We find out how pupils at Gordon’s School forge links with their near neighbours – and what benefits the community gets as a result…


Gordon’s School pupils during their sleep out

SOME might have been forgiven for thinking that Gordon’s School was offering a new type of boarding. But the 31 students sleeping on the Parade Square in cardboard boxes at the school in Woking, Surrey were experiencing first-hand what it is like to be homeless.

The students listened to a presentation by the homeless charity Launchpad and had a soup kitchen before making themselves comfortable on the concrete for the night! The following day they helped at a foodbank.

The sleep-out was part ‘Make a Difference’ (MAD) Day, an annual event at the school in Woking, Surrey, in which students take part in activities designed to make a difference to their community.

Some engaged in litter-picking in the neighbourhood. Others washed cars; volunteered at local primary schools and led a pre-school sports day. Elderly residents of West End, Woking were invited to a delicious afternoon tea, made and served by the students.

The school has been an established part of West End, Woking for over a century. However, every year links are strengthened. Annual events like the candle-lit carol services; Summer Arts Evening and school fairs are now much anticipated and enjoyed features on many calendars in the wider community.  

The school’s iconic Pipes and Drums are regulars at local events, lending their musical prowess to remembrance services; open days and commemorative occasions.

Car washing as part of Gordon’s MAD (Make a Difference) Day.

Insight Talks welcome the community in to listen to a range of visiting speakers, from Major General Mungo Melvin and Jeremy Paxman to Arsenal’s David Dein and Sir Michael Rake.

There are also cookery, painting; guided nature and historical tours arranged by Gordon’s for those inside and beyond the school gates. The beautiful Victorian Chapel holds Choral Evensongs on a regular basis.

Deputy Head Rob Pavis said: “Gordon’s is integral to the local area and as a school we are committed to giving back.

“Our charitable events provide opportunities for students to consider their wider community, the difficulties experienced by those less fortunate and how their actions can make a positive impact. A small act such as picking up litter really can ‘make a difference’.

“It is wonderful to see members of the community enjoy events at the school while our students benefit from being challenged, given responsibility, and interacting with complete strangers in familiar and completely new environments, whilst contributing to their local community. It also provides lasting memories for all of them.”