Co-curricular activities are flourishing

Students watering trees

Many thanks to Ms Cadogan and the members of the Lower First Cookery Club, whose baking I was delighted to sample on Thursday. It is of course great to see so many co-curricular activities flourishing: football and hockey fixtures as ever this Saturday (and the 1st XI have semi-finals and hopefully finals coming up at Lee Valley - good luck), but also Horticulture Club, whose tree planting last week has been succeeded by helping the new gardens to the south of the terrace, part of our plan to re landscape the front of the School. And of course dozens and dozens more. 

The academic/co-curricular boundaries should never be fixed. A group of IB Lower Sixths (picking up the grounds theme) met with Grounds and Estates Manager Dan Ratling last week, too, under the leadership of Mr Elliott, to find out more about how our Estates Team tackle sustainability, as part of their joint project with Woldingham School. And Second Formers were telling Ms Goldberg and me last week over lunch about their independent Ignite projects, where boys use research and study to write about big issues: social media, the environment, geopolitics.

All organisations have ESG strategies (I didn’t know what that stood for until recently either - Environment, Social and Governance), or EDI strategies (come on! Equality, Diversity and Inclusion), or both. And rightly so. Our governors spent their termly strategy meeting on these issues this term, and Mr Kirby led on outlining our diversity groups’ work, Mr Godwin on our sustainability strategy.

But too often these things are either too abstract (lots of lofty statements), or too removed from the daily life of the organisation. As one of our governors said, sustainability is hard to measure, and inclusion even harder (not impossible, by the way, just hard). But the trick is to make these things real to the students, so whilst we have still a way to go with this, for students to live out these issues through their activities (whether it’s tree-planting or charity fundraising), to embed them in their learning (Ignite or Sixth Form projects) or best of all throw themselves into fundraising, as our excellent U6 leaders are doing, is what counts.

Another governor noted how his company (a famous big employer) gives every member of the organisation a menu of ways they can help with sustainability and philanthropy: they can choose what works for them, but they have to choose and commit to something. It’s an idea I like, so suggestions for the list would be welcome!

And I’m sorry about the acronyms!