Seminars should cover the difficult concepts in subject areas and also allow the student an opportunity to explore topics at a deeper level with a teacher. Some of these should be mandatory attendance, but some should have an element of choice.
At present seminars tend to focus too much on just Maths and English and tend to be very instructional. This is fine if the seminars are synchronised roughly with the work students are doing, but it is missing out on opportunities to explore the wider richness of the driving question the students are focussing on. It is fine to have instructional seminars if the quality of facilitation in focus sessions and tutorials is such that students have opportunities to discuss or analyse things in a wider context.
A possible solution to the above issues might be to divide our seminars into three types:
- Compulsory seminars. All students would do these seminars at the same time. (When we timetable for next year if students are doing different projects we would have to synchronise the times of this type of seminar). These Seminars could be taught in the normal Sets and differentiated in the normal way. If the seminar is shorter than 50 mins then students continue with focus time activities
- Optional seminars. Some students will be directed to go to these. Others may be given the option, but only if the Learning Facilitator agrees. Normally at least someone from the team needs to go. These seminars are an opportunity to delve deeper into the subject and discuss the subject matter/issues more fully. During these seminars, it will be helpful to have bigger classrooms in operation to allow larger groups working in focus sessions.
- Enrichment seminars. These seminars are voluntary, giving the students the opportunity to develop their projects further. Again we will have to timetable focus sessions on at these times in big classrooms. These seminars would be more sporadic in terms of frequency.