Wide support from Town Council for Lord Williams’s off-timetable day

On Tuesday 17 January, Lord Williams’s School had their annual off-timetable morning and numerous representatives from Thame Town Council went along to support the various activities taking place across both sites. There has since been good feedback on the morning with Nicky Stallwood, Careers Manager, commenting: “Students enjoyed working in small teams, taking on roles and developing communication skills.  They were supported in class by a range of visitors from different backgrounds and experiences who helped them to consider new perspectives.”

Two members of Town Council staff, Cllr Midwinter and two volunteers of the Thame Good Neighbour Scheme attended the Year 8’s ‘Community Action’ morning, during which students worked in locality groups and were encouraged to think about the needs of those living with or near them, and how they might go about addressing those needs. Students learnt about the Thame Good Neighbour Scheme, which launched in March 2015, and worked in small groups to create their own support scheme. Deputy Head of Lower School, Karen Vear, said: “I was really impressed with year 8 and they really seemed to get the ideas behind volunteering and the work of the Good Neighbour scheme. ‘Volunteering makes you happy’ was the key message from one of the presentations”.

Meanwhile at Upper School, the Town Council’s Market Town Co-Ordinator, along with other volunteers, helped the Year 10’s design ways to redevelop the Cattlemarket in Thame. Students were given a budget for the redevelopment, and there were lots of creative ideas put forward.

Year 11 students at Lord Williams’s School had the opportunity to explore the issues of immigration in a local context.  As part of the school’s off timetable morning, the students participated in a conference style debate exploring how they would respond to a request for the community to accommodate young Syrian refugees in Thame.   Students heard from a panel of speakers including a refugee from Iraq, a local charity representative (Convoy2Calais) and Graham Hunt, Town Clerk at Thame Town Council.  Graham was impressed by the discussions that took place amongst students: ‘They offered a wide range of responses and valuable insights to the issues.  I will remember the event for a long time to come and will endeavour to ensure that the output can be used in a constructive way.’  For many students, the experience was powerful and several mentioned how it had changed their views on immigration and asylum seekers. 

Nicky Stallwood, Careers Manager at Lord Williams’s School, helped co-ordinate the day and commented: ‘The students were able to empathise with the refugee perspective and were very keen to talk further.  For many it was the first time that a global issue had become personalised.’

One Year 11 student spoke for many when he said: ‘We don’t talk about current issues enough in school. If we want people to get involved and to feed the debate, there has to be more opportunities like this for young people.’

Working with local refugee interest groups provided students with a real insight into the experience of the refugee and the role of support charities.   John Cormino James from Thame’s Bread and Roses for Refugees found inspiration from the students’ responses: ‘What was most wonderful was the grounded passion with which the young people presented their conclusions. An energy to nurture and also to give us hope.’