Shaftesbury Enterprise Impact Report 2020-21 (COPY)


SHAFTESBURY ENTERPRISE: report on initiatives within the borough of harrow 2022-23

Shaftesbury Enterprise is Harrow School’s initiative focused on improving the educational outcomes and life opportunities for young people, regardless of background, particularly those who face significant barriers to progress.

Our purpose 

Our purpose is to offer transformative educational and co-curricular opportunities to help improve the prospects of children and young people, both in the borough of Harrow and further afield.

Our vision 

Our vision is to enable every young person in our community, irrespective of background, to thrive, achieve their full potential, find fulfilment and become successful adults who go on to make a positive mark on the many communities to which they belong throughout their lives.

Our objectives 

We will achieve our vision by focusing our efforts for the future on three key challenges:

Improving educational attainment through providing appropriate academic intervention at primary and secondary school level.

Improving life outcomes through offering diverse co-curricular opportunities and suitable interventions to support mental and physical wellbeing and helping individuals to gain a university place, further training or employment, with a focus on young people who would have limited access to such provision.

Widening access for those from a broad range of abilities and backgrounds through providing bursaries, exemplary pastoral support and opportunities in a boarding environment for boys who would thrive at Harrow School but for whom the fees are prohibitive.



Every Harrovian is actively involved in Shaftesbury Enterprise, by fundraising through the annual Long Ducker sports event run held in the Autumn term, and through the volunteering and mentoring programme that takes place between November and March every year. 

Boys are invited to volunteer for projects in the local community, ranging from supporting primary- and secondary-school children with their learning, to working on specific enrichment projects with groups facing significant barriers to progress.

Around 200 Harrovians volunteer on a weekly basis, offering over 15,000 hours of their time over the academic year to act as co-ordinators, coaches, mentors, and contributors to the projects.

Boys gave the programme an average overall score of 8.5/10 for the impact of the activity (10 is outstanding in every way, 1 is not useful at all).

Staff gave the programme an average overall score of 8.9/10 for the impact of the activity (10 is outstanding in every way, 1 is not useful at all).



Boys from Elmfield supported the children at St Anselm’s Primary School with reading. The children steadily became more confident, and it was heartening to see the children show increasing enthusiasm for reading to Harrovians every Monday. Faces became familiar, and helping the local community in Harrow was a rewarding experience for the boys.


As part of Shaftesbury Enterprise, a group of 25 boys from Newlands visited Vaughan Primary School, where they helped the pupils from Year 1 to Year 4 with phonics and reading.

“It was a delight to see how the children had progressed over the period of our visits, and it was obvious we were making a difference! As I took Reception, many of the pupils I had been assigned began by reading books with no words, but as the winter progressed, we moved onto confidently reading some tricky words. One of the highlights for me was solving a jigsaw puzzle with the pupils, which showed me that our presence was clearly an enjoyable part of their day. One of the best experiences came with the challenge of helping a pupil with impaired hearing to read. This was particularly difficult as we would have to speak into a microphone to help the pupil understand what we were saying. As the weeks went by, we noticed that the pupil was better able to understand what we were saying and repeat our words; this, in particular, made me realise just how fortunate we were. We all look forward to visiting the school next year.” C, Newlands


Every Wednesday afternoon, ten boys from Druries visited Grange Primary School to mentor some of their top mathematicians. Every mentor was partnered with a student, and during each session they would tackle challenging questions and puzzles, while also revising old material and teaching them new material.

All the primary-school pupils were very engaged during the sessions. The children’s enthusiasm and willingness to learn was impressive. In addition, they all felt able to ask questions whenever they were unsure about what they were being taught.

The tutors also learned a lot from this experience. They learned the importance of creating a good learning environment i.e. to be friendly and build trust with the children, enabling them to ask questions about material they didn’t understand.

Feedback from Grange Farm pupils showed that the children in the maths group made significant progress during their participation in the project. They also show increased engagement and enjoyment of maths (in partnership with MathsMakers). Their attainment in practice SAT maths tests improved by an average of 8.1.

