The Stamford Schools, a day and boarding school which educates children aged 2-18, is delighted to have been announced as Independent School of the Year for Community Outreach 2021.
The Stamford Schools have been at the beating heart of our namesake town for the past 490 years and counting. Woven into the tapestry of the area, our 50 plus buildings, old and new, and over 60 acres of sports fields, grounds and gardens are dotted on sites across the town. Bringing in over 1500 students and their families, and around 500 members of staff, the schools’ presence in the town can’t be missed.
We see the entire town as part of our wider Stamford Schools community, and for residents, shoppers or business owners, we aim for our presence to be positively felt. Community outreach is a key focus for us and the schools have set up and support a number of initiatives aimed at maintaining the vibrancy of our eclectic high street and engaging with our wider community.
The Stamford Card is our flagship community outreach project and has attracted considerable attention locally and nationally as an innovative and compelling initiative which allows the schools to engage with their friends and neighbours on so many levels.
The card truly epitomises the symbiotic relationship between the schools and the town. The objective of the card, which is available to all residents and visitors, is to support local independent traders whilst also providing funding for an education at the schools for local children.
“The schools’ presence in the town can’t be missed.”
Cardholders benefit from perks and discounts with local businesses, whilst the funds raised provide “transformational fee-assistance” to those local children who require means-tested funding of at least 80 per cent of the fees, and who would otherwise be unable to benefit from an education at Stamford.
Despite the economic effects of the Covid-19 pandemic over the past two years, support for the card continues to grow. The initiative has over 145 businesses signed up as “card partners”, and over 220 cardholders enjoy the benefits of the card; discounts stretch from their morning coffee, dry cleaning, haircuts and weekly shopping to 10 per cent off when buying their new car.
The schools have a close link with the #ShopStamford Community Interest Company (CIC), which was formed to drive Stamford’s visitor economy and promote the town’s independent retailers and traders. The CIC works collaboratively to provide a range of promotional activities, including events, training, merchandise and other services to help benefit the businesses of Stamford, large or small.
Sarah Sewell, the founder of #ShopStamford, explains: “I founded ShopStamford in November 2018 and we became a Community Interest Company about six months after the schools became involved with the initiative. Since then, they have worked tirelessly with me to promote the campaign in support of our local economy.
“Stamford Card supports local traders and funds places at the schools for local children.”
The Stamford Card invited local traders to offer added value to our customers to encourage them to shop with us. There is no requirement for all ShopStamford participants to be involved with the Card, it’s simply a further endorsement from the schools as to how they value our town and their place within it.
The fact that all proceeds from the Card help local children to attend the schools shows their commitment to Stamford, and recognises the positive impact they are able to have.”
Support throughout the Pandemic
Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, the Stamford Schools have remained committed to supporting local businesses.
Local companies, including those not involved in the #ShopStamford and Stamford Card initiatives, have been promoted through several online marketing campaigns. A paid digital campaign was seen just short of 50,000 times, with nearly 2,000 clicks through to a webpage hosted by the schools which listed local businesses.
Support has been provided to businesses to film promotional videos which were shared to the Schools’ Facebook audience of nearly 5,000 individuals using the hashtags #ShopLocal #ShopStamford.
The schools have been happy to commit staff resources at no cost to our local businesses partners. The schools filmed an online advertising video for Stamford Card partners in the run up to Christmas 2021, which was viewed over 2,300 times in the final weeks of December.
The Business Directory
The Stamford Schools’ Business Directory is an innovative searchable online business platform connecting businesses and customers together within the schools’ community.
Community business owners – whether they are current or former pupils, parents of alumni or current students, or even those in the process of joining the schools – are welcomed to list their business. It’s free of charge to browse online, and promoted to the schools’ community, encouraging what’s known as “Stamfordian Spirit” amongst the community.
The Directory, much like the Stamford Card, is fully maintained by staff members in the development department of the schools, with no administration fees passed on to listed businesses, or viewers of the directory.
Over 150 businesses are currently listed within the directory, with around half owned by current parents, and a quarter by former pupils.
Our lecture programme is another initiative which allows us to enhance and add value to our relationship with the residents of Stamford – and beyond.
Education isn’t just for the children. Adults from across the global Stamford community are welcomed to a series of in-person and online lectures on a variety of topics, endorsing our belief in lifelong learning. The lectures are completely free of charge and are delivered by invited speakers who are experts in their particular fields. From award-winning BBC presenter and author, Dr Kevin Fong, discussing “13 Minutes to the Moon” to the “Lessons from a Warder and his Prisoner” lecture, presented live from South Africa by Christo Brand, former Prison Warder to Nelson Mandela, there is certainly something for everyone.
“Adults from across the global Stamford community are welcomed to a series of in-person and online lectures.”
Local schools regularly use Stamford’s sports facilities. Over 250 local school children from seven primary schools are welcomed to our swimming pool throughout the academic year. And the pools have also recently become the main training facility for a large local swimming club, whose own facilities had to be closed for safety reasons.
Broader outreach programme
The Stamford Schools’ broad-based outreach programme also includes:
Language Lessons: For 10 years we have been running a six week series of Saturday morning French and Spanish classes for local primary aged pupils. Our German Outreach Programme has been running for seven years and provides an introduction to German language and culture to local children of the same age, at both state and independent schools.
Drama and Theatre: Over 80 local primary school pupils are welcomed to view our GCSE ‘Theatre-in-education’ productions, which are prepared by our Year 11 pupils about social issues including friendship and teamwork.
Sports Activities: A series of sports camps run during the school holidays; these are open to pupils from any school to train, practice their skills and make use of the schools’ facilities. Most recently these have included netball and basketball camps for children from Years 5 to 11.
Competitions and Quizzes: The Stamford Schools hold a number of activities, including quizzes and competitions, inviting local school pupils to get involved and make use of the Schools’ facilities. These include:
- The South Lincolnshire round of the annual “Worldwise” Geography Quiz, which this year involved six local schools competing against each other on a range of geographical rounds.
- The “Little Genuis” quiz: this involves up to 20 teams of Year 5 pupils from local schools competing in a series of rounds spanning a range of academic topics.
- The local and district rounds of the “Rotary Young Chef” competition which are held in the cookery rooms at Stamford, with 13 students travelling from as far away as Sleaford, Northampton, Leicester, Lincoln, Boston and Bedford for the competition this year.
The schools’ community regularly donates to local causes; with annual collections for the town’s foodbank, home help service by the Evergreen Care Trust and local mental health service, Stamford Mindspace. The schools’ charitable efforts are led by a staff committee, and assisted by a group of student Charity Prefects, who volunteer their time to fundraise and support the local community.
The schools feel privileged to be such an integral part of the town, and will continue to support the local community wherever and whenever it is possible to do so. Current initiatives will continue and new ideas are always encouraged and explored. For further information on any of the projects mentioned, visit Stamfordschools.org.uk.
This article first appeared in the new summer print edition of Independent School Management Plus, out now.