30 Nov 2015

College | Da Vinci Programme

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Friday 29th November 2015

Dear Parents

I am writing to introduce myself to you and to the new Da Vinci Programme which will be starting at St John’s College next term. I have already had the pleasure of meeting a number of you in person in connection with my new role, which is to set up and co-ordinate a programme which supports specific educational requirements of boys at St John’s College.

The Da Vinci Programme is a system of curriculum support and extension, and the new centre is located near the swimming pool, next to the library. The overall aim of this programme is to provide for individual learning needs within the mainstream school system. We will be working closely with staff and the wider school community to identify gaps in learning and to assess, plan and implement targeted support for our students. We will also be working in close partnership with our oncampus educational psychologist and school-based counsellor, drawing in external specialists as required.

We will be starting in January 2016 with the inaugural steps of our programme, which include the following:

· Targeted academic intervention for students who have been specifically referred through the educational psychologist or relevant members of staff.
This will include assistance with academic subjects, organisational skills, study skills and exam technique where required. These interventions may be
short-, middle- or long-term, depending on the specific requirements of each boy referred. (There may be a charge for long-term academic support,
depending on the level of support required). In general, this targeted intervention will be timetabled in the morning and boys will be encouraged to
follow the school’s existing afternoon tutorial system with subject teachers for additional academic assistance, thereby hopefully avoiding the need for
‘extra lessons’ outside the school.

· A Form 4 mentorship programme, whereby every Form 4 student will be allocated to a member of staff as part of a small mentor group. These mentors
will provide ongoing organisational, academic and pastoral support throughout the year and will be the first point of contact for parents. Details of this
scheme will be provided at the beginning of next term.

· Classroom support will be provided where required, promoting and supporting teaching and independent learning within the mainstream classroom

· We will also identify differentiation possibilities for our students requiring extension within the streaming system. For example, the introduction of Latin to
certain classes next year.

· Two new Da Vinci afternoon clubs, one aimed at extending students in critical thinking and open-ended problem-solving and the second focusing on
extension work in scientific projects. We also hope to start a new club next year focusing on vocational skills, starting with motor mechanics.

We hope that the Da Vinci Centre will provide a stimulating breathing space for students who require it, while also challenging students to broader thinking. Our intention is to enhance the provision for fulfilling students’ individual needs within the existing system.

I am very much looking forward to starting this new venture at St John’s and getting to know you and your sons as the programme develops.

With best wishes

Katherine Whitfield

“I never teach my students, I only provide the conditions in which they can learn,”
Albert Einstein