We talk to schools about what goes on outside the classroom
Mayfield School, East Sussex
“Mayfield School has a tradition of developing academic excellence. Our curriculum encourages questioning, reflection, creativity and the freedom to learn from mistakes. While maths and science are among our most popular and successful subjects at A Level, we have a first-class reputation for creativity, and excel in the creative and performing arts.
We strongly believe in the benefits of studying a broad range of subjects. The humanities afford an opportunity for students to develop their own considered opinions on some of the most important areas of life; globalisation amplifies the importance of studying languages; and the creative and performing arts have an extremely positive impact on mental wellbeing, inspiring pupils and allowing them to use their imaginations. From dance to debating, drama to music, and a full programme of sporting opportunities that includes cricket, fencing, and top class equestrian facilities, girls are challenged and supported to realise their full potential, endowing them with a lifelong love of learning and the opportunity to grow as individuals.
Mayfield girls are encouraged to “give everything a go” so that they can find out where their passions, strengths and weaknesses lie, while developing creative thinking, problem solving skills, discipline, commitment and resilience. At Mayfield, we believe the breadth and depth of our curriculum, our extensive extra-curricular programme, the nurturing, supportive and aspirational environment, together with inspirational teaching, all contribute to enabling our girls to be successful in whatever they choose.”
Marlborough House, Kent
“Life at Marlborough House School (MHS) extends well beyond the classroom, where extra-curricular activities enrich children’s experiences, developing the skills children will need to thrive as adults in the 21st century.
Clubs at Marlborough House, including mindfulness colouring to entrepreneurship, offer a wide range of extra-curricular activities for pupils to get stuck in to. The old favourites of chess, arts and crafts, and karate are complemented by new clubs such as construction and music technology. Speech and drama, ballet, tap, street dance and nine music clubs (including rock band and samba), complete the selection for the performing arts clubs, providing pupils with confidence building experiences of public speaking and performing either solo or as a part of an ensemble.
Marlborough House School also provides a great array of sports clubs all taught by the school’s professional sports teachers, including hockey, badminton, shooting, tennis and cricket. On the topic of cricket, MHS alumnus David Gower returned to the school in 1999 to open the new Sports Hall and revisit the cricket pitch where he scored his first century. Prep School pupils have the opportunity to join residential trips, this year includes a visit to France, a classics trip to Pompeii and skiing in Italy. The school also participates in national projects with Year 7s taking part in the Young Entrepreneur Scheme, which aims to inspire them to think big and shoot for the stars.”
Hurst College, West Sussex
“At Hurst, we now use the term co-curricular rather than extra-curricular because we believe that these activities should form part of, and run alongside, the academic curriculum. We value what goes on outside of the classroom as much as what goes on inside, as skills that are learnt through co-curricular activities can be transferable to the classroom.
Sport is compulsory throughout the week and our service afternoon is compulsory for students in Years 10 and 11. Dance, music and drama are compulsory for Year 9 students and have protected slots as part of the weekly timetable. Specialist sports during timetabled games sessions include archery, climbing, rowing, sailing and mountain-biking.
We encourage our students to engage in as much of the co-curricular programme as possible – whether that is as a member of one of our dance companies or sports teams, performing in one of our drama productions or taking part in the Duke of Edinburgh Award. We have highly qualified staff to deliver the activities and to bring out the best in each student – and some students discover talents they didn’t realise they had. For example, first team rugby players have also taken lead roles in our Dance Showcase. By the time students leave Hurst, the majority will have performed in a sports team, on a dance floor, on the stage, as well as having marched with the CCF and been involved with recycling or another environmental activity as part of the service afternoon.
Education at Hurst is deliberately outward-looking. The range of activities provide many opportunities for our students to try new ventures, confront risks and learn from experience. The aim of our co-curricular programme is to equip our students with the skills and experience to make a success of their lives beyond Hurst. Respect, responsibility, resilience and reflection are learnt through the programme, and students also learn how to communicate with each other as part of a team and in leading a team. The various activities also help them to become accurate decision-makers, another important asset for later life. Benefits from the more physical activities help to improve students’ health, wellbeing and fitness levels in order to maintain a balanced lifestyle.”
