The A-Z guide to extra-curricular activities in Yorkshire
- Credit: Archant
A mini-guide to the incredible array of extra-curricular activities on offer to pupils across the county
A… athletics, archery, astronomy
Ashville encourages every student to take part in extra-curricular activities by offering a packed schedule, including archery, climbing, disc golf, Rocket Club and photography.
And athletics plays a major role in virtually every school’s non-curricular programme, with track and field sports offered by all, supplemented by a healthy dose of cross country, often in the stunning Yorkshire countryside.
B… basketball, badminton
Specialist teachers are regularly invited into Ackworth to share their knowledge and skills with pupils in a series of workshops. Basketball coaching always draws a crowd, as does street dance, circus skills, ceramics and origami.
C… Combined Cadet Force, cricket, climbing, chess
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Bradford Grammar operates a popular CCF contingent, incorporating both army and RAF sections. Students receive weekly training in field and camp craft, orienteering, drill, first aid, command tasks and skill at arms. Each term, students attend a military weekend camp and RAF cadets can try flying and gliding.
Scarborough College also encourages its Year 9 pupils to sign up to CCF under the command of Major Steve Emerson, choosing from the army or naval sections.
D… Duke of Edinburgh, dance, debating
The Duke of Edinburgh award scheme has a strong presence in most of our schools. Gateways has an outstanding record in the programme; Rishworth offers weekly training sessions at bronze, silver and gold levels; Westbourne encourages all Year 10 and 11 pupils to work towards their bronze award (and aim for silver and gold before leaving); and Harrogate Ladies inspires its students to aim high by setting their own goals at every DofE level.
E… expeditions, eco clubs
Pupils have the opportunity to travel far and wide. Recent trips include the Zanskar region of the Himalaya and the High Atlas of Morocco (Giggleswick); South Africa, New Zealand, Argentina, New York, Barbados and Ecuador (St Peter’s); Colorado, Lanzarote, Malta and Rua Fiola Island (Westbourne); and Paris, Barcelona, Berlin, Cyprus and Borneo (Scarborough College).
Peeping over the greener side of the fence, Gateways has earned Green Flag Eco School status – the first high school in Leeds to achieve this award – through the work of its student Environment Group, which meets every week with the aim of positively changing the school’s green credentials.
F… fundraising, film club, football, fencing
The Community Action team at St Peter’s holds numerous fundraising activities for worthy causes like the Wilberforce Trust, York Mind, York Lions Club and WRVS. Ackworth students have successfully raised money for Yorkshire Air Ambulance, the RNLI and Brain Tumour Awareness.
Singers from Westbourne perform an annual concert for the Homestart organisation and the junior school sponsors children in far-flung places via World Vision.
Richmond House has successfully raised money for Martin House Hospice, St George’s Crypt homeless shelter, Candlelighters and the NSPCC.
While Harrogate Ladies College pupils have an ongoing commitment to Friends of Tanzania, Disability Action Yorkshire and UNICEF.
G… golf, gymnastics, gardening
Ackworth has excellent on-site sports facilities, including numerous pitches and courts, a swimming pool, sports hall, fitness room and a gym. It also has access to a nearby all-weather pitch and a golf course.
Pupils at Ashville are encouraged to try their hand at golf, as well as badminton, climbing, lacrosse, squash and trampolining.
And Bradford Grammar has a small but rapidly expanding Golf Society, which makes good use of the facilities at nearby Shay Grange.
Most schools have hockey sticks (jolly or otherwise) at the ready during the winter term. Girls from The Mount currently represent York, North Yorkshire and Great Britain at hockey (as well as netball, cross country and biathlon).
Pupils at Ackworth are encouraged to be true independent spirits by taking part in Forest School, which was pioneered in Denmark as a way of inspiring independence, confidence and communication through a range of all-weather, woodland activities.
Students are adept at juggling the many subjects they now have to choose from at GCSE and A level, but they are also becoming more adept at juggling itself too. Many schools now offer circus skills training as an add-on to their more traditional sports programme, with the aim of teaching confidence and creativity as well as balance and control.
K… kayaking, karate, knitting
Gateways offers taster days for pupils in a range of activities like karate and golf. While Giggleswick gives its young adventurers the chance to try kayaking, caving and mountain biking.
Students at Harrogate Ladies College are given the chance to take part in numerous societies and clubs from astronomy and gardening to the intriguing Knitter Natter – an activity echoed at Bradford Grammar, which runs a Knit & Natter club for pupils who want to be creative in a relaxed, friendly environment (and leave with a splendid new jumper).
L… languages, lacrosse, Lego
Prep pupils at Gateways can enjoy an introduction to spoken Spanish through songs, drama, games and worksheets. Ackworth offers all manner of after-school activities, including Greek. Westbourne offers youngsters the chance to attend French Cine Club, where they get comfortable with the language via films and shorts.
When it comes to lacrosse, Harrogate Ladies College students are difficult to beat (literally). The school provides the backbone of the county squads at U15 and U19 level and has had numerous representatives in the England U19 team.
