Why is ‘Service Learning’ so important for young people today?

Throughout the year, we offer our students at Westminster a number of opportunities to participate in ‘Service Learning’. There are many reasons why students choose to help others and give their time to volunteer. The fact that it is not a compulsory activity as in some schools, does not seem to stop our wonderful Westminster community from volunteering to help others. I personally would love to see even more of our students involved in these activities, not because they have to but because they want to. I am currently looking at ways to increase our student and staff involvement in a variety of projects so stay tuned!

Service Learning provides students with opportunities to develop civic engagement skills. By working with community members, students can enhance their group, organizational and interpersonal skills. They also can gain important experience working with diverse members of their communities.

Young people who volunteer:

  • Gain confidence in themselves
  • Make a difference to others
  • Meet new people and make new friends
  • Become part of a diverse community
  • Learn new life skills
  • Take on new challenges
  • Develop a better understanding of the world in which they live
  • Have fun!

The Oxbridge Program in Scotland

A reflection by Abigail Wicks (Year 10 Clark)

‘Being made aware of various summer school programs offered around the world through previous students’ experiences and the staff at Westminster School was instrumental in my desire to apply for the 2017 program. Upon being awarded a generous academic excellence scholarship from the Oxbridge program to attend the summer school, I was excited for the opportunities to meet people from across the globe, learn about possible career options and create memories that I will never forget. 

The month I spent in Scotland has allowed me to experience so many new avenues of future study and possible careers that I would never have imagined without participating in this program. So many happy memories were made and shared with an amazing cohort of students and staff from around the world. The opportunities I experienced and personal growth I feel that I have gained will provide me with significant advantages going forward in which ever direction I choose to pursue.

The Oxbridge program at the University of St. Andrews was one of the smaller programs hosted, but the benefit this allowed was that every student made close bonds with one another and received a high level of individual scholarly direction from the outstanding lecturing staff from across the world.

The program commenced and all students were in awe of their classes and what their lecturers had to teach and offer. I attended the program studying Maths and Engineering as my major and Anatomy and Physiology as my minor. Having access to some of the country’s leading experts in their chosen field was an honour and to have these lecturers show a special interest in the program was a privilege. Their desire to share their knowledge was evident with how passionately they taught their lecture and tutorial classes.

The classes were the main focus of the program, but there was never a shortage of activities to participate in. One of my favourite activities was when we went for a walk along the St. Andrews pier. This was one of the first activities we participated in on this summer program and it allowed for all students from around the world to get to know each other a bit better whilst enjoying the amazing views that St. Andrews had to offer us.

The program welcomed many guest speakers talking on various topics of interest, from PhD students, psychologists, historians and mathematicians to yoga instructors and dance lessons, the program offered diversity and was anything but dull, packing a lot of learning and fun into a rather short amount of time.

Talking to current and previous students of the University, living and exploring the towns ourselves, we were able to understand and see the magic of St. Andrews come to life. Understanding what it would be like to live in St. Andrews and how close the community is and how the University is embraced by the locals, shows St. Andrews to be a very special place and separates it from other university experiences across the globe.

I was fortunate enough to be highly successful in my Maths and Engineering class, receiving the top award amongst my class mates. Seeing people come to life and knowing that this academic program was the right place for me was amazing. Seeing a change in every person and how St. Andrews, a tiny little sea town with only three streets, worked it magic on every single person, helped to create memories that are close to my heart and I will never forget.’

Foodbank Meal Packing

An update from Dayna Holroyd (Year 10 Jeffries)

Foodbank is a community orientated, non-profit, hunger relief organisation that has a vision to eliminate hunger for all people living in South Australia. Every Friday after school, from 4.00 to 6.00 pm, a small group of Westminster students volunteer alongside multiple students from other schools. We work in one of the two large warehouses, where our volunteering for two hours per week helps to pack plenty of food kits for the community. This can include packing breakfast, snack and meal kits to go towards schools around the area, as well as Foodbank’s own Food Hub.

I enjoy volunteering at Foodbank each week, as we are able to socialise with other volunteers from different schools. We can get to know each other and form great friendships whilst packing food kits over the couple of hours after school. It is rewarding to also see how our volunteering impacts upon the community, just by spending two hours weekly helping out at Foodbank.

Resthaven Computing Program Reflections

‘At Resthaven we talk with the residents and support them by assisting with the computers.

This is an incredible experience. I go every week because I love the people I meet, the conversations I have and the fulfilment I gain. The community we have built is so strong and caring. It is a highlight of my week.’

Kate Morgan (Year 11 Woollacott)

‘I go to Resthaven on Friday afternoons because I appreciate some residents don't have people to visit them, and being a part of a core weekly group that gathers a group of people they can chat to and laugh with is fantastic. The diversity of the people is truly astonishing and you can really see the residents enjoying some company - even if it is for an hour a week - it's an hour many look forward to and plan their day around.’

