We find out how pupils at Taunton School forge links with their near neighbours – and what benefits the community gets as a result…
How closely is your school linked to its local community?
Taunton School is proud of its very close links with the local community. A major aspect on the school calendar are the outreach events for local state school pupils. The outreach programme includes a number of STEM, Creative Arts and academic events. Pupils from state primary and secondary schools are encouraged take part in these, to enjoy the facilities and experience that Taunton School offers.
Taunton School supports The Levels Academy Trust which consists of four local primary schools. Taunton School regularly engages with these schools on its outreach programme and offers one Year 7 Scholarship exclusively to a pupil from the academy. The Outreach programme regularly provides events for up to 1,000 students from the age of 4 upwards.
In addition, the school sponsorship programme extends to several local sports clubs in the area driving a strong community relationship that builds on a ‘grass roots’ approach.
The in-house catering department at Taunton School source most of their products from local suppliers. A key aim is to ensure that the school’s carbon footprint is minimal, so sourcing quality local supplies of fresh vegetables, meat and bakery products ensures the environmental impact is low.
Do you run any specific community-focused projects?
The School has a full programme of drama and music events throughout the year to which the general public are invited to attend, often free of charge. There is a community orchestra and choir that students, parents, staff and the wider community are invited to join.
Many students choose to undertake some volunteering as part of their co-curricular study programme. Activities such as cleaning the local outdoor pool during the autumn months, to clearing ditches and woodlands in conservation area are just some of the volunteering opportunities students have had recently.
Each year, a team of students from the school’s business studies enter the national Young Enterprise programme. These have always traditionally been social enterprises working with local charities, for example, last year they supported the local homeless charity.
What benefits do you gain from the places and people in your wider community?
The vibrant music and drama events are always very well-supported by the local community.
A high proportion of the student community are from families who are local entrepreneurs and professionals. In a bid to encourage social mobility, the Assisted Places campaign ensures that more local children are able to access a school place.
One of three independent schools in the town, Taunton School is proud of its reputation that it is accessible. The Good Schools Guide, which visited Taunton School in 2017, backed up this view by describing the School as “very much a part of its local community, the school issues invites to university fairs, talks, etc. The head enjoys good relationships with local state schools and Sixth Form College… Especially popular with hardworking local entrepreneurs, business people and professionals… a higher proportion than you’ll find at many independent schools. Not so different, then, in terms of values, from the school’s original nonconformist parents – attributes of enterprise, thrift and social responsibility score high with them.”