Serious Fun on Saturdays - Botley School, Botley, Oxford
The ‘Serious Fun on Saturdays’ project is partially funded by the SHINE Trust. The project involves 24 Year 5 children from four local Primary Schools who attend Saturday morning sessions at Oxford High School aimed at increasing the children’s confidence, self-esteem and aspirations and preparing them for life at Secondary School. Sessions focus on extending learning and deepening their understanding of core and STEM subjects; developing creative, problem solving and critical thinking skills and engendering a love of learning. The sessions are run by Oxford High School teachers and the children are mentored by 15 Oxford High School Sixth Form students. Sessions have a space theme and cover the full curriculum with different subjects every week from Science and Maths to Drama and Mandarin.
The main aim of the project is to develop the children’s confidence and aspirations. The children are chosen specifically by their schools as ones who have potential but are perhaps not meeting that potential, either through lack of confidence or through a lack of exposure to opportunities outside of school.
Oxford High School applied for funding from SHINE in 2014 and our first ‘Serious Fun on Saturdays’ project was launched in January 2015.
Three of the partnership schools had high numbers of children on free school meals, with EAL or specific learning needs. A strong relationship already existed with St Nicholas’ Primary School with innovative weekly STEM outreach lessons that have been running for a number of years.
The success of the project is dependent on the willingness of a big team of teaching and pastoral staff and sixth form mentors to come into school on a Saturday morning to deliver the sessions. The team is extremely committed and feel that the project is extremely worthwhile. All the sessions are held at Oxford High School. Two sessions take place each Saturday morning over a nine week period throughout the Spring Term. Two teachers plan and deliver the sessions each week which may be team taught, small group work, or a carousel of activities. A committed team of Sixth Form mentors work with the 25 children throughout the 9 week project and are supported by a pastoral team that also travel with the participants. The SHINE Trust awarded the school funding in 2014 for three years to cover the cost of transporting the children to school and running an innovative programme.
Children evaluate the skills they have learnt and their highlights after each session in their passports. Teachers and sixth form mentors note particular strengths of individual participants in the Achievement Log book.
Data is also gathered from the Y5 teachers at the beginning and end of the year to show the levels of progress each child has made.
25 Year 5 children (boys and girls) from the four partner primary schools and 15 Year 12 students from Oxford High School.
Serious Fun on Saturdays started in January 2015. The children attend the sessions for 9 Saturdays throughout the Spring term (except half term). Travel plans have been created in collaboration with each partnership primary school and include: taxis collecting children from their home, a minibus collecting children from their primary schools and parental drop off. The sessions run from 9am to 12pm. Funding from SHINE has been granted until 2017.