Encouraging students to develop new skills, contribute to their community, pursue personal interests and broaden their horizons.
The Highcliffe Challenge
We believe the Highcliffe Challenge programme is unique in our local area. The Challenge helps students concentrate closely on their intellectual and personal development by tracking and rewarding a range of their achievements within the classroom and beyond, and by providing challenges and tasks to be completed. Form Tutors oversee the programme, which is divided into 3 distinct phases completed by the end of Year 8, Year 10 and Year 12. Each phase helps students succeed in the present and prepares them for the intellectual, social and practical demands of the next stage of their education.
For example, we begin preparing students for the demands of A Level study early on by including independent research projects in the Highcliffe Challenge from Year 7 onwards, and by offering Commendation Points, recorded in the Challenge, for students who make effective use in lessons of their wider general knowledge or their home reading. We run specific courses teaching students how to study and revise effectively, and record their successful participation in these through the Challenge.
The Challenge also encourages students to undertake charitable activity supporting the school or other local, national or international good causes. For older students the Challenge includes opportunities to undertake expeditions around Britain and abroad, or provide mentoring support to younger students. Students formally graduate after completing each stage of the Challenge, in a ceremony attended by parents.
Borneo was a life changing challenge that made me realise my potential. The experience, although hard at times, was brilliant and made a real impact on how I now see things. The new culture, new foods, new traditions and the friendships I brought away from the trip are all things I will never forget.
– A Year 13 Highcliffe Student
The uniquely supportive community feel of Highcliffe School is partly explained by the role students willingly play as ‘good citizens’. In lessons students learn about the importance of making a positive contribution to the world around them. They are given opportunities to:
Support charities of their choice.
Our annual Christmas Shoebox Appeal for orphan children in Eastern Europe is very well supported and has become a local tradition. In 2015 some Year 9 students organised campaigns on environmental protection in school and locally, including ‘Turn it Off Tuesday’ and ‘Walk to School Wednesday’. Other Year 9s wrote to David Cameron and Barack Obama quizzing them on their lack of progress greening the UK and US economies!
We actively encourage our students to think about social, political and economic issues in the wider world and take action to tackle injustice, pollution, poverty and conflict.
In addition Year Councils, School Council and the Sixth Form Junior Leadership Team give students a genuinely influential voice shaping how Highcliffe School develops. For example the recent changes to the Highcliffe Challenge, the Rewards Policy and Behaviour Management Policy were all made over a 9 month period of consultation and debate with students from Year 7 to 13; their views significantly influenced the School’s decisions.
I think that my being on the School Council was a very valuable life experience - in terms of people skills, confidence and decision making. It certainly taught me a lot about the democratic process and politics. We, the students, were able to hold the Senior Leadership Team to account and were heavily involved with big decisions, such as the Behaviour and Rewards policies, which were new for 2015/16. This made us feel that we were being listened to and that we have a real voice in our School.
– A Year 11 Highcliffe Student
Highcliffe School has run four consecutive trips to developing countries to promote social and political awareness of global issues about poverty and environmental degradation, the first to India and the Himalayas, the second to Madagascar, the third to Cambodia and Vietnam and the fourth to Borneo in 2015. The expeditions, organised by the highly respected group ‘World Challenge’, are split into three phases and include Trekking, a Community project and Rest and Relaxation. The build-up process takes two years. Students have to fund raise or gain employment to fund the trip and also learn group skills to negotiate and plan the trip itinerary. They must also organise and fund their own inoculations, visas and specific kit items. They work together as a group to fund raise the cost of the transport to and from the airport and pay for Rest and Relaxation activities on the trip.
The latest trip to Borneo saw a team of 15 students and 2 staff trek in the jungle, sleep in hammocks, snorkel with turtles, build a shower and toilet block for a community, zip wire across a river and observe sun bears and orang-utans.
The World Challenge experience teaches responsibility and the reality of consequences and students return from the trip a different person. It allows Highcliffe students to experience first-hand life in developing countries and support a community seeking to improve itself, and carries around the world our ethos promoting social and political engagement in the wider world.
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