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Be inspired every day with Living North
Two people kayaking on a river
November 2016
Reading time 5

With the newly reinstated linear approach to examinations ratcheting up the pressure in the classroom, are extra-curricular opportunities worth students’ extra time in pursuing? We consider the value of these activities

As always, education is a hot topic of discussion right now; assessment methods are changing, grade boundaries are shifting and both are leaving the school system in something of a state of flux. Educational institutions are also under pressure to provide a wide range of extra-curricular opportunities to support students' development.

Traditionally, these have focused on sport or the arts, but schools wishing to stand out from the crowd are expanding beyond this range. Why, though? What benefit do these out-of-classroom activities really have? We asked some of the region’s top teachers to enlighten us.

‘Exams are significant, and we must do our very best to support children to achieve the best they can in these. But they actually just take you to the next step in life. Education is not just about this; it is the responsibility of schools to prepare all children to lead happy and fulfilling lives. 

We offer over 60 clubs and societies, and we call these co-curricular clubs, not extra-curricular, because we believe these experiences are as important as academic achievement. Outdoor pursuits such as climbing and kayaking build resilience and give pupils the skills to achieve their Duke of Edinburgh Award. Combined Cadet Force encourages leadership that many teenagers do not think they possess. 

Drama and singing improves confidence and our kit car project enables pupils to become problem solvers, as well as teaching practical skills such as advanced driving and mechanics. Understanding that some of the most important parts of our education take place beyond the classroom not only starts to recognise what a good education should include but it also clearly shows how independent education is so well-equipped to achieve this.’
Mark Turnbull, Headteacher, Giggleswick School

‘It is most likely to be something outside of the classroom that provoke the most vivid of memories’

‘The role of an outstanding school is one that develops the whole child both academically and socially. Hull Collegiate prides itself in developing exceptionally well-rounded, grounded pupils who are confident and active members of both the school and, more importantly, the wider community. 

The school prides itself on allowing pupils opportunities to develop confidence, an innovative approach to challenges, an aspirational outlook, whilst being enthusiastic and engaging young people. The 75 co-curricular activities on offer ensure that all pupils are actively involved in developing themselves in areas other than classroom studies. 

The wide variety ensures that there is something for everyone. In addition, the strong music, drama and sports faculties ensure there are numerous concerts, plays and weekly fixtures. The bi-annual expedition to our sister school in Uganda allows the senior pupils the opportunity to experience Africa whilst supporting and even teaching at the Great Lakes High School. 

Ask any pupil at HCS what they remember most about their schooldays and it is most likely to be something outside of the classroom that provoke the most vivid of memories!’
Rebecca Glover, Headteacher, Hull Collegiate School

‘At Hymers, we believe that students learn as much from their interaction with one another as they do from their academic studies, and that a full programme of extra-curricular activities is an essential part of their education. 

The real value of the extra-curricular programme is to teach children how to cope with failure. If they play sport, for example, it is important for them to experience both winning and losing, as these are vital life lessons. Resilience is an essential attribute for all young people. When students are taken outside of their comfort zone, whether on a stage, in a concert or working in the community, that is where real learning takes place.

In addition, we believe in the value of working with others in a team environment because, once again, the skills acquired are highly transferable. Extra-curricular activities provide an ideal opportunity for this kind of learning.’
David Elstone, Headteacher, Hymers College

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