To balance the academic pursuits of our pupils, Westminster offers a wide variety of activities to complement our curriculum. These provide pupils with new and different opportunities to engage with less familiar concepts, with one another and with the world around them.
Some activities are specific to the different year groups, making it easier to offer age-appropriate options at a range of ability levels. These include classes and workshops in areas as diverse as bookbinding, robotics, carpentry, cooking, computer programming, or sign language. Whatever a pupil’s current interests and passions, they will find at Westminster the opportunity to enjoy and develop them, in addition to discovering new activities, perspectives and skills which will expand their horizons.
Pupils in Years 9, 10 and 11 have some compulsory extra-curricular activities, which they usually engage in at lunchtimes and after school in weekly slots on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. There are over 30 different classes and workshops available to them each term, run by a combination of teaching staff and outside specialists, and pupils may choose to pursue the same programme for all three terms or switch to new ones. The options include both academic and non-academic subjects as well as various sports, allowing pupils to engage with activities as diverse as bookbinding, carpentry, computer programming, squash, board games, mythology, or the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme.
Pupils in Years 11, 12 and 13 benefit from two non-examined programmes known as Options and Cultural Perspectives which, between them, offer our pupils a choice of over 50 specialist courses.
The Options programme enables our boys and girls to study an additional language such as Sanskrit or Arabic, take a practical course in cookery or bookbinding, learn a new skill such as robotics or computer programming, or complement their studies in a particular area of interest such as studying Irish Literature or Conservation Science.
The Cultural Perspectives programme is designed to expand our pupils’ cultural and critical awareness within a greater global perspective, challenging the assumption that today’s society is the norm of human experience and that our own way of doing things or viewing the world is the only way. Topics on offer include ‘Moral Relativism’, ‘Psychogeography’, ‘Genes, Memes and Cultural Evolution’, ‘Medical Ethics and Changing Attitudes’ and ‘The Economics of Nationhood’. Prizes are awarded each year for essays produced as a reflection upon a pupil’s experience of this programme.
Pupils in the Upper School are also encouraged towards a more intensive Community Service option, where they can not only volunteer their time to local projects but also take specific courses to equip them for their chosen community outreach. For example, they could learn British Sign Language in preparation for work at the Frank Barnes School for the Deaf; or they could receive formal TEFL training, with a view to mentoring children with little or no English.
There is also the weekly John Locke Lecture which attracts a wide range of visiting speakers from political, cultural, business and academic contexts, who address the pupils and respond to questions. Recent speakers include Michael Portillo, Sir Crispin Tickell, Jeanette Winterson, Peter Hitchens, Jon Snow, Rt Hon Oliver Letwin and Hugh Pym.
All Year Groups
Some activities are open to the whole school and provide an excellent way for pupils of all ages and interests to work together, whether that is through staging a play or musical, performing in the orchestra, competing in a team sport or joining a society.
Debating, Duke of Edinburgh and Model United Nations, for example, span all year groups, as do a large number of local volunteering opportunities. A variety of musical, dramatic and artistic opportunities are available to all pupils, regardless of age or ability, and all boys and girls are able to go on a number of foreign exchange and culture trips as well as enjoy both national and international expeditions related to their subjects.
Westminster also has 40+ active Societies, covering a range of topics and ideas from Law, Biology and Classics to Popular Culture, Politics, Debating and Bridge.