Wycombe Abbey’s Partnerships Programme
27 February 2023 - All
Partnerships are an area of strategic priority for Wycombe Abbey and our work in this area has greatly moved forward in recent years. We have established strong links with ten local primary schools; developed relationships with eight schools across London, Oxfordshire and Hertfordshire to support pupils applying to universities and staff professional development and have recently received a grant to support a project bringing our university preparation curriculum online so that we can share it on a wider scale. Our longstanding partnership with Cressex Community School is also growing by supporting their Literacy Mentoring Scheme and the running of the Cressex Summer School in the Summer Term which includes a number of enrichment activities using Wycombe Abbey facilities.
Recently, Dr Neal Carrier (Director of Sixth Form and Head of Partnerships) wrote a spotlight feature on our School Partnerships for the Independent Schools Council website. He said “Our Primary School Partnerships Programme emerged from three reflections: first, that our locality – High Wycombe – is an area of need relative to other areas of Buckinghamshire and within South East England more broadly; second, that our pupils typically come from privileged social backgrounds that do not routinely give them meaningful exposure to service; and third, that while our pupils have always had school-provided opportunities for service, these opportunities were scarce and were optional, so the learning and personal development that comes from service was limited to relatively few pupils. We were naturally led to the conclusion that we needed to do more on this count, both to support and engage our local community, while also addressing the developmental needs of our own pupils. We contacted all of the primary schools local to Wycombe Abbey and asked them open questions about their institutional priorities and whether we could support these through some partnership work, with our pupils as the central actors. The response was very enthusiastic.”
All Sixth Form pupils engage in our School Partnership Programme giving them the experience of working in local schools. However, Lower Sixth girls can also opt for an additional opportunity to volunteer in a number of local organisations. This year a small group of girls have worked in a local pre-school assisting the staff and supporting the children in their learning through play. Anjali said, “Through this opportunity, five friends and I gained valuable experience in a work environment, communicating with the employees, and interacting with children. It was an incredibly enjoyable and rewarding placement, and I know that all of us loved working with the children very much! Depending on the time of day we volunteered, we helped to set up the play area, welcome the children and their parents, help the children tidy up their toys, read to them, comfort them if they were upset, and, of course, play with them. The nursery was only a ten-minute walk from School, and it was wonderful to be able to give back to the community. Leaving school every week and walking through town was certainly a new type of responsibility, but we all embraced it. Whilst working with other employees, we were able to improve our teamwork and communication skills. Working with the children was especially interesting as we were able to learn to look at things from a new perspective – specifically, how to interact with children so that they understand what you’re trying to tell them, as well as how to make their play convenient for them, instead of convenient for us. Overall, we had a great time volunteering at All-Stars; the staff were lovely and the children were all very sweet.”
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