Every so often, a glossy brochure from another school comes through the post.
Usually, it has a picture of a big kid (secondary age) working with a little kid (primary age), both wearing branded school uniform in order to show that this is school-sponsored outreach work rather than individual volunteering.
The booklets vary in length, but are consistent in their level of detail – pulling together all the multifarious work that a school, which is also a community, does with its wider networks. They demonstrate how the very best schools can be anchor institutions, mobilising hundreds of staff and students to engage in the important business of enriching children’s lives, irrespective of which school they attend.
I have always been rather nervous about doing something similar at Eton – the range of work that we do is so vast and the number of people involved so eye-popping that it is an act of Goliath-like immensity – and I always felt it would be a distraction to do this, detracting from the maintenance of our key work: face-to-face with children.
Now, though, in a world where the charitable instincts and outputs of independent schools are being doubted publicly, it has never been more important for independent schools to tell their story: and we, Eton, are an outward-facing institution with a strong desire to do the right thing by the educational ecosystem that surrounds us.
As a result, Eton’s partnerships team is happy to present to you our first ever annual report for the academic year 2021/22, which was published earlier this month. It brings together a range of work spanning research, events, digital courses, hands-on museum learning, sport, summer schools and many other things, gloriously illustrated with a year’s worth of photos.
Brilliantly assembled by our Eton Connect co-ordinator, Eleanor Chownsmith, this report makes it really clear what a difference Eton makes to the educational world around us: and how contact with boys and staff really makes a difference to our charitable goals, especially in providing transformative educational opportunities for children who need our help.
Other things are true too: perhaps the very breadth and scale of what we do makes it tricky to communicate – and perhaps we need to think about how to clarify our messages and the calibration of our impact. This work will go on over the next year.
The best thing, though, about producing the report is to challenge us to do even better and even more next year. The big kid – and the little kid – can both look forward to that.
Highlights of 2021/22
- Eton Connect coordinated activities for over 5,400 state school students and teachers over the last academic year.
- Through our five closest school and charity partnerships, over 1,000 state school students engaged in regular activity, working alongside Eton’s staff and students both at the college and online.
- The local partnerships programme reached more than 800 local children from 60 local schools through a wide range of activities, from 1:1 university preparation support for sixth formers to a primary school class’s first experiment in a science lab, and more.
- The College Collections hosted 83 taught on-site museum sessions for 2,198 students from Reception to Year 11, with many making their first school trip and visit to a museum.
- Throughout the year, more than 300 local students used Eton’s sports facilities and coaching opportunities.
- Between July and August, Eton hosted 467 students from 80 state schools for free at three summer schools for UK students.
- Eton’s Centre of Innovation and Research in Learning worked with over 700 teachers and students through research, training, conferences and courses.
- In addition, thousands of users also accessed Eton’s free online resources: EtonX, the Digital Learning Hub and the Collections digital content.
- The positive impact of so much joint cross-sector activity also inspired many of Eton’s students. During the year, Eton’s students dedicated over 3,700 hours to volunteering and independent social action projects, and fundraised over £145,000 for multiple charities. Eton’s students also engaged in environmental action both at the College and across the wider community.
This article first appeared on the Eton College blog and is reproduced with kind permission from the school.