to Teenagers

This has been an exciting few months for Thesan with the launch of our Pre-Prep and Junior Parent Seminars to lay the foundations for academic resilience in our youngest clients.

Our research-based seminars focus on how parents can support their child academically, socially and emotionally to lay the foundations of resilience for success at school and beyond.

We provide practical strategies to support learning at home; consider how to help children develop a ‘Growth Mindset’ in order to aid neuroplasticity; and explore the effects of sleep and screen time. During each seminar, parents are given the opportunity to consider how they might respond to common parenting scenarios in the light of the research discussed.

Kirsten Knight, Head of Pre-Prep at Mowden Hall School, Northumberland: 

 “We appreciated the fact that the seminar was grounded in current thinking and research. Thesan’s work is of an excellent standard – up to date and informative. The presenter was professional, entertaining and empathetic with the audience.”

Dawn Thyne, Pre-Prep Parent at Cundall Manor School, North Yorkshire:

“I liked the fact that the presenter put the ideas into a wider life-context and helped us understand the importance of embedding these now.”

To find out more about Thesan’s Parent Seminars, please do get in touch with [email protected] 

Cost: £25/head

Sue O’Leary-Hall, Thesan’s Academic Director:

“Our mission is to help children develop the skills they need for effective learning and emotional well-being by providing research-based training for the pupils themselves, their parents and teachers.  

By starting as early as possible in a child’s educational journey, we secure solid foundations for success at school and beyond. We are very much looking forward to working with so many new and existing clients in the forthcoming academic year.”

This year has seen a record number of bookings for Thesan’s GCSE and Sixth Form Revision workshops.

Our Revision Workshops draw upon the latest research into metacognition, memory and neuroplasticity to help students get the most out of every revision session.  We teach students how to organise their revision based on the principles of ‘distributed practice’ in order to increase retention and embed learning within the long term memory.  Every Revision Workshop incorporates practical strategies to help students to manage stress and anxiety throughout the revision period and on exam days.

Claire Rhodes, Deputy Head at Queen Margaret’s School was delighted with the results of this year’s Upper Sixth Revision Workshop entitled ‘Smart Strategies for A Level Excellence’:

“The level of preparation and interaction was superb! Great knowledge, rapport with the girls and superb outcomes…Brilliant delivery and personalisation.”

Many congratulations to Queen Margaret’s for their ‘Excellent’ ISI outcomes this Summer. We are proud to have supported QM colleagues and students again this year and are excited to work with every pupil and teacher in 2019/20.

Year 11 students and parents at Read School, Selby, found Thesan’s GCSE Revision Workshop and accompanying Parent Seminar invaluable in the run up to this year’s exams:

Jen McLellan, Year 11 Parent: “I enjoyed learning the theory behind the revision techniques, as well as the practical tips such as ‘a good hour’s revision.’  As a result of this seminar, I will ensure my daughter is doing both the deconstruction and reconstruction aspects of revision, as well as using a metacognitive approach.”

Congratulations to all the Upper Sixth students who have received their A Level results this week and the very best of luck to those in Year 11 eagerly awaiting next Thursday’s GCSE results!

To find out more about Thesan’s Revision Workshops, please do get in touch with [email protected]

 Cost: £22.50/head per half-day or £35/head per full day’s workshop .

2018-19 Mid-Year Round-Up 

Demand for Thesan’s training has sky-rocketed this academic year with a five-fold increase in bookings as word spreads across the North of England! In order to meet this demand, our team has grown to include Chartered Educational Psychologist, Kate Barnett. Kate has 15 years Local Authority experience and brings specialisms in SEND, Pre-Prep and Primary Education to complement the Thesan team’s existing skill set.

Our work with independent pilot school, Cundall Manor at Thirsk, continues to develop exponentially with regular pupil workshops, parent seminars and complementary staff CPD to provide a joined-up approach to promoting academic excellence and emotional well-being.

