Our Pledges initiative encourages our students to value extra-curricular involvement within and outside of the academy.
Through meeting the ten Pledges, that range from attending enrichment activities to organising fundraising events, students gain confidence and valuable life experiences that will help to prepare them for life beyond our academy.
Pledges encourage our students to become actively involved in our wider school community and to realise that their experiences whilst at school stretch further than the classroom. By promoting independence and teamwork, students can apply new skills and improved confidence to all aspects of their lives. Whether it’s representing our academy on stage, on the field or on excursions, the Pledges encourage our students to get involved, make new friends and take pride in all they do.
There are many after school enrichments, which are offered by different departments in the Academy. The most important thing is that students enjoy the enrichments which they take part in, but they can also offer wonderful opportunities.
Sports enrichments offer students the opportunity to develop teamwork, leadership and communication skills. There are many different sports clubs and teams, many which have achieved national success.
Music enrichments also develop cooperation and communication skills, as well as expanding other areas such as commitment, patience and discipline. Music examinations beyond Grade 6 are worth UCAS points in the same way as academic qualifications.
Subject enrichments allow students to demonstrate their deep interest in a subject and build up skills which will allow them to study subjects at a higher level. Attending subject enrichments which are not related to the area of study or work which a student hopes to follow demonstrate broader interests.
Although students only need to attend an enrichment for one term to gain their pledge we hope that they will find an interest which they can pursue much longer.
Although enrichments outside of the school do not count for pledges, clubs and teams which students attend outside the school offer the same rewards for developing experiences and skills which will be attractive to universities and employers; preparing students for further education and work.
Representing the school in sports, music or academically can make a job or university application really stand out. Being one of the best students in the school in a particular area is a real accomplishment and there are several opportunities to excel with us.
Our students have played sports at county and national level and entered regional and national music festivals. Other students have represented the school in a foreign language spelling bee, taken part in the National Maths Challenge or entered science projects into the National Science and Engineering Competition. As well as the transferable skills which students achieve from entering these competitions; the pride of representing the school is immeasurable.
Although it would not count for a school pledge, competing at a regional or national level in sport, music or drama or representing a local sports team gives students the same opportunities and experiences as when they represent the school.
During year 9, our students are offered the chance to attend a three-day outward bound residential programme. This trip is physically and mentally demanding as well as being great fun and allows students to practise teamwork, communication and resilience; excellent qualities which stand them in good stead for future study or work.
Outward bound programmes are not only offered by the Academy. The scouts, guides and cadet units also take part in similar activities, along with a wealth of other opportunities which their members can access.
We offer many opportunities each year for students to attend national events. These include watching World class sportsmen and women at top venues, attending performances at one of the big theatres. These experiences broaden a student's horizons and interests.
We also visit national exhibitions in a variety of subjects. Students choosing a course to study at university must show that they have researched and selected the right course for them. Attending national exhibitions can help to demonstrate understanding and passion for a particular subject.
Students do not have to complete this pledge within the school. There are many sporting, academic and cultural events which students could attend with friends of family to gain the same benefits from.
There is a main school production each year, as well as a number of other concerts and productions throughout. Taking part in a production requires organisation, confidence, cooperation and communication skills.
These transferable skills are invaluable in study and in the workplace so completing this pledge allows students to develop and demonstrate these skills, whether on stage or behind the scenes.
Although this pledge must take place in the school to be counted, students will gain the same benefits from performing with a community quoir, orchestra or drama group.
Students are offered many opportunities in and out of lessons to complete this pledge. Standing up in front of an audience requires confidence and communication skills. Many jobs require presentations to be given and it is often a large requirement of the assessment during university study. Students who are able to demonstrate these skills on applications will benefit.
Students may have the opportunity to present to different audiences through extracurricular clubs, teams or societies which they attend outside of the school.
The Academy has links with schools throughout the World and there are several chances for students to become involved with students from other countries.
Whether this takes place within the school via internet links or involves visiting another country, students can obtain valuable transferable skills and qualities from their international experiences.
Communication is very important in this pledge but resilience, confidence and cooperation also feature highly. Students who have been involved with international events will be able to write assuredly about their experiences in applications.
Students can develop their own international partnerships beyond the experiences done in the school. There are several programmes available for students to undertake voluntary work abroad.
There are some opportunities to be involved with the community through the school but this is really a pledge which involves students getting involved with their own local communities.
Community experiences are a wonderful opportunity for students to volunteer within their local communities.
This is particularly relevant to those students who wish to enter a caring professions in the future such as medicine, nursing, dentistry, physiotherapy or veterinary science to demonstrate an understanding of and commitment to the subject.
Spending time volunteering within a nursing home, for example, demonstrates an understanding of the requirements of a caring profession, while volunteering in a kennels or at a farm helps develop a good understanding of healthy animals for potential vets.
There are a variety of fund-raising events which take place throughout the academic year and students who are passionate about a particular charity can apply for permission to run their own fund-raising event.
In terms of UCAS or job applications the organisation of a fund-raising event has many transferable skills such as organisation, communication, cooperation, creativity and resilience.
A charity which is relevant to future ambitions would be a good idea - a charity such as Sight Savers International for a student who wishes to become and optician for example.
Again, for this pledge to count students must complete the fund-raising within the school but the benefits of completing fund-raising activites on the development of skills and qualities will also be relevant when completed outside of the school.
Sustainability is about looking after our environment and there are many ways which students can contribute to the sustainability of the school.
A way in which this can also impact on desirable attributes for university or job applications is for students to become involved in coordintating or promoting sustainable projects.
Again, promoting or coordinating sustainable projects outside of the school can demonstrate the same teamwork, coordination and communication skills as when the projects are done within the school.
Across our Trust we are widening our Pledges to develop our fantastic Outwood Honours Platform. Currently under design it is intended to to acknowledge our students’ commitment and participation in school life and their achievements and talents beyond the school gates. This programme will widen and build upon our current Pledges system. We look forward to launching this new initiative in the future. We will offer an interim development on our Pledges system as we work towards the development of our wider honours programme.