M… music, model-making, meditation, mountain biking
Our region’s schools hit just the right note when it comes to teaching music. The music school at St Peter’s is staffed by more than 30 teachers, making it one of the largest and most diverse school music departments in the north. It has a full symphony orchestra, a string orchestra, symphonic wind band, swing band, brass ensemble, string quartet, clarinet choir and a percussion group.
Music is one of the many strengths of Queen Mary’s, where virtually every girl learns at least one instrument. The popular Chapel Choir competes and performs regularly outside school to wide acclaim, and even produces its own CD. And, at Ashville, more than 250 students are given individual music tuition every week.
From music to mountains: Giggleswick has its own 1.4km purpose-built mountain bike trail in Ghyll Field, adjacent to Catteral House. Pupils can bring their own bikes and safety equipment or use the school’s.
Netball is massively popular at schools throughout the county. Richmond House, for example, has a well-used netball court alongside its tennis courts, football and rugby pitches, cricket square and duo of pavilions. And, at Gateways, children are encouraged to take up the game and take part in inter-school fixtures.
O… outdoor pursuits, Oxbridge prep
Giggleswick’s outdoor pursuits department takes full advantage of the beautiful and challenging countryside in which the school is situated. All Year 9 pupils follow a programme of activities leading to the Giggleswick Certificate, which covers climbing, caving, mountain biking, kayaking, orienteering and a two-day unaccompanied expedition.
Queen Mary’s also makes the most of its spacious grounds adjoining the River Swale, where pupils can take part in canoeing and rafting expeditions.
P… Prince’s Trust, petanque, photography, public speaking
The Prince’s Trust was set up in 1976 by the Prince of Wales to improve the lives of disadvantaged young people across the UK. Sixth form students at The Mount support the trust each year by running their own business for a few months and donating all money raised to the royal charity.
Over at Richmond House, you’ll find all sorts of unique qualities, not least its crown green bowling and petanque facilities.
Children from Ackworth are involved in a number of events as part of the annual Party On The Green. They take part in family quizzes (a particular favourite) as well as treasure hunts and craft projects.
R… rowing, rugby, riding, rounders
St Peter’s has its own boathouse on the Ouse and offers rowing throughout the year.
When they’re not rowing, a great many pupils enjoy riding. Queen Mary’s runs its own stables, with opportunities for everyone from complete beginners to competition level riders. Girls can even bring their own ponies if they want to.
S… swimming, shooting, sudoku, squash, sailing
A number of schools have their own swimming pools, including Queen Mary’s, which also has its own floodlit Astroturf pitch and extensive equestrian facilities, and The Mount, which offers a vast range of sport in 16-acre grounds.
When they’re not swimming, many Yorkshire students can try their hand at shooting. Queen Mary’s, for example, offers clay pigeon shooting.
T… theatre, tennis, trampolining
Yorkshire schools take drama very seriously (even when they’re staging a comedy). Television presenter Russell Harty laid the foundations for a strong drama department at Giggleswick, which has also enjoyed support from ex-Giggleswickian Richard Whiteley and playwright Alan Bennett, a former honorary president of the Drama Society.
St Peter’s stages numerous productions every year in its newly-refurbished Memorial Hall, the Shepherd Hall and the Dame Judi Dench Studio Theatre.
And Ackworth has its own 224-seat theatre.
U… United Nations
Pupils at The Mount can choose from more than 45 activities including Model United Nations, which stimulates political thought, debate and problem-solving, as well as jewellery-making, photography, Russian and creative writing.
V… volunteering, volleyball
Pupils at St Peter’s run the Silver Surfers Club every Saturday, offering one-to-one IT tuition and a slap-up lunch to local senior citizens.
The motto at Ackworth is ‘non sibi sed omnibus’ (not for oneself but each for the good of the whole), a phrase that’s reflected in the students’ community work. They put on concerts for the elderly, stage dramas for local primary schools and run a whole-school Charity Week every year including an auction, a concert and jelly throwing.
W… work experience, water polo
All the schools in our region stress the importance of community involvement and encourage their students to get involved in the wider world at every opportunity. Most do this via fundraising, community outreach and work experience – the latter giving children the opportunity to test themselves and learn valuable real-life lessons.
X… exchange trips
External tours are an important part of the Ashville education. Its German exchange programme is particularly popular, but it also offers sports and music tours, a Spanish language trip, a French study tour to Nice, an art history trip to Paris and a geography tour of Iceland.
Y… young enterprise
Young Enterprise is a national education charity founded in 1963 to forge links between school and industry, and to inspire young people to learn and succeed in business by helping them set up their own small businesses. A team from St Peter’s was recently named North Yorkshire Regional Winners at the HSBC Young Enterprise Innovation Awards in Harrogate.
In a similar vein, Rishworth School runs a weekly Business Club for students in Years 10-13; Westbourne hosts Broomhill Business Breakfast, a popular networking group, in its senior school; and Hull Collegiate encourages its Year 10 and 12 students to compete in a mini trade fair.
Zumba isn’t just taking over gyms and community halls across the country, it’s making its mark in schools too. Scarborough College is just one of the many places now offering the exercise-cum-dance class as part of its vast array of extra-curricular activities.