ACS International Schools students go above and beyond to support their peers
Above: Hillingdon student Eemil, in the red coat (pictured on a Model United Nations trip to The Hague), is one of students helping his peers.
Final year students from across ACS Internationals Schools' UK campuses have developed a series of peer-to-peer educational resources to support Grade 11 students currently studying the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme (DP), an international curriculum programme for learners aged 16-19.
Haya and Annefien, two students from ACS International School Cobham, have developed and launched 'IB Aid', which provides tips, experiences and revision examples for four DP courses, as well as the IB core subjects. Jaden and Eemil, two students from ACS International School Hillingdon, have also been putting their IB knowledge to good use before they embark on their journeys at university and have created a database of example work and guides across all IB courses, as well as delivering a series of virtual masterclasses on IB core subjects, the extended essay and theory of knowledge.
When the IB exams were cancelled this year, Haya and I wanted to find a way to take our work from the last two years and turn it into something useful for other students. Through the website we're providing students with relatable advice and helpful revision materials that they can apply to their own IB studies.
Both initiatives were created shortly after the May 2020 IB examinations were cancelled. ACS's final year students were determined to do something meaningful with their time and knowledge to support the students who are still working towards their IB qualifications.
Commenting on their motivations to establish IB Aid, Annefien says: "When the IB exams were cancelled this year, Haya and I wanted to find a way to take our work from the last two years and turn it into something useful for other students. Through the website we're providing students with relatable advice and helpful revision materials that they can apply to their own IB studies."
Haya continues: "The end of the first year is one of the most challenging times in the DP, and we feel it's only right that we share our experiences and provide advice on things that would have been useful for us to know at this time. Throughout the DP, you often look to other students to provide more personal support and offer their expertise, but, during this difficult time, it's not as easy for students to reach out to their teachers and peers for help. We hope IB Aid will bridge some of these gaps."
Haya and Annefien spent roughly one month gathering information and notes, making adaptations for different types of learners, creating the website and the Instagram account, and promoting it to their peers. They carefully considered the implications of coronavirus on the way students are learning, and have created parts of the website that include ideas, tips and advice that are directly relevant to the current situation. So far, the platform has been well-received by students and Haya and Annefien have hosted a number of live Q&As on the Instagram account to address some of their peers' specific questions.
ACS Hillingdon students, Jaden and Eemil, were also keen to support younger students during this unprecedented time. Eemil explains: "My fellow Grade 12 students and I have now finished school, and, although exams have been cancelled, the situation has really not been that bad for us. For the grade below us however, things aren't so easy, they are currently half way through their DP studies, have their first extended essay drafts due soon, and it really is a stressful time to not be in the classroom. Both Jaden and I have really enjoyed being able to support our peers during the coronavirus pandemic. Completing this kind of project where we're reflecting on work that we've already done and sharing our experiences with other students really doesn't feel like work at all."
The extended essay is an independent, self-directed piece of research all DP students are required to do, culminating with a 4,000-word essay. To support the Grade 11s currently working on their extended essay, Jaden and Eemil have created a database of sample documents from their year group, compiling both their own work and other students', and adding comments and reflections on each document, evaluating what was good about it, what could be improved, and key takeaways.
While working on the database, Jaden and Eemil were also asked to provide virtual masterclasses on the extended essay and, another DP core component, theory of knowledge.
Jaden comments: "I think having the perspective of another student always has massive benefits, and, particularly with the extended essay masterclass, we think it was helpful for students to hear our approaches to the project, what strategies we applied and how we wrote our own first drafts. We provided rough frameworks and bullet points for writing, and were also able to share our experience with dealing with the challenges and deadlines of the project. I think this can be enormously valuable to hear from someone who has gone through the same experience very recently."
Jaden and Eemil and Haya and Annefien intend to continue supporting their fellow ACS students throughout the coming months, and as they move onto university study later this year too.