There is always room for enhancing the curriculum through the creation and development of special events in school that pull teachers, pupils, local businesses and the wider community together, writes Rosemary Cairns

The National Curriculum has given us a balanced but predictable diet, but we could all do with additional nutrition from time to time. Schools can be a bit like supermarkets – giving us what they feel we should like regardless of the season. Whilst some events work well which may have been hastily put together, those that bear fruit have contextual / seasonal relevance. So how should you start to plan for a special event? 

  1. Once you’ve had the go ahead for that bright idea, engage other interested parties.
  2. Invite parents, members of the community and other schools to participate.
  3. Ensure that the event is an integral part of school planning, so enough time and attention are allocated to the arrangements.
  4. Try and identify existing national or local activities /events e.g. run a Health Week during ‘Jeans for Genes’ day or non-smoking day. Citizenship themes can link really well into national events. It is no coincidence that weplan our citizenship week to coincide with ‘Fair Trade’ fortnight.
  5. Investigate any grants or funding. Local firms may also be keen to give ‘in kind’ in return for acknowledgement of their involvement.
  6. Brief all staff so that everyone is kept informed, whether or not they may be involved.
  7. Tell the office staff to expect enquiries and keep them up to date with arrangements.
  8. The site manager and team may need to be informed, especially if they need help organise the venue and unlock or lock up!
  9. Undertake a risk analysis.

There is no doubt this all takes time and can be frustrating and tiring along with all the other constraints of teaching, but the benefits outweigh the negatives. Where schools are involved in enrichment activities there is often an improvement in pupil’s self-esteem, resulting from working in a different environment. Pupils can form different friendships across age, ability and social groups. They also come into contact with teachers and adults in informal and positive ways.

Exploring new opportunities with others can also raise aspirations of pupils in a way they would not have otherwise considered.

This article first appeared in Teaching Expertise magazine, Issue 9 Autumn 2005.