Boys in Moretons also welcomed students from Grange Primary School for an engaging one-to-one reading programme in the Vaughan Library on Wednesday afternoons. Thirteen boys from the Lower Sixth, Fifth Form and Remove volunteered, and they each partnered with the same primary school student for the duration of the project. This meant that not only could boys put in a sustained effort to improve a particular student’s reading over the 12 sessions from November to March, but they could also get to know the individual well, which helped them to be more confident in reading aloud.

Throughout the project, Moretonians aimed to improve the comprehension, literacy and vocabulary of the students. They did this primarily through listening to their partner read and regularly questioning them about the characters, plot and vocabulary in their chosen books. Boys learnt the value of praise in improving pupils’ confidence and enthusiasm. As well as one-to-one reading, boys employed other resources such as crosswords, wordsearches, code-cracking exercises and the New York Times’ ‘Intriguing Photos to Make Students Think’, all of which involved developing the primary school students’ vocabulary. Some other literary-based games, such as Scrabble, were also on the agenda.

In the final session of the programme, the boys hosted the primary school students for lunch at Harrow and then took them on a tour of the School’s historic buildings including Bill Yard, Chapel, the Fourth Form Room and the War Memorial Building. Overall, the Moretonians found it a highly rewarding experience, with one boy saying, “It was really rewarding to see them making progress each week.” It is clear that the students not only benefited from their time on the Hill, but also thoroughly enjoyed the experience, with some firm friendships forged. As the final session concluded, many of the Grange students said that they were sad they could not come back the following week for more reading.

The children demonstrated an increased enjoyment of reading during the project and made significant progress in reading from September to February, with their attainment level increasing by an average of six points during this period.


The Rendalls Shaftesbury Enterprise team worked with the children from Byron Court Primary School, supporting literacy and numeracy sessions for Years 5 and 6 and helping children who were struggling with spoken English. It was gratifying for the boys to see the progress that the children made from week to week, enabling them to have conversations in English with their tutors from Harrow.

The boys found the task of teaching young people how to read and write challenging at first. They honed vital skills such as patience and consideration as they helped the children construct a sentence or read a line. Spending time with the young people gave the boys an insight into the lives of their tutees.


Boys in The Park had the opportunity to volunteer at Newton Farm Primary School. At Newton Farm, the Harrovians acted as teachers’ aides, helping in whatever capacity was needed, with a particular focus on reading. They worked with pupils in the Reception year (ages 3–4). They helped the children learn to break down words into individual sounds and then blend them into full phrases, "s. i. t., sit". They also thoroughly enjoyed being able to go into the playground with the children and participate in their different activities, be it painting with the future Picassos, or being chased mercilessly while playing tag!

“My fondest memory from the experience was when a little girl, with whom I had been working with in class, handed me a drawing she made just as I was leaving at the end of a session. It was a beautiful picture of a butterfly that she had coloured in, just for me! As I was thanking the teacher for the session, she told me that little girl was always reluctant to read and had struggled to make progress but had been making a consistent effort and showed great improvement since the start of our sessions. It was incredibly fulfilling to know that I had been able to make a positive impact and help the little girl. This memory will stay with me forever, and I still have that drawing pinned on my wall today!” – boy in The Park


This year, the Lyon’s Lower Sixth helped run the reading project at Roxeth School. Each boy was assigned to a student ranging from Year 3 to Year 5. The primary-school pupils would then select a book and read to Harrovians, who were tasked with correcting mispronunciations as well as helping the children improve their fluency. It was gratifying for the boys to see reading fluency progressively improve over the course of the term.


West Acre boys volunteered at Weldon Park, where boys read to primary-school children every week and occasionally helped them with their multiplication tables. This project enabled Harrovians to play a part in filling some gaps in knowledge and helping the children meet their attainment targets.

