Emanuel School’s Stuart Turner and Lisa Irwin describe its successful partnerships with local schools, benefiting its own young people and children in the local community

Emanuel School has a long tradition of supporting charitable causes and helping others in the community. When the school was established by Lady Anne Dacre in 1594, her primary aim was to educate 10 girls and 10 boys for free. Now, nearly 430 years later, pupils have numerous opportunities to learn the value of helping others and the school is well on its way to fulfilling its target of providing 43 fully-funded places for aspirational boys and girls by 2024, regardless of financial circumstance. Meanwhile, our pupils have regular opportunities to learn the value of personal fulfilment in helping others through our many partnership initiatives.

Primary Ambitions, the school’s flagship outreach programme, is central to this work. Every Friday afternoon, Lower Sixth students mentor, teach or coach Year 6 pupils from local primaries in the creative and performing arts, STEM and other academic subjects and sports. While our Sixth Formers are supervised by Emanuel staff, the emphasis is on them leading and running each session. This includes facilitating hands-on experiments in the science labs, helping younger pupils to write a script and make a film  – even experiencing Latin and Roman life through activities, gladiator costumes included. Groups consist of up to 15 children from 19 local primary schools, which have been carefully selected so that Emanuel can deliver the maximum benefit to those who need it most. Since the scheme began in September 2019, over 1,400 Year 6 pupils in our local community have taken part.

Emanuel School on building community strengths
Emanuel School Primary Ambitions Maths Maestros session

The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the real difficulties faced by many vulnerable families in our local community. At Emanuel, we have continued to run existing initiatives in adapted formats and brought forwards new plans to try and bridge the gap. Primary Ambitions continued to operate through a ‘lessons in a box’ initiative, in which our Sixth Formers put together engaging learning resources that were sent to our partner schools and delivered remotely. Our ‘meals-in-a-bag’ appeal, funded by many generous parents, students and staff, saw our catering department put together over 11,000 meals-in-a-bag, made of nutritious ingredients and with accompanying menu cards. A significant community effort also went into providing 260 much-needed laptops and Chromebooks and 4,400 books to partner schools.

“Since Emanuel’s Primary Ambitions flagship scheme began in September 2019, over 1,400 Year 6 pupils in our local community have taken part”

With the worst of the pandemic now hopefully behind us, we continue to seek ways to help close the gap for pupils who have been hardest hit by the disruption to their education. We have just launched our ‘Ascent’ programme, Saturday morning sessions for local Year 5 children who are failing to meet national standards in literacy and maths. Curriculum-linked sessions in core subjects and interactive sessions in science, sport and the arts will be taught by Emanuel staff and supported by Emanuel students. Our Saturday summer school, ‘Ascent’ will enable local children to catch up on vital work they have missed, to solidify their basic knowledge and skills, and build their confidence. Further initiatives for GCSE revision clinics and a Sixth Form tuition and university coaching schemes are in the pipeline.

Due to the community network around Emanuel and the wisdom and advice from our partner schools, we continue to do everything we can to boost social mobility in the area and drive our founder’s aims in the 21st century.

Emanuel School emanuel.org.uk

Further reading: Shrewsbury School on its culture of kindness