Here we are, back at work after the Christmas / New Year break –though the rest of the world is still on holiday, it seems! It’s eerily quiet in school: the stone corridors and grand Victorian rooms of the Cambridge University Union Society are empty and echoing (many of our students have yet to return) and dusk falls early on these January days………. Oh! This is crazy! I’m sitting in a brightly-lit office with my lovely colleagues, planning some very interesting courses for the next few months – not a ghost in sight!
We’re actually working on the programmes we offer our younger students: we take under-18s on special courses all year, and through July and August we have our wonderful Summer School where our youngest students are just five years old! However, tempting though it is to dream about punting on the river, and cream teas at the Orchard, we have to focus on designing some courses which are coming up next month, when I fear the weather will still be wintry.
One of the special things we do is provide tailor-made courses for families, where they can choose whether to study together (yes, Mum and Dad and the kids all in the same classroom!) or separately, with the children having their own lessons while parents join our regular group classes.
We were persuaded to offer the ‘whole family’ course by a couple who had experienced this (by accident) at another school, and really enjoyed it. We took some convincing, as we couldn’t see how it would work, but having run a lot of these courses now, we’re quite sure of their value, and they’re great fun for all concerned. They seem to be most popular in the spring and summer, so now’s the time for us to check our stock of games, craft materials, see what’s new online, and start preparing more conventional teaching materials according to what the families have told us about their interests. While Peter (our Academic Team Leader) and I deal with these, Nora (Admin) is gathering up-to-date information about places to visit – we’ve learned that it’s vital to vary the pace and content of the lessons, and going out to the Fitzwilliam Museum, or the Botanic Garden, is an ideal way to freshen everyone up, and enormously enriches the classroom lessons.
We’re talking to the tutors – all chosen because they genuinely enjoy working with youngsters, and embrace the idea of the family studying together – and making sure they are happy with the topics. Frank (Accommodation) is catching up on homestay inspections; our Families already have accommodation in Cambridge, so that’s saved him some work.
By the end of the week, we should have all these preparations in place, and will be able to think about the High-School Groups who’ll be arriving soon, and then ……. it will be time to plan the Summer School!