Aside from the five regular weekly programmes US run innovative and educational events for Sixth Formers. Believing that the best way to develop skills and build confidence is to participate in real work and real experiences, we try to create activities for students to plan, deliver and evaluate.
Some of the projects have been the following:
Arranging Football Matches: finding the venue, negotiating the price of hire, ordering and fund raising for named football kit (shirts and short), finding the company to print them, delivering and collecting, organizing prizes, inviting opposite team and planning refreshments during and after, hiring an umpire and securing footballs, First Aid Kit and Emergency numbers, should they be needed.
Aim is to have them focus on the whole project and understand the need for forward planning and getting the correct permissions and raising the funds on time to be able to full fill their project on time, Teamwork, social media skills, photography, finding sources for the items needed and getting best prices, pleasing everyone and learning responsibility
Hardscape and Gardening: Working along side professionals the students learnt how to prepare the foundations for an internal court yard, build planters with brize block then render, paint, lay drainage and plant olive trees. They had to first remove all the previous terracing and bedding and dispose of it ecologically.
Aim to expose them to another profession and nature, to teach the necessity of preparation and planning, how many steps are needed and how long it takes to set cement and sand foundations, team work, listening to instructions and being reliable and on time.
Study week in Oxford: 11 students came for five days to revise for their GCSE exams. The school provided the names of their tops students and less capable ones. They were mixed together to see if the stronger students could help and encourage the weaker ones. Three different Oxford Teachers (History, Math and English) came in every day for four hours (two hours then lunch then two hours). The students had to sleep in dormitory type conditions with camp beds added in rooms so three or four to one room. A completely new experience for them as well as sharing showers and baths.
All meals were proper meals with table laid as for entertaining and at night candles. A wide variety of different foods were served and lots of vegetables.
They took it in turn to lay the table and clear and wash up. At night they would roast marshmallows on the fire and play monopoly. In addition every afternoon different trades would come and explain their work: farrier who did Ringo, the donkeys feet, the chimney sweep, the mole catcher, the dry stone walling chap, a dog trainer who taught the students with my three dogs how to treat them and teach them to obey as well as dog walking skills, the forester from the adjoining estate walked them around oaks of 400 plus years and explained various aspects of forestry. In addition each of these individuals told the boys of their early life and I was amazed to discover one was a pole dancer, one had been in juvenile prison and all the others had come from families of`as single Mums with hard childhoods but had by luck or determination changed their lives to the benefit of their own children. The students received individual or two/three per teacher revision time and at the end high praise from the local teachers, who had been fearful of the project at its inception.
Aim to raise the pass level results and give each student time for one on one discussions with teachers they had no past history with, experience sharing personal space and over coming shyness and fear of unknown habits, tasting a variety of foods not the normal fast foods of Harlesden, all the food had to be halal as we had Sunni and Shite Muslims as well as Christians, to appreciate that although they might feel at a disadvantage that should not prevent them aspiring for better future and having the self belief to attain it. Exposing them to various professions and trades they knew nothing of, getting them over the fear of dogs and animals generally. On arrival all were terrified of the dogs at departure they were fighting as to who would walk them.
Partnership with Radley: This started with a football match (we beat them 7-2) and now has progressed to a visit to Harlesden by 38 Radley students and a return visit for a lecture on multiculturalism of our boys to Radley with many plans for future exchanges in cricket and football as well as lectures and geography classes.
Aim: To encourage understanding between private and state schools and individuals understanding of different cultures and habits. The fun of football matches with dinner afterwards in a boarding school or participating in the hot cocoa habit of dormitory life: friendship and social networking, sharing experiences and laughter, building relationships through mutual respect.
Wednesday night dinners: No obligation to come for dinner and hear a different individual speak to them about their profession or trade or life experience, then join in questions and answers and express their views. Yet, every week a hard core of 19-25 students appear and often bring friends. They offer ideas of the sorts of professions they would like to hear about and it gives them a space to discuss what they feel, would like to learn or experience.
Aim: To give them continuity, a sense of belonging, and a forum from which they can express their thoughts and hopes, time keeping and general manners and thoughtfulness in clearing up and respect for owner and her kindness. The owner is very impressed by all of them and is our best PR in the community.