Extra-Curricular Activities at School
Independent schools are known for their high academic standards and diverse range of co-curricular activities. Schools value the importance of learning experiences outside the classroom and, consequently, believe in offering pupils a range of opportunities to try new things and help their development.
Often, when you think of extra-curricular activities, it is sport that first comes to mind. Whilst there are many sports and outdoor pursuits available at independent schools, there are also a number of other exciting and beneficial activities such as debating, Combined Cadet Force, chess classes or even ukulele club. Pupils that take part in these pursuits tend to benefit from greater confidence, leaderships skills and the ability to manage their time more effectively.
In 2017, research by psychometric test publisher, AQR International, showed that pupils at schools within membership of the Independent Schools Council (ISC) were controlled, committed, confident and enjoyed a challenge. Many independent schools feel this is down to the breadth of curriculum, wide-ranging activities outside the classroom and the excellent pastoral care which help to create resilient and worldly young people.
Schools that excel at nurturing sporting talent are able to offer children and young people excellent facilities, often with provision for activities that are not easily available such as sailing, climbing, fencing or even trampolining. At independent schools generally, sporting opportunities form part of a school’s extra-curricular programme, which is much-desired by many parents and children. There is much appreciation for the value of physical activity and the associated health benefits, whether it is a particular sport, jogging or gym sessions.
The independent sector is committed to working in partnership with state sector schools. Such partnership projects enable all types of schools to come together and broaden the opportunities on offer to all pupils, in addition to sharing good practice, facilities and teaching. Many independent and state schools are involved in music, art and drama partnerships which allow pupils to perform together, support productions and even write or direct their own plays. These partnerships are hugely successful, not only in enabling new friendships to blossom but also in allowing all children taking part to access new and exciting educational experiences. A number of partnerships also take place in the school’s local community, through volunteering work or other aspects of community action.
There are numerous specialist schools which meet particular requirements that might not be available in schools elsewhere. These range from highly academic, selective schools to cathedral schools, offering pupils the experience of singing in a cathedral choir. For children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), who might need extra support, there are independent schools which offer some of the best SEND provision in the country.
Many independent schools take boarders. Boarding schools have the advantage of a longer school day which provides the opportunity for more lessons and activities. The extended day gives children the time and the chance to try something new, or pursue an established interest. School libraries can also be a valuable and well equipped resource for pupils to use in the evenings or at weekends – and a reminder for pupils that not all past times need to be highly energetic.
The excellence of independent schools stems, in part, from their independence from central government and local authorities. It enables each school to follow its own curriculum and offer a wider range of learning opportunities – whether that is in sports, arts, academic subjects or through local community partnership activity.
The Independent Schools Council (ISC) brings together seven associations and four affiliate associations to represent over 1,300 independent schools. These schools are amongst the best in the world, and educate more than half-a-million children.