Primary Project at Whitgift
Now in its 20th year, the Whitgift Primary Project gives Primary Schools from the Croydon area the chance to attend Whitgift for one week per year to use the facilities around the school for ICT and a variety of other subjects. Approximately 1,000 children visit Whitgift for the Primary Project every year. The project runs during every full school week of the year and is fully integrated into the everyday routine at Whitgift School. The project is fully funded by Whitgift and there is no cost to the participating schools.
Whitgift enjoys an exceptionally beautiful, 45-acre, parkland site. It offers immediate access to first-class sports fields and all-weather facilities, together with opportunities for drama, scientific studies and relaxation, while retaining the appearance of a country estate; the School buildings are surrounded by a wonderful range of gardens, quadrangles and wildlife areas. Through the Primary Project, Whitgift aims to provide pupils from Croydon Primary Schools the opportunity to experience a week of learning in this unique and inspiring environment. Pupils encounter a large Secondary School environment for the first time, giving them an insight into life after Primary School. Whitgift aims to keep abreast of advances in the curriculum and the teaching resources available to ensure that pupils are exposed to fresh and innovative concepts. Whitgift sees the potential in the visiting pupils and aims to inspire these pupils by showing them what they can achieve during their visit.
During the week the visiting children are introduced to various aspects of Computer Science, intended to support teaching of the Key Stage 2 Computing curriculum. These include: coding with Scratch and BBC Microbits, graphics work, animation, control and simulation, MSW Logo, Robotics and movie making. The Computer Science work undertaken is based on the topic that the pupils are studying at the time they attend the project. This part of the curriculum is run by the Project Coordinator who is a full-time member of the Whitgift staff. Other lessons are delivered by specialist Whitgift teachers who have the Primary Project lessons built into their normal timetable.
As part of their Science allocation, the pupils experience a hands-on Chemistry lesson using Bunsen burners in which they heat a range of substances and record their observations, deciding whether each change is reversible or irreversible. At the end of the lesson the pupils are shown an experiment involving a jelly baby. The pupils are always stunned by the explosive reaction that takes place. Alternatively, the pupils experience a Biology lesson about adaptations, in which they handle and observe different animals. Pupils have two language lessons, currently Italian and Japanese. The children are introduced to culture and geography and take part in games, role plays and singing.
The pupils have a PE lesson with a specialist coach. Their class teacher can choose from a range of sports such as cricket, swimming, football, hockey, rugby or table tennis.
In addition to the curriculum work, pupils are given exposure to some of the exotic wildlife found at the School. The main focus is making observational drawings of the birds in the Water Gardens, giving the children confidence to draw from life, and to observe birds in their natural habitat.
Set up in 2000, the Primary Project was formerly a partnership, consisting of the Croydon Advertiser, Croydon Business and Education Partnership, and Whitgift School. The Primary Project is now funded completely by Whitgift and includes the salary of a full-time member of staff to run the project.
A member of staff to coordinate and teach the ICT elements of the project; specialist teachers to teach lessons in Science, Music, PE and languages; a yearly budget of £3,000 to cover stationery and purchase of specialist equipment; a dedicated Computer Room suite.
We hope that pupils enjoy their week and have been inspired in some way. Attendance rates for the class are usually higher throughout their week with us. We often find that some children, who would normally be ‘school refusers’, attend the week without a day of absence. We want the pupils to use their newly acquired skills back at school or home. It is not unusual for pupils to mention that they have tried Movie Maker or Scratch when they got home from school.
I would just like to take this opportunity to thank you and the Primary Project for providing our children with an opportunity to explore learning at your school. The children had an amazing time and some are now even talking about university, which is a big step! As you know, the children that we selected are not our highest achievers academically or best listeners, but you were sensitive and encouraging to their needs and they recognised this too. It has opened some of the children's minds to what they can achieve, when they apply themselves. Helping to raise children's aspirations is something we value enormously.
Laura Wallace, Class teacher at Kingsley Primary School
Pupils at Howard Primary School thoroughly enjoy their week taking part in the Whitgift Primary Project. They get to experience a wide range of computer programmes that they would not necessarily have used back at school or at home. The children are encouraged to work independently on a variety of tasks including Scratch, Movie-maker and Dreamweaver developing their computing skills at a much more advanced level than they could at school. Each child has access to a computer and the internet which allows for more rapid progress to occur. The children can then use this knowledge back at school to further develop their knowledge with the Primary Curriculum.
The project enthuses the children in computing but it also gives them a 'taste' of other subjects, including music, art and P.E and children get to experience what it is like at Secondary school so they are more prepared, when it comes around.
Joanna Handley, Assistant Head at Howard Primary School
A class of 30 children from Year 5 or Year 6. Approximately 1,000 children visit Whitgift for the Primary Project every year.
9.50am-2pm Monday – Friday, a different school each week. The project runs the whole year round and is fully booked.