I started this week by reading a collection of our own students’ reflections on their first experiences of CAS lessons and I was curious as to how well received they might be, given that for our lower and middle school students, the appearance of CAS on their timetable was entirely new. The experience of participating in CAS activities is, of course, nothing out of the ordinary.
All students at KES will pursue their creative pursuits in art, drama and music on a daily basis and regularly adopt creative approaches to problem solving. Additionally, our students are active and relish the opportunity to engage in a wide variety of sporting activities both in their timetables and after school and at weekends. Finally, our students are aware of their responsibilities to the local community and regularly engage with global issues in the classroom. Nevertheless, when our students join the Divisions there is always a sense of mystery, curiosity and dare I say scepticism surrounding CAS, despite the fact they have actually been engaging in CAS activities throughout their school lives! The feedback the Shells and Removes provided drew a huge smile across my face…
Our students shared that they have enjoyed this timetabled time that can be spent away from their screens. Whilst many of us have enjoyed the new innovations the remote classroom encourages, the increased time spent in front of our computers is indeed a challenge. I was thrilled to read that many of our younger students are engaging in the variety of clubs and societies that continue to be offered remotely. The creativity involved in students initiating these remote societies has been inspiring and ensured that the identity of a KES community is well maintained during lockdown. The Shells and Removes have innovated elsewhere too, from creating cookbooks to quizzes for their families and friends to launching the ambitious Senbazuru fundraising challenge. They continue to read widely, as shown by the bookworms group and the increasing take up of ‘Books at Bedtime’, whereas their artistic flair is on full display in the variety of Rainbow pictures that flood my inbox.
Our younger students also shared their experiences of keeping fit during the lockdown. The Shells and Removes embraced the 2.6 Challenge and have been walking, running, cycling and completing workout routines, many fundraising along the way. Other students have enjoyed exercising with family members. Harman Ahluwalia is attempting to play 260 games of table tennis with his family during the lockdown, whilst others have accompanied their parents on runs and cycles.
Finally, the current lockdown has encouraged us all to consider the contributions we make to the society within which we live. It is these Shell and Remove service contributions which have perhaps been the most pleasing to read about. Our students are making a profound difference to the household, the neighbourhood and the national effort. Many students are completing important chores in the home, such as the creation of delicious dinners or entertaining their younger siblings. Such efforts have been essential in ensuring that both parents can continue to carry out important work. Many students have also taken the time to look after their grandparents, keeping loneliness at bay by carrying out regular calls and delivering letters.
Despite the lockdown restricting student movements, their generosity has ventured out into their local neighbourhoods. KES students and families have picked up their neighbours shopping and provided them with cakes and music from their gardens to keep their spirits up. Harry Hawkesford in the Removes has dropped letters into the letterboxes of his neighbours asking them to leave donations to foodbanks outside their doors for him to collect and deliver on their behalf. Truly inspiring stuff from such a young student! In addition to this, some students have contacted care homes and made sure their local elderly remain connected by writing letters.
Our youngest students have also contributed to the national effort. They have adorned their windows with rainbows and signs of support for the NHS and clapped our key workers each Thursday. I have read stories of doctors and nurses that have been working on long shifts and arrived home to find our students have baked them cakes. As you will have read in previous editions of the newsletter, our students have achieved great feats in fundraising for the NHS. As things stand, our staff and students have raised nearly £7,500 for the NHS Together charity.
In the future, when lockdown is long forgotten, when our Shells and Removes move up through the years of the school, they need not wonder what CAS is or how they will fare. They are already doing it, and doing a brilliant job for that matter.