By Sunny Gunessee
The A Level Mindset by Steve Oakes and Martin Griffin
This book is causing quite a stir in the sixth form world, whether that be sixth form leadership, sixth form tutors or sixth form teachers. The book is based around the idea of VESPA; vision, effort, systems, practice and attitude.
The A Level Mindset provides 40 clear strategies to support students to move towards successful outcomes and arguably more importantly life skills which will set them up beyond the formal education system. It’s incredibly easy to read, the language is positive and reassuring. At the beginning of each quality (VESPA) it provides an explanation of the strategy followed by an application to real situations.
With the focus at Oriel High School moving towards coaching techniques to improve teacher’s professional development, this book briefly discusses the importance of coaching as the medium to facilitate sixth form improvement. Coaching students is no different to coaching staff, the focus is not on being an expert in particularly area, but to facilitate the individual to take ownership over their own goals. For further reading on coaching ideas, please click here.
This biggest thing I have taken away from this book is from the systems and practice section. The practice section provides a great idea on ‘revision questionnaire’, a simple but effective questionnaire which alleviates the issues of students saying ‘I don’t know to revise’. It breaks up revision into three areas; content, skills and feedback which enables you as a teacher to feel one of two things – reassured you’re doing the right thing or provide a simple idea of the types of revision strategies students could [should] be using. Also from the systems section of the book, the idea of the ‘Eisenhower matrix’ provide a simple strategy to get students to understand how to prioritise tasks in their lives; urgent, non-urgent, important and non-important.
With an anticipated visit of the authors to Oriel High School in 2017, this should be read by any sixth form related staff to prepare themselves to ask any question for further information and to benefit from having two authors who have over 40 years of experience together in regards to 6th form improvement.