“If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem”. This is what Leighton Park tells their new Year 7s when they enter into the school and, like all good schools, they hold themselves to the same high standards. The Quaker school won the Independent Schools Association Award for Outstanding Local Community Involvement in 2020 and have worked to expand support and deepen relationships through the following initiatives.
Be Inspired – Supporting KS2 Student Achievement in local primary schools
Leighton Park is particularly well known for its Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) academic approach, winning the national Award for Excellence in STEAM Education 2021. The school continued its educational outreach work during lockdown by developing a STEAM Interactive workshop series to coincide with British Science Week 2021. The interactive workshops were led by staff and students, hundreds of Year 5 students took part ‘live’ and engaged with follow up Q&A sessions, with many other schools opting to incorporate the materials into their teaching later in the term. The series also included video case studies of successful professionals in STEAM careers.
247 students provided feedback on their experiences to enable further improvements. The success and appetite for this event from local primaries has led the school to prepare for STEAM Interactive II in 2021/2022 to coincide with COP26.
Community and Education Partnerships
Foundry College Pupil Referral Unit
A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Foundry College Pupil Referral Unit continues to go from strength to strength. Leighton Park has provided music technology and production opportunities to KS4 artists in their Yamaha Live Lounge recording studio with access to industry technicians and state of the art Yamaha equipment. The Head of Foundry College commented: “I have four very excited little boys who had a wonderful time today and their staff whose anxieties around this new experience have been put in check.”
The school delivered teacher care packages to every member of Foundry College staff in the Spring Term as the school stayed open for face to face teaching during lockdown for high numbers of vulnerable children. In the Summer Term Leighton Park offered 6 week work experience placements in the Ground/Maintenance teams and Administrative teams for students in Year 10 and Year 11. On September 2nd the school will welcome 54 teaching and support staff from Foundry for a special day of reflection/Inset on the Park to support them in their preparations for 2021/2022. As part of the mutually beneficial MOU, Leighton Park has received leadership frameworks for relationship management and the schools are exploring more ways to share expertise.
Let’s Read Together
Born out of a Year 10 Literacy Change-makers programme, the Let’s Read Together initiative saw students and teachers sharing the gift of storytelling by recording their own narrations for children to enjoy, sharing them via weekly video delivery. One Primary School saved the videos up for World Book Day and shared them as a literary festival. The Year 10 Literacy Change-makers work closely with one of the school’s Community Partners Loddon Primary and ABC to Read to aid younger pupils in their reading and ran weekly online buddy sessions during lockdown.
Let’s Cook Together
The Let’s Cook Together initiative provided weekly recipes via video and recipe cards for students at local primary and prep schools, as well as one of Leighton Park’s Community Partners; Whitley Community Development Association (WCDA). During the ten week programme, the Senior Creativity, Activity, Service (CAS) students coordinated supplies of ingredients and equipment for 26 families at WCDA to enable more families to take part. Trisha Bennett, Community Development Coordinator for Whitley CDA, commented, “Working with LP has been amazing. They have wrapped their arms around us and found a range of creative ways to support our work with the Whitley community.”
As part of the Feeding Communities programme, Leighton Park worked with its catering provider Thomas Franks to deliver nutritious meals and snacks to those in need every Monday, via Foundry College Pupil Referral Unit, Ridgeway Primary School and Loddon Primary. Leighton Park donated freezers to schools to store the meals and ensured digital nutritional information was given to schools too, to help with distribution.
Student-led charitable engagement
A key focus for the School this year has been galvinsing House spirit towards charitable engagement for local charities. Field House boarders have spent weekends and evenings across the academic year volunteering at First Days charity in Reading who work closely with new parents and babies. The school’s relationship with this charity has now developed into a Sixth Form volunteering option on Friday afternoons. School House fundraised for Launchpad Reading, a charity working with the homeless and Reckitt House chose Alexander Devine Children’s Hospice, the only children’s hospice in Berkshire. The year’s efforts culminated in a big charity weekender on the Park on 10th & 11th June. Events included a 24 hr cyclathon and a 100 dance song challenge bringing students and staff together to raise over £5,000 for these very important local organisations. “Thank you to everyone who took part in the cyclathon, that money will go directly towards helping people in need.” commented Kate Martin, Fundraising Manager for Launchpad.
Across other areas of the School, charitable engagement, volunteering and fundraising has continued to flourish despite the pandemic. Over 585 hours of local volunteering was achieved by those on the school’s Duke of Edinburgh programme during lockdown. The LGBTQ group (The GSA) raised over £500 for Mermaids, a charity who work with transgender students and their families as part of diversity week and the school’s PE department has supported Young Minds throughout the year with a host of activities, House competitions and events such as LP Run in the Sun.
To see snapshots of Leighton Park’s work in this area, please visit their twitter @LPPartnerships.