“Seeing the children excited and bubbling with curiosity when our team entered the door each week always brought a smile to our faces. These children’s learning had been affected by the recent pandemic and some had not been able to access the full extent of their education for a period. We all enjoyed this project and are grateful that Harrow offered us this opportunity to make a difference to these children.” – West Acre pupil


Each week, students from Shaftesbury High School visited boys in The Head Master’s at Harrow to participate in indoor sports activities. Activities ranged from five-a-side football, basketball and dodgeball to everyone’s favourite, bulldog! Working with children who have learning difficulties challenged Harrovians to take the initiative, have patience and be good listeners and communicators.

“I take pride in knowing that we have helped them to move outside their comfort zones and build their confidence and sports skills. For all of us working on this project, the most rewarding part of the experience must be seeing the smiles on their faces each week. I have loved every moment I have spent with Shaftesbury High across four of my five years at Harrow.” – pupil in The Head Master’s


The Hillview Nursery project brought together teachers and students from various disciplines to support the youngest members of our community. Located in South Harrow, Hillview Nursery is the only maintained nursery in the borough. The school is a special haven where young children can explore and develop independently within an enabling environment. For the duration of the year’s Shaftesbury Enterprise programme, the children were taught eco-friendliness by Harrow School’s Sustainability Committee and responded brilliantly to the interactive lessons. To align with the ethos of environmentalism, thy constructed plant beds in the nursery garden using reclaimed wood, repurposing residual material to allow the children to grow their own produce. This project is testimony to the fact that true sustainability begins with the youngest generation, and we look forward to what it can accomplish in the future.


As volunteers at Woodlands School, Harrovians engaged in various ways with students with a range of disabilities. Activities included physical therapy, such as massaging and trampolining, as well as mental stimulation, largely through art and music. Wheelchair dancing was a favourite. They also took the children on walks in the park and played with them in the playground. This extensive curriculum at Woodlands clearly had a powerful impact on all the students.

“Personally, helping out at Woodlands has given me a new perspective on life. I find myself with a heightened sense of gratitude and a deeper understanding of the importance of helping others” – Harrow pupil




This year saw the launch of Shaftesbury Enterprise Judo, an initiative aiming to give local primary-school pupils the opportunity to try the martial art.

Each week a different group of Year 5 pupils from Norbury School came to the Hill and received an introduction to the sport.  After going through a typically agility-based warm-up, they first taught the group how to fall safely. "Breakfalls" are an under-appreciated life skill, useful in many sports and certainly necessary to avoid injury when practising judo. The lesson moved on to the pinning technique kesa-gatame (scarf hold), giving them the chance to test their holds on each other under judo rules, which they found to be great fun. They were also given the opportunity to throw and pin some of the senior Harrow boys. The pupils left with a basic understanding of the sport and some of its key principles – and with the knowledge of a few Japanese words too!

The feedback from the Norbury School teachers was extremely positive and the pupils seemed thoroughly to enjoy the sessions.


Year 6 children from Vaughan and Roxeth Primary School came to Harrow School once a week to learn and enjoy the game of Eton fives. A group of around ten Harrow boys devoted their time and effort into bonding with and teaching the children about the sport.

Every week, a new group of children visited at Harrow. They were always curious about the odd-looking concrete courts and were amazed that you can hit a ball with your hands. The children were split into groups of six and were taught by two Harrow boys on each court. Harrovians began the session by showing the children the basic hitting motion in a game of fives, using a tennis ball. The fives ball has a hard, cork-like texture and, out in the cold, it would certainly put them off the game immediately!

Once the children had mastered the act of hitting a ball with their hands, a task that requires a good level of hand-eye co-ordination, they joined in a rally with Harrovians. Some children were able to do this immediately, but for others it was more difficult. Nonetheless, after several attempts, the children were able to take part in quite a good rally with their Harrovian opponent. Towards the end of the session, the Harrow boys leading each group were able to decide which activities their group of children should participate in, but the children often asked to play a game of their own choice, for example a mini three v three match or a game of catch.

Once the activities were over, the Harrow boys finished the session with a demonstration game of fives for the children. It was gratifying to witness the children’s shock and disbelief at the speed at which the game is played and the sharp reaction time of the players.


