Sara Ward has been running the Community Service programme in Norwich School for 4 years, so as part of our Spotlight On : Co-curricular series, we caught up with Sara to find out what Community Service with Norwich School means…
What is the Community Service programme and how long has it been running?
The Community Service programme has been running for 8 years in total and is a compulsory element of the sixth form curriculum for all pupils, other than those taking 4 or more A Levels or who are also working towards their Gold Duke of Edinburgh Award. That said, we still have pupils who fall into this category who choose to participate in Community Service.
When do the pupils do their Community Service?
The School allocates two periods each week, which amounts to an hour every week from each pupil participating in Community Service. Typically, L6 pupils will attend presentations and talks about the Community Service options open to them, from which they will select three options for their chosen activity. Depending on timetabling and availability, we endeavour to allocate their top choices where possible.
What exactly does Community Service involve?
We work with partners and stakeholders to deliver a vibrant and far-reaching programme of options for doing Community Service, giving pupils the opportunity to choose anything including volunteering in a care home, working with a sporting organisation, supporting a charity or taking part in workshops and much more. We try and offer a wide variety of options across education, care, charity, environment, drama, music, disability, marketing and much more. We are always looking for new organisations to work with who might be interested in having our pupils work with them on a voluntary basis.
What is the purpose of Community Service? Why does the School make this part of the curriculum?
We remind the pupils that Community Service is about volunteering their time for the wider benefit of the community around them. Of course, they do enjoy a wide range of associated skills relating to the activity they are doing, such as learning to be a volunteer reader in primary school or Visual Awareness training for Vision Norfolk, plus there is no question the activities they get involved with help to build confidence.
Does it cost anything to participate?
No. Pupils don’t have to pay and the School covers the costs to ensure the programme can be delivered. Typically the biggest cost is travel, to get the pupils to the various organisations we attend around the county, such as the Nancy Oldfield trust and St John’s Care Home.
What is your favourite story from Community Service?
We had a pupil who was otherwise very shy, who volunteered in a care home. It was wonderful to watch the experience build his confidence week on week and it wasn’t long before he was conducting his own dance sessions with the ladies in the care home. They loved his visits and in turn he said it was “the best bit of my week”.