Welcome to Positively MAD week at the Ruth Gorse Academy! This programme, however, looks very different than the last week-long Go Higher West Yorkshire activity at school – while the Careers Fair in March saw employers and education providers from all over Yorkshire interacting with students in person, we, as everyone else, have now adapted to a new normal. While I expected to be discouraged by the difference in scale of projects we can undertake, instead I have been reminded of the significance of overcoming daily challenges and of the relativity of success as we face adversity.
This programme includes a series of interactive videos, activities and technique templates that are uploaded to students’ Google Classroom accounts each morning. These are accompanied by live Zoom seminars. Each day has a focus: Study, Revise, Recall, Resilience and Motivate. Students watch the daily video and work through materials on their own. Then, they attend a session held by one of Positively MAD’s instructors. Every live seminar involves new physical activities, brain teasing challenges, and opportunities for students to show off new skills and knowledge to the presenter via the chat function. While this online provision is, on the surface, very different to previous Go Higher West Yorkshire sponsored programmes, the students’ engagement, hard work and success is just as apparent.
Throughout this week we celebrate the accomplishments of students and support them in gaining new skills that will help them both in their academic careers and throughout their lives. Positively MAD’s programme places an emphasis on study skills, mental resilience, and internal motivation – all of these especially pertinent during the period of school closures. Throughout this week as I follow along with the daily materials and attend the Zoom sessions, I am reminded of the true breadth of our students’ accomplishments throughout the period of lockdown. While the goals we set achieve may look nothing like what we are used to, their achievement should be just as highly congratulated. The adaptability, dedication and resilience that many of our students embody is being exhibited through Positively MAD’s programme; while we can no longer interact and succeed in quite in the same way, I am reminded to find joy in the little successes and work hard in the face of adversity.
Sophia Carbonneau, Higher Education Progression Officer at The Ruth Gorse Academy