School of Hard Knocks (SOHK) is a unique long-term intervention programme that uses weekly rugby coaching, classroom sessions and mentoring to improve attendance and behaviour at school, with the ultimate aim of helping at-risk children avoid permanent exclusion and complete mainstream education in schools. In the sixth year of our partnership with SOHK, Harrow hosted the biggest SOHK festival yet with over 16 teams and 200 boys across Years 9, 10 and 11 from SOHK partnership schools. Three Harrow teams also took part with members of The XV refereeing as well as helping to run, coach and offer encouragement to all the boys. It was a tremendous success and showed how the spirit of rugby can unite boys from all different backgrounds.


‘Knowing what to say is sense, when to say it is intelligence, how to say it is wisdom, why and how to say it is enlightenment’. A group of Harrovians taught thinking, speaking and debating skills to local school children.

With these sessions, the children came to understand with greater clarity that speaking ability, reasoning and debating are skills used every day, in a group or even alone. They then had the chance to use their own critical thinking skills and were encouraged to debate on topics such as the banning of fast food, which brought to the fore ideas of personal freedom and protections and allowed them to practice picking apart the other team’s arguments.

Children learnt how to extend their arguments through competitive games of Just a Minute. Harrovians also taught their tutees the nuances of debating. They covered the analytical side of thinking, along with the invaluable debating skills of refuting, rebuking and rebutting. The Harrovians demonstrated just how crucial critical thinking is, and how to express those thoughts in a meaningful and persuasive fashion.


The Shaftesbury Enterprise chemistry initiative saw Harrovians honing their communication and educational skills by inspiring young minds through fun, practical chemistry experiments. This proved to be an enriching experience for the young students and Harrovians alike. According to the Harrovians, assuming the role of a teacher and interacting with different children was the highlight of the initiative. "I enjoyed surprising the students with spectacles such as the flame tests. It was amazing to see how fascinated they were by it," said Harrovian M. Teaching them how to use a Bunsen burner was also a delight, as D explained. Moreover, reliving childhood experiences while passing down knowledge was a unique and gratifying experience for the Harrovians. P added that “The questions they asked also made you think more.” Teaching children, as described by N, was “a fulfilling experience”, while J expressed joy in teaching a fascinating subject. Y added that "even I learnt something about chemistry after this Shaftesbury experience."

The practical aspect of teaching was a highlight for some of the boys. "Teaching children how to use a Bunsen burner" was a particular delight for D, while others appreciated the opportunity to teach some basic chemistry through good practicals. The initiative was also a means for the boys to make a positive impact on others: P felt that "teaching people who don't have the facilities to learn more about science" was a rewarding experience, while Y described the simple factor of "helping others" as a great experience.

Ultimately, the boys found the chemistry project to be both enjoyable and rewarding. "It was fun doing the experiments, and it felt very rewarding teaching the kids," said J, while N expressed how he "enjoyed the reaction of the children when they saw fire," from the Bunsen burner.

The chemistry programme received high praise from the participating students. They found it to be “gratifying”, “interesting”, “enjoyable”, “fun”, “rewarding”, “engaging”, “insightful” and “inspiring”. We received outstanding feedback from the boys: of 26 people, 100% voted that they were more than satisfied with the project, and 100% voted that they would recommend it to a peer; nobody had any negative criticism about the endeavour. It was truly a success.


Physicists in the Lower Sixth had the opportunity to participate in a problem-solving programme for Shaftesbury Enterprise. Working with other Sixth Formers from local schools, the Harrow team endeavoured to tackle challenging problems on a variety of topics from the A-level course and beyond. Using the IsaacPhysics programme and interesting problem sets, the pupils were able to get stuck into tricky questions that tested them to the limits of their physics and maths abilities.

“I really enjoyed pushing myself during the sessions and engaging in stimulating discussions with the other students, as we worked collaboratively in the Harkness room. I greatly appreciate having had this opportunity to improve and pursue my passion for physics in a less traditional fashion, outside the classroom! "


Professor Rama was asked how old he was. He replied, "If you divide my age by 2, 3, 4 or 6, there is always 1 left over, but if you divide it by 7, there is no remainder." How old is Professor Rama? With this question, Siew-Chiang Lim, Head of Maths at Harrow, kickstarted the newly established Online Problem Solving programme. This Shaftesbury Enterprise initiative is spearheaded by Mr Lim in collaboration with Dr Simon Singh (the renowned author) and Dr Junaid Mubeen (Countdown champion) from Parallel Circles.

