Remote Learning and the Co-curriculum
When an All-round Education is a Major Part of Your Educational Offering, how do you Offer a Co-curricular Programme During Supported Home Learning?
Around the world, we are experiencing unparalleled school closures that have led to academic provision moving to remote learning to maintain access to education. The focus on creating appropriate learning environments for all students had to be first and foremost in a school’s response, but in an independent school such as St George’s the academic environment is only one part of our all-round education. Enrichment beyond the core academic curriculum is an important part of each girl’s development and in a usual week we offer a rich and diverse range of activities and opportunities that help her to develop passions or explore new interests.
50 Co-curricular clubs now on offer for the summer term
Not being able to access school and run the co-curriculum programme in its usual form does not provide a reason to stop all co-curriculum provision at this time, instead it inspires creativity. Staff across the school, from Primary 1 to Upper 6/S6, have surpassed themselves with their ideas and we have been able to launch almost 50 co-curricular clubs for the summer term. The platform for the school’s Supported Home Learning programmes, Microsoft Teams, has been brought into use for the co-curriculum with clubs and activities ranging from: Skill development in Sport to Model United Nations, Young Engineers, Outdoor Learning, Musical Performance. New clubs and activities have also emerged with Script Writing, Film Society, Lit Society, Online Games Club and not to forget ‘And Now In Other News’ – the feelgood current affairs club. We also hope to see ‘Annie’ come to life for our Lower School students as they continue working on their performances, despite the full production being unable to go ahead as planned: this is a testament to the resilience being demonstrated within our community during this period.
Engendering a community spirit
While all the activities will initially be accessed through a computer and will not include what was considered the ‘normal’ interaction from other terms, offering a co-curriculum programme during supported home learning will allow students to join together outside the classroom and maintain the community spirit that is represented in St George’s. Sign up levels for the summer co-curriculum are high, with parents joining a Mindfulness session designed solely for them, and the enthusiasm and willingness to engage is a hallmark of St George’s and the desire to try new ideas and expand horizons, along with contributing to the development of transferable skills that will form part of a personal portfolio for the future.
A well-balanced combination
Providing a co-curriculum programme during this period is important to maintain a well-balanced combination of academic and co-curricular learning that is the foundation stone of independent education as represented at St George’s. A well-balanced combination provides students with the intellectual, personal, emotional and social skills that are needed to work in a rapidly globalising world, where many girls may change career several times in the course of their working life. During this period of supported home learning looking at opportunities beyond academic provision and what is immediately available at home, the co-curriculum continues to offer opportunity to face new challenges, work in teams and take the initiative. This will continue the role the co-curriculum has in producing versatile and well-balanced girls who are more competent all-rounders. It is of interest that students who participate in co-curricular activities gain higher grades, have a more positive attitude towards school and higher academic aspirations.
While the co-curriculum programme has been adapted to the need of this period in our lives, it aims to sustain the five key benefits of participation:
- the development of social skills and relationships through interaction across year groups;
- developing time management skills – the girl who can manage her time effectively will be able to prioritise a competing set of commitments and becomes proactive and creative in problem solving;
- the ability to explore a wide range of interests, the summer programme continues to offer a range of possibilities for girls who want to develop and nurture areas of interest.
- Participation develops self-esteem – not all students experience academic success and the co-curriculum offers a chance to experience success or to be recognised for a contribution to an activity;
- develops commitment – participation is about a long-term commitment to an activity and the opportunity to see it through, with leadership roles emerging as they progress through school.
We will not have the same experiences as attending a club or activity with peers, but we are still offering challenge and risk taking in an environment where there is nurturing and support. Breadth of provision is key and every girl is able to pursue an interest while being supported by staff who will recognise her achievements and encourage her commitment and determination. Our co-curriculum supports the all-round education that we provide here at St George’s; It is an integral and essential part of our provision. The opportunities we offer open the girls’ minds, encourage intellectual curiosity and skill development while allowing demonstration of dedication and contributing to the creation of a resilient individual who is able to show the relevance of her experiences to her development and goes on to embrace the 21st century.
This article is written by Sonia Edwards, Deputy Head Academic Support and Co-Curriculum.