Showing great commitment and compassion are two of The Portsmouth Grammar School’s core values. Year 7 pupil, Amelia Jones, displayed both of these when she took the decision to learn sign language during the Covid-19 lockdown and as a result has now completed a qualification in British Sign Language.

AJ took on the challenge as part of our new PGS Young Leader Award Scheme that was launched for Year 7 during the Spring Term. “I thought it was important that we learn how to help those around us and be able to use other means of communication,” said AJ. “It was also a new skill to learn while I am at home so much!”

The PGS Young Leader Award Scheme, led by Miss Elly Chilcott, aims to challenge the pupils to incorporate four areas of the PGS Core: Commitment, Compassion, Creativity and Courage. Within each section, the pupils will take up new activities, develop current skills and collaborate with new people. Most of the scheme can normally be completed within school through the co-curricular clubs already on offer. By the end of the scheme, pupils will have gained vital skills in leadership, resilience and ownership.

AJ’s commitment has led her to complete a qualification in British Sign Language. This is usually an adult course and has taken her some time to do; she had to complete 10 separate modules and then take an overarching test. AJ started the course towards the end of March and attained her qualification on the 10th May.

“The hardest part was the final challenge,” said AJ. “It covered all 10 parts of the course and showed me a range of scenes in video form which I had to answer questions about. There were 5 questions that were really difficult to understand as they used different tenses.” AJ scored 85% in 4 of the modules with the other grades being over 90%, and in one module she gained 100%.

“I am incredibly proud of her work to achieve this,” said Mrs Paula Jones, AJ’s mother. “It took her up to an hour to complete each module, she did some over the Easter holiday before virtual school started and then continued it at the weekends. Undertaking this has taught AJ perseverance at the highest level.”

“We introduced this scheme to help our pupils grow in our core values as a school,” said Dr Anne Cotton. “We encourage them to think about how they can get fully involved in everyday life at school and within the Portsmouth community. It is wonderful that amid all the changes to their lives our pupils are still finding ways to engage with the Young Leader scheme and using the unique opportunity of this additional time at home to learn new skills. AJ has clearly embraced this challenge and I am delighted to hear of her commitment and work to gain this tough qualification.”