In the programme, 52 Year 7 and 8 tutees from across the country joined a group of 16 Lower Sixth mathematicians to explore mathematical puzzles. The topics in each session ranged from number theory to geometry to coin puzzles. There were five 45-minute sessions in total, held on Wednesday evenings.

The programme was a huge success. It prioritised discussions, proofs and exploration, and as one of the Lower Sixth participants described, the tutees were genuinely excited when they discovered a new bit of maths for themselves. By making these sessions investigative rather than instructive, tutees engaged with proofs, alternatives and generalisations, often stumbling across new ideas. This allowed a better appreciation of the beauty and ingenuity of maths, which is often drowned out by the repetitive number-crunching of classroom exercises. Maths doesn't have to be boring, and the sessions elucidated this very well and inspired many bright minds along the way.

“I learnt a lot from the tutor’s perspective too. As Dr Simon Singh remarked, being a tutor is doubly hard because you need to possess not only an impeccable understanding but also amazing explanatory skills. Participating in the programme has helped me in both aspects. I also enjoyed meeting the tutees. Even though we communicated over Zoom, they were constantly engaged and enthusiastic (certainly more than I was during online lessons). Their positive energy made these sessions much smoother than I had anticipated.” – a Harrovian

Everyone who took part took something away, and we hope this programme will become an annual event.


The Shaftesbury Enterprise Philosophy programme had an amazing start. Year 5 students were enthralled with their introduction to the subject. The delivery, timings and lesson plans were refined over the course of the term, and, overall, everyone participating in the programme came away with improved critical-thinking skills, having been exposed to a range of philosophical tenets.


This was a successful partnership programme between Harrow School and Grange Primary School. It was run by Elle Lycett, one of the Harrow School Art teachers, and Ms Gillespie, with Harrow boys playing a role in helping and providing opportunities for younger children to explore their artistic ideas and skills. The project aimed to establish and develop creative opportunities for children in the local area and promote greater engagement with the arts.

Throughout the year, children from Grange Primary School worked with Harrow boys to create a range of artworks, including Christmas-card decorations, handbags, mud sculptures, bracelets, necklaces and birthday cards, along with other sculpting and painting activities. Through this series of activities and assignments, children were able to express their creativity and develop their artistic skills.  



Boys in the Lower Sixth were able to volunteer at London’s Community Kitchen (LCK). Each week, three teams visited the LCK to assist in whatever capacity was needed to support LCK in their mission to serve the community, in particular to provide free food for vulnerable communities in London.

LCK’s principal ethos is ‘zero waste and zero hunger’. The LCK system creates a sustainable model that reduces the amount of food that would otherwise go to waste and serves it to over 10,000 Londoners who are battling with food insecurity. The mission that drives LCK is its belief that free or affordable food should be available to vulnerable communities across the world.

Three teams of Harrovians each volunteered at the centre on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, the volunteers helped make food bags to be distributed as a part of the LCK’s Help Harrow programme. This programme delivers groceries to schools, care homes and other people in need. Along with the bags are pamphlets with recipes for different dishes that can be made from the ingredients. Help Harrow serves to create a borough-wide, co-ordinated approach to help residents who are unable to access support, advice or food supplies.

Boys were also responsible for restocking the fresh and ambient produce for the food bags. The supplies for these bags come many different sources, including HelloFresh bags. At the centre, boys separated the contents of the donated bags into different tubs. The produce and ingredients are then used to make up the food bags that are distributed as a part of the Help Harrow and supply the LCK Free Surplus Food Market.

Perhaps the most exciting day of volunteering is Friday when the centre opens its Free Surplus Food Market. After restocking and packing different food items throughout the week, the centre opens its doors for people to collect fresh vegetables, basic packaged provisions, ready meals, breads, meats and any other food that has been donated to the kitchen. The high volume of people who visit the market highlights the need for and effectiveness of the community kitchen, underlining the importance of such a set up.

