Volunteering programme at King's College School, Wimbledon
Every Friday throughout the year over 380 King’s pupils work in the local community, mainly in primary, secondary and special schools, but also in local parks and churchyards, libraries and with the elderly. Each project is supervised by a member of staff who is responsible for training and supervising the activities. As the same students work on the same projects throughout the year, there is time for strong working relationships to develop.
Activities range from teaching Latin, Chinese, EAL, Maths and Science to secondary school pupils to supporting the learning of Spanish, reading, arithmetic, art and drama at many primary schools. Pupils visiting two special schools support art, drama, games and swimming. A group of sixth-formers prepares and delivers a science course twice a year to gifted Year 9 students at three secondary schools. Sports activities include rugby and tennis with secondary school pupils and cricket and games with primary school children. Creative activities with eight schools, including art, drama, dance and music, lead to our community production every spring term. Other projects include maintaining a local park and two churchyards, teaching IT and art in public libraries and work for a local charity. A group of pupils design and create equipment for a special school while others run a weekly tea for the elderly in the school dining room.
The aims of the volunteering programme are to ensure that the school plays a full and active part in the local community and to give our pupils invaluable work and life experience. Critical factors for success are careful negotiation with local institutions, the training of pupils and the monitoring of the activities. The programme also benefits hugely from the school’s willingness to provide timetabled time for extra-curricular activities, of which volunteering is the most popular. The immediate beneficiaries are King’s pupils, who gain precious insights into the workings of the world outside the school gates and acquire confidence and a broader social and moral perspective through interacting with people from different walks of life. The schools we work with claim that the intervention of our pupils has a range of benefits, including the enhancement of lessons and the provision of good male and female role models. Local libraries, a park and two churchyards also benefit, as does a local charity and the elderly guests at our weekly Friendship Hour.
The programme has been running for at least twenty-five years but has only reached its present size in the last eight or so years.
The programme takes place in timetabled time, so the invisible expenditure is far greater than the visible cost. Both teaching and non-teaching staff support the Friday afternoon programme, and it is overseen by a director of partnerships and outreach and two assistants. About a quarter of the activities take place on site, enabling us to share our buildings, sports, science and arts facilities. As most of the activities are off site, the programme requires a generous budget for transport each year. As well as using five of its own minibuses, the school hires ten minibuses each Friday to transport pupils to schools in three boroughs. Other costs include some resources and catering.
Each project is supervised by a member of the King’s staff who is engaged in an ongoing dialogue with staff at the institutions they work with. Evaluation of the pupils’ work is carried out once a year. Reports are written by staff on the pupils and these are included in their end-of-term reports that are sent to parents. Every summer term the institution we work with is telephoned to ensure that it wants us to continue the following year and adjustments are discussed.
Pupils in Years 10-13 volunteer to join the programme. The sixth-formers are mixed. It is hard to estimate how many pupils at maintained schools and adult members of the public are affected by the programme, but it must be at least double the number of the King's pupils involved.