HMC schools in action: Emanuel School works with local state schools to reach its Primary Ambitions

Emanuel School is an integral part of the community in the London Borough of Wandsworth. One of the key aims at the school is to enhance social mobility in its local area. With this in mind, the school launched a community partnership programme, Primary Ambitions, in September 2019, with the knowledge that early intervention would enable the school to broaden horizons and make an impact on the aspirations of local primary school children.

The programme also provides Emanuel pupils with the opportunity to take on leadership, coaching and mentoring roles and further develop confidence, empathy, kindness and respect for those from different backgrounds. Keen to share resources, the school developed a broad enrichment programme including topics that are not covered in depth in Key Stage 2.

Primary Ambitions unites Year 6 pupils from local state schools with a high proportion of children receiving free school meals with Emanuel Lower Sixth students. Every Friday from 2.00pm to 3.00pm, Lower Sixth pupils at Emanuel School teach a variety of subjects to groups of 15 Year 6 pupils on-site.  Students are mentored by a member of Emanuel staff throughout the programme, but the emphasis is on them running each session. The Lower Sixth undertake training and prepare the resources for their modules in early September before starting their first sessions later in the autumn term. 

The modules taught in the programme cover a variety of subjects in the arts, language, literature, politics, science, technology, maths and sport, with 20 different options for primary schools to choose from. The intent of the programme is enrichment – each 5-week module is curriculum-linked and fun to both learn and deliver. For example, students facilitate hands-on experiments, help children write a script and make a film in Filmmaking, and experience life as a 10-year-old Londoner in the Second World War through immersive History sessions.   

The school’s aspiration for the programme is to inspire and challenge young people to relish newly found opportunities and encourage them to explore new horizons. The programme is free to participating schools, including transport where needed. Feedback from primary school pupils and their teachers is overwhelmingly positive. Module-linked evaluation forms indicate that over 95% of teachers felt that pupils learned something new and 100% stated that the programme, plus being on Emanuel School’s site, offered experiences that the children otherwise might not have had. 

In 2019-20, 240 primary pupils participated in these educational trips each week, totalling 4,250 visits before the programme was suspended in March 2020 due to Covid-19. Currently, 18 of our partner schools participate in Primary Ambitions. Thirty-seven pupils who participated applied for a Year 7 place at Emanuel. Two pupils were awarded fully funded places. Primary Ambitions enabled them and their families to see that all children, regardless of background, thrive at Emanuel.

Despite the restrictions posed by Covid-19, the school successfully ran the Primary Ambitions programme again this academic year.  Pupils embraced the challenge and developed ‘Lessons-in-a-box’ to deliver to our partner primary schools.

Throughout the Autumn term, pupils prepared lesson plans and resources for their assigned subjects.  Resources included presentations, group and individual activities, how-to videos, and materials. Many of the groups recorded videos introducing themselves to their partner school pupils which was a great way for them to feel connected.  Pupils, with support from their Primary Ambitions supervisors, made every effort to design the sessions to be engaging and varied. The IT skills of many of the groups were commendable.

Sixteen partner schools participated in the Lessons-in-a-box programme this year and they have been extremely receptive to this modified approach. The school is hopeful to be able to welcome pupils back on site in the Autumn term.  The feedback from partners on the lessons provided was really positive.

Examples include:

Thank you. It all looks amazing!” St Faith's Primary School

I had a look through the materials – what an excellent job the students have done. I’m sure our Year 6s will enjoy these sessions.” St George's Primary School

“Thank you so much for the hard work you and your pupils have put into this project. The children are loving the project and they were so engaged during the lessons.” Queen's Manor

Can I just say how impressive the resources and 6th form teaching are. I popped into the lesson this afternoon and it was just excellent. The teacher couldn’t talk highly enough of the preparation, time and effort that has been put into making the lessons in a box.” St George's Primary School