With their examinations in the not too distant future, the Year 13 IB students have been submitting their CAS folders and blogs for moderation. The activities and projects carried out are outstanding and these are reflected in their folders and diaries, which I have had the pleasure of viewing.
Our amazing students have been busy in a vast range of activities such as organising a fashion show where they raised in excess of £1000 for Joshua Orphan and Community Care Trust, A ‘Come Dine with Me’ dinner party experience raising money for charity, lots charity runs including the crazy colours of ‘Run or Dye’ held at Hever Castle in 2014, the majority of students have engaged in a variety of community units such as West Kent College Prep 4 Life department working with students with learning difficulties and The Scotts Project Trust a residential and day care unit for adults with profound learning difficulties, a whole host of local primary schools offering their time to enrich the lives of younger children and just about every charity shop in a 10 mile radius has had the help from at least one of our students weekly!
Not forgetting our annual visit to Malawi where our students engage in a humanitarian project helping to educate and build a better future for the children of Malawi.
As part of the requirements for completion of CAS, each student is asked about how they feel CAS has effected them. Below are just examples of what they have said....
CAS Reflective Essay
I remember my first formal assembly which introduced us to the CAS aspect of the IB and I remember feeling apprehensive and worried that it would be hard to do and extremely tedious and boring. I’m not sure I have ever been so wrong! Over the past 18 months I have been continuously completing CAS activities for long and short periods of time. My first project was the Tonbridge Grammar School Running Club which I co-organised and hosted with my friend Amy. This project really opened my eyes to how fun CAS can actually be and how it’s less of a chore or something that “has to be done” and is more of a part of everyday life. After this first project I had no reservations about participating in any other events. Just completing CAS in general has massively improved my confidence and awareness of those around me. I overcame many challenges throughout the projects I completed with the most prominent being communication when working with the disabled during the K College Project. This has allowed me to tackle general situations a lot better and I find myself using the skills I learnt participating in the project when I am in public when in situations where I have met disabled people. This project in particular removed a fictional “wall” that people seem to have and put up when they are faced with the prospect of interacting with a disabled person. I no longer understand this concept yet I see it everywhere in other people when interacting with disabled people and I am very glad to say that I have overcome this.
The international UKMT Maths Challenge project which I took part in was the most interesting project that I completed for CAS. Working with the UKMT team I learnt many new skills in event organisation and management and was very proud when we finally hosted the event in Holland. It was really interesting to see how the Dutch schools work and learn about their country. My interactions with them made this project my favourite. I found the CAS projects have massively improved my team working skills and I have found it much easier, in recent weeks, to plan and prepare group presentations for TOK and English with a group than I have in the past and I believe this to be down to the amount of team work I took part in through the CAS activities. This is one of an endless list of skills I feel I have learned or developed through the CAS project and it has proved immensely valuable to me and enhanced me as a person. When you tell people about CAS they always say “sounds like a lot of effort” or “on top of all the work you have to that as well!” but I think it’s actually a break from the usual classroom environment and it’s enjoyable! The most enjoyable part of the CAS project for me was working with young disabled children at Bradbourne RDA in Sevenoaks. This project allowed me to rekindle an old hobby/sport of horse riding which I used to regularly partake in but no longer have the time. Combining this with helping out the little ones at the riding centre really made everything seem worthwhile and I am hoping to be able to volunteer again at the stables after the IB Exams in May as it has become such a part of my life and I am struggling, even now, not to turn up to the classes to lend a hand, despite the coursework deadlines and revision. Overall I would say that CAS is something which should be done by more young people like me and I think those who aren’t taking part in such projects are really missing out on a part of life. The life skills I have learned through CAS are un-learnable in a class room or just by wondering around a city. CAS requires dedication and a lot of effort but it is worth every second.
TGS Yr 13 Student
CAS Conclusive Statement
From the start to the end I have thoroughly enjoyed the entire CAS process. It has given me new experiences, shown me knew ways of thinking and improved me as a person. Within the IB diploma there are plenty of arduous assignments and essays however CAS has never been anything other than a collection enjoyable extra-circular activities that I was drawn to get involved in.
Running sessions at Kent College for those with learning difficulties was without a doubt one of the most interesting, eye-opening and rewarding scheme I've ever been involved with. Having never worked with any kind of disabilities before I was unsure what to expect. However very soon I learned to realise that all that was require to understand and communicate effectively was just a slight change of approach. There was one student who I formed a strong bond with and I loved every minute of his company which is something (perhaps due to preconceived, stereotypical prejudices) I really was not expecting,
The way CAS encourages learners to become involved in helping others is a fantastic part of the IB program. I believe in today’s world people can become too wrapped up in their own lives and do not realise how a few minutes or hours of their time could really improve another person’s wellbeing. I have definitely improved in this respect, I find myself looking at other people’s situation more and wondering how I could improve it or thinking how a slight change in my behaviour could benefit the wellbeing of those around me. Not only does it help others but the feeling of knowing you have brightened up somebodies day is second to none. I will without a doubt carry on helping people where and when I can and I will certainly be joint groups at university who are dedicated to improving people’s lives through fund-raising efforts and more active methods of reaching the same goal. To me CAS should not just be a part of the IB diploma it should, in one form or another, be a part of everybody's day to day life.
TGS Yr 13 student
Madeleine Smith - ‘Maddy’ - CAS student leader 2013 – 2014
Thank you so very much for all the help you have given both me and TGS, you are an amazing ambassador. You have shared your experiences with lowers years and with students considering 6th form at TGS. Your honest, friendly approach has been the key element to your speeches. Without you I would have been lost!
On a final note, may I firstly say a huge thank you for all the time and commitment you have given with our enrichment programmes, voluntary service units and collaboration partners. Without the endless dedication from you and your peers, these projects simply would not happen. Secondly, the end is nigh, you may feel tired maybe a bit overwhelmed BUT, this is the time to showcase all your hard work. Prove to everyone just how talented you really are.
Good luck with your exams.
CAS & International Coordinator
Tonbridge Grammar School