Volunteering is a powerful way to make a positive impact in our communities. An increasing number of organisations are recognising the value of giving back and are encouraging their employees to engage in volunteer work. As part of GL Education’s increased focus on sustainability and social impact, our employee volunteering scheme provides five paid days a year for staff to help causes close to their hearts. Norman Hayes, Partnerships and Content Manager, discusses below how he has been spending his volunteer days at his former primary school in the UK.
For my volunteering days, I knew just how rewarding it would be for me to able to ‘give back’ to my former primary school, Our Lady and St John's Catholic Primary School in Brentford, UK (some 27 years after I left!), and thank them for my formative years of education. I was delighted that they were happy to accommodate me for all five days this year.
Feeling like a nervous student all over again, I arrived at the school on my first day full of excitement and nostalgia. After a brief tour around the school I sat down with the Deputy Headteacher, Mary Sheehan, to discuss a plan for my volunteering and soon got to work with the Year 5 (Grade 4) class.
My role as a volunteer was mainly to assist the teachers with various tasks and support students who needed a bit more attention to help them focus on their activities. For Year 5’s maths class, this involved sitting with a student who needed support with the maths quiz. In the English class that followed, I sat with a couple of students who needed help getting up to speed on their creative writing.
I then spent the rest of the day with the Year 4 class, who had a busy afternoon learning about Vikings and Anglo-Saxons in History, researching Madagascar in Geography, then drawing storyboards about Holy Week in RE (where I had a go at using the interactive whiteboard – a far cry from the chalkboards we used back when I was a student!). It was great fun chatting with the children at their level – even when they kept trying to guess how old I was!
Getting hands-on with Year 5 (Grade 4)
For my second volunteer day I spent the whole day with the Year 5 (Grade 4) class, who remembered me from last time and were very excited when I walked into the classroom! The morning proved to be more challenging for me, as I had to brush up on my decimal points to help support the students in their maths lesson. I got a bit more hands-on in the afternoon, displaying the students’ work on the wall, taking students out of class to read with them, and handing out watercolours and artbooks during their Art lesson. I’m looking forward to getting stuck in again for my third volunteer day this summer.
Revisiting the school as an adult has opened my eyes all the more to how hard teachers have to work day in and day out – something I definitely took for granted as a student all those years ago. In my role at GL, I work with partner schools all over the country to share best assessment practice with our customers in various different ways. My conversations with teachers over the years have helped to build a picture of how hectic their schedules can be, but physically being in the classroom to witness this first-hand really brought this to life for me.
Making a positive impact in the community
I am very proud to work for a company that believes in fostering a culture of social responsibility and actively encourages its employees to get involved in volunteering activities. Engaging in volunteer work not only benefits the recipients of our assistance but also has a transformative effect on volunteers themselves. My work at Our Lady and St John's Catholic Primary School has reinforced my belief in the power of community engagement and its ability to drive positive change.
By providing staff members with five dedicated volunteering days each year, GL Education is demonstrating its commitment to effecting positive change for the wider community. As we recognise the value of giving back, let us be inspired to take action and contribute our time and skills to make a positive impact in our communities.