Pupils take time off timetable to explore new topics and enrich learning

Giving pupils the opportunity to explore beyond the curriculum, to develop a broad range of skills as learners and to enjoy a different type of learning are at the heart of our enrichment programme. Over the last term, when most of our pupils were learning remotely, these opportunities to break away from the timetable were particularly valuable.

The two days of enrichment activities in the Junior School fell within Child Mental Health Awareness Week, which this year had the theme of ‘Express Yourself’. Every pupil across the Junior School had the opportunity to truly express themselves, whether it was through beat boxing, telling stories, painting using coffee, making short films or drawings about what makes them happy, creating animations or activities within the co-curricular classrooms.

“It was uplifting to see so many smiles from the children of critical workers who were in school, and in the photographs sent through by parents of the children taking part in the activities,” said Mrs Wilson-Smith, Head of the Junior School. “These enrichment days are an important part of the children’s learning and offers us the opportunity to consolidate their curriculum learning in a different way, making further connections between subjects, helping them to engage with activities and have a lot of fun while they do it too.”

Exploring local history, biology and creative writing were enrichment days that Senior School pupils engaged with this term. Year 7 took part in a Biology enrichment day with some pupils researching Gilbert White and other designing bat-friendly gardens – one pair of pupils even created a garden in Minecraft. “There was a huge range of work, art, posters and PowerPoint presentations produced by pupils,” said Miss Poole, Head of Biology. “The different directions the pupils took with their independent investigations, the information they discovered and then creatively presented will have helped them to embed what they learnt during the day and will have given them great experience in developing independent work as they progress through the school.”

A day of creative writing adventures was the off-timetable experience for Year 8 pupils who were joined by award-winning novelist Sita Brahmachari who shared her experiences as a writer. and talked to the pupils about the creative writing process. The pupils were taught about how to create convincing narratives using a variety of household objects, as well as creating beautiful art along the way.

To broaden the learning experience and environment for Year 9 pupils, they had a two-part day away from their normal timetable. During the morning they undertook an exploration of local history, including Portsmouth’s literary past, the defence of the realm and sport. The pupils then had some time to apply what they had learnt and come up with a ‘product’ that conveyed something of the historical significance of Portsmouth. It could be a podcast, something artistic or a straightforward essay; click here to listen to a podcast created by a team of pupils about the history of Portsmouth, or here to listen to pupils discussing Portsmouth’s literary history. Alternatively you can read an essay on Portsmouth’s historical significance by Alex in Year 9 if you click here.

In the afternoon, the focus for Year 9 moved from the past to the future as they used the Morrisby profile aspirations questionnaire. They were asked questions based on their interests, GCSE options and personality, this then gave them feedback on potential A Level and career options based on their answers. This feedback data they can now take throughout their professional lives with unlimited access to the site and the opportunity to retake questionnaires to reflect their changing aspirations.

Sixth Form pupils have continued to take part in both their academic and personal enrichment curriculums. The broad-ranging ‘Community and Workplace’ programme has continued to enable pupils to explore topics of interest in greater depth, such as the work undertaken by the Schools of Sanctuary group as well as engaging with the local community through projects such as the work with the Mary Rose Academy creating 'sensory stories' for the pupils at the school or raising awareness of sustainability issues.

“Our aim is to inspire our pupils to be courageous and curious learners” said Dr Cotton. “We encourage pupils to be creative in their approach to their subjects and to develop independence as learners and these enrichment days, across the whole school, allow our pupils to challenge themselves and grow. It was particularly important during the remote learning period to give our pupils space to be creative and to explore beyond the curriculum. The feedback we received was incredibly positive and thanks must go to our incredible teachers who bring these fresh and exciting opportunities to life.”