LCK acts as a sustainable model that supports people, as well as the environment. It was incredibly fulfilling for the Harrovians to be able to make meaningful, positive change.


Five boys from The Park volunteered at FirmFoundation, a shelter that aims to provide food, hygiene facilities and social care for the homeless in Harrow. Two sets of boys travelled down to the shelter on Mondays and Fridays for their scheduled appointments between 2pm and 3pm. However, by the end of the programme, many boys were staying for as long as they could before their afternoon lessons, and they found the experience as enjoyable as it was rewarding.

The boys could either help in the kitchen with preparing food or, on the other side of the counter, with serving it. By the end of the programme, the boys who really enjoyed cooking ended up organising the food and deciding what to cook, which also allowed them to bond with the other volunteers at the shelter. Boys also conversed with the homeless on everything from controversial topics in the news to their families and childhoods; looking around at the smiles and laughter from both sides of the table was a very rewarding highlight for everyone.

The boys were particularly taken aback when a boy and girl of their own age walked into the shelter. This created a greater sense of awareness among Harrovians, particularly that homelessness was on their doorsteps often without them being aware of it.

“Looking back on the experience, it is clear to me how much of an effect the programme has had on us. The experience helped ground us by offering a humbling perspective on the fragility of our circumstances and of the importance of compassion.” – a Harrovian


The School launched a joint response to the increasing need to support local families on whom the cost-of-living crisis and food insecurity are having a significant impact.

Together with Young Harrow Foundation, Help Harrow, Harrow Council and DVS Foundation, Harrow School donated £30,000 towards a much-needed package of support over the winter period. A fund of £45,000 was set up by the partnership to help families identified by schools in the borough as particularly struggling. The fund was distributed in the form of vouchers worth £250 for up to three families per school. The vouchers were redeemed in many supermarkets and essential retailers and were designed to ease the cost of living.

In addition, we launched a pilot programme with four local schools, Norbury Primary School, Roxeth Primary School, Grange Primary School and Harrow High School, each of which was provided with seed funding of £5,000 to set up an emergency fund to mitigate the acute impact of the cost-of-living crisis on the most vulnerable families in their school community.


The Summer term saw the conclusion of our second year of music partnership work with local primary schools. Our music teachers worked with over 130 children between the ages of 7 and 11 in four primary schools: St Jérôme Church of England Bilingual School, St Anselm’s Catholic Primary School, Norbury School and Newton Farm Junior School. The continuing aim of the initiative is to provide open-access high-level choral sessions with primary school children and, through them, open-up musical and non-musical opportunities.

In the Winter term, the Shaftesbury Enterprise choirs from Newton Farm and Norbury School put on their own St Mary’s Lunchtime Concert in which they sang repertoire from the Anglican choral and English folk traditions, including music by George Frideric Handel and contemporary composer Will Todd. A week later, the choirs of St Anselm’s and St Jérôme’s sang with the Harrow School Chapel Choir for the first Town Carols concert since 2019. St Anselm’s and St Jérôme’s also sang two pieces on their own: former Harrow School Director of Music Sir Percy Buck’s Christmas Dawn and Charles Wood’s Mater Ora Filium. It was wonderful to welcome so many parents and members of the local community to both these events, sharing our joint commitment and enjoyment at the culmination of youthful exuberance and artistic skill through song.

The Spring term consisted of our usual weekly choral sessions ahead of a very busy Summer term. These choir sessions took place before or after school so as not to impact on academic time in any way. One of the most important aspects of our work is to safeguard against negative psychological markers put in place by activities, such as a weekly choir practice, that make a child’s life more complicated or difficult. For many of the children who were involved in this initiative, the weekly choir sessions were a positive outlet for skilled – and enthusiastic – emotional relief. We were pleased to receive feedback detailing specific examples in which the stability provided by these sessions positively affected a child’s mental health. One such example of this feedback from a school music teacher was:

“This child had been completely withdrawn, except for having violin lessons, and frequently isolated herself in the playground as she had ongoing social and friendship issues, and never smiled at school. However, I did know she liked singing and, with the support of her mother, she agreed to participate in the project. After about four months, this child began to smile occasionally and made some positive friendships, no longer being withdrawn. After participating in the opera at the Harrow School Speech Room, her self-esteem rocketed, and she even made good progress in her end-of-year tests. (We know how self-esteem can have an impact on confidence throughout the curriculum and music does this in bucketfuls!)

