Lockdown 3.0 and virtual St John’s is well underway but the enthusiasm, creativity and intellectual curiosity on display amongst Lower School pupils remains as high as ever.

The Lower School Enrichment Programme is designed to inspire pupils to be academically inquisitive and reflective, and to explore new ways of thinking about a whole range of topics and the world around them. While aspects of the programme have been adapted to accommodate remote learning this year, the Lower School Project is proving a fascinating focus for pupils while they work from home. The Project gives pupils the chance to express their own passions and interests by exploring a topic of their choosing and, ultimately, creating a final piece of work in any medium.

Pupils have taken inspiration for their projects from Enrichment talks that took place last term, covering themes such as ‘Literature and the Hero’s Journey’ , an equality and diversity exploration of identity, a philosophical discussion titled ‘How do your actions define you?’, and a talk about understanding your digital footprint. They will be working on their projects all term and the final submissions will range from traditional written essays, to artworks, poems, science experiments and design & engineering builds.

Richard Harvey, Head of Lower School, explains: “Our Enrichment Programme in Lower School is all about encouraging pupils to think bigger, to be inquisitive and to be reflective in their academic and personal development. We want them to be excited about learning, so exposing them to a variety of ideas and topics, and giving them the freedom to delve further into the ideas that resonate with them, engages them while also equipping them with skills that are hugely valuable for the future. An added benefit this term is that working on these projects gives pupils some meaningful time away from screens during the virtual school week, an aim which our Lower School Challenge is also encouraging in a more light-hearted way!”

The Lower School Challenge is running all term and keeping spirits high. Pupils score points for completing challenges and these are being collated to see which tutor group has amassed the highest total by the time we return to school. The challenges are providing a lot of fun with ideas including making a time capsule, creating a photo wildlife diary, filming your own ‘Joe Wicks’ workout, rewriting the ending to a favourite book, designing a new sports-kit, and learning to sign the alphabet. There are also some very practical ideas in there such as decluttering your bedroom and doing chores you don’t usually help with at home, and the early indications are that baking cakes is one challenge everyone is happy to have a go at – the Great Lower Third Bake Off is in full swing!