Students at Ffynone House School are ‘catching-up’ on lost extra-curricular experiences in the new academic year. The new timetable includes a 40-minute session within the school day where all students will participate in one of the enrichment activities on offer.
Michael Boulding, headteacher at Ffynone House School explained that “schools needed to run a staggered timetable last year to reduce the risk of transmitting coronavirus. It’s now the ideal opportunity to help our students re-engage with their friends in person, as an alternative to using digital devices. Bringing extra-curricular sessions inside regular school hours gives them the prominence they deserve. These are no longer bolt-on sessions and instead, become an intrinsic part of a Ffynone education.”
The school has maintained its full-time provision throughout 2020 and 2021. Whether online or in-person, the students have kept up to speed with their academic sessions, with teachers adapting lessons to suit the circumstances. As a result, Ffynone pupils don’t need to ‘catch up’ with missed progress in numeracy or literacy, and the time can instead be spent on extra-curricular provision.
“These sessions are exactly what we need to reinvigorate staff and students after a year of isolation and uncertainty,” says Josie Miles, English Teacher. “It has been a joy to see students across all year groups learning new skills together once again in our taster sessions at the end of the summer term. It’s also a welcome chance for teachers to demonstrate that they have other areas of expertise to share beyond their subject areas.”
Some of the sessions on offer in TOC-Time (Time Off Curriculum) include ceramics, debate, instrumental ensembles, sport & fitness, chess, musical theatre, first aid, and coding. And it’s not just the staff who are running the activities! Alisha Hemani, Year 12 student, is taking charge of the MSF Missing Maps group. This initiative is an open, collaborative project in which anyone can map areas at risk of disaster or humanitarian crises.
Alisha is full of enthusiasm, “I’m pleased to be able to teach others how to create maps that will help those in less-developed countries and to develop my own leadership skills at the same time. It has been so difficult to interact with my younger peers in lockdown and that has always been a huge part of life at Ffynone. I was nervous about leading the taster sessions but once I got into my stride, I loved it! I think this will be very much led by students and that’s exciting!”
Pupils are being encouraged to choose a range of activities to include those they already enjoy, whilst also trying out those less familiar to them. “It will be a steep learning curve for all of us,” admits Mr Boulding, “but we know it is the most important thing for our young people right now. They need to re-learn the skills necessary to interact successfully with their peers, build their creativity, and find new interests outside the confines of the academic curriculum. It’s all in keeping with our core Ffynone ethos of nurturing young minds.”