In addition to developing our pupils academically, we want to see them mature socially and ethically.
At Westminster we are committed to providing a holistic education with Enterprise being a central part of the boys’ learning: allowing them to realise what it takes to live as compassionate, contributing citizens both now and in the future. Broadly speaking there are four main components to what we do.
In an average year the Under School raises somewhere in the region of £50,000, allowing us to support a range of charities. Sometimes we give through taking part in national initiatives, such as Children in Need, the Poppy Appeal and Comic Relief; however, we also fund charities both locally and internationally that have been personally chosen by the boys. Beneficiaries over the last few years have been sport4kids, the Sparrow Schools’ Foundation in South Africa and local charities such as the Cardinal Hume Centre and The Passage, both a five-minute walk from the Under School.
Additionally, for several years we have been working with The Hands Up Foundation. Syria is, unfortunately, still headline news, and the founder, who previously worked as an illustrator for the Guardian, regularly visits the school to update us on the humanitarian work the charity does.
We encourage boys and staff to feel as connected and involved in these charities as possible, for example some members of our teaching team taught in Johannesburg while we welcomed a group of Sparrow teenagers to our school who then performed for us. While our 1st XI cricket team practised their cricket in the warmer climes of South Africa we were able to present sport4kids with a new minibus which would transport children between the townships and the cricket grounds.
We also have many initiatives that are unique to Westminster, some of which have even been pioneered by the pupils themselves. For example, our ‘Rich Man, Poor Man’ lunch, where most of the boys are fed a very basic meal of bread, gruel and an apple, but a fortunate few sit at beautifully-laid table and receive a four-course banquet laid on a table decorated with table cloths and roses. This not only raises money but also gives the pupils a chance to reflect upon the inequality and disparity of wealth in the world.
From our biggest events of the year, such as our Readathon to smaller regular events such as Woolly Hat Day, our boys are at the heart of the School’s fundraising efforts.
The wonderful thing about community involvement is that it provides positive experiences on all sides – our boys often get as much out of it as the recipients. A number of our boys regularly volunteer at a local primary school, reading with younger children where English is, for many of them, their second or third language. We also welcome local senior citizens into our school with the boys offering them one-on-one IT training.
We are also fortunate to enjoy an incredibly high quality of facilities, in particular our playing fields and Sports Centre, so we are committed to making sure that less well-equipped schools have the chance to access and benefit from our resources. We partner with a number of local primary schools and nursery groups who use our sporting facilities for play and outside activities throughout the year and three primary schools hold their annual sports day on our playing fields each summer.
“Gentle footprints today will ensure a path for tomorrow.”
Each form in the school is represented by Green Men who co-ordinate the class in monitoring our environmental impact throughout the year. They look together at things like how much food is wasted, what we do with our rubbish and how much electricity we use. One recent highlight was the crowning of Zero Heroes which recognised boys who have managed to waste no food at all during the week This year we have managed to cut the whole school’s food waste by 60%: the money saved then being given to a local soup kitchen.
In line with the ethos of the school founders, whose focus was always on social inclusion, we want to widen access to Westminster and encourage young people who previously might not have considered applying. Our Westminster Academic Enrichment Programme is designed for gifted and talented Year 5 pupils from state-maintained schools, aiming to develop their abilities and grow their confidence.
Promising pupils are identified and nominated by their Head Teachers, with parental agreement, and invited to attend a series of approximately 10 enrichment days throughout the year. The programme is led by teaching staff at the Under School and focuses on the academic development of pupils in a range of subject areas with an emphasis on English, Maths and Science. Time is dedicated to problem solving, working together, thinking independently and, most importantly, giving each child the opportunity to discover their potential. The boys also get to have fun outside the classroom with a range of sporting and extra-curricular activities, making use of the school’s nearby Sports Centre and the playing fields at Vincent Square.
By giving the boys such exposure, we hope to give them a heightened sense of awareness of pressing social and environmental issues and, subsequently, a moral compass which will guide them towards making a positive impact within their sphere of influence in the future.
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