This term Oakhamians have been enjoying taking part in an astonishing range of over 150 activities, as part of the School’s Distance Learning provision.
“Activities beyond the classroom play a key part of an Oakham education and we have been determined to try and ensure that our pupils can access them throughout this lockdown period,” says Sarah Gomm, Deputy Head, Pastoral and Co-curricular.
In the 2020 Summer Term lockdown the School successfully created an effective and engaging Distance Learning timetable, ensuring the continuity of a high-quality education. This included Sport, Music and Drama, as well as a full and fun programme of House-led activities. “This term, in less than two weeks, Oakham’s dedicated staff have gone above and beyond to work wonders and write yet another timetable to include two activity sessions each week for our pupils,” adds Sarah.
The activities in the new Distance Learning activities programme range from fun activities to encourage pupils away from their screens (such as craft or baking), to useful skills that they may want to use this time to learn or improve (such as touch-typing). Where possible we have also tried to keep some of our formal activities programmes going – such as Duke of Edinburgh and CCF, where pupils are undertaking some of the desk-based activities such as route planning and safety, so they can progress straight to the practical aspects on their return to School. “The common theme, and the ethos behind the whole programme,” Sarah adds, “is to continue to provide opportunities for all of our pupils in line with the Oakham ethos of 'getting involved'.” In this spirit, pupils were able, in the first week, to explore and experience the different activities available – before they signed up for the rest of the term.
As a boarding and day school, where pupils are – in normal circumstances - able to access activities all week, Oakham has timetabled one of its activity sessions on a Saturday for its youngest pupils. This is an optional activities session – the idea being to provide optional fun, educational activities in which pupils can choose to take part at the weekend. Lower School pupils can choose from 14 different optional activities including online chess, collective online baking and crafting, Design Technology, a Lego project, and music composition. There is even a kitchen Chemistry session – with pupils receiving a package of ingredients through the post, to enable them to take part in a variety of different experiments!
Pupils in the Middle and Upper School have two timetabled activity sessions during the week. Most of these activities are for enrichment – to encourage pupils to try new things and discover new interests and talents. A small number of these sessions focus on an important area for their personal development. For example, Form 3 have ‘perspectives’ activity sessions, which provide them with time to consider their future careers options.
The enrichment activities include everything from current affairs and debating, to either Dance, or Dungeons and Dragons! There’s Portuguese for Beginners or Philosophy; Creative Photography or Playwriting; Coding Club or Share Investment Club. Or pupils could take part in bird watching, Model United Nations, or fantasy football! Many of Oakham’s societies continue too, such as Doc Soc, the philosophy reading group and the Matthews Society; all still organising optional meetings for pupils.
Feedback from pupils and parents has been positive so far, with many appreciating the regular routine and structures that the Oakham timetable brings, allowing pupils to enjoy learning both in their lessons and beyond.
“Feedback from pupils has been incredibly positive so far,” concludes Sarah. “With many really appreciating the normalcy of activities returning to Oakham’s timetable; to enjoy and experience alongside the rest of their learning.”