While the majority of teaching takes place in the classroom, an increasing amount of lessons are being learned outside of it thanks to an exciting array of extra-curricular activities. Christ College Brecon headteacher Emma Taylor (pictured above) tells us why desk-bound days of schooling are a thing of the past…

How important are extra-curricular activities to a child’s education?
So important that we do not really see them as ‘extra-curricular’ but as part of the education of the whole person. Knowledge and skills gained in the classroom are at the core of education but they are far from being the whole story if we are to ensure young people are really equipped for life after school.

What are the benefits to children of taking on extra-curricular activities, both personally and for future prospects?
In terms of personal development, the benefits are enormous. Many activities involve working in teams, learning to lead and to follow, requiring communication skills, physical courage and resilience and developing self-discipline and determination. Some involve qualifications that are prized by universities and employers, such as the DofE award scheme, LAMDA speech and drama qualifications and Associated Board music exams, but many others are not measured by certificates but by the development of key personal qualities that give an edge in applications, interviews and employment.

How do you fit extra-curricular activities into the day-to-day lives of your students?
As we are a boarding school, all pupils at Christ College, whether they board or not, take advantage of the extras we offer throughout the week. If we spend 8 hours on academic work per day, and 8 hours sleeping, there are still another 8 for all the sport, music, drama, outward bound activities and service activities we also value (and a bit of time to eat!).

How do you actively encourage students to engage with your extra-curricular programme?
All pupils at Christ college are expected to take part in sport 3 or 4 times a week, for certain year groups other activities are part of the routine, for example the CCF, school plays and house singing competitions, and pupils under 14 years old are given a choice of other activities to sign up for but must sign up for at least one or two, depending on their age. We also show how much we value these other activities by our rewards system; school colours can be gained for excellence in any area of school life.

My child doesn’t like sport. What non-physical activities does your school offer?
Not all sport is team sport, and our pupils can opt for physical activities such as mountain biking and kayaking, as well as fitness, aerobics and zumba. Not many pupils end up saying they don’t like sport at all, even if they don’t like some of the team sports, such as rugby. Finding some physical activity which will keep pupils fit and healthy, so we don’t make this optional. There is, however, a multitude of other activities as well, from speech and drama to target shooting and model railway club; something for everyone.

My child enjoys being a part of sporting clubs. Can they pursue this in term time?
Christ College offers sporting activities every day of the week, because we see the educational and physical benefits of sport as such an important part of school life. Some local pupils have sporting interests outside school as well, and we make every effort to support these by being flexible with families so that their children can compete in activities such as judo, kayaking, sailing and fencing during term time.

Why should parents consider extra-curricular provision when choosing a school for their child?
While academic results are the key to the door of university, they are not all there is to education. Our goal is to develop healthy, happy, purposeful, interesting and ambitious young people, and these aims are supported by a wide range of activities that develop pupils’ interests, enthusiasm and skills. I would strongly recommend that parents think, when choosing a school, not only about interests that their child might already have, but about the exciting possibility of discovering new talents and interests. “What activities are on offer, and how does the school encourage pupils to try them out?” is a great question to ask on a school visit.

What are the five most popular extra-curricular activities you offer?
Sports, especially team sports such as rugby, hockey and netball; the Combined Cadet Force with its emphasis on outdoor activity and competitions, musical activities, particularly our many choirs, drama including school productions and individual speech and drama lessons, academic clubs such as the debating society, science club and language club.

Find out more at www.christcollegebrecon.com

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