Year 7 Life this term has revolved around the development of reading rich curriculum that cumulates in an experience day to explore the issues raised throughout the lessons in greater depth. This means that throughout all lessons in Life students have spent time exploring a text and reading. This is then followed by a day where all lessons are collapsed and students get the opportunity to experience new things and meet people who they haven’t had chance to meet before. The rationale behind this was to teach students the strategies to enable close reading whilst also covering current events and enabling the students to come to their own opinion about a topic that many often don’t have much insight on. To do this students used the formula predict, clarify, question and summarise whilst reading Boy 87 to find out explicit and implicit meaning within the book.
The focus has been on Boy87 a story of a young boy named Shif and his best friend Bini who are seeking safety from a government that have labelled the boys ‘dissenters’. The themes of the book are covered include friendship, trust, kindness, persecution and the refugee crisis all of which are considered through the views of young people. Throughout the lessons students have become experts of reading using close text analysis and reciprocal reading to explore the depths of the book. Student voice has indicated that the choice of book and topic area has been favourably viewed the average rating given to the book is 4.6 out of 5 with clear messages being picked up and remembered by students throughout the year group.
“I think the most important part was when he had to go to camp, to make others realise how lucky we are not to have things like that in our country”.
“The most important part is when Shif and Bini cross the desert because it makes people aware of the real journey refugees do”.
“The most important bit is when Shif and Bini run away from the camp/prison to live somewhere else. People should know that it is a very good book and that it will teach people that you can be who you want to be”.
”Shif had to leave Bini to die, that was really important as he had to go on with a broken heart...”
Once the book had been completed all Year 7 students have had the opportunity to take part in Diversity Day 2020, during the day they met the author of Boy 87 Ele Fountain and asked her numerous questions about why the story was written. Students also had chance to meet refugees who have sought asylum in the UK from Uganda and The Ivory Coast from the Charity City of Sanctuary based in Sheffield. Throughout the day the students met people they don’t usually get chance to interact with including people with disabilities, people from the LGBTQ+ community and people whose parents migrated to the UK for work. Students also tried Mexican food and spent some time finding out about and practicing Yoga. This gave students the chance to see diversity first had and to discover that difference makes the world a greater place.
The success of the Life curriculum has been fantastic with students discussing the topic throughout the academy, with their parents and even with SLT on the bus duty home. Students have on average gained a 97% test score on their Accelerated Reading tests on the book and throughout student voice they are keen to share how much they learnt both from Boy87 and Diversity Day. Through student voice 97% of students had the opportunity to meet someone who they usually wouldn’t get chance to and 92% thought that meeting refugees helped them to understand that topic in greater depth. We are extremely proud of the progress students have made and also the mature way in which they have approached such an adult topic area. The next step is for students to create an alternative ending for Boy87 for their best piece of work in Y7.