Annual arts project with primary schools
Every year in the first week of our summer holidays King’s invites around 130 pupils in Years 4 and 5 from two Merton and Wandsworth primary schools to enjoy a week of arts or sports activities on our site. The arts side of the project is for pupils in years 4 & 5 at St Mark’s and Southmead primary schools, both of which have a higher-than-average number of pupils on Free School Meals and minimal arts facilities. The project is run by around 50 sixth-formers from King’s and two of our secondary partner schools, Ricards Lodge High School, Coombe Girls' School and Coombe Boys’ School, supervised by approximately ten members of King's staff. Arts workshops enjoyed by the children involve drama, music, art and movement. On the last day of the project, the pupils participate in a magical performance in our theatre to which their parents are invited.
The aims of the project are to share our arts facilities with the wider community and to give our pupils and those at two of our secondary partner schools invaluable work experience as organisers and leaders on the project. The need for such a project was identified in discussions with the primary schools in which it was agreed that their children could benefit both from our facilities and exposure to good teenage role models. The critical factors for success are the trust that has built up between all our schools over the years, the careful training and supervision of the team of sixth-formers and the enthusiasm and commitment of staff. The head teachers at the maintained primary and secondary schools also need to agree to release their pupils and supervisory staff for a whole week towards the end of their summer term. The beneficiaries are the primary school pupils, the sixth-formers and the King’s staff who gain experience of working with maintained school pupils.
Both primary schools were well known to us from weekly volunteering activities established well before 2008 (when the project began), meaning that a high degree of trust and familiarity had already been built up between the schools when we decided to explore a way of sharing our arts facilities. Sixth-formers from three of the secondary schools in the Wimbledon ISSP were invited to join ours from the project's start, and partner school student leaders have been participating every year since then.
The project requires the availability of the school site and a budget for transport and payments to staff. It uses mainly teaching staff but members of the school's support staff are also involved, including the porters, groundsmen and nurse. The arts and sports projects are run by ten members of staff, including the school’s swimming coach, and last five days. The costs are met by a combination of direct funding by King's and a generous contribution from our parent-teacher association, known as the Friends of King’s.
The project is assessed and reviewed by means of questionnaires which are filled in by the visiting primary school staff. These also report back to their head teachers, who often attend the tournament on the last day and chat to the parents who come along. The schools return every year.
Around 50 boys and girls in Year 12 from King's and two of its partner secondary schools, Ricards Lodge and Coombe Boys' School, organise and run the activities every year.
This is a project that runs annually in the first week of the summer holidays.