The advantages of having extra-curricular activities on the timetable: Discovering Yorkshire Grit
PUBLISHED: 11:38 20 October 2020
When the year seven pupils arrive at independent school Scarborough College on a Monday morning, they are excited and enthusiastic.
This is because Monday afternoon is Yorkshire Grit and could see them doing anything from scuba diving and raft-building to surfing in the North Sea in January.
Remco Weeda, director of marketing and admissions at the co-educational private school, admits that bringing extra-curricular activities right into the weekly timetable is unusual.
But, he stresses, there are many benefits:
“It gives them something to look forward to; it is challenging but also great fun and it is character-building. In addition, it impacts their schoolwork in a very positive way.”
A broad education
Scarborough College, which has day and boarding pupils, with sixth formers studying for the International Baccalaureate (IB), was founded in 1896.
Today some 430 pupils, aged three to 18, are educated here, many from East Yorkshire itself but others from countries as far afield as South Africa, Hong Kong and the Caribbean.
“The school has traditional values, but at the same time we want to be forward-thinking,” Mr Weeda explains.
“Our Yorkshire Grit programme, which is for years seven, eight and nine and is included in the school fees, reflects that too.
“It was designed to replace the Combine Cadet Force (CCF), but also embodies some very progressive ideas.”
Challenging the pupils
The name Yorkshire Grit refers to the local stone, but also to the characteristics of local people, Mr Weeda says.
“There is an element of adventure, courage, sense of humour and ‘can-do’ attitude here in Yorkshire – and we want to instil that in all our pupils.”
In addition to outdoor adventure activities, where there are often opportunities to gain qualifications or certificates, other sessions form part of Yorkshire Grit.
“There is coastal survival, where they learn about the tides; go to the RNLI and plan rescue missions,” he says.
“We also do mindfulness, yoga and sleeping. We believe it is important to understand the concept of sleep: many pupils sleep badly these days and it is rarely discussed.
“The children enjoy the wellbeing aspect of Yorkshire Grit because it allows them to talk and open up.”
Why have extra-curricular activities within the school day?
Because, stresses Mr Weeda, the benefits ripple out into school life.
“In addition to the wellbeing and sleep activities helping the children to concentrate on their schoolwork, the activities such as public speaking give them confidence,” he says.
“They learn about teamwork, which helps them understand how to work together in other subjects.
“And, at a very basic level, doing activities that are fun as part of the timetable mean they are much more likely to enjoy coming to school.”
He adds: “Many of the teachers are part of Yorkshire Grit, which helps them tremendously in building up rapport with their pupils.
“Seeing them in different environments, outside the classroom, helps them gain a completely different understanding of them.”
Enhancing life skills
As with extra-curricular activities, the benefits of Yorkshire Grit are long lasting.
Many Scarborough College pupils go on to take part in the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award or other outdoor pastimes.
“When you look at our year 13 leavers, they are all personalities and all have something to bring to the table,” he admits.
“This not only helps them on their personal statements and with university and job applications, but it also means that when they step into an interview you know they are there.
“They can be seen in a way that goes beyond the academic self; the attributes they have gained – sense of humour, courage, teamwork and patience – continue into the workplace.”
He adds: “One of the elements of the IB is about risk taking, standing up for an opinion you have and taking a risk on it – and this is also encouraged by Yorkshire Grit.
“If you want to succeed, whatever your job, there has to be an element of intellectual risk taking to enable you to stand out from the crowd.”