Time to Talk: A level retakes
This article was first published in The Oxford Times on 17th August 2023.
Grant Connor, Academic Director at Greene’s College Oxford, explains the importance of understanding the student’s personal narrative.
“I think myself very fortunate in my role as Academic Director because I have the opportunity to hear the personal narratives of our students first-hand. In a quite literal sense, each student’s journey at Greene’s begins with them telling us their story — about their pathway through education, about the challenges they have faced and the successes they have known, and about what they hope the future has in store. Each student’s journey through education is unique and I believe that our role as educators is not to force this journey to follow the shape of predetermined paths, but rather to listen and respond to the voice of the student as they chart their own course.
“The importance of understanding a student’s personal narrative is perhaps clearest when talking to students who are debating retaking an A level. The vital first step, we have found, is always to articulate what has brought a student to their current position and to learn what they, as an individual, need in the year ahead. It is through this that the Greene’s tutorial method of learning reveals its greatest strength: because of our commitment to individual, paired, and shared tuition (with a maximum group size of three students), we are able to work with our students to produce a truly individualised programme of study that takes note of their personal learning style and their academic priorities.
“Each student begins their studies with as we call it in college, a “diagnosis”. The principal aim at the start of the academic year is for students and tutors to identify their strengths and weaknesses within a subject; to diagnose what might have prevented the student from reaching their full potential in the past and how we can support them in overcoming such hurdles in the future. The endpoint of this diagnostic period is for the student and tutor, in collaboration, to hone a bespoke study plan, the blueprint of how the student will rebuild their understanding of their subject with especial focus on the areas with which they have previously struggled and with a keen eye on how to secure examination success on the second sitting.
“Naturally, we understand that the decision to retake is not one that students and their families take lightly — and that the start of an A level retake programme can be a challenging time for students. This makes it all the more important to ensure that fulsome support is in place from the very first day to allow students to start the next leg of their journey with confidence and a clear direction. With this in mind, Greene’s has fostered a long tradition of connecting students with a Personal Tutor to act as their mentor – their “compass”, if you will – along the way. The Personal Tutor is a member of the Greene’s tutor body (so will themselves be well versed in offering tuition through our tutorial method) whose role sits at the intersection of academic and pastoral life in the college: they work with students to refine study skills, to promote good organisation and time management, to provide insight into how best to approach their academic pursuits, but also to offer guidance if a student should encounter any obstacles in their way.
“What has become clear to us in the 56 years since our founding under Edward Greene is that the personalised focus afforded to our students in their subjects through our use of the tutorial method – and the individualised attention that comes from the support of the Personal Tutor – has a transformative effect on a young person’s education. This effect is never more pronounced than when we are working with a student who is looking for a second chance to succeed in their A level studies and to forge ahead on the next part of their academic and professional careers. Since 2020, 92% of the retake grades received by Greene’s students have improved by two grades or more compared to the grades with which they joined the college. What is more, we are immensely proud that, in the past academic year, Greene’s has helped students to secure offers from four of the five G5 institutions in the U.K. and 22 of the 24 Russell Group universities.
“With the start of our next academic year fast approaching, we are once again excited to welcome a new cohort of students, to hear their narratives, and to walk beside them, if only for a while, at this crucial moment in their own journeys.”
To learn more about how Greene’s can help you, complete the contact form below, or visit our A level retake page available here.
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