These are all popular co-curricular activities found amongst the wide range on offer at Mill Hill. Clubs, sports, music and drama, the CCF and the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme are available for pupils to join. And if there isn’t a club already on offer – such as flying drones – then pupils will set this up themselves.
This wide array of activities is a very important part of the Foundation understanding of education. We are keen to balance academic challenge with involvement in the wider world, set within a strong pastoral framework. Whilst this has been a feature of Mill Hill for many years, these days such a focus is becoming even more relevant. The world of work is now explicitly looking for a variety of skills that might well be learnt on the rugby pitch or in the making of the school newspaper, as much as in the chemistry class.
Over this last year we have been working on the link between the skills gained in our co-curricular activities and those valued by the world of work. This approach is already shaping our sixth form enrichment programme which ensures that pupils are involved in problem solving activities, presentation skills, team work and leadership focused tasks and community action. We are looking to extend this approach further down the year groups in the coming year.
With this in mind, I was interested to note on a recent visit how Durham University promotes the value of co-curricular activities. Students are expected to identify where they fall short of essential employability skills and actions they will take to tackle this. They are then encouraged to follow a variety of interests which develop within them the following skills: interpersonal, entrepreneurial, personal effectiveness and understanding the world around you. Once activities are completed they are expected to write a reflective piece on what they have learnt from engaging in these. And finally, if they complete the full programme, they gain a Durham Award which indicates to the employer the added value that they offer.
If you are interested in exploring this idea further, the university has put together a lively promotional video that explains their approach more fully on https://youtu.be/NtgeQse0rqY
Here at Mill Hill, we continue to value our co-curricular activities and work to help our students see their relevance to the modern world. With robotics, coding and drones out there already amongst our clubs; I wonder what will come next.