Outreach at Cokethorpe

Jan 20, 2024

Dr Flaherty, Assistant Director of Studies (Outreach), talks to Mr Griffiths, Head of Marketing, about Outreach at Cokethorpe.

What do we mean by ‘Outreach’ and how do we go about it?
There are a couple of components. A significant aspect of the programme is our involvement with the Corinthian Partnership – an association of three primary schools in West Oxfordshire with Cokethorpe. The Partnership sees members of the Lower Sixth and our Sports Award holders regularly visit the schools to deliver sporting sessions and work with the children from Years 3 to 6 to deliver wider activities, helping to improve their interpersonal skills. It provides an excellent opportunity for our pupils to utilise and enhance their leadership qualities, as well as assisting them with learning how to interact with people of different ages and, in a few cases, from different socio-economic backgrounds. We offer activities based on the requests and requirements of the Corinthian Partnership schools.

Outreach at Cokethorpe Outreach at Cokethorpe

We also have a partnership with Colet Mentoring, setup originally by St Paul’s, London. Our Sixth Form students can sign up to partake in an online tutoring programme with Fifth Form pupils from other schools, many of which are inner-city schools where some of the pupils are disadvantaged for various socio-economic reasons. It works by a pupil, usually doing GCSEs, posting a question they are stuck on in one of the Sciences or Maths and one of our students – who have all been trained to assist with working through the issue, aiding the pupil’s learning, rather than simply giving them the answer – will respond. It provides all sorts of benefits to our students, from empathy and responsibility, to articulately working through a problem whilst assisting another person’s understanding of the subject at hand. We now have our second cohort of Lower Sixth students up and running having completed their tuition – a sort of ‘crash course’ in teaching techniques – and safeguarding training.

Outreach at Cokethorpe

The other side of the Corinthian Partnership programme sees the member schools – Ducklington Primary School, Aston and Cote Primary School, and Combe Primary School – come to Cokethorpe for a day of enrichment activities, such as a STEM Day, a cross-country competition, or a Lego teamworking day, as well as utilising some of our facilities, such as The Shed for productions. One of the challenges the schools have is transport, so we provide our minibuses for them to ferry the children to and from the schools for these days.

I also go out to the schools and do a science show and demonstrate some basic experiments with them; ‘Fire and Ice’ is always a popular show with the children!

Outreach at Cokethorpe

As a charity, we have a responsibility to be active and contributory members of the community. Our collective expertise are in and around education, I believe we therefore have an obligation to assist others as best we can in sharing our experience and the wealth of our knowledge, and to offer some of the incredible facilities we have available at the School to others whose settings cannot sustain their own.

The Headmaster often talks about a duty of service, is this reflected in the pupils?
Certainly – the emphasis of the outreach programme is completely in keeping with that mantra. I am always particularly impressed by the number of pupils who go on after leaving Cokethorpe to work or volunteer in their own time in support of others who are not so fortunate. It is a message which clearly resonates with our pupils, often motivating the choices they make whilst at school and in later life. This is not always in the way you might think – we have current pupils, for instance, who are talented sportspeople and contribute their time and skills to coaching others, often in external sports clubs of which they are members. The conversation around the benefits of physical activity is a well-trodden one and I think we all know what they are.

With some of the pupils leading sessions, how do we prepare them for this?
We do provide training to the pupils. Some of that training is more formal – how to approach planning the sessions, thinking about the capabilities of children in those age groups, thinking about the correct tone and language to use in explanations, by which I mean ensuring it is not overly complicated rather than us worrying what they say might be offensive! It also includes some of those more informal elements, remembering to get down to their level physically when you are explaining something or if they need some support, for example. Understanding how to get the best out of the children using praise, how to keep control – they are acting as the adult in the room rather than the older cousin coming to play.

How would you like to see the Outreach programme develop?
The most direct development I would like to see is having more schools involved and having more events available for them.

On the flip side of that, I would like to find ways to get more of our pupils involved in these activities; those that take part in our outreach activities really benefit from the experience. The programme works well with our Lower Sixth members, but I think the younger year groups would really benefit from it as well. We have examples of this through the work of our Sports Award holders, which includes younger year groups already. There are opportunities to hone and develop skills that will be of tangible benefit to them as they move up through the School.

I would also like to see more work within the community developing; we used to work with a Day Centre though this wrapped up owing to the pandemic, for the obvious reasons. It would be something I would like to see rekindled and built upon in the months and years ahead.

Outreach at Cokethorpe