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St John’s runs a very successful Community Service Unit. The Unit thrives owing to the passion and kindness evident amongst pupils. Historically, St John’s purpose was originally to support the children of poor clergy and now, as the School has evolved, there is still a very strong spirit of giving and support to each other and to the extended community. More than half of the Sixth Form volunteer for weekly placements of an hour or more at one of over twenty community locations. The unofficial ethos is to leave people and places better than when they were found. Supporting local groups in this way breaks down barriers across the ages, socio-economic groups and classes. The Sixth Form positively queue up to take part in the placements and the feedback from them is fantastic. They enjoy giving to others for no other reason than it is a nice experience to give and take great pride in what they do.
Placements take place during the school day (a free period or an activity session) and during many precious evenings and weekends. Most are a five-minute walk from school. A few pupils take part to support their accreditation for the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme. It is possible to choose both Community Service and also Combined Cadet Force.
Community work challenges pupils to step out of their comfort zones, but in an environment where they are supported: they are never left on their own. They gain many opportunities to enhance their interpersonal skills and increase self-confidence, building experience of dealing with awkward situations and handling conflict. They also benefit by learning from the finely tuned skills that care workers develop. Community Service complements the many other attributes developed at St John’s, such as academic strengths, music/drama talents, sporting excellence and leadership qualities. When it comes to their university applications, these offer a balance and show that there is more to a St John’s pupil than a list of qualifications.
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