Bellerive FCJ Catholic College

Ambitious school organises study skills week

Bellerive FCJ Catholic College

Bellerive FCJ is an 11-18 school which has been educating girls in Liverpool for nearly 170 years – and more recently boys as well in the Sixth Form. It is an international school in many senses, with students taking GCSEs in no less than eight different languages! It is rated ‘good’ by Ofsted.

Paul McMenamin, Deputy Headteacher, decided to invite Study Skills Zone into Bellerive last year to work with the Year 11 students. The day went so well that, the following year, Paul arranged for the Company to run a study skills week working with the entire school over a four-day period.

The feedback from the students and staff was ‘outstanding’ and the success can be judged from the fact that the School has booked the same again for next year.

Paul McMenamin’s comments at the end of the week were as follows: “This was an excellent experience for our students. It introduced them to the vital skills of how to learn and how to study. The ‘growth mindset’ was also very important in showing them how sustained effort and hard work can yield impressive results. This is a model we will repeat next year.”

Students, staff and parents were equally loud in their praise of the workshops. A few extracts are provided here. But the range and quality of the comments were so impressive that we decided to include many of them in the Appendix that follows.

Parents: I really enjoyed the session – thank you; it was inspirational, it even motivated me; I learned different ways to help my daughter rather than telling her to just do it.

Staff: students developed independent learning skills and practical revision techniques; they were engaged with the tasks; an excellent introduction to mind-mapping.

Students: I learned more about my brain and how I learn; how my brain can grow – wow! making up a story to help me remember; I had a fab time; lots of practical ideas.

At the end of their workshop, each student was given a questionnaire. Eight questions asked how interesting, relevant and enjoyable they had found the programme. The results in the table below combine the answers where students “strongly agreed” and “tended to agree”.


Bellerive have arranged for Study Skills Zone to return later in the year to work with Year 13.


Here’s some of what the Year 7 students had to say about the Blast Off! programme, which ran for 2 hours:

  • I learnt the basics of what your brain really is and what it does
  • learning how your brain works and the booklets
  • about being told that if we work hard and don’t give up we could be really clever
  • how to remember words
  • the memory game the remembering stories
  • the powerpoint and booklets were helpful
  • I learnt more about my brain, working in a team
  • how strong our brains are
  • make a story with words
  • I found most helpful was working in a group
  • learning different ways to learn spellings and memory
  • what I found most helpful today was we worked as a team and also learning how it’s good to memorise
  • when I got to read out the story
  • about how to work as a team and how we learn to get our memory better
  • how to memorise things better
  • the pipe cleaner activity, the advice about doing homework early
  • I learned more about my brain
  • the advice given out
  • I think bonding with other people who I wouldn’t really talk too was a great help
  • the way we were split up in different groups with people we didn’t know
  • how to improve my memory
  • about brain cells and things and how to improve my memory
  • I never knew a bit of brain – now I’m confident
  • the memory thing where we had to make a random funny story and that made me think
  • that you don’t even realise how smart you really are like learning to walk and talk
  • making brain cells knowing how our brains work and working together
  • I have learnt that I can grow my brain
  • how to remember things quicker and better
  • what a brain cell looks like
  • was the fact that your brain holds 80% water
  • about the brain – the left goes to the right and the right goes to the left
  • how to remember everything
  • about how to manage my time
  • the fact that I learnt more about myself
  • the memory strategy, to learn how to memorise
  • memorising items as cartoons
  • it helped me to understand more about my brain
  • turning things into a story to help me remember things
  • how the brain can grow wow!
  • comic and to remember list
  • the memory game and doing storyboard
  • about memorising objects
  • it was the best day.

The staff commented that their students had learned how to prioritise things in their lives, had learned different memory techniques and had discovered that teamwork can help them to learn.

Year 8 students took part in the Accelerate programme, which focuses on ‘high gear’ learning strategies, and remarked that:

  • everybody’s brain is better at different things
  • I learned about the best way to revise and complete my work
  • the video clips about your brain were good
  • study skills will help with other subjects

Year 9 students followed the Action Stations programme, which is about the links between learning and earning. Staff commented that this programme provided an “excellent introduction to mind mapping” as well as teaching the students “effective strategies for learning”.

Students’ comments were rich and varied:

  • I found out about my brain
  • that if you put your mind to it you can achieve what you think you can’t,
  • the mind map,
  • the recall and recognition activity mind mapping help – great for my revision,
  • all the teamwork it has made me think about how you can learn more with your friends,
  • learning techniques, learning about future paths to follow,
  • I’ve learned about my preferred learning style,
  • the booklet helped a lot and was fun,
  • finding out how the brain works and not to say I can’t but say I can’t right now,
  • I found the parts where everyone got involved was great,
  • I found the memory games most helpful,
  • the little games as they encouraged us to work together and they were really fun,
  • the memory game it helped me very much,
  • learning what certain parts of the brain are used for,
  • good information on the brain,
  • I like how we did the tasks but I think that the mind games were good,
  • about the left and right side of the brain,
  • that I learned that I can do everything that nothing is impossible and working in a team together,
  • it was really good,
  • it was very interactive,
  • how to expand how I obtain information and revision techniques,
  • talked about the subject and being funny,
  • different ways to study,
  • how to think positive,
  • learning about how amazing our brains are,
  • how we can make our brains bigger,
  • fun and learned a lot – my brain is epic,
  • it gave me a bit of help on what I want to doing the future,
  • the prizes were great it really pushes you to work harder – booklet idea is good and it was friendly and fun,
  • just to work harder and get to know people and not put yourself down,
  • learning how to study properly,
  • the shortening down how to revise by a picture mind map,
  • we can be good at everything if we try and I found the memory games most helpful,
  • working in the booklets and watching the videos,
  • The games because you learn and have fun at the same time.
  • I had a fab time!