Since September we have worked with every year group in the Senior School with pupil workshops ranging from revision skills and stress management strategies for Common Entrance with Form 6 (Year 8) to preparing Thornton (Year 10) for their GCSE journey. 

 At the beginning of March, Cundall’s Pre-Prep parents attended their first seminar on how to lay the foundations for children’s academic resilience. 100% of parents found the seminar useful and would recommend it to others. Parent, Victoria Jessop: “I found the seminar informative and current. It gave me ideas about how to help my children.”

In response to national recommendations from the Teacher Development Trust, Thesan provide tailored, iterative CPD which is developed in close consultation with each school’s own staff. One such example is our work with Queen Margaret’s School, York. In November, we delivered ‘Challenging Every Girl’ which drew upon the latest academic research and provided staff with opportunities to apply that research to practical lesson planning activities.

Claire Rhodes, Academic Deputy Head, was delighted with the results:

“Sue delivered a superb piece of INSET. She was engaging and her level of preparation was excellent. The amount of time taken to prepare before the training with colleagues was invaluable. Sue absolutely knew our school and therefore the training was so much more meaningful as it was specific to our needs from the start. I would definitely recommend Thesan’s work.”

We are now looking forward to working with colleagues at Queen Margaret’s later this year on their ‘Work Smart and Manage Stress’ CPD event.

Since September, we have been working with pupils, parents and staff at our new state pilot school, Holy Family Catholic High School, near Selby. 

 Our staff training seminar, ‘The Energy Creator’s Toolkit’ introduced teachers to research on neuroplasticity, metacognition and memory for learning and demonstrated how to turn that research into practical revision strategies to support Year 11 within and beyond the classroom.  

The key messages were then shared during two pupil workshops and parent seminars to ensure that each pupil could benefit from ‘360 degree’ support on their GCSE exam journey. 

Head of Year 11, Hanora Habberjam has reported that since receiving the training from Thesan, teachers at Holy Family are now successfully using the ‘Memory Clock’ revision method on a daily basis with Year 11 pupils. 

During the mock exam period, the pupils practised our recommended anxiety management techniques to re-focus them positively before sitting each exam.

Our Academic Director, Sue O’Leary-Hall has been in demand as a Guest Speaker this year. In November, Sue gave a talk at The Read School, Drax for prospective Sixth Formers, entitled ‘Effective Learning in the Sixth Form’. The talk incorporated research on how to develop a learning mindset and adopt a metacognitive approach whilst studying, as well as managing time and workload effectively.

In March, Sue presented at the Independent Schools Association Northern Headteachers’ AGM at Bridgewater School, Manchester on ‘360 Degree Systemic School Improvement: A joined-up approach towards academic excellence and emotional well-being’. 

Sue's speech foregrounded the importance of sharing academic and psychological research with teachers, parents and pupils and providing on-going sustainable support for all three sets of stakeholders.  She shared Case Studies of Thesan’s work with schools to demonstrate how research can be translated into practical strategies to raise attainment and improve academic and emotional resilience.

If you’d like to learn more about our work and find out how we can help your school shine, please do get in touch either by using the Contact Form on our website or by phone at our Leeds office:  0113 203 7358. All our work is evidence-based and evaluated, which enables schools to provide evidence of impact in the event of an ISI or Ofsted inspection.

Summer Highlights 

It’s been a busy summer term for Thesan, working with both new and existing school clients, as well as taking a record number of bookings for Autumn 2018!

Highlights from Summer 2018 include the inaugural delivery of our ‘Parenting in a Digital Age’ seminar at St Aidan’s Church of England High School, Harrogate and a terrific Transition Morning with the fabulous Year 6 pupils at our Pilot Primary School in Pool-in-Wharfedale.

Despite the soaring temperatures of 30 degrees Celsius, almost a hundred Key Stage 3 parents turned out to attend ‘Parenting in a Digital Age’ at St Aidan’s on Monday 25th June. Drawing on the latest academic and psychological research, Sue O’Leary-Hall (Thesan’s Academic Director) and Dr Emma Dixon (our Clinical Consultant) answered the big questions facing 21st Century parents:

• What do children need for secure social and emotional development?

