Pupils and staff at the school have given their time to help others in the community for hundreds of years, stretching back to the school’s Augustinian roots in 597 AD. The skills and values that our pupils develop put this at the heart of a King’s education. In this short blog I’d like to reflect on what they do and why it’s important.
This year we launched three new initiatives to help build the school’s culture of volunteering.
Firstly, a new Monitor (“Purple”) role was created (Monitor is our name for a student prefect) with responsibility for Partnerships and Volunteering. The first incumbent, Daniel Koo, has been a fantastic advocate for volunteering. He helped appoint a Partnerships Leader for each House and leads this group, meeting fortnightly (remotely during lockdown). The Partnership Leaders are active communicators between the pupil body and the Partnerships Team, galvanising their peers into volunteering for or initiating events and fund-raising and feeding back requests for more volunteering opportunities.
Secondly, each House has been twinned with a primary school in the city to explore ways of working together beyond our well-established Voluntary Community Service programme. These include: reading with pupils, helping with displays or odd jobs, fund-raising for trips, running breakfast and after-school clubs, supporting those with little English or those with exceptional maths. These relationships are still developing, led by the Partnership Leaders, and after the pupils return to school they will be excited to continue.
Thirdly, we developed our own online Volunteering Record to celebrate the thousands of hours put in by our pupils and to inspire others to get involved. As well as capturing the details of what they do, they are asked to reflect on the skills they have developed through volunteering, including: kindness, leadership, empathy, initiative, teamwork.
Volunteering is not a one-way street. Mutuality underpins our entire partnerships (not “outreach”) programme because of what it brings to our school community. Through volunteering our pupils grow in confidence and maturity, resilience and adaptability; they learn to communicate with a wider range of people of all ages and, crucially, to look outwards beyond their own familiar circles. And through them we have helped to break down barriers within our city, reaching out to many and welcoming new friends into King’s.
Not all our pupils understood what volunteering was all about last year; now they do. Parents may not choose a school on the basis of its volunteering programme but now I hope that in leading prospective families on a tour of King’s most pupils would talk about this aspect of school life – when we return to normal life!
In this National Volunteer Week I’d like to thank all the pupils who give so generously of their time and especially all my colleagues for supporting them, driving them, cajoling them, registering them and celebrating their efforts.