Most schools will probably already be offering a range of after school clubs to pupils, but it is always worth considering new ideas and looking for inspiration. Here we investigate some ideas for starting novel after school clubs

The Chinese Year of the Tiger is now burning brightly and heralds a year of courage and boldness to embrace new opportunities. Learning Mandarin Chinese and learning about China often starts as an after-school club within extended schools or as a Chinese New Year day as part of an off-curriculum day at school. More and more support exists to start new clubs which promote Chinese within the curriculum, as well as other events in the Chinese calendar to promote intercultural understanding. Sometimes there are programmes available which link into New Year activities in museums.

If you are thinking of including Chinese in your extended school you might take a look at www.bamboolearning.com who organise Chinese after school clubs. They are currently the only organisation specialising in teaching Mandarin Chinese to children. In partnership with CILT (the National Centre for Languages) for the TDA they are developing a KS2 scheme of work for Mandarin Chinese to promote modern foreign languages in primary schools. Bamboo Learning’s sister website www.thechinesestaffroom.com provides a way of advertising for a local Chinese teacher for your club, as well as finding resources or news on Chinese and China useful to extended school managers.

Crest Young Investigators after school Science Clubs
The British Association for Science has now relaunched its after-school science club programme for infant, junior and pupils. The three packs, ‘Star’, ‘Superstar’ and ‘MegaStar’, are completely self-contained packs with simple week-by-week activities that promote a lot of thinking and discussion while dealing with simple everyday materials to make up simple experiments. A sheet of paper, paper clip and Blue tack teases out aeronautical principles through a highest-fastest, furthest paper airplane competition. The packs cost £30 for a year’s worth of activities which would be ideal to be delivered by a sixth former, student or adult volunteer, through the clearly structured, built-in progression of experiments and activities. Packs can be ordered from www.britishscienceassociation/CRESTStarInvestigators

Free2Go – a sustainable family healthy lifestyle programme
Schools and children’s centres who want to help families with diet and lifestyle in a supportive group setting, are increasingly hosting weight loss programmes such as Slimming World. Slimming World works in partnership with a number of PCTs, for example, South Derbyshire PCT’s ‘Slimming on Referral’ scheme. Slimming World has now developed Free2Go, a family programme which can be attended free by 11 – 16 year olds with their parent. If the parent is already a Slimming World member, the cost is also free for the parent, with non-Slimming World members paying a £3.95 sub per session. The focus for children is on healthy eating rather than weight loss, based on simple principles for eating healthily, not counting, measuring and worrying about weight loss targets. The aim in involving parent and child, is to encourage the adult responsible for the teenager’s eating, to make small important adjustments to the way they shop and cook for the family.

Childcare – Partnership working to promote the L A’s Childcare Sufficiency Duty
Fifty per cent of primary schools run after-school play centres for working parents but these are usually term time only, and local authority play services are always looking to find venues for holiday schemes.

If your school doesn’t currently host an after-school play centre, offering to host a summer holiday scheme will provide strong evidence of promoting economic wellbeing in the school self evaluation form (SEF). Another bonus is that the play service will register the school with Ofsted, its own staff can be employed and gain valuable training and experience, and of course, its own parents will benefit from a really local holiday provision, rather than having to use one on the other side of town.

Adult Learners’ week – May 15th – 21st
Local authority adult and community learning departments are currently calling for expressions of interest for community organisations to take part in Adult Learners’ Week 15th – 21st May. Schools which are not currently offering adult education courses, can pilot taster sessions and receive grants of between £250 and £350 to run short courses, for example, two morning or afternoon sessions over the course of Adult Learners’ Week.

An audit of your staff team may reveal all sorts of hidden talents. One London borough adult learners’ programme included the following:

  • introduction to internet, email
  • Power Point
  • complimentary therapies
  • dance eg Salsa, Bollywood, belly dancing
  • music workshops such as singing and lyric writing
  • exercise and fitness
  • drama workshops
  • learn to cook a traditional dish
  • yoga, Tai-Chi, meditation
  • digital photography
  • introduction to email.

The emphasis for Adult Learners’ Week is engagement, fun and building confidence in learning, so this could be a gentle way into making a connection with hard-to-engage families, as sessions require a minimum of six participants.

The national Learning at Work day takes place this year on Thursday 20 May, with this year’s theme, ‘creative connections’, encouraging workplace taster sessions. The Campaign for Real Learning’s website lists lots of ideas for the ‘Creating Connections’ day, with ideas ranging from book clubs for reluctant readers to Salsa for beginners. Auditing your parents’ skills and talents, could lead to their gaining valuable volunteer work experience by delivering a creative taster workshop for pupils or other parents.

This e-bulletin issue was first published in March 2010

About the author: Nick Holt is an education consultant. Previously he has been a teacher, local authority commissioning officer and most recently the extended services coordinator for an inner London borough.

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