Dr Martin Boulton, high master of Manchester Grammar School, discusses the importance of schools’ commitment to societal service and giving back.
A good education involves academic study, of course, but there is much more than this if a school is truly to educate its pupils. I believe strongly that one of the most important aspects of a broader education is instilling a sense of service in young people.
Service is a word which has perhaps fallen out of favour in the modern world, where many of the messages of our celebrity-focused society run counter to the idea of giving something back. Despite this, many young people do get involved in service, and there is a resounding consensus that, when they do, they find it immensely rewarding.
How can schools ensure that service is part of their pupils’ education? Most obviously, they can provide opportunities, whether by promoting and supporting charitable fundraising initiatives, or by taking a more hands-on role and developing volunteering schemes.
An effective route could be – as taken by Manchester Grammar School (MGS) – establishing a forum for fundraising through the school’s charities committee, which is run by pupils. The pupils decide what to raise money for, come up with fundraising ideas, and consult with the charities themselves throughout the process. The range of charities and activities is diverse, and fundraising can be a one-off event or a more extended campaign for a large project.
On a recent trip to Tel Aviv for a reunion of Old Mancunians I was able to see the fruits of one such project, an ambulance donated by MGS to Magen David Adom. This was a major project which had involved large numbers of pupils, parents and staff over an extended period of time. However, one-off events can also have a huge impact. Last year one of our pupils, Ben Sciama, set out to raise money for Genesis, a charity dedicated to the prediction and prevention of breast cancer. He came up with the idea of organising a golf day and raised a remarkable £30,000.
Aside from fundraising, another dimension of service is giving young people the opportunity to volunteer and help others directly. It will instil in pupils an understanding of just how rewarding it can be to spend time making others’ lives just a little bit better.
In terms of volunteering, the range of projects that students can get involved in is quite stunning. They might help out at a local primary school during the lunch break by reading to younger children, or coach football. In our experience, some work with a group of pupils in a homework club, others in care homes and hospices, spending time talking to patients. Other projects that can be undertaken involve gardening, working in food banks and charity shops, and support work in hospitals. The list is constantly growing and evolving.
The individual contributions pupils make may in themselves only be small, but the most important aspect of their work is that they learn the value of service, and this is its longer lasting legacy.
Hit the Books
JLife overviews the range of high quality educational opportunities across Manchester and the surrounding areas.
Abbey College Manchester
Abbey College Manchester is a dynamic independent college, situated in the heart of Manchester providing the following high quality programmes: one-year GCSEs; two-year A-Levels; one-year Intensive Retake A-Levels and a 12-unit Business BTEC. A stimulating learning environment, inspirational teaching, very small class sizes and a strong focus on personal support enable students to achieve academic success and fulfil their aspirations.
Whatever section of Bolton School children join, they will be encouraged to realise their potential through an education of academic rigour, wide extra-curricular choices and lots of individual support in small classes. The school’s “best of both worlds” offer means girls and boys can focus on their studies in single-sex classes but regularly collaborate in co-educational activities.
Bury Grammar Schools
For an all-round, excellent education within a happy family atmosphere, the Bury Grammar Schools offer the best. High academic results and challenges within a wide extra-curricular programme help maximise potential. Boys and girls aged three to 18 years enjoy the benefits of a top quality education leading to enhanced life opportunities. Go along to the open events and learn how the excellent level of specialist teaching brings out the best in the pupils.
Cheadle Hulme School
A relevant, stimulating and dynamic education is at the heart of Cheadle Hulme School; valuing individual effort, active engagement, collaborative learning and co-curricular opportunities to enable each boy and girl, aged four to 18, to develop as a well-qualified, socially confident, independent young adult.
Manchester High School for Girls
Manchester High School for Girls is a leading independent school providing an excellent educational experience for girls aged four to 18.
Girls learn in a vibrant, stimulating environment where they are inspired to aim high and attain some of the best public examination results in the country.
Students benefit from superb, modern facilities including a state-of-the-art Sixth Form Centre, extended accommodation for the Preparatory Department and a sports complex.
Girls leave Manchester High as well-educated, confident young women, equipped to enter the next stage of their lives, pursue diverse and fulfilling careers and make a positive contribution to society.