Westminster pupils regularly volunteer to be involved in educational partnership projects, with the many primary and secondary schools that the School partners with across London. Usually about 60 to 70 Lower School (Years 9 to 11) pupils help out at before- and after-school clubs in local primary schools, providing support with reading, writing and studies. Upper School (Years 12 and 13) pupils act as mentors for the School’s interactive science workshops for pupils in Years 4 to 6; some volunteer as classroom assistants; and others offer specialised clubs like Chess and debating.
Currently, a number of our Year 11 drama pupils work with local school children, attending their schools to write and perform short plays that fit with key topics the primary schools are studying; such as bullying, or good citizenship. In addition, 15 pupils in the Sixth Form have partnered with the charity Bookmark to offer bespoke reading assistance to primary school pupils struggling with reading.
Pupils are also encouraged to develop their own initiatives according to their strengths and the needs they see in front of them: recent successes include an art-based project with local almshouse residents and instrumental music teaching at one of our neighbouring primary schools. Where appropriate, pupils may also marry their fundraising activity with their volunteering, allowing them to offer both financial and personal support to the organisations with which we work.
The School runs and participates in annual outreach initiatives, such as Westminster Phab and In-Deep’s Christmas hamper-packing for the residents of Westminster; pupils in the Upper School volunteer to be involved with both of these long-standing programmes. Pupils also volunteer to help out with the organisation and running of the School’s annual fair ‘September Saturday’, to help raise money for the chosen charity.
Once pupils reach the Sixth Form they are able to engage with volunteering at a deeper level, with the opportunity to take specific courses to equip them for their chosen community projects. For example, they could learn British Sign Language in preparation for work at the Frank Barnes School for Deaf Children; or they could receive formal TEFL training, with a view to mentoring children with little or no English.
However our Westminsters choose to give of their time, we are always pleased to see that, in addition to the benefits felt by the receiving organisations and individuals, pupils really enjoy their work; discovering new personal strengths and forming friendships they might never have thought possible.
To find out more about the volunteering programme at Westminster, please contact email@example.com.