Extended Curriculum & SHAPE
St Columba’s prides itself on providing personal attention to students and treasuring their unique gifts. SHAPE ensures all staff and parents have a framework to know how each child is challenged and valued for their efforts.
The SHAPE framework measures student progress and credits them for their participation in the College’s holistic education. This model captures all aspects of each student’s life across all year groups, although the younger students also can achieve the SHAPE Award. By engagement in the SHAPE programme beyond the normal curriculum, students develop new practical skills and ways of thinking.
What does SHAPE stand for?
Each component encourages students to develop personal qualities as part of their character education. For example, Service work invites students to take responsibility and empathy, whereas Extracurricular activities invite students to take risks and be creative.
S =Service. We want our students to be aware of the concerns of others and make the world a better place. This includes service to the school and wider community. Examples of Service in school include Library Mentors, Guild of St Stephen, Open Day guides, Eco-Schools and Recycling groups. Outside of the school students engage in charitable initiatives such as CAFOD, Watling View volunteering and Project Respond.
H = House. The houses are central to the pastoral life of the school. We want our students to play and full part in house competitions, socials and leadership opportunities within the house.
A = Academic. We want academic stretch for our students in all aspects of the curriculum. Many departments run clubs within their specialist disciplines, such as Maths Challenge. Other initiatives focus on the Stretch & Challenge students across years, such as reading groups and the ‘In Search of’ workshops. Our stretch & Challenge group are going to CERN in October 2023.
P = Practical activities. These are the major co-curricular activities across the school, which are School Sport, Drama and Music choirs and ensembles. Practices for these activities take place every lunchtime and after-school.
E = Extra-curricular (or everything else!), which includes all the other clubs in the school. These include Scrabble Club, CCF, DofE, Chess Club, Italian Club, Fencing and many more. It is these clubs that students develop life-long hobbies and friendships.
Student involvement in the SHAPE programme is tracked and monitored by pastoral staff with regular goal setting and reviews in the Pastoral Programme. Younger students are given a menu of activities for each component and achieve Component SHAPE Awards by engaging in them.
SHAPE Timetable and After-School activities
The SHAPE Timetable informs the community of all student activities taking place in school on a weekly basis. By including all activities in one place, parents can see the variety of activities available to their children. Students also attend a SHAPE Fayre in September, which is like a Freshers fayre to showcase all that is available to them.
When all year groups are on campus, coaches leave at 5pm on three nights of the week which enables students to choose from a range of sporting, creative, extracurricular and academic clubs according to their interests and ability. Students also have the opportunity for academic study and homework in hubs around the campus.
Here are some of the key activities:
St Columba’s College runs a very active extra-curricular Drama programme. The annual school musical gives students the opportunity to act, sing and dance in both principal and ensemble roles. Students can also contribute backstage, taking on roles in stage management, lighting, sound and design. There are also opportunities for students to perform in the accompanying band or orchestra. Recent productions include Henry V and Wind in the Willows.
We have been delighted to welcome professional workshops and companies to the College, including the Royal Shakespeare Company and Squire Stage Combat.
The Music Department offers a wide range of musical ensembles, both choral and instrumental, catering for all abilities and tastes.
Our policy is to be as inclusive as possible, while at the same time stretching students’ abilities with a challenging and exciting repertoire. Strong links with the St Albans Cathedral Choir have meant that the Senior Choir includes a number of current and former choristers, enabling a high standard of performance.
Advanced students are given the opportunity to perform as soloists with the Chamber orchestra in concertos and with the Jazz Band. The Bell Choirs are an unusual feature of music at St Columba’s, and are popular both in school and in the wider community. There are also Barbershop and orchestras in the Senior school.
Sport at St Columba’s is an integral part of school life, which provides a wide range of enriching experiences that build upon the work of the PE Department. It is also the goal of the department to foster an interest in physical activity and formulate life-long, positive habits for a healthy, active lifestyle.
The Sports Department forms a major part of the extended curriculum, offering weekly, after-school training sessions for different team sports, as well as lunchtime practices. The popularity of strength and conditioning continues to grow, utilising the new and well-equipped Fitness Suite.
Paid Extracurricular clubs
Whilst the majority of clubs are led by staff, there are a number of activities that require a charge. These include table tennis, golf, martial arts, and cooking. The popular Fencing Academy is run by PDFA. As one of Hertfordshire led schools, we have been lucky to have students represent the UK at their age group. Students can also apply for music tuition with our VMTs and LAMDA lessons which take place during the school day.
Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme
The College is proud of its participation and growing success rate in the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme. In recent years we have been one of the leading schools in Hertfordshire.
Every year, upwards of seventy Form 4s take part in the Bronze Scheme. This involves planning and conducting two expeditions and participating in a wide range of voluntary, physical and skill based activities. The Gold Scheme is very popular among Sixth Form students, the expeditions challenging them to perform at the highest level. Those who succeed in completing the scheme are rewarded by a visit to St James’ Palace to receive their awards.
The highlight of the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme, whether it be at Bronze, or Gold Level, is undoubtedly the expedition. The College is very fortunate to have a wide choice of expedition venues. The Bronze group carries out its practice in Hertfordshire. The Gold expedition takes place in the more challenging environment of the Brecon Beacons or the Peak District.
Combined Cadet Force (CCF)
The Combined Cadet Force (CCF) is one of the pillars of the school, providing an excellent vehicle to develop a wide range of life skills for all students who opt to join. Skills developed include first aid, camp craft and leadership skills. There are two sections at St Columba’s College; RAF and Army.
The RAF section go flying and gliding regularly and compete in a number of competitions, where a range of skills are tested, including aircraft recognition, RAF knowledge and drill. The army section will learn shooting skills, living in the field and a range of battlefield skills.
The College is very proud of the number of national competitions it has won in recent years, which have included the national cadet of the year in 2023. Our winning cadet, Josh Watson, had the honour of carrying the CCF standard at the King Charles’ coronation.
A number of students who have taken commissions as officers and a number of cadets have also been awarded scholarships by the army for their university courses. The College is pleased to provide information and encouragement to students who are intending to pursue a service career in the armed forces.