Post-16 Student Leaders – Peer  Mentoring

Wilmington Academy Post 16 Student Leaders have initiated a Peer Mentoring pilot with Minerva. They have had the opportunity to support and mentor younger students with their Literacy, Numeracy and SMSC, during tutor time. When asked to review how this was progressing Chloe Mann reported back:
“I feel as if I am positively contributing towards Ms Ward’s form by helping to mentor her tutor group. Ciara and I sit in the plaza and help two students with their maths work, to supporting them whilst they practice for their exams. We use past papers to go over previous exam questions. I feel as though we are all gaining something from this experience.”

National Citizen Service (NCS) Year 12 Induction 2023

Employers and Universities are looking for more than just final grades from our school leavers; they want to see an applicant who has also developed the “soft” skills of effective communication, problem solving, resilience, and reflection. NCS is a national strategy, which is backed by the government, and delivered by Charlton Athletic Community Trust (CACT) within our local area. The opportunity was unique for our students, as CACT modified their existing programme in order to deliver it to a group of students, rather than individuals who sign up for the programme individually. The aim of the programme for us, was to enable our students to bond as a year group, to try new things, gain new skills and challenge themselves. Students will develop skills in a real setting, and have the chance to make a real difference to their local, our local community.

The NCS programme, saw students attend a four day residential trip, and undertake several days of planning and delivering a community service/social action plan project. For the residential trip, we took students on an outward bounds trip to Wales. They took part in challenges including caving, climbing, and hiking. Projects included revamping a tired vegetable patch at a local nursery, working with members of a retirement home, designing an advertising campaign for MIND, and raising money for the Charlton Athletic Upbeats programme.

The NCS programme is also a wonderful support tools for students. Graduates receive support when applying for jobs and also have the opportunity to become part of the CACT’s apprenticeship network.

Student Feedback:

“The social action project was a good experience, we was put into teams some of us didn’t know each other very well this allowed us to get to know each other and to be more confident when meeting new people. After the experience I felt proud of myself and my team for helping out our chosen charity, the Charlton Athletic Upbeats, by raising a lot of money.” A Year 12 student

“We stayed at Gilwern Outdoor Education Centre in Abergavenny, Wales. Whilst we were there we took part in a range of team building exercises from canoeing to rock climbing. I especially enjoyed the caving because it pushed me out of my comfort zone and helped me to overcome my water-based fear and anxieties.” A Year 12 student.

“I think that NCS was a great experience as it brought everyone together and required each individual to work in a team; I was an external student to Wilmington Academy, and it helped me to settle in more quickly. For our social project my group worked in an elderly home in Gravesend, and hosted games and quizzes. I think that the experienced helped me to work more effectively in a team, and helped me gain in confidence.” A Year 12 student.

Sri Lanka (Turtle Sanctuary) 2018

On the 29th January 2018 15 of our students embarked on a trip of a lifetime travelling thousands of miles across time zones all to take part in local community projects in part of the world hit by the tsunami.  After two flights and a 24 hour journey we arrived in a small town called Ambalangoda.

The students from Years 10 and 12 set about four projects that ‘gave back’.  All students spent every morning renovating a local temple which involved painting its entire outside and many locals came to thank us by providing authentic homemade food gifts which were served daily by the monks. This was such a humbling sight – especially as the local salary per month was only £15 for most.   Our students worked side by side the Buddhist monks gaining a true insight into the philosophy of Buddhism.

The second project saw students help clean and look after endangered sea turtles.  The students even had the opportunity to release the turtles.  The reality of plastic waste in our oceans really hit home during this project as we witnessed a turtle aged 125 years, who can no longer submerge himself due to plastic he has swallowed from the ocean, that sadly now keeps him afloat.

The third project involved working with rescued domestic elephants.  We all had the opportunity to  wash and scrub these majestic animals and feed them after.  Our final project was teaching English to children who recognise the importance of English and their future life chances.   Our students planned and delivered lessons in a front room of a local lady who tries to support the poorer children in her local community.  I was impressed by their ability to think on their feet and watch as their resilience and confidence built throughout this project.