• What is the impact of on-line activity on children’s academic development?

• How can we build our children’s online resilience?

The feedback from parents following the seminar was overwhelmingly positive: 100% of respondents found the seminar useful and would recommend it to others. One parent commented that the seminar provided “reassurance about how to deal with teenagers and technology”.

Our research in this area covers the impact of online activity on primary, secondary and Sixth Form pupils. If you would like to find out more about how this seminar can be tailored for your school, please do get in touch.

Later that week, Sue, our Academic Director, worked with 25 pupils at Pool Church of England Primary School, focusing on their forthcoming Transition into Year 7. The first session, Friendships and Fallouts, focused on managing healthy friendships, both in person and online. Pupils explored strategies to manage their emotional well-being within the context of a range of friendship scenarios.

The second session developed pupils’ understanding of ‘Growth Mindset’ and explored the importance of taking on academic challenges in order to build stronger neural connections. The pupils then created a life-sized model of a Year 7 pupil and delivered a short presentation about how to learn effectively and look after their emotional well-being.

Luisa Di Palmer-Heath, Pool Primary’s Assistant Headteacher, comments:

“I just wanted to say a huge THANK YOU for delivering such amazing workshops yesterday. The children and I really enjoyed both sessions - they were excellent!

You engaged and inspired every single child in Year 6…watching them with you yesterday was an absolute joy. They responded very well to you and I listened to / was part of so many excellent and moving discussions!

The Pupil Workshop provided excellent opportunities for children to express their views and discuss online safety in depth. All resources and clips etc. were well sourced, appropriate and to a very high standard - thank you for this.”

To find out more about a Year 6 Transition Workshop tailored to your school’s individual priorities, please do get in touch.

A big thank you to all our clients for booking with us this academic year. We hope that you enjoy a restful summer break and look forward to working with you again from September!

To find out more about how we can support the pupils at your school, please contact us using the Contact Form on our website or by phone at our Leeds office:  0113 203 7358. All our work is evidence-based and evaluated, which enables schools to provide evidence of impact in the event of an ISI or Ofsted inspection.

‘Keep Calm and Revise Effectively’

On Thursday and Friday 26th and 27th April, Sue O’Leary-Hall, Thesan’s Academic Director worked with Key Stage 3 pupils from Queen Margaret’s School, York to support them in preparing for their forthcoming examinations.

The aims of the Key Stage 3 workshops were to help pupils develop effective revision strategies and consider how to manage their physical and psychological well-being during the revision and examination periods.

Claire Rhodes, Academic Deputy, was delighted with the impact of the workshops:

“I have received such positive feedback from the staff and the girls…it has been a huge success.”

The Year 7 and 8 workshop focused on ‘the basics’ of how to revise, as well as introducing stress management strategies to help pupils manage their physical and emotional well-being during the revision period and remain calm on exam days.

Imogen in Year 7 commented that “the workshop was a great experience. It has helped me to feel prepared and calm about my upcoming exams.”

The Year 9 workshop introduced pupils to metacognitive approaches to revision as well as focusing on how best to structure the limited time available during revision weeks for optimum effectiveness. Year 9 pupil, Delphine, described the workshop as “informative, fun and helpful.”

We wish all the girls at Queen Margaret’s every success in their summer examinations.

To find out more about how we can support the pupils at your school, please contact us using the Contact Form on our website. All our work is evidence-based and evaluated, which enables schools to provide evidence of impact in the event of an ISI or Ofsted inspection.

‘Work Smart and Manage Stress’

On Wednesday 14th March, we had the pleasure of working with 65 ITT students from the Yorkshire Teaching Schools and White Rose Alliances. The aim of the seminar was to help trainee teachers consider how to prioritise and manage their NQT workload, and to recognise, mitigate and manage stress.

