Casterton Business and Enterprise College (CBEC) is the hub of local learning, offering 11-16 education by day and a wide range of recreational and academic activities for young people and adults in the evenings and at weekends
We have a long-standing tradition of wide-ranging extra-curricular activities that provide pupils with a wealth of new experiences, challenges and opportunities to develop and demonstrate new talents. This is especially true of G&T pupils who thrive on the additional opportunities and are frequently, as in most schools, the first to sign up for after school activities.
Community access has long been a valued part of the college’s life – it is within the other spheres of extended schools that we are able to make most provision for our G&T students.
A tradition of staff offering regular after-school extra-curricular activities means that the government expectation that all schools will offer 8am to 6pm supervision by 2008 is not unrealistic for us. Many pupils and staff are already at school by 8am eating breakfast in the cafeteria. The school lays on additional ‘late’ buses at the end of the day for all students (an additional and expensive consideration for rural schools) who are then invited to sign up at the start of every term for as many after-school clubs as they can juggle. Our G&T pupils use this facility to study for additional GCSEs (Spanish, statistics and graphics) but also to develop their talents in music, drama and art.
Study support is a significant feature of our after-school provision and a popular one with parents. IT access and resources are available with staff on hand to assist with independent study, booster classes, AS critical thinking sessions, plus A* and Level 8 masterclasses.
The extra-curricular options change each term and are augmented by outside providers who deliver activities that the student council request and the teaching staff don’t have the expertise or resources to provide. Some of these incur a charge and for many schools this is the biggest extended school anomaly. While staff have always put on a range of activities, pupils and parents have understandably come to regard them as a cost-free right, even though staff provide their own time and goodwill. Some popular clubs at CBEC like judo, fencing and kite-karting are possible because they are provided by profit-making organisations.
The irony is clear: teaching staff provide an equivalent service with no additional pay. And some of the activities are not within the means of all parents. It is a difficult one to justify.
Several of our G&T students sit on the school council. Last year they requested more IT access and the result was a successful bid for money to create our independent learning hub, a suite of computers that pupils can use before and after school and during breaks. A refurbished climbing wall and drama clubs have also been the result of successful bids.
CBEC has an on-site childcare centre which a growing number of teaching and support staff use. The centre is run as a business and provides high-quality childcare at an affordable cost to local parents while becoming increasingly successful in business terms.
The result of funding from the community safety partnership (£4,000 over two years) has enabled the college to employ a learning mentor, part of the swift and easy referral aspect of extended schools. While the learning mentor works with a number of our most vulnerable students, the valuable combination of personal advice and intervention is being mirrored with our G&T students who work with the G&T coordinator to create their own individual learning plans, a key feature of which is how to make the most of extra-curricular time.
Continuing to develop
We have been able to build on our sound foundations as a community college to provide sustainable provision that is cost-effective and popular with stakeholders. Making successful bids has also enabled us to add to existing provision and ‘plug gaps’ in more challenging areas of government requirement.
Our gifted and talented pupils have been quick to benefit; presenting a strong pupil voice in the recommendations for new opportunities, making excellent use of the academic and recreational opportunities and using extended school opportunities to access early accreditation courses, gain additional qualifications, discover new interests and extend their learning.
Next we hope to involve parents in supporting our efforts even more. Classes on ‘taming teens’ are in the pipeline and, through involving parents as mentors, we hope to focus outside support on making a real difference to pupils’ learning. A new parent mentoring process for our G&T pupils is being introduced.
We also want to extend our school out into the community. Our lower school Christmas drama production and concert will take place in our local church and languages staff at the college are already teaching under 5s in the childcare centre as well as our feeder primary schools. Business partner links mean we will extend our dialogue with local businesses too.
Our G&T students are participating in after school journalism masterclasses run by the editor of Stamford Living magazine to produce pages for the December edition. They will be paid the going rate for high quality articles and pictures that are commissioned for publication.
Josephine Smith is a member of the Extended Senior Team and the G&T coordinator at Casterton Business and Enterprise College, an 11-16 school in Rutland.