THE HEADMASTER of a private school in a Yorkshire city is urging others in the independent sector to follow their example by running a citizens service programme to allow public and state pupils to volunteer together.
Hymers College, in Hull, is the only independent school in the country which is a training provider for the National Citizen Service (NCS) programme for pupils across the city.
Headmaster David Elstone told The Yorkshire Post the project allowed pupils to meet people from different backgrounds, make a difference to their local area and get a taste for volunteering.
He said: “Perhaps the thing that surprises me most about it is that the young people want to volunteer, they will keep volunteering and think nothing of giving up their time. And they know that it can set them apart if they can tell people they have done this.”
Under the NCS programme, groups of students from both the college and state schools in Hull take part in a range of activities, including an outward bound course, a stay on a university campus and a community action project.
The current group of 31 students have chosen the homelessness support charity Emmaus in Hull for their community scheme. So far their work has seen them raise money, assemble furniture, collect clothes and work in a charity shop.
Mr Elstone said: “All 31 will complete their hours and all will never forget the experience.
“If they follow the route of previous NCS graduates many of them will volunteer again and again. Surely there can be no greater testament to the NCS scheme than this.”
Hymers says it encourages students to become more independent and to “learn through doing.”
The course involves a five-day outward bound trip where students stay at a hostel. They take part in activities such as abseiling, potholing and cliimbing. On their return they then spend a week living on Hull University’s campus where they receive training on how to choose, plan and complete a community action project.
Each student must complete 30 hours of community action to complete the NCS programme.
Mr Elstone said: “It is my passionate belief that every pupil fortunate enough to attend Hymers should make some contribution to the local community in Hull.”
As part of this the schools sixth formers have worked with primary school pupils supporting their reading and maths. The school has also developed a physical education programme of non- competitive games to get young children exercising. However, Mr Elstone says the NCS programme is the “gem in the crown of our community work”.
He added: “I am very proud that Hymers is the only independent school to be a training provider for the NCS scheme and would urge other private school headmasters to get involved in this wonderful scheme.
“What has astonished me is how keen the young people are to make a real difference in their local communities. Whether it be working with the elderly or cleaning up a local park, the youngsters enjoy working as a team and make genuine friendships for life.
“They learn not only about other people but also about themselves.”