Thank you to every parent, pupil, staff member and OP who helped make the school’s first-ever Giving Day such a stunning success. In just 36 hours, almost £250,000 was donated, all for life-changing bursaries for local young people. We believe this fundraising total makes it the most successful Giving Day yet held in a UK school, which is phenomenal.
“We were thrilled at how every part of the PGS family got involved to help their local community,” said Dr Cotton. “From pupils litter-picking in their local area or making donations to food banks, to Mr Ashcroft and Mrs Millward staying up all night to broadcast a 36-hour radio show; and from parents donating the ticket price of their children’s cancelled Prom to OPs all over the world donating in memory of their favourite teachers in gratitude at everything PGS had meant to them or simply donating to enable more children to be offered bursaries. We cannot express how truly grateful we are.”
The Giving Day activities launched on the 3rd March with pupils in the Senior School and Sixth Form getting involved in a range of activities. The day began with began a breakfast bash! Tutor groups across the Senior School came together in a celebration of both their collective and individual roles within the PGS community and beyond the school arches. Pancake competitions onsite were rivalled by elaborate ‘PGS’ and ‘1732’ themed breakfast challenges at home. Over breakfast, tutor groups shared discussions around the psychological benefits of giving, how acts of giving have helped members of our community past and present, and how their actions over the next week could contribute to positively influencing the lives of others.
Throughout the morning, pupils in the Senior School embarked on their mission to #BeTheDifference, and what a difference they made! The positive contributions made by so many in just 3 hours was astounding, ranging from litter picking and donations to food banks, to truly inspirational acts of kindness in the community. We were delighted to receive photographs and messages from the wider community who were grateful to have received baking and kind messages from pupils across the school.
The afternoon 1732 Active and Creative House challenges were another opportunity for PGS pupils, staff and parents to come together, earning points for their houses and ultimately unlocking Giving Day funds. Challenges included CrossFit, Dance and Stretch & Wellbeing workshops which took place across the school and were live streamed to pupils and staff at home. Pupils also had the opportunity to take part in a Choose your Blues! live workshop and a song writing challenge with winners receiving an amazing opportunity to record their work in a professional recording studio, as well as a Photography ‘bubbles’ workshop which saw some fantastic entries from pupils across the school.
Mrs Georgia Radford co-ordinated the many activities in the Senior School and Sixth Form for the launch. “It was an absolute privilege to be involved in the organisation of pupil activities for the first ever PGS Giving Day this term,” said Mrs Radford. “As a new member of staff at PGS, I have been astounded by the very real sense of community that resonates through every layer of the school. Despite the ever-changing circumstances of this past year, planning for all eventualities remained focused on heightening our pupils’ awareness of the ability they each have to create positive change within their communities, and I do believe we achieved that on launch day.”
On the 10th and 11th March, the Junior School took over the reins, led from the front by Mr Ashcroft and Mrs Millward who broadcast live on PGS Radio for 36-hours – a true marathon effort! PGS Radio brought together many strands of the activities taking place, including interviews with staff, pupils and parents, quizzes, challenges, dance-a-thons (Mrs Millward’s Macarena will live in the memory for many years), Mr Ashcroft literally losing his hair and rounded off with an epic ‘gunging’ of Mrs Wilson-Smith. The energy and enthusiasm of the broadcast encapsulated Giving Day.
“Giving Day gave the staff and pupils in the Junior School a real opportunity to reconnect after many weeks of remote learning,” said Mrs Evans, who co-ordinated the Junior School activities. “We knew from initial discussions that the Junior School involvement would be through a House Day and plans between the Junior Heads of Houses were soon flowing using the theme of 1732.”
The 1732 Challenge saw pupils complete four very different tasks. Splitting 1732 into one thousand, seven hundred, thirty and two they consisted of a 1000 reps challenge which put pupils and staff through their paces, with Mr Chappell and Mrs Lydall leading a rigorous workout. We had the pleasure of Dan the Skipping Man teach the children how to skip and perform various tricks and challenges to get them to 700 jumps. Slowing the pace down, but still an enjoyable task, was Mrs Dean’s poetry challenge to create a thirty-word poem. Last, but by no means least, was Miss McFadzean’s dance challenges, which took staff and pupils predominantly back to the 90’s and early noughties with dance routines they had to learn and perform.
“The dance challenge had to be my favourite challenge,” said Mrs Evans. “Partly as it was a throwback to my youth and partly because 4P won the Form dance off challenge! It was a perfect way to have pastoral time with the children during our first week back.”
“Planning for the event began over a year ago,” said Mrs Melanie Bushell, Development Director at PGS. “Giving Days are quite new in UK schools, though they are very well-known in the USA and becoming increasing popular in UK universities. A very generous OP pledged up to £100,000 to support our plans and the decision was made to go ahead this spring. The first £80,000 of his gift matched pound for pound the first £80,000 of donations, and the other £20,000 was unlocked by challenges undertaken by pupils and donors.”
Currently within the Senior School 1 in 7 Senior School pupils receives some level of fee assistance and – with the support of our generous donors – the long-term ambition is to increase this to 1 in 4. Thanks to the generosity of the PGS community, we took a big step forward with this aim this term.