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WGS SHiNE Educational Programme

Withington Girls’ School has organised and delivered a successful, community-focused series of Saturday School courses for the past 13 years which normally run during the Autumn term.  The WGS SHiNE Together educational programme is aimed at able students in Year 5 and 6 at state primary schools in and around Manchester.

In 2021, in view of the current situation with the pandemic, the programme was delivered remotely under the new name of SHiNE Together to 68 children. 

The six courses on offer in Spring 2021 were:



Creative Writing


Design Technology


In addition, we offered pupils interested in science and engineering the opportunity to
take part in an independent project which could lead to a recognised award.




The courses aim to provide specialist teaching in a range of classes to able pupils attending local primary schools, free of charge. These courses include classes in Science, Design and Food Technology, Music, Drama and Spanish. They aim to increase pupils’ love of learning, boost self-esteem in the classroom, and provide opportunities for academic growth and development. In 2021 we introduced a Computing course and Creative Writing course.


The programme was launched in 2007 with the help of funding from SHINE, a national organisation which funds projects to extend educational opportunities to children who would not ordinarily be able to access them, and the former Excellence in Cities programme. Withington has always hosted and run the programme, but from 2016, has also fully funded the WGS SHiNE programme. The SHINE educational charity, which now has its focus in the North of England, aspires to help schools set up programmes which then become self-sufficient after a few years. 

During the first six years, the programme entitled ‘Serious Fun on Saturdays’ ran in two-hour sessions, over 20 Saturdays, from November to May, providing exciting practical scientific activities that were taught by science specialists from both the state and independent sectors. 

In its seventh year, the programme was reduced to 12 Saturdays, due to the launch of a new Technology course, featuring eight sessions in Design and Food Technology, held in split classes over a four-week period. The programme has evolved further and adapted over recent years to offer a more varied programme with a greater choice of courses. In 2019, courses ran for between 4 and 6 weeks and consisted of Science, Art, Design and Food Technology, Spanish, Music and Drama. In 2021, the programme was renamed SHiNE Together and courses were run over zoom in Art, Computing, Creative Writing, Drama, Design Technology and Spanish. 

The children work in small groups under the supervision of one or two teachers and two Upper Sixth students. This high adult to children ratio contributes to a very supportive and stimulating environment for the delivery of novel, practical sessions using our school’s facilities. These activities provide the children with the opportunity to explore specific subjects in more depth. 

68 pupils from the following 9 primary schools took part in the virtual SHiNE Together programme in 2021:

• Briscoe Lane Academy
• Cavendish Primary School
• Chorlton Park Primary School
• Mauldeth Road Primary School
• Rolls Crescent Primary School
• St James’ Primary School
• St Margaret’s C of E Primary School
• St Paul’s C of E Primary School
• Sunnybank Primary School


91 pupils from the following 18 primary schools attended the SHiNE programme in 2019:

Alma Park Primary School

Cavendish Community Primary School 

Cringle Brook Primary School

Heald Place Primary School

Ladybarn Primary School

Mauldeth Road Primary School

Moston Lane Primary School

New Islington Free School

Northenden Community School

Old Hall Drive Academy

Our Lady's RC Primary School

Rolls Crescent Primary School

Seymour Road Academy

St James' CofE Primary School Birch-in-Rusholme

St John's CofE Primary School

St Margaret's CofE Primary School

St Richard's RC Primary School

Varna Community Primary School 

Targets for pupils

• Enhanced performance in academic subjects in class, school and national tests.

• Increased pupil confidence.

• To engender a love of learning by exposing the pupils to subjects delivered in a fun, hands-on manner.

• Developed skills of reasoning, critical thinking and problem solving.

• Strong collaboration and teamwork skills with their fellow pupils, Sixth Formers and teachers.

• Increased motivation and raised aspirations for their future at senior school.

For WGS Sixth Formers

• To develop confidence in supporting small groups of able children in a familiar environment.

• To develop curriculum knowledge and obtain experience of assisting the teachers in small group activities.

• To develop communication skills.

For the School

• To develop closer links with local schools and the local community.

• To provide opportunities for personal development of teaching staff.

• To increase the utilisation of its premises outside normal school hours.