In Year 6, this girl again signed up for the project. I subsequently had a conversation with [her] mother where she told me quite categorically that the key to [her daughter’s] future success in high school will be through music, and finding the right musical high school will be paramount. She also told me that this was due to her participation in the singing/choir project. The mother herself was suffering from depression last year and I was pleasantly surprised to see how much she supported her child. After the opera, she thanked me so very much for giving her daughter this amazing opportunity…”.

In one of the schools, our music teachers trained one of the form teachers in conducting and rehearsing choirs. This means that the school now has both a music teacher – who accompanies on the piano – and another teacher to guide the children simultaneously; they have already put on public performances in this way, which have gone very well. This is one of the ways in which Shaftesbury Enterprise is aiming to create sustainable interventions that allow schools to empower their own staff to make the most of their own abilities.

The busy Summer term comprised performances in each of the primary schools, either in concerts or assemblies. Two of our primary partner schools piloted a new music workshop managed by Endelienta Baroque – a leading baroque music ensemble led by Old Harrovian Seb Gillot – which involved the children learning about baroque instruments and composing songs with an awareness of their environments. Each school took a trip to either Oxford or Cambridge at the end of the Summer term. The Oxford trip was hosted by Christ Church Cathedral School and involved the choirs coming together to sing in the cathedral with the world-renowned cathedral choristers. The Cambridge trip was a repeat trip to Robinson College, Cambridge – trialled the previous year – in which the children were given a talk on music by Dr Jeremy Thurlow, Praelector, Fellow and Director of Music at the college, before being given information and an introduction to university life. These are very exciting trips that provide both inspiration and direction for future possibilities for these primary school children.

In a significant collaboration with boys from Harrow School, the choir from St Anselm’s joined us in Harrow School Chapel for a full sung Catholic Latin Mass in which they performed music by William Byrd. 2023 marked the 400th anniversary of William Byrd’s death and so it was fitting that we introduced so much of his repertoire to these children. It was also an extremely rare and wonderful sight to see so many primary school children singing challenging Renaissance polyphony with so much enthusiasm and commitment.


Since September 2022, ESOL (supporting English for speakers of other languages) students on the Young Foundation courses at Harrow College have benefited from weekly sports sessions at Harrow School. These sessions, delivered by a professional coach, using the Harrow’s outdoor, and sometimes indoor, sports facilities, ran between 10am and 12 noon on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday mornings.

To allow access to the facilities to be enjoyed fairly, the nine ESOL groups were rotated over a period of three weeks, giving each group access to one sports session every three weeks.   In total, 212 students have benefited from the sessions since September 2022.

The Young Foundation courses are part of the full-time ESOL course for students aged 16–18 from Pre-Entry (Beginners) to Entry 2 (Elementary). The portfolio also includes full-time courses at Entry 3 (Intermediate) with an intake of approximately 120 students in the 16–23 age range (although most students are within the 16–18 range). In addition to these students, Harrow College also has just over 700 part-time adult students who are enrolled in day and evening courses ranging from Pre-Entry (Beginners) to Level 2 (Advanced). There are 74 different languages spoken at Harrow, illustrating the wide diversity of the students’ ESOL background.

There is a strong track record of ESOL students moving on to mainstream vocational courses throughout Harrow (science, computing, business, media, construction, art, health and social care etc.) at all levels (vocational and academic courses). Many ESOL students have successfully gone on to higher education in subjects as diverse as maths, biochemistry, business management, computing, nursing and dentistry.

