At the end of the summer term, an unprecedented number of students and staff from Seaford College in Petworth surged out into the local community to help a variety of environmental and social causes. More than 450 students and staff took part in Seaford’s fifth annual community action day, known as the Big Day Out, carrying out 38 activities, at over 34 different locations in West Sussex, East Sussex and Hampshire. Headmaster John Green, who created the initiative, said: “The main idea is to make a positive difference to the surrounding community. Due to the success of our annual action day, Wednesday afternoons are now blocked out in the timetable for weekly community events. Our students are extremely fortunate to study and live in such a beautiful part of the country – it is only right that they put something back.”
Students and staff assisted with a range of social and environmental projects including visiting the Aldingbourne Country Centre, a trust dedicated to helping those with learning disabilities reach their potential and enjoy life, to assist with a variety of different site maintenance tasks.
Year 12 pupils visited Oak Grove College in Worthing to help work in their Sensory Garden. Oak Grove is a community generic special college, providing special education for students with learning difficulties from Year 7 to Year 14.
After learning more about the school, and how the students there use the garden, the Year 12’s got stuck in with some garden projects. They started off clearing an area where a new hut was going to be built, which involved digging up the roots of some bushes, and removing foliage, and they moved on to working on other projects around the garden.
Year 12 student Alex Herghelegiu, said, “It’s amazing that you can give something back to the community, and to do something for these special children is really great, it gives you a rewarding feeling.” Fellow Year 12 student, Will Shirley, added that “it’s a nice day, and we’ve been given some really interesting tasks to do. We just want to help make the place look more appealing for staff and students; it’s so good that Seaford has sent us all here to do this.”
Volunteers from Seaford College and the Hyde Group also lent a helping hand to residents at the Whyke Estate in Chichester. They tackled jobs including cleaning windows, removing rubbish, and clearing gardens. Aquilla Matafwali, Year 10, said “It’s always good to have a day out, helping other people. We’ve been helping people clear out their gardens, pulling out weeds, getting things ready for the skips to come and collect.” One resident said: “I just wanted to say a big thank you to your
kids, helpful so happy. I have physical and mental problem but they all so friendly. You should be so proud of your students.”
Nell Jones, Seaford’s Gifted & Talented coordinator and Seaford students ran an activity for the whole school at Fittleworth C of E School. They created an Antony Gormley Fields installation at the school using clay figures. John Green visited and created his own figure for the installation. It was very special for the Seaford students that visited because it was their primary school that they returned to. They were all really pleased to help and give something back to their old school.
A team of Seaford students did a fantastic job at renovating the play park at Hampers Green in Petworth. Nick Pothecary, a houseparent at Seaford said: “You can really see the hard work they have put in with the before and after shots! The team has worked so hard today in over 30 degree heat. I’m proud of the effort they have put in.”
Students took residents from Shaw care for lunch at Petworth House and at Shaw Care in Bognor students had fun painting nails and doing an art session with residents. The Seaford team at St Barnabas House cleaned the most expensive pavement in West Sussex. Their project for the day was cleaning a memorial path.
Students and staff carried out important conservation work at Pulborough Brooks clearing Canadian Balsam. Elsewhere, students undertook the very important task of beach clearing and at the end of the day Will Yates, Seaford’s Deputy Head of Sixth Form, said: “The beaches are officially clean at Bracklesham Bay!” Two separate groups of Seaford pupils spent the day in Graffham. One cleaned the war memorial and park benches, while another cleared a blocked ditch, drain and culvert.
Community Coordinator Clive Thorpe, who organised the day, said: “It’s really important that our students realise just how lucky they are. It’s great for them to get out and see that people are not as fortunate as themselves and it is good for them to discover skills they didn’t know they had.
“Looking forward, Seaford College is always open to new partnerships. If anybody would like to be considered for next year’s event, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.”
We made a little interview capturing the spirit of the day, which you can watch below!