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Canford College Programme - Summer 2020

Canford College Programme - Summer 2020
Karen Smith

Pupils across the country entering their final term of school – at Canford the Upper Sixth year group – were looking forward to putting their hard work into practice sitting their final exams, to the post exam excitement and to final assemblies, prize givings and leavers’ parties and celebrations.  All this has been taken away from them as a result of Covid-19, and pupils have been left with uncertainty over exam grades, career plans and whether or not the future choices they had made will still be options open to them.  Will universities, for example, open in September or will they be remote learning based until 2021?

Faced with an unprecedented situation, Canford wanted to offer these pupils a meaningful end to their education, something which would broaden their horizons, provide focus and develop their skills in interesting, engaging and fun ways. Thus the Canford ‘College Programme’ was born.  

Styled along the lines of a higher education ‘elective’ programme, and following the Canford vision for pupils to ‘Explore, Express and Excel’ Head of Enrichment Tom Marriott, devised a dynamic programme which changes each week.  It is based around six core strands of engagement: Core Academic Extension, Elective modules, Fitness, Activities and Wellbeing, 1-1 Tutor Meetings, University and Careers Clinics and The Ivy House Award for leadership development.  The academic extension element is taken in two of a pupil’s current A Level subjects and is designed to reflect the nature of continued learning in the adult world, be it in higher education, degree apprenticeships or the world of work.  The electives complement this learning, and each pupil chooses a minimum of two of these each week. With assistance from a range of staff, parents, and Old Canfordians from across the Canford Community, the range of elective topics on offer is vast, with something to spark the interest of each and every pupil. They have been encouraged to learn a new skill, such as computer programming, basic Italian, gardening, baking sourdough, interview skills, student finance or car maintenance and to take advantage of broadening general knowledge interactive live presentations by external speakers including BBC Diplomatic Correspondent James Landale, National Geographic photographer Bertie Gregory and Spoken Word Poet, Deanna Rodger.  The Ivy House leadership programme was already being used by the Lower Sixth year group this year as a pilot project and has been extended to the Upper Sixth to offer the opportunity to develop leadership skills, confidence and self knowledge. Integrated into the College Programme has also been time and space for pastoral support – as indeed it is in place across all year groups.  As a school community we are fully aware that this situation will have impacted each pupil individually in terms of their own mental health and wellbeing.

Headmaster Ben Vessey has been delighted with the response so far to the programme:

“Foremost in our minds at the outset was a sense of sadness that these circumstances had the potential to bring an abrupt and premature end to our Upper Sixth pupils’ time at Canford. With this in mind we immediately set about putting in place the foundations of a programme that would ensure that whatever the situation, their Canford careers would end with a bang rather than whimper!  It has been designed to afford pupils maximum flexibility to engage in a way that will help them make the most out of the next few weeks and months.  For those planning to head on to university, we wanted to prepare pupils for this style of study, and to develop life long learning skills for all. I have urged our Upper Sixth to be bold; to seize the opportunity this new world presents with the sense of adventure and the fearlessness for which Canfordians are renowned. The contributions from our pupils in the early weeks of this programme have certainly demonstrated this in abundance and I am very grateful to my colleagues who have worked tirelessly over the Easter break to bring this unique educational programme to fruition.”

The programme has been well received by Upper Sixth pupils, with comments including:

“A big thank you for organising the College Programme for Upper Sixth. I am particularly enjoying the wide range of options in the elective section. I look forward to a Friday to see what new and exciting choices there are for the following week!”


‘Canford has produced an innovative, well thought out programme providing extensive coverage on all topics that may interest an individual. Thumbs up all round!’

For more information about the programme, please contact in the first instance.

Canford College programme activities
Canford College Programme speakers


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