What’s in a name? Co-curriculum, or Optional Extras?

Many schools like Dame Allan’s provide a wide range of enriching things for our pupils to do beyond their academic lessons. This has been true for many years, and Allanians will almost always reflect on happy memories of things they did together with their peers in drama, music, dance, Duke of Edinburgh, sport or a host of other activities and visits. Very often they will also make a point of appreciating the adults who went with them or made these things happen. I take this as proof of the wise words of Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks:

Young people grow to fill the spaces we create for them.”

We have seen more pointedly than ever during and after the Covid pandemic that we all, and especially young people, need opportunities to work and play alongside others in purposeful, fulfilling ways. Our response at Dame Allan’s when we were first able to return to working together was to arrange the Big Bounce Back, a programme of activity that refocused us all on social interactions and team working again.

So what is so new about doing things outside the classroom then?

There are some brand new activities and visits pupils can get involved in, but actually that’s not the main issue. We are now making a sea change in our approach to all this wonderful activity we do by giving the co-curriculum a much bigger emphasis. Co-curriculum, not extra-curriculum, because we believe these are not optional extras in the way we choose mudflaps or a fancy satnav on a car if we feel like it, but rather a whole curriculum of activity that partners with the academic curriculum in order to produce the personal development we aim for in all our young people. School fees ultimately pay for both essential stands of the way Dame Allan’s works. Opting out of the co-curriculum, or not engaging fully with some aspect of it would be like deciding not to do half the subjects on offer in our academic curriculum - hardly great value for money! The co-curriculum therefore is not a bunch of optional extras that some people choose, but something that we want all pupils to benefit from. These are not just good, worthy things that are good for pupils, just because we say they are; well researched, scholarly articles in quality journals prove that this is the case. The work of Prof. Peter Clough on mental toughness, or the University of Northampton study on the beneficial outcomes of being a cadet are just two examples. Those who want to know more about this are welcome to see more detail by following the link below. 

Dame Allan’s has in the past scored extremely highly on pupil academic development and also on personal development. As we seek to maintain these very high standards, we are explicitly linking together our 2 equal curricula, and looking to see high performance learning (HPL) in everything we do. Inquisitiveness, resilience, imagination, critical thinking, self-evaluation and a host of other HPL indicators can be developed just as well in a history lesson as in an orchestra rehearsal, in a chemistry practical as in D of E expedition. 

The co-curriculum is for everyone then. It is provided for all our benefit, and there are good reasons to believe it makes for better well being and social skills in all our young people. Optional extras….? Surely not.   

Mr P Wildsmith, Director of Co-Curriculum

Reasons and Research: Pupil Development outside the Classroom.

To learn more about the co-curriculum at Dame Allan's please click the following links below which will outline the regular clubs and activities that take place during a term, upcoming trips, or direct you to SOCS, our platform for parents and pupils to view the co-curriculum all in one place.

What is SOCS and how does it work?

SOCS (School Online Communication System) now has all of our sport teams, sport clubs, co-curricular activities, academic subject support sessions and school trips loaded into it. SOCS also contains each pupil’s academic timetable, making it a one-stop place for both pupils and parents to look at the daily/ weekly schedule. 

SOCS has a number of useful features, such as allowing you to sync the calendar with your personal calendar on your device. When club dates and fixture information is updated, it will automatically update on your calendar. We hope this addition will help with the organisation of the very busy co-curricular/ sport programme and allow you to access all the information you require about clubs and fixtures each week. 

Towards the end of a term pupils can sign up to the following term's co-curricular activities and sports clubs. Where the activity has a cost, parents must authorise the pupil’s participation.

You can log on to the SOCS system via the Parent School Portal or via this link:https://www.socscms.com/login/429/parent

Here are some useful parent guides to help you with sign up and navigating the website:

SOCS co-curricular: Information for Parents

SOCS Parent Login: Parent Help

As always, if you have any questions about this, please do not hesitate to get in contact with us. If parents encounter any difficulties, please contact data@dameallans.co.uk

SOCS platform

SOCS GDPR information