Voluntary Action (VA) is an opportunity for pupils to give something back to the local community as their service option.
Taking place each week, VA pupils attend placements or activities helping the local community in a variety of ways. The majority of our pupils are from the Upper School, where many IB pupils take the opportunity to work with us on the Service element of their CAS (Creativity, Activity, Service) work, but we do have a small number of Middle School pupils as well.
Some of our more popular placements are helping in local Primary Schools or nurseries, or working with the elderly either in care homes or at their own residences. Our teaching croquet to dementia patients placement won the 2015 Independent School’s Award for Community Initiative, and we have recently launched, in conjunction with AgeUK, an activity where our pupils teach ICT skills to local elderly residents to allow them to make better use of current technology – it also gives the pupils the opportunity to be the teacher for once!
To be successful in this activity, students need to have a strong level of commitment, maturity and independence. They are sent out into the local community and need to be able to act professionally and independently – there won’t always be a teacher with them to answer their questions. Placements aren’t always glamorous, but they are extremely rewarding.
A variety of projects both in and out of School take place over the October and March Service Weekends. For example, we hold a party every October for around 300 elderly members of the local community, which pupils organise and host. It is a hugely popular, enjoyable and rewarding event for both hosts and guests.