The King’s School, Canterbury Deputy Head (Co-curricular) Greg Hunter outlines the benefits of its rich programme of co-curricular activities

The King’s School, Canterbury places equal emphasis on co-curricular endeavours and on achieving academically. A varied and vibrant co-curricular programme provides pupils with opportunities and experiences that classroom teaching cannot offer. Throughout the year there are regular concerts, plays, recitals, exhibitions, talks, activities, workshops, as well as the Duke of Edinburgh Award, the CCF, community service, trips, and partnership events.  These contribute to an all-round education that prepares pupils for a modern global society when they enter the world of work.

The co-curricular side of life at schools should both complement and enhance the development of the enquiring mind. Academic excellence combined with creative activity and individual expression makes a school a thriving and highly motivated community. Learning can take place as much outside the classroom as within. The opportunity to conduct much of the co-curricular programme outdoors has clear benefits for pupil wellbeing. Being outdoors has been shown to lower stress, blood pressure and heart rate, while improving mood and mental health.

The last week of Summer term here at King’s heralds King’s Week, a unique festival and celebration of music, drama, dance, art, recreation, and sport that has occurred every year since its beginnings in 1952. The Kentish Gazette on 1st August 1952 reported: “The whole of King’s Week, Headmaster Dr. Shirley declared, was a completely mad venture. No other community could do all that and play three cricket matches as well. It was quite mad and entirely successful. It was the finest bit of education the school had this year. Everyone was doing something”.

King's Canterbury on co-curricular riches
Resource and knowledge sharing through school partnerships are vital for building young people’s strengths such as leadership and compassion

Many schools host art festivals but King’s Week can claim to be unique on two levels. The events take place within the Precincts of Canterbury Cathedral, and the backdrop of this UNESCO World Heritage Site gives King’s Week a very special atmosphere (The King’s School itself dates back to 597AD). Also unusual is that the performances are very much pupil-driven: Acoustic Corner, The Sound, The Voice, and the King’s Week Lectures are just some of the shows that are organised and performed by the pupils themselves. A relaxing focus after the intensity of public examinations, King’s Week attracts thousands of visitors to Canterbury and it provides a glorious conclusion to the academic year.

“A varied and vibrant co-curricular programme provides pupils with opportunities and experiences that classroom teaching cannot offer”

When it comes to partnership activities, tens of thousands of pupils benefit from partnerships between independent schools and state schools every year. Activities often include sharing resources and knowledge to unlock new educational experiences for pupils that they otherwise may not have access to. These collaborations enable pupils from different backgrounds to learn together and build mutual respect.

King’s is a member of East Kent Schools Together, a group of ten local schools and one university which aims to raise aspirations and widen horizons through collaboration. The main objectives of the group are to enrich teacher professional development, to strengthen teaching and learning amongst the schools and to develop pupil confidence and wellbeing by bringing children together for shared experiences – cultural, sporting, academic, and volunteering. Pupils on both sides of these partnerships benefit greatly, developing important skills such as leadership, compassion, teamwork, confidence, and communication.

The King’s School, Canterbury

Further reading: Wellington College on the wellbeing top five