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How our co-curricular programme has adapted during Covid

Deputy Head Co-Curricular Andrew Murfin reflects on the School’s co-curriculum offering this term and showcases how pupils have continued to flourish despite Covid-19 restrictions… 

Since joining Bryanston at the start of the Autumn term, I’ve been impressed by the quality and commitment to co-curricular activities. Nonetheless, I’m frequently offered a consolatory shrug and an apology that I haven’t been able to see our programme in full swing. Worry not, while it’s not been the ‘full-caffeine’ version, our ‘co-curricular-lite’ has packed a punch! The Bryanston Guiding Principles have been pervasive and continue to run through all that we do. In these unprecedented times, never more have resilience, breadth of ambition, family & humanity, individuality and, of course, creativity been so important.

Staff and pupils have responded in kind to find new ways of doing things, adapting to change and keeping the school community alive with activity. Our 400-acre campus has come into its own; ever-resplendent, it has been both our sanctuary and our playground. Not satisfied with idling along in neutral, staff and pupils have looked at ways of doing things better – many of which will stick. The control measures and considerations to allow activities to continue could have been seen as setbacks, yet Bryanstonians have bounced back to go again.

The performing arts, nationally, have arguably been most impacted by Covid-19 so to be able to enjoy live performances has been a real treat – all live streamed or recorded to share, via our BryLiveSounds YouTube channel, with our wider OB and parent network. As Deputy Head Co-Curricular, it’s been an honour and a pleasure to have been able to attend in person and, as such, I have enjoyed the fortnightly showcase concerts and London@Bry in the Concert Hall. The corridors of the Music Department have been reverberating with the sounds of our musicians who continue to strive for excellence – some winning places at top conservatoires and music colleges; the reward for their endeavour. In drama, our GCSE and A level pieces have taken centre stage, with our ‘fringe-style’ pop-up festival and inter-house performing arts films to come.

Our Extra-Curricular Activities (ECAs) programme saw a record offering as part of our Guided Learning Programme during the first lockdown, highlighting the range of talents we possess in our common room. This trend has continued with our D and C year groups utilising their house bubbles to experience more activities than ever before – from calligraphy, cooking, comedy and cricket to Scalextric, sculpture, skateboarding and shadow puppets.

Sport at Bryanston has also continued to develop both at performance and participation levels. House spirit (and colours) were on show at our whole-school Fun Run, and various inter-house and intra-sport competitions have provided a much-needed competitive outlet. Our Bry-PL (indoor cricket), the Bry-neken Cup (rugby) and plans for a Bry-athlon (multi-sport adventure race) have captured the imagination. Our top sportspersons have continued with their performance centres at Bath RFC, attended regional hockey and netball hubs, and our equestrian success continues unabated. As has our scholars’ tailored support packages in our highly acclaimed Performance Sport Programme (PSP).

More time on site has allowed a greater focus on Pioneering, with attention drawn to our early pioneers that built the Greek Theatre – another facility that came into its own this term with presentations, productions and its transformation into an outdoor cinema. Today’s cohort – custodians of the pioneering spirit – now have exciting ideas and projects to become their focal point. Our Charity Walk provided us the opportunity to enjoy the beauty of the surrounding countryside and camaraderie, while looking externally to raise funds for three local charities, Julia’s House, Mosaic and Teddy20.

Our Adventure Training programme has continued on site, enabled by our access to the river, climbing tower, bouldering wall and all the woodland the grounds afford us. Adventure Training has also provided the vehicle for us to capitalise on our positioning near the Jurassic Coast to run induction weekend activities for our Ds and A3s with kayaking, sea-cliff climbing and walking the coastal paths, providing enduring memories as well as helping to form lasting friendships.

With so much going on, there’s been much to celebrate. The newly introduced Luceat has been a well-received addition. The term Luceat comes from the Latin for 'to shine', meaning ‘let him/her shine’ and, with the Bryanston crest showcasing a rising sun, the term has been a fitting name for this new award. The award recognises those pupils who have shone through their actions, be it reflecting the School’s values, going outside of their comfort zone or, simply doing a selfless act. It has been a privilege to host the weekly Luceat presentations in Menars House for these pupils – every one of them showcasing the best of Bryanston. Citations have been from across all spheres of school life, including: showing leadership, showing compassion and helping others, outstanding academic projects, house-based initiatives, running a mock general election…the list goes on. Bryanstonians often keep their light under a bushel, even shunning awards, but pupils have been in attendance to humbly receive their prize and it’s been a pleasure to meet them, and to enjoy the fine refreshments our catering team continue to produce.

The site is abuzz with pupils still pursuing their passions, developing new interests, pushing their personal boundaries and having fun! Rest assured the Bryanston spirit, and the Co-Curriculum is alive and well here in Dorset.