Seckford Foundation: Enrichment is the vital ingredient to a good education

One of the aims of the Seckford Foundation Free Schools Trust is to bridge the gap between the state sector and the private sector.

Traditionally, independent schools have reliably provided their pupils with a comprehensive variety of extra-curricular activities, from music and drama to cricket and cadets. While state schools now offer many of these activities, this cultural capital remains all too often optional, taken up only by those motivated enough to do so.

To counter this, we offer a special Enrichment Programme at each of our schools. Each week, all students at Saxmundham Free School and Beccles Free School take part in timetabled enrichment sessions. In other words, enrichment is part of the school day. Students are free to choose from a variety of activities that will help to develop their cultural, creative, sporting, and community experiences.

When selecting their enrichment activity at the start of each term, students are encouraged to challenge themselves by opting for something they have never tried, or that will stretch them. They then undertake this activity for an afternoon a week.

This journey of discovery may well lead to many of them discovering new passions and uncovering latent talents and skills. Through this, a real love of learning can be ignited outside the classroom.

Some of the many enrichment activities on offer include: sports of the world; music, art and drama pursuits; Young Enterprise; a grow it – cook it – eat it group; Computer Science to GSCE level; working with local nursery schools; French Culture and Cuisine; and, from next year, Combined Cadet Force which is more usually seen only in private schools.

In other timetabled enrichment periods we welcome high-calibre speakers to introduce our students to the world outside the school. In the spring term we use the time to prepare for our annual Tournament of the Minds, in which all our students are stretched and challenged to come up with creative solutions to conundrums and real-life ethical or entrepreneurial tasks. At other times, it may be used to explore careers and future pathways or for cultural trips.

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The Enrichment Programme helps to raise self-esteem and confidence in all our students. It can also foster independent learning as well as vital teamwork, helping to raise standards throughout the school with happy and engaged students.