Zain Peerbhoy's guest blog on the Whitgift Community Summer School

Zain Peerbhoy was School Captain at Whitgift in 2019-20 and wrote this blog as a volunteer in the Whitgift Community Summer School.

Last week I volunteered at the Whitgift Community Summer School. I worked alongside Whitgift staff and fellow pupils in providing local primary school pupils a unique educational experience. For the majority of children, it was the first time back into the classroom in months. Whereas previously children could adopt a carefree adventurous spirit to their education, now they must distance, ease on the side of caution and sanitise so frequently that stationary begins to slip out of their fingers.  

However, students have taken this all in their stride; their enthusiasm to learn after such a long layoff being the driving force behind such a successful week. As a volunteer, it was heart-warming to see the smiles on students faces and hear exclamations of joy about their first time in a science lab or seeing a snake. The students weren’t the only ones learning new material this week. I have also benefited, learning the foundations of Russian and Music Technology. 

The beauty of the week was that students were able to excel in all domains of school life. Outside of the classroom students toured the picturesque grounds including trips during break to the Water Gardens and woodland areas. For some students I am sure this was the highlight of the week. One pair were so enthralled that each morning they would arrive early and scavenge for peacock feathers, this was to much delight of the ground staff as each day the group picked an array of different feathers leaving the surrounding area spotless.  

My job was made very easy this week thanks to the passion and energy of the students. Each morning I would see students racing up the hill to get to class, and see students almost falling out of their chair to answer questions. Their exuberance provided an exhilarating atmosphere and made for a very enjoyable week. 

In my opinion, the most successful session of the week was Philosophy. For all students this was a completely new experience. However, the chance to participate in engaging, thought provoking discussions surrounding alien life and settling was one students embraced. All students blossomed providing intriguing yet humorous responses: one adamantly refused to meet the aliens due to fears that “they would eat us!”. The session placed a focus on sociability and group learning ,something all students would have dearly missed over the prior months and for this reason the Philosophy session was so memorable. 

In all the, Community Summer School has been a thoroughly rewarding experience for all parties involved. For students it may have provided the spark of a new found passion. For staff and volunteers like myself it was a vibrant reminder of Whitgift’s positive impact on the community. It epitomised Whitgift’s ethos of constantly giving back to those who need it and was another mark of excellence in regards to Whitgift’s response to this global pandemic. Personally, the week allowed me to reminisce about my first memories of Whitgift, it reminded me of the circular nature of life and was a memorable way to end my seven-year journey as a student at the school.