Children come to school to learn so many things to help them to prepare for their future. We can put these into three categories – children learn skills, knowledge and attitudes. Naturally, a significant amount of learning takes place in the classrooms – but – through a wide reaching curriculum – so much learning – preparing children for their future – happens outside of the classroom.
Once our school is open for Year 12 students we will be offering them the option of following the IB curriculum. The language of IB is very specific and includes reference to ‘CAS’ activities. CAS means ‘community, action and service’ – and even though it will be several years before we offer the IB curriculum to our Year 12 students, it makes sense to start using the language of IB now. Therefore – at The Aquila School we will refer to extra-curricular activities as CAS.
In Summer 2016, having worked in schools for over twenty five years, I completed a Masters Degree in Education through part time study at the University of Liverpool in the UK. Through my dissertation, I researched the value and impact of CAS activities and whether there was a link between the involvement in the wider life of the school and attainment. There is very little published research about this – but through my study, two patterns emerged – one surprising and one predicted. Children who attended one or more CAS activity a week on average made better academic progress than children who attended none. This is not surprising – as it shows that children are enjoying school, want to be here more and enjoy the experience of learning with children in different classes doing a variety of activities. What was a surprise however was that the opposite was true – children who attended three or more CAS activities tended to underachieve. The reasons for this were unclear – maybe this is linked to the children having less opportunities to pursue interests out of school.
At The Aquila School, it is our aim to ensure that children love coming to school and experience amazing learning – both in and beyond the classroom. We want children to have ownership of their school and to be able to make choices related to their learning. Therefore, when families ask what CAS activities we will be offering – we say we do not know yet as it depends what our children are interested in. It is a safe assumption that popular activities such as football and art will be on the list – but for the others – we wait to see what the founding Aquila children want. All of our teachers will offer one for children aged year two upwards – and we will ensure that there is a range of sporting, creative and cultural activities.