School initiatives that give pupils a chance to shine and develop skills

When we think back to our school days, quite a few different experiences will come to mind, from teachers and fellow students that were liked and hated to the nerves just before those crucial exam results were revealed.

In my case, and I imagine for many others, the strongest positive memories will be things that happened out of the classroom.

Newminster and Chantry Middle Schools taking part in the Deep Learning Experience running across Morpeth's middle and high schools. GM039800

Newminster and Chantry Middle Schools taking part in the Deep Learning Experience running across Morpeth's middle and high schools. GM039800

Whether it’s playing well for a sports team, performing in the big school production or being part of a concert in front of many people, they are things that bring a smile to our faces.

The good news for parents and grandparents in Morpeth today is that there is such a great depth to the enrichment provision at Chantry, Newminster and KEVI. The plethora of activities enables pupils to develop as young people and this will help them when they go to university and enter the world of work.

There is understandably a major focus on preparing students for exams, but The Three Rivers Learning Trust believes passionately that students need to enjoy their school journey.

At KEVI, as well as the traditional clubs and activities, there are initiatives (some student-led) to enhance the educational experiences of all the pupils. These include pre-med and pre-vet clubs, ceilidh and jazz bands, the KEVI Space Agency, dance and drama groups and a War Hammer Society.

To encourage wider skills, the school has developed its own programme of study called The KEVI 10, which is 10 skills to demonstrate before graduating in Year 11. These include teamwork, communication, independent learning and leadership.

This is then further developed in Sixth Form with the Active Student Award, where those in Years 12 and 13 complete a minimum of 15 volunteer hours, 15 hours of work experience and contribute to two charity events.

This year, students have contributed to a wide range of initiatives, examples include participation in a dementia support group, offering in-class support and peer mentoring.

At Chantry and Newminster, the curriculum is tailored to incorporate a range of Deep Learning Experience activities on Friday afternoons.

Pupils from both schools take part in joint sessions in areas such as music and crafts and annual initiatives like National Science and Engineering Week. In addition, Chantry and Newminster run their own clubs, groups, sports teams and activities.

Executive Headteacher of The Three Rivers Learning Trust Simon Taylor said: “At the Three Rivers Learning Trust, we aim to provide learning and enriching experiences that will inspire, motivate, stretch and challenge all of our students to help them become responsible citizens fully prepared for life after school.

“We want our students to really enjoy their journey through the Learning Trust and to have many memorable experiences that shape their development and support a lifelong love of learning.

“It is the enthusiasm and passion of both staff and students that has led to the development of such a fantastic programme of enrichment.”

All three schools have strong Student Voice sections — this includes encouraging fellow pupils to get involved in extra-curricular activities — and earlier this year, the Chantry and Newminster Choir and the KEVI choirs performed at a major concert with the Mid Northumberland Chorus and the English Philharmonic Orchestra in the Riverside Leisure Centre.

A number of KEVI students spoke to the Herald about the groups and initiatives they are involved in. They all enjoyed enrichment activities at middle school before moving up to high school.

Freddie Bowles, Year 13, has been a prominent member of Student Voice and he is among the select group of pupils that were chosen for the Global Young Leaders Conference in the USA.

He helped to run KEVI TV, which has filmed at a range of school activities and Morpeth events such as the Northumbrian Gathering and Remembrance Sunday parade.

Alistair McCubbin has become a valuable member of the KEVI TV team and the Year 9 student is a member of the school’s choir and chamber choir — he plays the violin and other string instruments.

He is also the rep for his year group on the school council. Georgina Eaton is the deputy rep for Year 10 and she is part of the marketing committee that is working on how best to showcase what the group is doing for the benefit of all students.

She said: “I enjoy being part of the school council because it gives you a voice and we get to discuss our ideas with members of the senior management.”

Georgina is a member of the school’s steel pan band that has taken part in various competitions and she is among the dozens of students who have been on the exchange programme, which KEVI runs with partner schools in France and Spain.

Jonathan Winfield, Year 12, is the newly-elected Head Boy.

He is a member of the school’s choirs, playing the piano and guitar, and he set up a cipher club (this involves cracking codes) for his year group.

He was part of the technical production crew that received a Gold CREST Award for its work on the school’s performance of Les Miserables and subsequent detailed report about what they did on each night and in the months leading up to the musical.

Charlotte Hall, along with Naomi Lane, Sophie Barr and Sarah Armstrong, won the Youth Trader Challenge that the school set up with Sanderson Arcade after setting up a Jam Jars and Driftwood enterprise.

They received a cheque for £300 to invest in the business and were given a stall at the Christmas Market.

Charlotte and fellow Year 10 student Eve Smart are currently fund-raising so they can go on a World Challenge trip to Madagascar in summer 2015. Activities include a meal at Marabini’s and cake sales.

Eve is also part of the hockey and netball clubs.

Scott Martin, Year 10, plays the violin and, like Alistair, he is looking forward to going on the KEVI music section’s tour to Italy this summer.

He is a member of the school’s Debate Society and was part of a team that reached the regional finals of a public speaking competition run by the English-Speaking Union.

Year 13 student Amy Routledge has received a school award for her sporting achievements and service. She plays hockey and basketball and was not put off by being the only female member of the basketball group at KEVI.

She did work experience twice a week in Newminster’s PE and science departments and after helping the Year 7 football team achieve success, she will be going with them to a regional summer sports games event.

Amy has also done a cycling challenge to raise money for Cancer Research UK.