Reigate Grammar, Surrey
“At Reigate Grammar School, a good education is about so much more than a list of exam grades. Headmaster Shaun Fenton says: ‘The emphasis we place on the arts, sport and multiple adventurous activities provides the heartbeat of the school.’ Indeed, the review of Reigate Grammar School (RGS) by The Good Schools Guide 2019 observed that ‘extracurricular leaves no stone unturned, with clubs and activities getting a brochure of their own’.
Music is at the heart of life at RGS. Throughout the autumn term, musicians took part in over 30 events including concerts, church services, ensemble arrangements, a cathedral tour and numerous individual performances. Many students also took the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music (ABRSM) exams just before Christmas.
In sport, the girls’ teams have had notable successes, with the U13 girls’ hockey team through to Finals Day at the Independent Schools Hockey Cup (ISHC) for the third year in a row, and netball going from strength to strength with the U15 girls reaching the final at national level too. December 2019 saw the hotly anticipated production of Les Misérables, performed in-the-round in front of an appreciative audience. Throughout a week of sell-out performances, the play went from strength to strength, with brilliant orchestral playing, live fire, explosions, fights, weddings, battles, and, of course, superb singing throughout.
A host of activities on the Charity and Community Engagement front – much of it overseen by the Sixth Form Charity Committee – has involved all age groups, including the Head and Deputy Head, who both dressed as Pudsey Bear and acted as goalkeepers, contributing towards almost £1,000 raised for Children in Need. Local charities Loveworks and Live at Home, as well as national charities Lepra and Macmillan, have benefitted from fundraising and volunteering efforts from students and staff.”
Hilden Oaks, Kent
“At Hilden Oaks Prep, dedicated teaching staff are able to ensure individual focus is given to each child to help them reach their full potential, be it academic, sporting, creative or musical. Children joining the school at any stage, even mid-term, are made to feel at home very quickly as they are in small classes, in a small and friendly school.
There are many extra-curricular clubs and activities on offer during morning break, lunch-time and after school including a wide range of musical, creative and sporting activities. These clubs vary each term and our children are encouraged to sign up for as many or as few as they wish. Many of the clubs are run by our own teaching staff, and we also bring in specialists from outside to allow our children to enjoy as wide a range of clubs as much as possible.
Children from Form 1 to Form 6 who are keen to advance their sporting skills are encouraged to take part in extra-curricular clubs. These include badminton, fencing, POP lacrosse, netball, golf, hockey, cross country, cricket, athletics, private tennis coaching, tag rugby, and bike skills. Unlike many schools, Hilden Oaks offers wrap-around care from 7.45am to 6.30pm, 50 weeks of the year. This also includes a wide range of extra-curricular activities and clubs, which support and enhance the curriculum, thus ensuring that by the time pupils reach Year 6, they are ready for the next stage of their academic life.
The latest report by the Independent Schools Inspectorate for Hilden Oaks, from December 2017, states: ‘Pre-Prep and Prep pupils make significant progress and attain very highly, particularly in English, mathematics, science and PE.’ Hilden Oaks is immensely proud of its academic success, with most pupils moving on to the secondary school of their choice, including the excellent local grammar and independent senior schools.”
You may also like
With three children now into adulthood, Hilary Wilce reflects on her experience as a mother and shares her retrospective wisdom
Invaluable advice from experienced teachers for every stage of education. Here we talk about Sixth Form, when important decisions have to be made. Frewen College – Hazel Lawrence, Head of Sixth Form At this stage our kids are young adults –...
Hilary Wilce shares new research into ADHD from King’s College Anyone who has to cope with an impulsive and hyperactive child – and that’s hundreds and thousands of parents and almost all teachers – will know how challenging it is...