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Case Study

Looking after student wellbeing

St Peter’s Catholic College in Middlesbrough isn’t just using GCSEPod to keep its students’ academic success on track during the second national Covid-19 lockdown, but to ensure they look after their wellbeing too.

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St Peter’s Catholic College

At St Peter’s Catholic College in Middlesbrough, the mental and physical welfare of students has always been as important as academic success. Keeping tabs on student wellbeing is no easy task during a lockdown.

Mental and physical welfare

At St Peter’s Catholic College in Middlesbrough, the mental and physical welfare of students has always been as important as academic success.

Keeping tabs on student wellbeing is no easy task during a lockdown, however.

So the school in South Bank is drawing on the help of perhaps an unlikely source to keep its 500 students fit and healthy: GCSEPod.

The EdTech platform is best known for its award-winning GCSE content delivered via expertly written, highly concentrated three to five minute bursts of audio-visual learning – known as Pods.

But the college – has also been exploiting GCSEPod’s Wellbeing Pods developed in partnership with the Youth Sport Trust. The pods were developed and narrated by  sprinter and broadcaster Jeanette Kwayke, olympic rower Toby Garbett and Thai world boxing champion Rachael MacKenzie.

Concentrating on four key areas: the body, the mind, the environment and how to plan positive changes to control wellbeing, Pods cover everything from nutrition to relaxation, hydration, managing thoughts, exercise, goal setting, sleep and coping with stress.

St Peter’s PE teacher, Year 11 Director of Progress, and GCSEPod lead, Kate Jamison, says it’s an unsettling time for all.

“But for us, GCSEPod is helping to alleviate the stress students may be feeling on a number of levels. Firstly, it’s a different and very manageable way of learning. Secondly, because we have introduced GCSEPod to all year groups, we have opened them up to a resource that not only offers an impressive bundle of subjects but delivers information in a clear, organised and fun way that helps aid study, retain information and boost confidence.

“GCSEPod is helping to alleviate the stress students may be feeling on a number of levels.”

Helping the whole child

“Thirdly, GCSEPod has a fantastic range of videos linked to mental wellbeing and health. That’s what I really like, that it’s not just subject specific and academic. It helps the whole child. Primarily they’re aimed at supporting students through their learning and exams, which in themselves can be tough for some.

“But the videos’ messages are equally relevant now across all age groups. Using Year 11 as an example, we have a full year group classroom where we post updates about careers and college open events, and it’s there that we’ve been sharing the links to the wellbeing videos. TheStudents have really engaged with these resources

“We can’t physically be there to support all our students at the moment, but in these unsettling times the videos offer lots of constructive support and great insights into how you can boost your wellbeing.”

It’s not just students who are benefitting from GCSEPod. Staff are too.

Having access to the platform is making the task of remote teaching easier than it might have been. Tim Appleby is St Peter’s Director of Science. He says: “We had started using GCSEPod over the course of the past year, but once we hit lockdown this time around, that’s when we really started to push it.

“Bookending lessons with a pod”

“The expectations have been completely different between lockdown one and this time around regarding what we are being asked to do. This time we are doing live lessons, and we really needed something that could be used at the start and end of each session, which is where GCSEPod has been really useful for us.

“It has not only given us a nice bitesize chunk of work for the students to do, but also enabled us to track data. So when they use GCSEPod for a lesson, I can go back in and have a look at which questions students struggled with and use that information to help inform lesson content and planning.

“GCSEPod fits very well into the planning we already have. It is allowing us to have the same structure remotely as we would have face-to-face in class.”

Given Tim’s background, it is perhaps no surprise to hear that the science department in particular has embraced GCSEPod.

“We have really run with it and it is proving to be very successful,” he explains. “Since lockdown we have been using it for recall tasks at the start of lessons and we have now begun using it to demonstrate assignments at the end as well. 

What I have been doing with most of my groups is bookending lessons with a Pod, so choosing one based on previous content, setting five to 10 questions around that, and then at the end selecting another on what we have just studied or are about to.

“What I particularly like about GCSEPod is that it is so user friendly. There’s an app that is ready to go and the kids can just jump straight into it. We can’t wait for the new and improved app that is on the horizon.

From year 7 to 11

“We are using it right the way through from Years 7 to 11. For the younger ones who are getting ready for KS4, we are finding GCSEPod with its multitude of subjects, is very good for getting them ahead.

“Sometimes, I think we are guilty of leaving it to the last minute to get students ready for their GCSEs, the different revision techniques, and the planning skills.”

Tim says students seem to be more positive about lockdown learning this time around – which in part he attributes to GCSEPod. Many have exceeded lockdown learning expectations, with one Year 10 student having watched more than 700 Pods.

Kate adds: “In regard to observing year groups as a whole and their engagement, breaking it down by subject, having an overview of what subjects’ year groups are accessing, and seeing what work students are producing, it is a lot easier using GCSEPod than visiting every classroom or meeting every department head. All that information is there at my fingertips.

“GCSEPod is definitely making lockdown learning a lot less stressful for everyone this time around.”

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