Pupils across the School enjoyed a successful and safe Service Weekend – where they were able to take part in a variety of challenges and activities off timetable and, for many, off-campus too.
“It was a wonderfully busy weekend and one that has perhaps felt the most ‘normal’ since our return to School in September,” says Headmaster Henry Price.
Service Weekend is a key part of the Oakham School calendar, where all pupils are encouraged to stretch themselves and to think of others by serving the community through Voluntary Action (VA) activities, or as part of their Duke of Edinburgh (D of E) programme. Whilst this year’s Service Weekend had to be adapted due to Coronavirus restrictions, the School worked incredibly hard to ensure that as many activities as possible were still able to safely go ahead in line with government guidelines.
Normally, the School welcomes Rutland’s elderly community into School for our renowned Harvest Party. Whilst this may have been put on hold for a year, pupils threw themselves into a whole host of other VA activities instead – all with the goal of making a positive impact in the local community. Groups of pupils supported the local charity ‘Root and Branch Out’ by tidying at the Rutland Farm Park and clearing a stream. Form 5 pupils did a great job litter picking around Oakham. One group also worked with the local Food Bank collecting and sorting Harvest donations.
Hundreds of pupils also took part in their D of E challenges – an activity that is both incredibly popular and has enjoyed a long history of success at Oakham. As the Headmaster says, “to see so many of the girls and boys engaged in Service Weekend, pursuing outdoor activities, working in teams and navigating their way through challenging situations, was truly heartening”.
Pupils working towards their Bronze, Silver and Gold DofE awards enjoyed a variety of expeditions including canoeing down the River Nene, sailing in the Solent, and cycling and walking around Rutland or the Peak District. The canoeists coped admirably with high winds and a fast-flowing river. The sailors learnt the fundamental aspects of sailing including rope work, sail handling and steering a yacht whilst working towards their RYA Start Yachting qualification. The Gold cyclists visited all 50 churches in Rutland, covering an impressive distance of 240km. The walkers and cyclists navigated their routes well, managing frequent weather changes. A few of the Bronze walkers even enjoyed an exciting expedition menu of Thai green spam curry, which was delicious apparently! Meanwhile, CCF cadets travelled to Matlock in Derbyshire and carried out their adventure training, which included the chance to get involved in some rock climbing, whilst others conducted basic field craft on campus at the Wilson Fields.
Lower School pupils spent their Service Weekend ‘off timetable’, taking part in their IB MYP Community Day. “It was fantastic to see the energy and enthusiasm shown by the Lower School, where they focused on the environment and community,” adds Mr Price. To read more about what they learnt and the activities they took part in click here.
Regardless of whether they were navigating across the countryside, scaling cliffs, or serving the community, all pupils remained safely in their School ‘bubbles’. Showcasing that, with a considerable amount of extra organisation, effort and energy from Oakham’s dedicated and hardworking staff, that School life can and will continue to thrive in the ‘new normal’. This year’s Service Weekend was a truly inspiring reminder about what makes Oakham School so incredibly special.