01 May 2019

Kent Academies Network (KAN) Easter Residential 2019

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KAN’s 2019 Easter residential was held at Sevenoaks School during the first week of April. A group of 37 students in years 10 to 13 from five partner academy schools took part.

With GCSE and A level exams looming for students in Years 11 and 13, the residential was distinctly multi-speed in approach to reflect the different priorities of the various cohorts.

For 15 students in years 11 and 13 the focus was very much exam preparation. Students were given three days of revision classes by teachers from Sevenoaks, Tonbridge and Benenden. With only four Year 13 students in attendance, they worked in small groups with experts in their A level subjects on requested topics, often on a one-to-one basis.  Of the 15 mentors who took part in the residential, more than half were involved in teaching and tutoring at some point.

The range of subjects studied at GCSE level by the 11 students is very broad, so the revision classes targeted key subjects in greater depth; Maths, English, Physics, Chemistry and Biology. As seven students from the Year 10 cohort will sit the GCSE English Literature exam this summer, they too had a session to prepare for the test by looking at how to approach writing a commentary on a previously unseen poem. Overall, the students found their three day residential at Sevenoaks extremely helpful.

The format of the residential for the Year 10 and Year 12 was very different. It ran for five days and took a project based, multidisciplinary approach. This focused on the theme of Zombies; a metaphor which was used to provide a narrative for the programme of study and a lens through which examine a range of subjects. Rather than traditional lessons, the students were given ‘briefings’ by experts in various fields.  The topical briefings looked at the idea of Zombies from different angles; ranging from plagues in Ancient Greece, to 21st century contagion mapping and management; from Medieval witch trials to the ethics of personhood.

Some of the ‘expert briefings’ were given by teachers and six were given by mentors on topics which they had studied at university.

For the first time on a residential students worked in small mixed cohort groups of about five or six people with whom they collaborated on a joint project. This project was a dramatic performance in response to the theme of Zombies.  While working on devising this piece the students began to respond creatively to the initial stimulus and their final presentations addressed relevant social issues like homelessness, population migration and social media. This outcome was felt by all to be very pleasing and the performances were imaginative and the students were committed in their delivery.

Author, actor and Old Sennockian, Charlie Higson gave a fascinating keynote lecture on the literary and cultural history of Zombies and Vampires. He was very generous with his time and knowledge and answered questions on a vast range of subjects from Lord Byron’s physician to Call of Duty.

During the residential, students got the opportunity to visit Goldsmiths University in London where they participated in a creative writing workshop and heard a lecture by Dr Ramon Amaro about digital surveillance in contemporary British society. 

It was a really enjoyable experience and everyone is looking forward to the residentials at Fitzwilliam College Cambridge and at Tonbridge School in the summer.


Mr Jonathan Cheetham (KAN Coordinator)

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