This illustrates how our ‘Social Media Fundamentals’ course has been successfully applied within the State Education sector in the UK.
Bishop Challoner is a Catholic secondary school in London. The Head of Boys’ English was keen to examine new methods and use formats known to his students to help them enjoy their lessons more and attain higher grades.
An issue familiar to all schools is that many students miss out on grades which are predicted as being within their potential. The challenge for schools, such as Bishop Challoner, is to implement intervention strategies which are both cost-effective and beneficial to all students.
One of the key reasons why the Social Media Fundamentals course was more effective than previously tried options was because it focused on tapping into two priceless resources: the students’ own skills and personal interests.
The three desired outcomes of the course were to help students:
- Successfully complete key stage 4 (GCSE) objectives.
- Improve coursework results.
- Improve grades (in particular of students predicted grade ‘D’ to move to a grade ‘C’ and above).
Plan of Action
To achieve the desired outcomes, the Social Media Fundamentals course was delivered during a four week period. The focus was for 90% of the students’ English GCSE coursework to consist of creative writing, persuasive writing as well as speaking and listening. These were combined with the three core areas of the course: social media, career choices and digital life skills.
The four-week initiative focused on developing writing skills and communicating appropriately with different audiences. Alongside this, there was also an emphasis on core literacy skills and making cross-curricular links (in particular with Business Studies, Maths and Sociology).
Media professionals were also bought in to provide first-hand insight into the challenges of communication, marketing and career advice. This unique strategy allowed the Social Media Fundamentals course to be more relevant and rewarding for the students as it offered rich and actionable insights from people who are knowledgeable about their industry.
- Week 1: The first week consisted of outlining the fundamentals of social media and its relevancy to students (within the context of their English course – in this case the WJEC persuasive writing syllabus). The pupils were given a number of practical tasks including working on a social media marketing strategy for a video game. A factor in the students’ enthusiasm was that they were mostly keen game players – and so, they had fun whilst learning the essentials of social media.
- Week 2: The second week provided the opportunity for the students to explore the creative nature of working within the social media industry. The sessions demonstrated the link between creative thinking, budgets, social media tools and a real life event. The students were helped by a marketing manager from Kiss FM who offered advice and took part in a Q&A session with them. The work undertaken in this session formed a structured base for the students’ creative writing, allowing them to write a multi-layered and realistic first person narrative piece.
- Week 3: An exercise in the third week demonstrated to the students how creative writing can be an asset for different social media. This was supported by a digital PR coordinator (the industry professional of the week) who also took part in a Q&A session. The information gathered by the students in this session allowed them to create a speech (as per the WJEC persuasive writing syllabus) focusing on their newly acquired professional skills.
- Week 4: The final week consisted of the students presenting their task which they had been working on since week 1. Four judges (including the Head of Boys’ School and the Head of Boys’ English) assessed each presentation. This was then followed this up with a session highlighting what the students had learnt and the practicality of it. The final presentations were graded by the Head of Boys’ English who then submitted the grade as their result for their GCSE speaking and listening assessment. All boys received a minimum of a grade C with the highest performing pupil achieving a grade A for what was deemed to be a highly professional presentation.
The course was extremely successful – exceeding expectation and the desired outcomes for all stakeholders: the school, teachers, LEA, parents and most importantly the students.
Attendance of 100% was achieved on the course. However, attainment was a highlight as all students received a grade C or above for their written and orally presented work. Alongside this, over two-thirds of targeted students either remained or moved into the top tier group.
An update from the GCSE results of January 2011 was that a significant number of the students who were borderline (in terms of predicted grades) moved up in actual attainment in the final exams.
The course also provided a strong motivational aspect for the students, as they were able to hear first-hand from industry professionals who could illustrate the link between education and real-life situations post studying.
The success of the Social Media Fundamentals course led to it being featured in major national media such as: The Telegraph, The Times Educational Supplement, Teachers TV and the popular business website Brand Republic.