Service Programme Recognised at House of Lords | Epsom College
  • News

Service Programme Recognised at House of Lords

This week Epsom College was invited to the House of Lords in recognition of its award-winning Service Programme. The event, hosted by the Independent Schools Council, was a celebration of partnerships between state and independent schools.

Epsom’s service programme has run for nine years, and has picked up a number of awards in that time, specifically:

  • Education Business Awards (Highly Commended, 2015)
  • TES Awards (Runner Up, 2019)
  • Epsom & Ewell Volunteer Champion award (Winner, 2020)

It was established in 2013 as a contemporary expression of one of the College’s founding principles and strategic intents: ‘benevolence’.

The programme replaced the previous ‘community service’ offering, which had very small numbers only a dozen Sixth Form volunteers, the majority of whom had signed up as a way of avoiding the Combined Cadet Force.

Today, over 200 Sixth Form students (60% of the total cohort) are involved in the programme, with over 150 going out each week on placements in the local community. During the 2021 autumn term alone, our students will have given 1,755 hours of service.

“There are a growing number of ambitious and aspirational partnerships leading the way across the country,” said Baroness Barran MBE, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the School System.

“This work has developed immensely over the past few years. Where once we spoke about sharing playing fields, today we talk about partnerships with real depth of purpose; partnerships that deliver lasting impact to the lives of pupils across our schools. We are seeing more and more partnerships that break down the barriers between independent state, faith, selective and all other types of schools.”

Epsom’s Service Programme has been run and developed with expertise over this period by Mrs Roshie Watkins, Service Co-ordinator, building links in the community, liaising with our providers and adapting the programme to the changing size, scope and needs over this time.

“Thank you for what you do, working together to care for and nurture our most precious national resource, our children and young people.”
Andrew Lever MBE, MP for Northampton South and Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Independent Education

The Service Programme’s Aims

  • To enact compellingly the charitable purpose of the College
  • To connect effectively with the local community through charitable action
  • To provide our Sixth Students and Lower School pupils with a method and appreciation of the mutual benefits of giving something back to the community by making a difference

The vast majority of placements take place between 9am-3pm, and many of those are in local state schools.

Other placements take the form of befriending the elderly, tending gardens for the elderly and within school eco projects, and working at Epsom Foodbank. Musicians perform for the elderly, in schools and at various other local events.

As well as the successful outreach programme, the Service Programme operates In-House with pupils involved in activities such as making Christmas cards and decorations for Maggie’s – a refuge for families of cancer sufferers situated next to the Royal Marsden Hospital. A number of students have learnt to knit and crochet head warmers to sell at Maggie’s Christmas party.

During COVID, many pupils put together educational videos to send to schools to entertain and educate the young pupils.

Since 2019 the programme has been extended to include pupils from the Lower School. They have visited Wallace Fields Infant School to assist with lessons; visited a local care home to entertain the elderly residents; and tended to public gardens in Banstead High Street.


Case Study: Helping Children Facing Disadvantage to Thrive

The Epsom College Service Programme involves Sixth Form volunteers from the College working with younger pupils to support their learning and development. It is a scheme designed to help pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds at various state primary schools in the local area – Banstead Community Junior School, Woodmansterne Primary, The Vale and Wallace Fields Infants School – to reach a higher level of attainment.

During the autumn term, students from Epsom College undertook three weeks of training and were matched with pupils based on their identified strengths. They assisted individual pupils and groups of children with language development; built numeracy skills through play; supported reading; led science and craft activities; and helped to develop the children’s social skills. The outreach programme has enabled the College to support the schools in closing the attainment gap for pupils facing disadvantage.

“By spending time every week with individual children, the Epsom College students have helped to develop their language, social and emotional skills, and enhance their emotional wellbeing.”
Nicky Mann, Co-Headteacher, Wallace Fields Infants School


Case Study: SpringForward Mentorship Programme

This year Epsom College is also taking part in a DfE funded independent school outreach programme, called SpringForward. It has just completed its pilot year.

Six teachers from Epsom College are taking part in the programme which aims to tackle the issue of low participation and high drop-out rates of care leavers in Higher Education.

This programme works with looked after young people (or those who have been in the care system) and are now taking A-level. The children, who are all in Years 12 and 13, are assigned teachers from Independent Schools who work as their mentors, helping them to achieve their aspiration of attending university.

In 2020/21, the pilot scheme was run with 25 students successfully. In 2021/22 the project has been scaled up to accommodate 100 students.

Each mentor undertakes five one-hour training sessions as a core component, with further training and support provided by Virtual School Heads. Mentors are then matched with students who are studying their specialist subject.