12 Caterham L6 and 5th Year students spent the first two weeks of our holidays volunteering in our local partner schools; Furzefield, St John’s and Audley, and at Kingsford Community School in Newham. The participants made valuable contributions as extra pairs of hands, helping out in the classroom and with trips and activities. Hosting schools reported back that they had also enjoyed the experience, and of the positive impact of having the volunteers in their schools.
The impact of the scheme was also measured with the help of ImpactEd. Participants reported improvements in self efficacy and other relevant personal qualities. One of the clearest differences between the baseline and final surveys, taken before and after the pupils’ volunteering experience in a schools, was to the question “I feel that I strongly belong to my local community”. Pupils were asked to rate themselves between 1 (strongly disagree) and 5 (strongly agree). In the baseline survey, 70.0% Year 11 pupils said that they ‘disagreed’ or ‘neither agreed nor disagreed’ to the statement. However, in the final survey 66.7% of Year 11 pupils said that they either ‘agreed’ or ‘strongly agreed’.
A participating student reported
The time spent at Kingsford is something I will remember forever - I embraced this opportunity, wanting to be a teacher myself in the future, to explore a challenging but massively rewarding environment and that I most certainly did. I’ve been involved in many opportunities to work with young people in schools before, but Kingsford gave me a way to really experience the beauty of diversity. You will find children from absolutely every background imaginable. The children at Kingsford I have to say are the most welcoming and most respectful group of kids I’ve ever met - they walk around with a smile on their face and will wave at you in the corridors shouting “Hi miss!” even if you’ve never met them before. The same can be said for the teachers - each and every one was so friendly. I also spent two days in Dersingham Primary School (also in Newham) which taught me so much. Here I worked closely with a year 2 class helping them with work, helping out with sports day and gaining insight into each child’s experience of the area they live in. Again, the children were so friendly, asking questions and sharing ideas but I found that some of the kid’s who may have been seen as “less hardworking” actually just struggled with a lack of self-belief - even as young as year 2, some children felt it was easier to not try, than to try and fail. It was so rewarding to challenge this thinking and see the children realise they actually can do it - you could see the sense of achievement in their faces when they finally spelt the word right or did a hard maths question all by themselves, which I found incredibly rewarding. The children at Kingsford Community School and Dersingham Primary School have both surprised and inspired me and I only hope they all keep fighting for what they deserve from life.