Running a busy programme of partnership projects at a school is a bit strange at the moment – and changing by the hour. Our work is all about bringing people together, with pupils and colleagues learning from each other and volunteering in the wider Canterbury community – not easy in the current situation!
Breaking down barriers has suddenly become more difficult; barriers are rapidly being put up, as not only the coronavirus spreads, but so too does alarm. No one really knows how the pandemic will play out and it’s natural to fear the unknown. Sadly, we read in the papers that irrational behaviour has led to panic, intolerance and unkindness – qualities that none of us would want to encourage in our young people. Does a King’s education equip our pupils with the resilience and compassion needed to face these uncertain times?
Alongside their studies and co-curricular activities, we encourage our pupils to give their time outside the King’s community, and thereby foster an increasingly open, inclusive mindset. A large proportion of our pupils and staff go out to volunteer regularly at primary schools, care homes and through our many partnerships, and we welcome increasing numbers of guests into the school for talks, educational or enrichment projects and events. With restrictions on travel and gatherings, as well as the inevitable self-isolation, our calendar is looking a little – well, hopeful! We are, however, collating free online learning resources to share with our networks.
Looking at the pupils’ own volunteering record from this term so far, we can see that they have given nearly 1000 hours of their time and that the majority say they have developed, amongst other attributes, courtesy and kindness or patience, sensitivity and empathy: vital character skills to see us through these challenging times.
The spirit of community action here dates right back to the monastic origins of the school in St. Augustine’s time around 597 CE and the school has certainly had to face other difficult periods in its long history. We hope that, inspired by our work beyond our school gates, we can remain positive, resilient – and kind – and help those more vulnerable than ourselves wherever we can.
Christina Astin, Head of Partnerships