“This seminar changed my perspective on the NQT year and made me realise that new teachers don’t have to be perfect. We have to do our best, over the long term, to improve pupil progress and be good role models.”  (Nicola Gibson, ITT Student)

Participant feedback was overwhelmingly positive; 98% of trainees found the seminar useful and would recommend it to others. At the start of the day, only 38% of participants had considered how to manage their NQT workload with 52% knowing how to manage competing priorities; by the end of the seminar, both figures had risen to 98%. We also saw a 36% increase in participants’ understanding of how to manage stress and a 44% increase in understanding of how to plan strategically in order to minimise stress.

The Directors of Initial Teacher Training at the Yorkshire Teaching Schools Alliance (Dave Holdsworth, Assistant Headteacher at St Aidan’s CE High School, Harrogate) and the White Rose Alliance (Lisa Holdsworth, Assistant Headteacher at King James School, Knaresborough) both commented that they would be “very likely” to recommend Thesan’s work to other schools.

The timing of the seminar could not have been more opportune given Education Secretary, Damian Hinds’ announcement this week that he intends to reduce workload in order to limit stress within the teaching profession: “Clearly, one of the biggest threats to retention, and also to recruitment, is workload.”

Dave Holdsworth, Assistant Headteacher and Director of ITT at the Yorkshire Teaching Schools Alliance:

“The messages [in the ‘Work Smart and Manage Stress’ seminar] are strong and echo the ways in which we are guiding the trainees. The management of themselves, their workload and reducing guilt are important for us and them.”

ITT Student, Kirsten Wandby-Tolley: “I liked the combination of expertise – having someone from both a medical and a teaching background makes it so valuable and credible. I really enjoyed the session and feel a lot better about coping with the NQT year – thank you!”

To find out how we can tailor this and other seminars to your specific requirements, please contact Sue O’Leary-Hall, Academic Director.

Kirsten Wandby-Tolley: “I liked the combination of expertise – having someone from a medical and teaching background makes it so valuable and credible. I really enjoyed the session and feel a lot better about coping with the NQT year – thank you!”

Form 5 Pupil Workshop and Parent Seminar at 

Cundall Manor School, Thirsk

7th December 2017

On Thursday 7th December, we worked with the fantastic Form 5 (Year 7) pupils and parents from our North of England Pilot School (Independent sector), Cundall Manor School, near Thirsk. We are excited to be working together with pupils across Years 7-11 over the course of the academic year.

The aim of the Year 7 workshops was to help pupils develop effective learning and problem-solving skills, as well as increasing their understanding of how to manage friendships and improve their personal well-being. John Sample, Headmaster commented, “Watching the engagement of our pupils today learning an invaluable lesson about Growth Mindset was inspiring.”

Pupil feedback was overwhelmingly positive; the children enjoyed the breadth of different activities and rose to the challenge of some highly demanding tasks. Pupils reported an increase in their confidence and a clearer understanding of their personal strengths. As Emily said, “It helps you feel better about yourself and your work.” Otto commented that, “it taught me a lot which I didn’t know about myself” and Charlie described the Pupil Workshop as “the best day ever”.

The Year 7 parent seminar focused on supporting parents to foster a family ‘Growth Mindset’ and to help their children develop the necessary resilience for academic success and emotional and social well-being. The parents found the seminar “easy to follow” and “very informative”. 100% of parents stated that they would recommend the seminar to other parents and one parent, Vicky Richardson, suggested that the training “should be compulsory” for all parents!

We are delighted to partner with Cundall Manor as a Pilot School due to their outstanding reputation and long history of academic and pastoral excellence. When a school has been judged ‘Outstanding’ in every category, there is a constant challenge to sustain those standards as well as to add value wherever possible. We are working closely with Cundall Manor in developing a bespoke training package to enable pupils, parents and staff to benefit from the latest academic and psychological research. All our work is evidence-based and evaluated, which enables schools to provide evidence of impact in the event of an ISI or Ofsted inspection.