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April 29, 2020

Co-curricular programme continues online

Over the past few weeks, as online school has become the norm, staff at St Paul’s have been working, not only to provide academic classes to pupils, but also to develop a wide-ranging virtual co-curricular programme.

It is often the co-curricular activities, offered by the school, that promote the most engagement and enjoyment of school life for pupils. The skills and fitness levels created by these opportunities support well-being and must be sustained and developed. Importance has also been placed upon preserving the community spirit of the school with virtual assemblies and a planned virtual Apposition, the annual tradition which has taken place since the school’s founding in 1509.

A general physical exercise/physical education email is sent to all pupils on a weekly basis, offering an interesting array of exercises to keep them fit and well. Staff leading sports teams including tennis, rowing, rugby, squash, aquatics, cricket and athletics have put in place a programme to ensure team members remain challenged and continue to hone their skills at home. Teams have taken this up with enthusiasm with the rowers covering more than 15,000 km (the distance from London to Perth) in their training to date.

Pupil, Anosh, practises in the cricket nets at home

Individual music lessons continue, with the vast majority of those playing an instrument continuing their lessons online this term.

As the Music Department looks to extend provision, virtual chamber music coaching and a Club music competition are planned for the coming weeks. Pupils at St Paul’s Juniors have enjoyed Wind Band, orchestra and choir ‘check in’ sessions, as well as a Music Technology offering, strings sessions begin next week; those who follow the school social media feeds may have seen some of the excellent musical performance videos by St Paul’s Juniors, produced by putting together individually recorded performances.

The virtual Club competition is now underway (‘Clubs’ is the Pauline term for school houses), with two events per week, one for the upper years of the senior school, and one for the lower years. This week sees Club Puzzle and Club Lego, a challenge to depict “Lockdown”. All events have been set up that a wide range of pupils in each Club will be able to complete, with a focus on activities that can be fulfilled away from a computer but shared virtually.

A number of the school’s societies are already up and running, including Firefly (F24 racing), Bridge, Book Club, Eco Soc, Pegasus (the lower years’ Classics society), Christian Union, Young Enterprise, Debating, Spectrum (LGBT+), BAME, Photoshop Club and Halley Society (Science research). Some faculties also continue to produce school magazines, including the St Paul’s Juniors magazine, 1509, and, in the senior school, Vector and Nash magazines. St Paul’s Juniors pupils are able to continue sessions virtually for a wide variety of societies, including EcoSoc, EcoChallenge and Green Team; Yoga and Mindfulness; Cryptic Crosswords; Classics societies; History societies; Lego; Sci-Fi and Science clubs; Engineering; John Colet Club (a Christian exploration group); Chess; Film-making; Art; Code Club; Digital Leaders and a club that supports local charity, FiSH Neighbourhood Care.

Plans are in place for casts of drama productions that were due to be performed this term to form a virtual performance of Happy Prince, a short story by Oscar Wilde. Each cast member will record themselves performing an extract; these will be edited together to form a filmed performance. The Drama Department looks forward to sharing the result with the school community. Before the school closure, the Upper Second Year pupils at St Paul’s Juniors were able to record their planned production, Gulliver’s Planet, in lieu of performances to parents. Provision of sessions for pupils involved in the ‘St Paul’s Youth Theatre’ at St Paul’s Juniors continues virtually.

Finally, themed weeks are taking place, including Eco-Week (20-24 April), Mental Health Week (18-22 May) and ‘Get Creative Week’. Resources will be shared with and pupils in support of these initiatives. The school aims to test and develop the co-curricular provision as it operates, in order to ensure that pupils continue to enjoy a fulfilling and well-rounded educational experience throughout this challenging time.

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