"Another academic year has been and gone which has seen many hours of volunteering in the local community as well as within the school. The highlight for me is always hearing about the excellent work which our pupils do when volunteering. This year, a mum told me that her son’s volunteering had matured him, "even to the point of watching programmes on television about social care!".
As the Community Service Co-ordinator, the first challenge of the year is to confirm the community service choices of our Sixth Form pupils. The Community Service programme then starts after the October half term. Dr Clark, Mrs Ward, myself and a group of teachers escorted pupils to their new placements in the first week back.
I can tell you that over a couple of weeks we all get to know the taxi drivers from Courtesy very well! I sent Dr Clark off to St John’s Care Home so that he could see their incredible facilities and Mrs Ward to meet Maria at Corton House Care Home. Maria has worked with our pupils over several years and really knows how to make her groups tick.
Our internal groups also started and plans commenced for the various activities the groups would be organising. Over the course of the year, money was raised for the two international charities that we support, La Casita and Street Child.
Mr Bateman leads the Street Child group, which organises a fantastic 5-a-side football tournament. Street Child helps to educate children in remote areas of the world, where access to education is limited. Over £300 was raised from the football tournament.
Mrs Curtis and Mrs Barber lead the La Castia group, which raised over £200 over the course of the year. La Casita is a school in Buenos Aires that Norwich School has supported for several years. Upper 6 pupil, James Cherry, agreed to have his head shaved to raise money for the cause - he was very brave as even the younger pupils helped assist Mr Ballard in shaving James’s head!
In May, we held the Community Service Reception which was kindly hosted by the Head Master. For Mrs Ward and I, it was a wonderful opportunity to hear of all the great work that our pupils had been doing whilst out and about in the local community. We heard from Leonard Cheshire who said that their residents are always asking their staff when the 'lovely group of pupils' are next visiting, the residents enjoy interacting with our pupils so much. For patients with brain illness, it is important to have continuity.
Timetabled Community Service ended for the Upper 6 at Easter, with the Lower 6 continuing on until the May half term.
For the Community Service Team, the work did not stop even though the pupils were no longer going out on placement. Mrs Ward and I started to contact all our external organisations to see if and when they would be willing to take pupils next academic year. We are fortunate that they are so supportive of our pupils and readily agree to participate in the programme each year. On 3rd July, we held the Community Service Fair, which is an opportunity for our pupils (next year’s volunteers) to meet the groups we work with and to find out about the volunteering work with each organisation.
As the term came to an end, we were pleased to see some of the Lower 6 pupils receive Arnold Awards for exceptional volunteering. Some pupils from Upper 6 and Lower 6 were presented with Commendation Certificates for good work in Community Service. Mrs Ward and I are looking forward to the announcement of who has been awarded the Community Service Award for commitment to Community Service. This is sponsored by the NNAB and will be presented at our Prizegiving Ceremony in September.
The Community Service programme is a real asset to the school in many ways. Our pupils are wonderful ambassadors for the school with their politeness and consideration that they show to those they work with at our external organisations. They are passionate about the charities and groups that they work for within the school, especially the Language Leader Group who support and inspire younger pupils with languages.
I am very proud of the school’s Community Service programme as it is a force for good and I very much hope that it will continue to go from strength to strength. I have enjoyed working with Mrs Ward, who took over as Head of Community Service in October, her enthusiasm and energy is very infectious."