The Drive for Results workshop is the main key stage 4 programme and students in Year 10 responded very positively indeed to this workshop.

  • totally awesome
  • teamworking
  • the advice
  • how to revise
  • learn about my brain and how to study better
  • I found out that you can build your intelligence
  • how to read questions
  • learning that you really have to work hard to succeed
  • the booklet at the start I learnt that I need to read the whole thing before answering
  • showing us different methods of revision
  • the mnemonics
  • working as a team and how to revise
  • learn about revision
  • improving my memory
  • learning all about the different types of learning
  • how to think carefully
  • different learning styles
  • understanding how to read instructions properly
  • I learned that I REALLY need to read carefully read instructions
  • stories to remember words
  • about revision for GCSE and learn some skills
  • how you brain remembers things
  • the various ways that you can revise
  • everything was easily set out but was understandable
  • ways to revise and how my brain works
  • active revision techniques to try
  • about how to remember things with the story
  • about the revision methods and about the time schedule
  • more effective ways of remembering important information
  • that everyone can be good at different things
  • I found that if you’re born slow/average/ or fast you can still be better
  • different ways and tricks to learn and remember things
  • time management
  • taught me to revise in a much better way
  • I thought that everything I learnt today was really helpful and interesting

The Drive for Results workshop was repeated for students in Year 11, since they had not seen it before. There is a separate programme entitled 5 Steps to Exam Success which is aimed at Year 11, after their mocks. Once again, responses to this workshop were very positive indeed.

  • Everything
  • how to remember
  • tasks
  • everything was fine but it should have been longer
  • how to remember things
  • learning about how my brain works
  • revision tips and how your brain works
  • helped me learn more about myself and how I can learn for future exams
  • how I can improve my memory
  • doing memory tests
  • I found it helpful as I have learnt new ways to revise and different techniques
  • learning about brain
  • getting to learn how to remember things better
  • the most helpful thing I found today was the test and the memory game also listening to the presenter
  • how to get smarter
  • learning about my brain
  • learning all different ways of learning
  • ways to help me revise
  • when we did the memory game and were introduced to our learning style
  • the memory tricks and learning how the brain all connects and you just need to revise
  • doing the activities and working together in challenges – learning new techniques
  • I found about how my brain works and different techniques of how to remember things and revise
  • giving us ideas on how to revise and the memory test learning about the brain
  • learning how to manage time and the best ways to learn and revise
  • I found learning about memory has been most helpful today as that can now help with preparing with exams
  • I found out that a song could help me revise
  • using pictures to help with my memory
  • learning new ways to revise
  • facts to help me with revision
  • the activities helped me a lot
  • learning what kind of learner I am and revision techniques
  • I’ve learned about different ways to be smart
  • I found most helpful when we learned about the brain
  • the revision techniques and how my brain works (both sides)
  • learning to revise easier and remember better
  • I found everything helpful and interesting
  • working with others and working as a team
  • I found the memory games most helpful and being told to make stories to connect them
  • know how to read a question properly
  • finding out your easiest way of learning/remembering
  • learning that I am a visual learner to help me revise for my exams
  • the video on revising
  • how to prepare for your exams and how to do revision
  • how many ways there is to revise
  • leaning how to train my brain for good use
  • learning about how to concentrate on specific things
  • different techniques like recording yourself and listening and changing routines to study
  • I found that learning about different ways to revise was useful because now I have ideas
  • all of it.

Here are some of the comments made by parents after the Year 11 Parent Power workshop.

  • Learnt about different ways of learning and skills
  • Really enjoyed the session. Thank you!
  • Will be more open when my daughter wants to do things differently – e.g. music isn’t necessarily skiving!
  • Interesting about different styles
  • Inspirational – it motivated me
  • The variety of options and resources available to help improve learning techniques
  • Understand how they see questions and different methods of learning
  • Different ways to help my daughter rather than tell her to just do it!
  • How to link things to help you to remember them
  • Learning about different ways to retain information
  • Mind activities on the board and the book

The Year 12 students followed the Next Level programme. Many of them commented on how ‘working in a team’ had really helped them. Other aspects they singled out for particular mention were:

  • working in a team
  • the activities
  • I found that if I study and work hard, I can also have a social life
  • the Powerpoint was helpful
  • time management
  • jump start your brain quiz
  • I can’t do it… YET
  • learning why time management is important
  • learning how to set my time out
  • learning about brain cells and the way the brain works
  • being in teams and working together
  • the interesting facts about the brain
  • learning better ways to study
  • taking a break between studying
  • team building.

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