Many ESOL students have set up their own businesses and secured work after participating in further education, building on both their overseas and UK skills, knowledge, qualifications and work experience. Recent examples of small businesses include plumbing company, retail outlets, freelance photography, import-export businesses, graphic design, catering companies, hair and beauty services, special event catering and nurseries. Recent examples of jobs include administrator, sign language interpreter, nursery assistant, HE researcher, lifeguard, journalist, teacher, learning support assistant, beautician, barber, customer sales assistant, car mechanic, market researcher and exam officer.

Needs of students

When ESOL students join Harrow College on a full-time course, they are almost always newly arrived in the UK or have relocated within the UK. Most students on the full-time Young Foundation courses are looked-after children, with particularly high numbers on the Pre-Entry (75%), Entry 1 (74%) and Entry 2 (50%).

In addition to language needs, ESOL students also need help with literacy as they often have had large gaps in their previous education (or no education at all).  Many students have mental health needs and require therapeutic and medical intervention as a consequence of displacement, conflict and war. The transition into full-time education often represents a challenge and takes a lot of consolidation and repetition (plus support) for students to adjust effectively to a teaching environment. Harrow College works with external agencies and charities as well as college services to enable that transition to take place.

The impact of the sport sessions

At the core of the Young Foundation vision for ESOL students is to support them in developing a wide range of skills and understanding that will help them live successfully in the UK, participate in society, and move on into higher study and work. They believe that students develop their language skills more effectively by studying a content-based subject or what is referred to as ‘content and language integrated learning’ or CLIL. All courses, therefore, include other subjects such as geography, science, art, work-related simulations, maths and digital skills.

Access to the coached sport sessions at Harrow School has enriched that provision even further by enabling ESOL students to develop their language skills and their cultural understanding and awareness of their new life in the UK while learning about sports. The sessions also played a key role in promoting the mental wellbeing of ESOL students.

Young Foundation conducted its own focus-group surveys with students but also got feedback from teachers and Warren Abrahams, the coach at Harrow School, to ascertain the impact of the programme on ESOL students. The points below are a summary of the evaluation:

Most students agreed that the sport activities had improved their mental health and wellbeing. Comments included ‘I have more energy, I sleep better, I feel happier, I learn better in class after sport, I have learnt about sport, I know how to play better, I am more confident to join a club, I understand how to make friends through sport’.*

Students were very happy with the facilities and the coach. (For many students, this was the first time they had used an all-weather pitch.)

Students felt they had learnt a lot about places and people in the UK. (For example they had learnt about independent schools, about how an independent school like Harrow would share their facilities with ESOL students so that they could also develop their sport skills, and the importance of ‘community, common good, responsibility and engagement’.)

Students were very happy with the coach and believe that he brings the best out of them, as well as the activities being fun and engaging.

Teachers noticed a range of improvements:

  • Better engagement in class.
  • More effective teamwork. 
  • Improved speaking skills on sport-related lexis, instructions, questions and answers, describing events, expressing opinions etc.
  • Stronger understanding of cultures and expectations in the UK (students able to see the bigger picture of British society: sports and rules, access to private grounds as a guest and rules, politeness and expectations in other settings, open space v private spaces etc.).
  • Increased motivation (asking the coach questions after training to improve own performance).
  • The approach of Warren Abrahams (the coach) played a key role in improving students’ self-perception as well as their ability to engage with others and meet cultural expectations in the UK. For example, in each first session, Warren introduced himself to each student personally, giving his name and asking the student’s name, and then welcomed each student to the session. He made eye contact and shook hands (with the male students). His personal and firm approach achieved wonders. Students stayed behind after the session and participated in the debriefing.  

Feedback from the coach:

  • Students showing respect.
  • Student engagement, with students trying a variety of sports.
  • Female students taking part in all the sessions (many female students had never participated in sport before).
  • Some students are naturally very talented.
  • Some students were making a conscious effort to clean up after the session.
  • Students learning to ‘make up’ after a disagreement. (‘Two of the boys who had a disagreement in week 1, shook hands and hugged it out.)

(*Accuracy of comments has been corrected.)