At Farlington Lower Sixth, students are given the opportunity to do Voluntary Service, which can make a real difference to the girls’ own lives and to the lives of those in the local community.
It develops and enhances skills such as team work, organisation, communication, time management and tolerance. For many of the girls it can help guide and inform them with future career choices and it can be a useful addition to their university and future job applications.
The students go to a variety of local placements on Friday afternoons. Various charity shops have provided placements and students are currently working at the RSPCA shop. They spend time working on the till, sorting stock, pricing items, arranging window displays and generally being helpful in a customer-facing retail environment. They also had to go into the town and hand out leaflets to promote the shop.
Two girls are currently helping at the QEII Silver Jubilee School in Horsham, which caters for pupils with severe or profound and multiple learning difficulties. They give practical support in the classroom environment and say they find playing with the children extremely rewarding. They have taken guidance from the teachers in how to help the children develop their literacy and communication skills and developed perseverance and patience while dealing with the challenges of the non-verbal children.
Warnham Nature Reserve proves to be a popular placement, despite occasional bad weather. The girls take part in the outdoor environmental tasks such as clearing the bird hides and unloading sheep. They have carried out basic maintenance jobs, such as assembling a bench.
A long-standing placement is Rapkyns Nursing Home, Broadbridge Heath. Set in 40 acres of landscaped grounds, it cares for elderly and frail people with dementia and it provides specialist care for people with complex long term conditions, including neurological conditions such as Huntington’s disease, multiple sclerosis and acquired brain injury. Girls spend time in conversation with the residents, play Scrabble, paint and take them to the fishpond. The girls have gained confidence from building relationships with a number of residents and have enjoyed hearing about their stories.
A new placement this term is the Springboard Project, which provides inclusive play and leisure opportunities for families with young children and fun short breaks for children and teenagers with disabilities. The girls are on-hand to help facilitate play for the visitors there and have learnt to communicate with young children and organise play for them.
One of the students’ favourite placements is with Farlington Nursery. The 17- and 18-year-olds love spending time with the children there.
Many continue with their placements into holiday time. This may be to fulfil the service element requirements of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, but mostly it is because the girls want to spend their own time volunteering.
Our Voluntary Service programme, along with the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award and Young Enterprise scheme, develops the girls’ experience of taking responsibility and leadership skills and has a positive impact on the local community – Louise Higson, Headmistress of Farlington School
Louise Higson, Headmistress, says “Voluntary Service is a valuable part of the Sixth Form. Studying for A Levels is, undoubtedly, the key element of the girls’ time in the Lower and Upper Sixth, but our aim at Farlington is to turn out well-rounded, confident individuals who can contribute to society. Our Voluntary Service programme, along with the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award and Young Enterprise scheme, develops the girls’ experience of taking responsibility and leadership skills and has a positive impact on the local community.”