Page 14 - Independent Schools Magazine
P. 14

From independent school via social action to teaching
Quaker clock back home
A traditional Quaker clock manufactured in Sibford Ferris back in the 1870s has been donated
to Sibford School, Oxfordshire, in memory of a former scholar.
Mike Finch died on 10 June 2016. Having been a pupil at the school from 1949 to 1954, Mike returned to Sibford in adult life to take on the role of Estates Manager and, more recently, was the school’s archivist. He was also an active member of SOSA (the Sibford Old Scholar’s Association) ful lling many roles over the years including President, Reunion Secretary, General Secretary and School Committee member.
Now, a year after his death and to coincide with the school’s 175th anniversary, Old Scholars have purchased the clock in Mike’s name.
SOSA President Ashley Shirlin said: “Mike dearly loved Sibford, the School and SOSA. Prior to his death, he and I discussed the purchase of the clock for the School’s 175th Anniversary and so SOSA felt that
it was  tting that the clock be donated to the School in his name. As an association, we are the poorer without his help and guidance.”
The brass faced 30-hour longcase clock, was made by John Wells and can be de ned by an unusual hammer action not found in other mechanisms of the time.
Oxford University graduate and independent school alumnus Duncan Hegan, 23, had started
a law conversion course when he realised that corporate law wasn’t the route he wanted to take.
“I realised I wanted to be a teacher,” explains Duncan, “so I applied to Teach First. They were oversubscribed for that year but someone there recommended City Year UK – a youth social action charity which offers full- time volunteering opportunities in schools in disadvantaged communities – and after reading testimonials I decided to apply.
“My friends and family were surprised that I applied. To my friends in Northern Ireland, I was the posh, elitist one as I was the only one who went to a private school. My parents initially thought full-time volunteering would be a waste of time.
“I hate the idea of ‘voluntourism’ – going abroad to volunteer as part of a gap year – when there are so many issues in the UK to tackle.
I think many young people who go abroad on their gap year to volunteer see it as a holiday, but charity is one of those things that begins at home. A few months ago I was explaining City Year to someone at a careers fair and they
asked “where in Africa do you do City Year?” You don’t need to go abroad to  nd inequality when it’s growing in the UK.
“Whilst I’d read about educational inequality and low social mobility, until I arrived at my school in Bermondsey, south London
and saw it for myself, I hadn’t appreciated how much it affects children.
“It was hard work and emotionally draining, and unlike anything I’d experienced. I was part of a team of young full-time volunteers who were in the school from Monday to Thursday, from breakfast club to homework club, serving as mentors, role models and tutors to the pupils.
“Seeing the effect we had on children’s lives was so motivating and spurred us on. The experience also made me grow up in ways
I couldn’t have learned through academic courses or going abroad for a year. I’m better organised, a team player who is more in control of my emotions and so much more professional. All of the volunteers have to do public speaking as part of leadership training, and I was able to co-host City Year UK’s annual gala dinner, which was a fantastic opportunity.
“I really believe that every young person should do some type
of service year and take on the challenge of volunteering full-time to help others. The UK is so divided – I had no idea until my  rst
day just how much so – and the experience is a great way to bridge communities and bring people from different backgrounds together.
“I’m now just starting with Teach First, with plans to become a history teacher. My dream is to teach at a state school and improve children’s aspirations there.”
Patrick Derham, Head Master of Westminster School, agrees that more volunteering opportunities should be available to the young, saying: “Research consistently  nds that the next generation of young employees – Generation Z – are more likely than older generations to be interested in volunteering and want a career that gives back to society.
“Donating your time to service
– voluntarily serving those less fortunate than you or to help
a particular cause – not only strengthens community ties and tackles complex social issues, but develops character and a sense of responsibility, attributes that are vital in today’s society and in the workplace.”
Pictured: Sibford Head Toby Spence and Mike Finch’s wife Wendy Finch
There is no doubt that today’s university graduates face dif cult economic challenges, with many graduating with tens of thousands of pounds of debt. They also face uncertainty in the jobs market, with a recent survey by research company High Fliers  nding that con dence in the graduate job market has fallen for the  rst time in  ve years, with nearly 75 per cent believing there will be fewer jobs for graduates because of last year’s Brexit vote.
Generation Z, which includes today’s school leavers, are more likely to be charitable and
donate their time to volunteering. With employers routinely saying they struggle to  nd young recruits with key skills of resilience, communication and leadership, how can schools encourage students to  nd ways of developing these skills - whilst giving back to the community?
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