Withington Girls’ School provides classroom facilities (including purpose-built science laboratories, a design technology suite and food technology room), teaching materials and resources, teacher-time and Sixth Form mentors. Refreshments are also provided for the SHiNE attendees. 

In 2019, the planning and delivery of the SHiNE courses involved 377 staff hours and 175 student hours, with a benefit to 91 local children in 18 primary schools. 



Around 680 local pupils have benefited from the SHiNE Together programme in the 13 years it has run at Withington Girls’ School. 

95% of pupils in 2021 said that they had really enjoyed coming to SHiNE Together and 98% of pupils said that coming to SHiNE Together had made them more confident in that subject. 98% of pupils said that they were more excited about learning this subject now and an impressive 100% said they would recommend SHiNE Together to their friends.

Parent's feedback for the 2021 courses included:

“This course has been great especially
as Spanish has not been available at
school / homeschool during lockdown.
Thank you.”

“My daughter has really enjoyed these
online sessions and has said she
would like to continue to learn more
Spanish as a result.”

“Thank you so much for all your hard work
and giving up your Saturday mornings.
My child really enjoyed the design
technology programme! She loves all the
things she has created! “

“Thank you for making Shine Together
an amazing experience for the kids.”

“Thank you for organising Shine Together
design technology! We are all impressed
with what my child has done.”

“Thank you to all involved in running the
design technology program. My child
enjoyed it very much and is very proud
of her creations. I’m sure it’s given her a
good insight into design technology in secondary school". 

“Thank you for giving us the opportunity
to shine together!”

“Thank you once again for the Shine
Together courses. This is an amazing
job considering all that is going on
with lockdown.”

95% of pupils attending SHiNE courses in Autumn 2019 said that they had really enjoyed coming to SHiNE and 90% of pupils said that coming to SHiNE had made them more confident in that subject. 79% of pupils asked said that they were more excited about learning this subject now and an impressive 100% said that they would recommend SHiNE to their friends.

Parents’ feedback for the 2019 courses included:


·       “Thank you so much for this amazing opportunity. My daughter has loved it.”

·       “This was such a fantastic course, very fun and well-organised, teaching loads of new skills and giving my child fresh confidence.”

·       “This was a fantastic experience for my child, she thoroughly enjoyed every week and I could see her confidence grow.”


·       “The children really benefit from being exposed to new surroundings and instruments – thank you.”

·       “An amazing amount of quality work has been accomplished in six sessions.”

·       “Amazing programme, my daughter has had so much fun.”


·       “The experience has really opened his eyes. You get sports, music and arts clubs as extra curriculum activity but I’ve not seen access to science clubs before so this has been a real rare treat. Thank you to school, staff and helpers who made it happen.”

·       “(He) particularly enjoyed doing experimental work as opposed to the written work with no experiments.”

·       “It is an amazing idea to develop more interest in certain subjects the child is interested in, to enjoy and learn more about it.”

Complete Creativity

·       “My child enjoyed every week, every Saturday he woke up very enthusiastic, he loved the course.”

·       “It is a wonderful experience to be part of this project. Superb.”

·       “Great effort. Well done to all staff. My boy loved every moment of it.”


·       “She loves the songs, she keeps playing them at home.”

·       “The programme was good. Keep doing this for coming students.”

·       “She was very happy. I really recommend this course for any child of her age.”

All parents who provided feedback said they would recommend SHiNE to a friend. 94% of parents said that their child had really enjoyed every week, 94% said that their child was more enthusiastic about the subject and 88% said that their child had learnt new things.


Pupil Involvement

SHiNE Together continues to grow as we expand our provision. In 2018 approximately 15 - 20 Sixth Form students worked with and supported the 50 boys and girls from local primary schools who took part in the programme. 


In 2019, 91 pupils took part from 18 different primary schools. They were supported by 21 Year 13 students from Withington. 


In 2021, 81 pupils took part from 9 primary schools. 


The programme has been running for the past 13 years and has evolved to meet the change in needs and requirements of local pupils. 

Whilst our preference will always be to open Withington’s doors to local children on a Saturday morning, sadly it was not possible during 2020 – 2021, so in 2021 we delivered virtual courses which ran for five Saturday mornings in Spring. All sessions were delivered via Zoom so that children could join them from home.