SHiNE – Saturday Classes at WGS

Withington’s SHiNE Saturday morning education courses were run for the 12th year in 2019 and are more popular than ever! 91 boys and girls in Years 5 and 6 – nearly twice as many as in previous years – from 18 Manchester primary schools attended one of five subject courses offered free of charge during the first half of the Autumn term.

Science, Drama, Complete Creativity and Music ran for six Saturdays, while Spanish took place over four weeks. The aim of SHiNE, as described by Withington Sixth Form students who assisted with the programme, is “to excite young children about learning and [embracing] different subjects”, “to give children access to new experiences where they can learn skills and make friends” and to “stretch, challenge [and] enthuse children”.

We are grateful to the Withington SHiNE team, made up of staff and Sixth Form students, for running the courses and also to staff at local primary schools who help us spread the word about the programme to children within our local community who love to learn!

Children attending SHiNE, and their parents, were asked to complete a questionnaire at the start and end of their course. An impressive 87%  of children provided feedback and it was clear that it was often a recommendation from their teachers that prompted both them and their parents to apply to SHiNE and that wanting to “learn more” was a key reason behind their decision. In fact, several children stated that they were motivated by the “fun” and “new experience” aspects of learning.

When asked to give examples of something new they had learned, children mentioned the following:

  • Drama – improvisation and how to perform wearing a mask;
  • Music – learning to play a harp stood out for many;
  • Science – the lessons on the heart (including dissection!) and acids and alkalines made a big impression;
  • Spanish – learning the names of animals proved to be a new skill the children particularly enjoyed;
  • Complete Creativity (including Food Technology, Art and DT) – baking cup cakes and making pizza and cheesecake were firm favourites and children enjoyed learning new skills such as wax resist painting, paper marbling, sand-papering and making rubber stamps.

Parents’ feedback included:

  • “Thank you so much for this amazing opportunity. My daughter has loved it.”
  • “This was such a fantastic course, very fun and well-organised, teaching loads of new skills and giving my child fresh confidence.”
  • “This was a fantastic experience for my child, she thoroughly enjoyed every week and I could see her confidence grow.”


  • “The children really benefit from being exposed to new surroundings and instruments – thank you.”
  • “An amazing amount of quality work has been accomplished in six sessions.”
  • “Amazing programme, my daughter has had so much fun.”


  • “The experience has really opened his eyes. You get sports, music and arts clubs as extra curriculum activity but I’ve not seen access to science clubs before so this has been a real rare treat. Thank you to school, staff and helpers who made it happen.”
  • “(He) particularly enjoyed doing experimental work as opposed to the written work with no experiments.”
  • “It is an amazing idea to develop more interest in certain subjects the child is interested in, to enjoy and learn more about it.”

Complete Creativity

  • “My child enjoyed every week, every Saturday he woke up very enthusiastic, he loved the course.”
  • “It is a wonderful experience to be part of this project. Superb.”
  • “Great effort. Well done to all staff. My boy loved every moment of it.”


  • “She loves the songs, she keeps playing them at home.”
  • “The programme was good. Keep doing this for coming students.”
  • “She was very happy. I really recommend this course for any child of her age.”

Sixth Form students who supported SHiNE classes explained that they wanted to be involved with the programme “because I really enjoy teaching and helping children and I would like to help inspire children into science” and “to enable students to have the opportunity to enjoy developing their drama skills”. At the end of the course one Sixth Form student said: “Doing SHiNE was very enjoyable and it is very nice knowing you have helped others in learning/improving their skills.”

One WGS teacher reported at the end of the course: “I would always recommend that others get involved with SHiNE. It feels nice to give something back to the community and others.” Another said: “It’s a fun way to spend a Saturday morning and it’s really pleasing to see how much the children progress in just four weeks!”

All parents who provided feedback said they would recommend SHiNE to a friend and the vast majority reported that the child had both enjoyed coming to SHiNE and had learnt a lot of new skills. Most parents indicated their child was more enthusiastic about the subject and the majority of children reported feeling more confident and excited about learning the subject after completing the programme. SHiNE courses will again run in Autumn 2020 and subjects on offer will be confirmed in the Spring term of 2020.