STEP by STEP, St Mary’s Sixth Form students lead the way with peer-led teaching.

STEP by STEP, St Mary’s Sixth Form students lead the way with peer-led teaching.

A new academic year brings a brand-new programme of very successful and highly informative “STEP” talks, run by the students, for the students, at St Mary’s.

Standing for Share, Teach, Empower and Progress, the STEP initiative is being run again by founder and academic prefect, Victoria G., who organises and encourages fellow Sixth formers to deliver talks and presentations of their own creation.

Yesterday’s topic resulted in an interactive discussion about communicable vs non-communicable diseases for Year 8 students, led by Connie P. and Zoe E. They are both enthusiastic A Level students keen to share fascinating details in the geography curriculum.

Zoe pointed out that:

“Geography isn’t just about rivers and mountains, it’s about people too, which makes it a very interesting subject to study.”

The content was carefully and considerately tailored for the younger audience, according to Connie:

“This talk will give you a head start on what fascinating topics, with a more science feel, are to come if you choose A Level geography.” 

Deciding whether malaria, with its disease-spreading mosquitos, was a communicable or non-communicable disease was a quick and conclusive decision as Year 8 demonstrated their choice by choosing one side of the room (the ‘catching’ side) or the other. Tuberculosis led to a divided audience, with much more discussion from the safety of the middle ground, before a unanimous decision was made.

Cholera and chronic respiratory diseases were easily categorised before the discussion moved on to the impact of communicable and non-communicable diseases in Low Income Developing Countries (LIDCs) compared to Advanced Countries (ACs), with reasons for their varying impacts being volunteered by the audience.

The benefits of peer led learning and teaching for both parties were clear to see, with Sixth Formers developing their presentation skills through the love of a subject, to a receptive audience of Year 8 students who were engaged and ready to broaden their learning.

Victoria summarised her thoughts and hopes for the STEP talks in the future, saying:

“Hopefully these talks will continue for years, with the younger students here perhaps organising the programme in the future, or delivering their own talks about their own interests. Maybe today has given them something to aspire to, as well as giving older students an opportunity to produce and deliver an academic talk to a welcoming audience. ”

A repeat of communicable vs non-communicable diseases, this time to Year 9, Coral Reefs for Year 9 and Year 10, and Institutional Racism for an audience of Year 10, are next up in our STEP programme this term.