John Fretwell (Year 10 Dunstan)

‘Going to Resthaven every Friday night to chat with the residents is a really wonderful experience for all of us. It's a great chance to sit down and have a good long conversation with the people there, and it reminds us that sitting down to have a chat with other people you don't talk to very often is a good idea. Especially in the modern day world when everybody is sitting there looking at their phones the whole time. Helping the residents with whatever they need done on their electronic devices - whether it be writing an email or sending some photos to a family member - is really satisfying because they are always pleased with the assistance they receive. I can safely say being at Resthaven puts a smile on my face every time, and it's an absolutely perfect way to end a Friday.’

Josh Langman (Year 10 Dunstan)

Student 2 Student Buddy Reading Program 2018

*taken from The Smith Family website

‘The reading gap in primary school between the lowest socio-economic students (SES) and the highest SES is equivalent to almost 3 yrs of schooling.

The literacy foundations built by children during their primary and early secondary years are crucial to their ability to do well at school. Research identifies a clear link between the development of cognitive skills such as literacy and numeracy at an early age and higher levels of education achievement, greater employability, higher earnings and greater social participation.

The student2student program works by matching students who need to improve their reading with peer buddies who help and encourage them with their reading. Peer support is central to the program’s success. Evidence indicates that one of the best ways to support students who have reading difficulties is for the help to come from others near their own age.4

student2student involves three groups of participants:

  • Students in Years 3 to 8 assessed as being up to two years behind in their reading development and want additional support to improve their reading.
  • Reading buddies with good literacy skills who are at least two years older than the student. The buddies are trained by The Smith Family to help their students develop reading confidence and skills, using the ‘Pause, Prompt, Praise’ reading support method.
  • Volunteer Supervisors who provide support for up to 10 reading buddies, helping them with problems and ensuring that they are supporting the students effectively.

Each student and buddy receives an identical book pack from The Smith Family. The reading buddy then telephones the student two to three times a week for at least 20 minutes, over an 18 week period. The student reads to the buddy, who uses the skills learnt in their training to assist the student with their reading and offer encouragement and praise. The buddy keeps a simple record of each phone call and reports progress to a Volunteer Supervisor fortnightly.

Student2student operates nationally via landlines, mobile phones and digital. In 2010, Optus approached The Smith Family with the innovative idea of trialing the student2student program in households with no home phone line, often in rural and regional areas. Thanks to Optus’ generous funding and their technical expertise with handsets and services, Optus mobile phones are now an integral part of this growing program. Over the next year, Optus and The Smith Family aim to reach 770 disadvantaged student readers across Australia through the mobile student2student program.’

Starting in Term 1 2018, Westminster students will be encouraged to join this wonderful program and donate their time and skills to help out other younger students who struggle with their reading. Although I haven’t sent out any emails asking for interest yet, if anyone is interested they should get in touch with me as soon as possible to put their name down for this great Service activity.

For more information, please see the following website:


Red Dove Café at the Royal Adelaide Show

Recently we have asked our Senior students for interest in helping out with the Red Dove Café at the Royal Adelaide Show in September. It is pleasing to say we have had quite a number of students volunteering their time not only on weekdays but also on weekends and early shifts.

Red Dove Café is a Royal Adelaide Show institution for over 60 years. Since 1951 Red Dove has served food and drinks to Adelaide's show-goers with the purpose of raising money for mission. The cafe offers a healthy range of home-style meals and a full range of snack and drink items.

If you're heading to the Royal Show this year, why not drop in and share some great food while supporting the work of the Uniting Church in the community.

The cafe will be open every day of the Show, located in Sideshow Alley near the Dog Pavilion.

Our Westminster students look forward to serving you and saying hello!

Abbeyfield House Working Bee (postponed until Term 4)

Unfortunately, due to a number of reasons, our plans for the Abbeyfield House Working Bee have been postponed for a little while. Thanks must go though to all of the people who put their hands up to help out. I was so impressed with the number of volunteers from Years 8 to 12. I am keeping you all on a list for any future Working Bees! Students who are currently in Year 10 will have the opportunity to nominate for Service Day work at Abbeyfield House later in the year if they wish.

Australasia and East Asian Conference 2018

Saturday 14 to Thursday 19 April 2018, open to 15 to 17 year olds
Bunbury Cathedral Grammar School – Bunbury, Western Australia

Very soon I will be emailing all Year 9, 10 and 11 students to ask for expressions of interest to attend this wonderful conference opportunity. We will need to submit a formal expression of interest by the end of September to ensure our places at this conference. Another great opportunity for our students to get together with other Round Square schools and be involved in a variety of fun, challenging and thought provoking discussions and activities. Approximate cost, which includes airfare, accommodation, food and conference costs will be between $1200-1400 per person.

Jas Lloyd’s first day at school at Markham College in Peru!


Anyone interested in finding out more information about Exchanges or any other Round Square initiative should contact me via Email if in the Senior School, or contact Mr Chris Haines via Email if you are in the Preparatory School.

Julia Chukwuani
Round Square and Exchanges Coordinator