We are proud of the sense of community and pastoral care at the school, and these values and ideals are instilled in our pupils. One of the real strengths of any group is its willingness to look after each other and to enhance experiences for others in a selfless way. There are opportunities across the school to develop these skills.
We raise money for big charity events such as Comic Relief and Children in Need, as well as smaller local charities such as Kika (for children with Cancer) and the VU Hospitals’ children’s’ ward as well as other local and topical charities as the need arises.
It is important that the children understand why they are raising money and what the charities do. Fund raising is always accompanied by information sessions, for example, in assemblies and classes to ensure the children understand how their actions can impact on others, and as part of Jigsaw (our PSHE scheme) children plan to raise funds by doing something specific each year, such as a bake sale or a sponsored event.
Children in Reception take part in an annual fun run, 'Run a Mile' to raise money for charity. In the Infant School they have supported the Amsterdam Foodbank by donating food for families who do not have enough money to purchase sufficient food for themselves. In the Junior and Senior Schools the choirs often perform at events which tie us into the local community, such as the Thanksgiving Service in the American community, the RAFA Remembrance Service each year, and singing in hotels and venues at Christmas. We also invite different visitors into school during theme weeks (such as Science Week and Book week) and will look for visitors who enrich the children’s understanding of the world around them (for example the visit form the Dutch Paralympians this year).
Children in both year groups have plenty of opportunities to become involved in school life by taking part in one of our pupil voice groups. Children can apply to become a member of the School Council, the Eco Squad, the Busy Bees (responsible for the playground) or Team Smile (our mini prefects). Children choose projects to work on to make our school better for everyone.
A sense of community begins within the school with older pupils trained to support literacy and numeracy in other areas of the school, including some pupils giving up time during lunchtime to help in Junior School classrooms.
We support local charities with form groups organising activities for fundraising or to raise awareness of issues in the community. Initiatives supported by staff but led by pupils foster a growing awareness of a young person's responsibility within the wider community. Successful projects include our work with the Plastic Whale Foundation here in Amsterdam, raising awareness of plastic recycling, and raising money to support the integration of refugees in the city and well as volunteering at local centres.
For the older children, through our PSHE and assembly programme awareness is raised of global issues such as famine, mental health issues and modern slavery.