One of the most rewarding aspects of my role involves leading the School’s partnership and community engagement programme. This work underpins our fourth aim, which sets out our ambition to equip our pupils to make a positive and lasting contribution to their communities. We often see our pupils at their very best when they are involved in partnership activities, and for many their experiences in this area will be a highlight of their time at school.
We have a growing band of teaching colleagues who have up to a quarter of their timetable dedicated to partnership work. Moreover, nearly a fifth of all our teachers spend one afternoon a week, alongside our lower sixth form pupils, in schools, care homes and charitable organisations across Oxford as part of our Community Service programme. I ask all our teaching and support staff colleagues to see their work through the prism of partnership and to consider how to open up their work to our friends and neighbours. I encourage you to visit our profile on the Schools Together website, and to read through our latest community engagement report to get a flavour of the work we do.
At MCS, we speak of partnership rather than outreach, as we place a high value on the shared benefits of working with others. We continually seek new collaborations, so please do get in touch if you would like to explore an idea or project. Our primary focus involves working with our neighbours in Oxford’s OX4 postcode area, but our reach extends far beyond to encompass city-wide, regional and national projects.
Dr S R Crawford
Deputy Head (Education Development)
We aim to equip our pupils to make a positive and lasting contribution to their communities, both now and in the future.
This ambition, embedded as one of our four aims, represents part of the school’s identity and it offers pupils vital preparation for a fulfilling life beyond the classroom.
Located at Magdalen bridge, looking both towards the city centre and towards east Oxford, MCS is well placed to collaborate with our neighbouring communities. Our partnership projects are varied and diverse, and offer exciting opportunities to share ideas, resources and expertise, to the benefit both of our neighbours and our pupils. The majority of our teaching colleagues contribute to some aspect of our partnership work, and we have a team of Outreach Co-ordinators responsible for sustaining existing links and developing new projects.
Each year the school coordinates and hosts a wide range of partnership projects and events, professional development meetings for fellow teachers, and academic, cultural and sporting enrichment for local children. Key elements in an extensive programme are a pioneering Arts Council-funded Arts Festival, a Summer School for Gifted and Talented primary school children, and open days for aspiring medics and engineers. In all these areas, we aim to support our community by creating connections between people, and by bringing them together in enriching, collaborative activity.
Through the school’s Community Service Organisation (CSO), Lower Sixth pupils spend one afternoon each week volunteering in the community. The placements in which the pupils take part are varied, offering each individual an opportunity to unearth that which captures their imagination. Activities range from mentoring primary school pupils with Maths and English; running clubs in chess, languages, film and sport; providing reading support; producing art work for the walls of local hospitals; performing concerts in schools and care homes; and offering company and entertainment for care home residents. Each year, a number of pupils choose to continue volunteering at their placement beyond the end of the Lower Sixth.
A key part of the Sixth Form curriculum, CSO enables pupils to develop their understanding of the world around them, and of the contribution they can make to it; to grow to in confidence and develop skills of team work, organisation, communication and problem solving. For some, it offers a valuable insight into a professional vocation; for all, it offers a rewarding, illuminating and enjoyable chance to engage with the wider community.
Charity plays an increasingly central part of school life at MCS. Each year, the whole school votes to select a local charity to support alongside our partnership school in Uganda, and every year group is involved in fundraising for our two charities. The school’s charity committee also organises regular events to raise money and to boost engagement across the school. In addition, numerous staff and students take the initiative to do their own fundraising: from sponsored marathons, macarenas, and unicycle rides, to staff concerts, pupil-led talent shows, and House quizzes, charity at MCS is both varied and exciting.
Over the year, the school body welcomes representatives from our charities to speak in Chapel, which helps to promote the charities’ vital work. In addition to money donated for the school’s charities, each Christmas every Houseroom collects a box of the items urgently needed by Homeless Oxfordshire over the winter months – a much-needed reminder for us all of the basic items that so many people go without.
Through sustained support for our elected charities and the promotion of voluntary work, we hope to instil in our pupils an awareness of the importance of supporting the wider community, and to develop in them a desire to be involved in socially conscious action, both at school and in their lives beyond.
For more information, see our Outreach and Engagement brochure here (click the “full screen” option)
or visit our page on the Schools Together website here.