The Power of Introverts
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As the school’s Progress and Enrichment lead, I am in the privileged position of overseeing the community service enrichment programme, with students in Years 11 and 12 taking part in a variety of community-focused activities. Studies show that helping others boosts our own happiness and can reduce stress. With this in mind, last year, we decided to introduce the community service enrichment programme. During these sessions, students participate in a range of activities focused on helping others and looking beyond the core academic curriculum. The aim has been to allow students a dedicated period of time to think outwardly beyond their own circumstances.
Here are some of the activities that the students have been taking part in:
A group of students visited residents at nearby Morden College for an Intergenerational Coffee Afternoon. The students were able to chat with the residents and discuss shared interests. It has been lovely to hear about the sharing of stories, for example, A-level Art students talking to a retired master weaver.
“I enjoyed hearing about the various jobs that the residents had prior to their retirement. Although they lived in a different time, where many things are different to now, some of the advice and knowledge they imparted to us can still be applied to our lives today. An example of such advice was that I should take every opportunity provided to me, as I never know what doors it may open.”
Two students visited Sherington Primary School to support children with reading. They have been able to work with the same students regularly, which gives them an insight into the progress younger children make.
“It's been really fun to engage with the children weekly and see how they communicate with others. I have also enjoyed sitting in on some of the speech improvement sessions as I have been able to hear how they improve.”
Year 11 students have been planning and cooking healthy, nutritious meals for the food bank at Evelyn Community Store. I am always impressed with the level of teamwork during these sessions. Students work in tandem to batch cook different parts of the meal, some working on the labelling stage, ensuring all allergens are clearly labelled. Others keeping the room tidy, ready to box up the delicious food. Miss Wood, who oversees the activity is always thrilled with the commitment from the girls in the kitchen. During the most recent session, the students made 100 meals for the foodbank, the most successful session to date!
“I really enjoy cooking in general and so it makes me really happy that the food we have been making is helping someone not be hungry for the day.”
A group of Year 11 students has been visiting the Junior School to help out with Year 2 and support in some of the afters school clubs for Reception pupils.
“I have looked forward to it every week. The girls in my year that I go with are all lovely as well and enjoy speaking to them as I don't always get the chance to.”
Some students are working on the SHINE outreach programme in conjunction with the Royal Institute. They have planned workshop sessions for students in Year 5 at the Brindishe primary schools, with a focus on inspiring the students in STEM. I was fortunate to see the sessions in action this weekend, where our students got the children excited about learning about the brain and how it works, culminating in the children creating their own brains out of play dough! The children also took part in a session learning about coding in the computer suite. I was very impressed with the level of thought and preparation the Year 12 students had put into their sessions, and seeing the Year 5 children listening intently to the lesson from the Year 12s and then enthusiastically throwing themselves into the activities, was lovely.
“I really enjoyed making a lesson about a topic we were passionate about and then passing on our knowledge and enthusiasm to children who were also really interested in STEM.”
When researching the benefits of voluntary community service for students, the overriding evidence is that it allows students to develop their social skills. Students are pushed to connect with others and able to feel like they are doing something that makes a difference to others, which gives a sense of satisfaction. I hope to further develop community service opportunities for our students and always welcome suggestions for other possible partnerships. If you know of any potential community links that you think we could share with our students, please send an email with ‘FAO Miss Hickman’ as the subject header to the main office.
Written by Miss K Hickman, Acting Assistant Head (Progress and Enrichment)