Co-curricular programme | Unlocking pupils’ talent and interest

Andrew James
Director of Enrichment
 
Wellington’s co-curricular activities (CCA) programme gives pupils across the Prep and Senior Schools the freedom to explore new activities, cultivating new interests and aptitudes which will aid both their personal and academic development.
 
Getting it right for every pupil 
 Giving pupils a fully rounded, holistic education is at the very heart of Wellington’s philosophy and our CCA programme is an essential part of that. This is why the CCAs on offer are broken into physical, creative and academic branches, and it’s compulsory for pupils to take options in all three. They can still favour one branch over the others; it doesn’t have to be an even three-way split, but it does have to be a mix. We know that lots of pupils are most at home on the football pitch or netball court, while others long to be singing their hearts out on stage or jamming away with their band. Others still are in their element making discoveries as they practise coding or putting together fantastic robots. Put simply, we know that each pupil has their strengths and preferences, but the CCAs are as much about seeking out new interests and aptitudes as they are about reinforcing existing ones. 
 
The nuts and bolts: tailoring CCAs for maximum effectiveness
 
CCAs are compulsory, so we’re doing everything in our power to make sure we get them right! This means ensuring that every CCA is well run, well resourced and well rounded to appeal to any pupil with an interest in exploring it.While we generally see pupils loving their CCAs (more on that later), it’s not always going to be an ideal fit 100% of the time. While many pupils may initially be disappointed if they didn’t get all of their first choices, we do ask them to stick with their choices for an initial two-week trial phase. This way, they get to understand and appreciate the value of the CCA, rather than simply trying it for a single session and making a quick judgement. 
 
Putting the magic into each CCA
 
Every CCA needs to challenge pupils’ brains and bodies in new and interesting ways. It needs to be an outlet for creativity and passion, and that goes for the person running the activity as well as the pupils enjoying it. Teachers can choose the CCAs they want to run, so they can bring all of their passion and enthusiasm to every session.Increasingly, we are also seeing our own Senior School pupils make excellent personal contributions to the CCA programme. Each year, we offer a small number of sixth form pupils the chance to prepare and lead their own CCAs. This small, select group presents their ideas, which must be well considered, relevant, safe, sustainable and, of course, fun! Recent successful pupil-led CCAs include introductory-level Japanese as well as various DT/art-based classes. These excellent chances for our sixth formers to show leadership and further explore the pursuits they love. It’s also another great opportunity for pupils across different age ranges to form important and lasting friendships.As well as giving CCA organisers the chance to share their interests and talents with others, we also make sure they have all the resources they need to make their CCA as good as it can possibly be. Whether it’s new board games, robotic kits or VR software that teachers and sixth formers need to give their CCAs the wow factor, we make sure that they have it. 
 
Looking at the data – Pupils’ thoughts on CCAs 
 Our most recent survey on the CCA programme was produced in November last year. After crunching the numbers and reading hundreds of comments, the results were very encouraging. Both the Prep and Senior Schools giving routinely high marks for enjoyment and engagement. While there’s always room to improve and refine what we’re offering, this is a very good indication that things are working well.Looking at specific CCAs, we could clearly see from pupils’ comments which ones were working consistently well, and those that weren’t connecting with the pupils. This has been helpful in letting us think about what our pupils want and how to give them the best possible access to it.Looking Ahead – The future of Wellington CCAs

Due to the hard work of teachers, pupils and organisers across the College, the CCA programme is in a very good place. We have a system that not only caters to the needs and abilities of our fantastically talented pupils, but also gives them fair and equal access to the activities that excite them.

Our task now is to continue to raise quality and choice. The programme is designed to nurture and support pupils’ overall growth and their ability to take on new and exciting pursuits with confidence as early on in their academic lives as possible. This is true for sport, performing arts, academia, and everything in between.

From Green Wellies (one of my personal favourite names for a CCA!) to Dungeons and Dragons, we have an incredible range of interests represented across the programme. Each CCA is run by someone who is completely committed and eager to make it as good as it can possibly be. By continuing to support them, we can be reasonably sure that every pupil will have the ideal activity to look forward to at the end of each school day.

I see some very exciting times ahead!

 

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