One of the reasons I have been so busy recently is because I have organised our annual 'university and college' for the whole school. Let me explain...
Our 'College' is for our Foundation and Key Stage One pupils. The children are all mixed into groups. The teachers and teaching assistants all choose an activity they would like to deliver to the children. The activities include things like games, outdoor pursuits and team games, cake decorating, science, floristry, drama, yoga and lots of craft activities. Over three Friday afternoons the children attend a course each week. The children love it because they are in mixed groups and are trying something different. Although it can get a bit chaotic, the staff enjoy the fact that they can choose what to offer to the children. Many parents come in to volunteer too.
Our fourth 'university' was a phenomenal success this year. The idea of the university is that the school offers courses in a skill that could be used in a working career, and not necessarily something normally offered in the curriculum. The children are given the option of what they would like to attend (in fact they choose their top five courses and they will be allocated one). They attend this course for three Friday afternoons (at the same time as the college took place). This year we had 25 courses - our highest number ever. The courses offered included being a librarian, team building, sports coaching, cookery, musical theatre, website design, cross-stitch, gardening, woodwork, running a supermarket and being a magistrate. The courses were run by teachers, teaching assistants, governors, parents and grandparents and members of the community. One of our local high school has become very involved in the university and they not only bring ten students to the school to assist with the courses each week, but they also took a number of pupils to the high school to take part in a music studio course. Various trips took place this year - to a local library, a local farm, a local restaurant, a local supermarket and to local allotments. It's such a team effort - over 50 adults helped to make it a success (in addition to high school students) and the university is becoming well known in the community.
After the college and university have been completed graduation assemblies are held where the pupils are awarded certificates to celebrate their achievements in their course
All of this takes a mammoth amount of time to organise but it is very much worth it.
A researcher from National Strategies came in to school to talk about the college and university with a view to including it in a publication about parental involvement (due before the end of 2010). I'm quite excited by this and I hope it can inspire others to try something similar.