Over the 2019 summer holiday pupils from Repton School visited Ghana, as part of a well-established partnership with local schools, and led English lessons and other academic classes, in addition to distributing school supplies and fresh uniforms. This annual volunteering project is a critical component of the school’s mission to teach students to be “globally aware and internationally-minded” and “socially conscious, politically informed, and environmentally aware.” Repton believes that academic success and exam results are critically important but that this should not be at the expense of a broad and well-rounded education.
Volunteering projects like the annual trip to Ghana serve the school’s desire to create opportunities for pupils to engage energetically and enthusiastically with the world around them and to be ready to serve their community, both within the school and beyond it.
Students kicked off their volunteer project in Ekawso, Ghana, with a welcome ceremony complete with traditional African dance. A tour of the city’s primary school offered them a glimpse of daily life in Ghana, and they were surprised to see classrooms with as many as 60 students per room.
The group then traveled on to Dreamland School for four days of teaching, a cultural sharing event, and a student-organized sports day. The school in Dreamland has enjoyed a recent revitalisation thanks to the guidance of a new headmaster and generous donations from Repton fundraisers, which support teacher training and retention – one of Dreamland school’s main challenges. Next the students visited the Akumadan Medical Center. Repton is currently discussing various options to help improve the facilities here with funds raised specifically after last year’s trip identified a need. While at Dreamland students enjoyed some well-earned rest and relaxation at the monkey sanctuary. They also participated in cultural exchanges with local children through church services, singing, dancing, and an arts and crafts session.
The volunteers continued on to Kumasi, where they helped improve Cecilia Blessing School. The students spent a day brightening up the school grounds by painting colorful and interactive times tables, an alphabet snake, and hopscotch in the playground. They spent an additional day and a half teaching before heading south to Assin Manso Senior High School, where they dropped off donations of textbooks, trumpets, a netball kit, and a mini tennis kit.
During their stay in Ghana the volunteers learned a great deal about the tragic slave trade. Knowledgeable guides who accompanied the group through sites of historical significance – including the Last Bath, Elmina Castle, Fort Jago, and Cape Coast Castle – were able to paint a graphic picture of what life as a slave was really like. The group completed its volunteer program with a visit to Kakum National Park to experience the rainforest. On the last night, they reflected on their journey at a beachside restaurant with more native African drumming and dance.
The 2019 Ghana volunteer project was a huge success for Repton; the pupils made a great team and fully contributed to all of the program’s activities. It also provided a powerful and life-changing experience, with all growing significantly from the opportunities and quieter pupils coming out of their shells to deliver confident lessons to classes of all ages. The volunteers gained experience thinking on their feet, often being forced to adapt their lessons at the last minute according to conditions in classrooms. Volunteering opportunities go far beyond annual projects like Ghana and are carried throughout the schools Community Action program, which includes supporting patients on the wards at Royal Derby Hospital, leading after-school clubs at primary schools, and helping local senior residents with technology.
Repton school also offers a Combined Cadet Force, with Army, RAF and Royal Navy Sections, and a flourishing Duke of Edinburgh scheme, the aim being to ensure that all pupils commit to serving the wider community in some capacity.
With an emphasis on the whole person right at the heart of Repton School’s ethos, volunteering experience is just one of the many activities and opportunities to which students have access beyond the academic curriculum. Sports, drama, music, and art are all offered to students, in addition to a thriving community of academic societies. The school hosts societies in philosophy, classics, politics, history, medicine, and science, just to name a few. Recent meetings have included a presentation to the Classics Society on Athenian and British democracy and masterclasses with an orthopedic surgeon for members of the Medical Society.
“A Repton education is a precious and powerful gift because who we are, what we do, and what we believe in could not be more important or relevant for young people growing up in the modern world.”