After the projects, we had the opportunity to discover Sri Lanka.  From a safari in Yala national park, trekking Mini Adams peak in Ella to watch the sunrise over the mountains, tea plantations and the local economy driven by tea, traditional dance, an evening in discussion with a monk, walking the UNESCO Dutch fort and time at the Elephant orphanage – not to mention exploring Kandi.

Through all of the exciting projects and experiences we were part of, our emotions were battered by a visit to the Tsunami Museum in Galle.  On arrival we walked to a ruined home, where we met the lady who owns the museum.  The museum is actually the ruins of her home, destroyed by the wave.  The exposed footings and now makeshift walls display unseen images and witness accounts that found us fighting back the tears.  Beautifully written accounts of parents who could not hold their children against the will of the wave, messages of hope that loved ones still might be found 14 years on, images of destruction that we could never imagine or comprehend. The unmarked graves of hundreds of people, many of whom were children, who never found their way back to their families.   The second wave took 60 000 Sri Lankan lives and we all were humbled to see the strength and humility of the lady who through her story has since raised over £350 000 for local health charities.  I was immensely proud of the compassion our students displayed.

Our journey certainly exposed us to how we all can spend a few days of our lives giving back and I’m proud to be part of a community where our students and our future leaders want to make a real difference to some of the poorest communities in our world.

Volunteer Africa 2014

After 13 months of fundraising to raise over £30,000, 17 Post 16 students undertook the challenge of a lifetime. After two flights and a 6-hour van journey from Nairobi they finally arrived in Lake Nakuru to embark on Volunteer projects with African Adventures.

The students worked incredibly hard to raise the money to go on the trip. Activities ranging from a sponsored Skydive, 100 mile march, sponsored Judo, bag packing and lots of other activities helped contribute to ensuring the students went on the trip.

The projects involved the students working with schools operating in the slums of Nakuru, working with the poorest children they had ever encountered. The work involved teaching primary children, constructing school rooms and helping with the feeding programme. The trip was emotionally overwhelming with many of the students becoming acutely aware of the privileges they have and what we, sometimes, take for granted. The poverty witnessed was heart breaking with many of the children they worked with relying on the projects for not only a basic primary education but also shelter, food and water.

Some of the students want to share their experience:

“My trip to Kenya was a life changing experience, but it was not until I got home that I realised how profound the trip was. Volunteering at the Jubilee project was amazing, because we were able to make a difference to the school, teacher and the children”. 

“The overall trip to Kenya was very emotional. You hear about the way people live out there but you never actually believe it until you see it for yourself. It made me think about how lucky we are back at home and definitely changed the way I feel about things such as leftover food. If I had the chance I would definitely do it again and I would love to help those poor kids to have a better future.

Whilst there, I helped build a classroom and fix furniture with the rest of the construction team, at least these kids have better facilities to learn in now instead of all being cramped in one class. We had some bonuses like a safari trip, which was great to see the wildlife roaming around so freely. I recommend this trip to anyone. It’s a real eye-opener”. 

“The Trip to Kenya was really inspirational, life changing but most of all enjoyable. I am truly honoured that my school gave me a chance to help needy people. I worked in a school project called Mamma Kerry. The people were lovely, kind and respectful. I also visited several unique places with breathtaking views. I would recommend this trip to anyone – you will never be the same”.

“A highlight for me was seeing the smiles on the children’s faces when they received the simple gifts we had collected. I could not believe how happy the children are in such basic school conditions – it really was an amazing experience that I will never forget”.

This year has seen students dedicate vast amounts of time and energy to both projects within the school community and outside.

We are excited about our forthcoming volunteer trips to Africa and Romania. Students have undertaken parachute jumps, 100 mile marches, sponsored walks, quiz nights, bag packing, social events and lots more to raise the money to make a real difference to disadvantaged students overseas.