Citizenship Day 2020

Citizenship Day, one of the highlights of the Withington calendar, usually provides an opportunity for the whole school to come together to contribute to the wider community and focus on what it means to be a good citizen. This year, we have had to adopt a different approach to mark Citizenship Day on 2nd July, but the habit of good citizenship has not left the hearts of Withington pupils and staff.

So many have given their time and talents to perform small and large acts of humanity and kindness throughout lockdown; compassion and consideration for others has shone through in these most unusual of times. Tribute to all these acts of citizenship was paid by Head of PSHCE, Mrs Johnston, in a Virtual Assembly addressed to all Senior pupils.

Mrs Johnston told pupils:

“Citizenship means being a member of and supporting one’s community and country. As we have learnt in the British Values assemblies, a British citizen has certain values to live by: Democracy; Rule of Law; Respect & Tolerance and Individual Liberty. We are also obliged to be informed, law abiding, and uphold basic democratic principles such as tolerance and civic responsibility. Voting, conserving natural resources, and taking care of oneself and others are all part of citizenship.

As you are currently experiencing, since March 23rd, citizens in the UK were put into lockdown in an exceptional attempt to limit the spread of coronavirus. You, your families, friends and neighbours have undertaken an unprecedented act of citizenship by staying at home to protect your families and the NHS amid the threat of coronavirus.

An example of a very public act of Citizenship took place on Friday 8 May (VE Day) when we paid tribute to the service and sacrifice of the entire Second World War generation, from British, Commonwealth and Allied Forces to evacuees and those who served on the home front. There are many parallels between the struggles of the Second World War and what we are going through today. For those of you who watched the superb VE Day assembly, you will have seen how Withington carried on despite the war, and how it and its pupils adapted to the changing circumstances.

The VE Day celebration was a day when we looked to our Second World War generation to learn from their experiences, and we continue to mark these events to protect us all – learning from events of the past to deal more effectively with those we currently face. If we love and appreciate our country through thoughtful activities, we continue and are more likely to become responsible, active citizens in our community, nation and the world.

In addition to these public, national acts of citizenship, there have of course been countless more. For example, demonstrations of support for the NHS with rainbows and teddy bears displayed in windows and standing outside to applaud with neighbours each Thursday.

But there have also been many, many unnoticed acts of kindness: Helping elderly neighbours, sewing masks, baking cakes for NHS workers, cooking meals for neighbours and food projects, making bunting to celebrate VE Day, sewing scrub bags for doctors and nurses, and of course lots more. We raise money for many charities during the year and many, including the Gambia team have been very busy during lockdown. Pupils and staff of Withington always go the extra mile in numerous ways to help others.”

Here follows just some of the acts of citizenship by members of the Withington Community:

Homepal_ Instagram Learning Platform

One example is, on the day the lockdown and cancellation of public exams was announced, some of our Year 13 pupils, together with friends from MHSG and MGS, wondered what they might be able to work together on during this time. Their first thought was to come up with a way of helping to continue the teaching and learning of KS3 pupils in the wider community which led to the creation of a learning platform on Instagram. Working entirely on their own initiative – their schools only learned of the project when they achieved some local publicity for their endeavours – the group of students has been delivering lessons in Maths, Science, Chinese, Spanish, English, Geography, German, History and even Mindfulness each and every week since lockdown and have been marking and giving feedback and encouragement too. More can be read about it here.

Community Service by Head Girl Kea Bell

Head Girl Kea Bell has recently entered the annual Miss Manchester/Cheshire competition and has been picked as a finalist for Miss Cheshire, which, Kea says, provides a great platform for getting involved in charity work. Separately, she has also been involved in providing friendship and support via an online friendship group in the Burnage area.

As a Miss Cheshire finalist, Kea is collecting for two charities at the moment, one based in the UK and the other in Kenya and India. For the first charity, Elle for Elle, which supports women and children suffering from domestic violence, she has been travelling around Manchester asking for donations of unused toiletries and feminine products, particularly important for women confined to their homes. For the second charity, One Woman at a Time, which actively aims to combat the practice of FGM in countries such as Kenya and India, she is currently organising a charity fundraiser aiming to raise £1000 between now and the end of August.

There is a just giving page for the charity fundraiser, all donations are welcome! Kea intends to cycle from Manchester to Dundee!

All information about Kea’s place in the Miss Cheshire competition can be found on this website: .

Do register a vote for our wonderful 2019-20 Head Girl who consistently sets an example of contributing to the wider community and helping others. Text MISS CHESHIRE07 to 63333 to vote for Kea for Miss Cheshire!

DofE Volunteering Hours

The volunteering hours given to our local community by our DofE participants have been certificated by DofE North and add up to an amazing 2509 hours in 2019-20. This equates to an amazing total of £10,914.15 in social impact value. Such commendable commitment by these girls to do good in the world!

DofE North said in their commendation:

“Firstly, we would like to thank you for your continued support for our Charity throughout these unprecedented times. In the midst of uncertainty, our DofE Leaders and Participants continue to set a precedent, a shining beacon for our communities to look to for inspiration.

We wanted to bring your attention to the fantastic work being carried out across the North of England Region. Across all levels of the Award a total of 661,349 hours has been spent volunteering which equates to a staggering total of £2,876,868 hours in social impact value.

We would like to take this opportunity to firstly congratulate you and your participants, whilst also thanking you for your continued hard work, motivation and dedication to our Charity’s core values.

We hope that this provides inspiration for your next cohort of participants and look forward to working with you over the coming year.”

London Marathon 2.6 challenge

Year 11 pupil Freya completed 26 5k runs for the London Marathon 2.6 Challenge. She raised £361 for St John Ambulance, where she is an operational first aider and was Regional Cadet of the Year last year.

Gambia Fundraising

Our Gambia 2020 team raised over £6000 to further develop the Gambian nursery school WGS has supported for the past 15 years. They more than achieved their aim of a collective 9234 minutes of exercise (9234 is the distance in kilometres from Manchester to Banjul, Gambia and back) and completed 14,602 minutes!

Portrait painting of NHS medical staff

Every year, a dozen or more students leave Withington to study Medicine, so if you multiply that up over normal career spans it is easy to compute that there are 100s of WGS alumnae out there who are doctors. In order to thank those alumnae who are NHS or key workers for their work during the pandemic, the Art Department and Year 11, 12 and 13 Art students put out a call offering to paint portraits of these Withington women of whom we are so proud. A good number have taken up the offer, and before presenting them, we hope to create a special and unique exhibition of the works in School, when it is safe to do so.

South Africa Sports Tour fundraising

The 22 girls and three staff going on the South Africa Sports Tour in July 2021 took part in a fundraising challenge by exercising for 9,914 minutes, which is the distance in km to Cape Town. The money raised will be used by the school teams with whom we will play competitive matches to purchase new sports equipment. Some of the money raised will also help with the girls’ kit costs.  We would really appreciate your support. Please follow the link below to make a donation and help us achieve our goal:

Looking after neighbours and keeping company

Many people who have been shielding, and who are neighbours of Withington pupils and staff, have been well supported during lockdown. There are examples of help given with gardening and even more instances of regular gifts of freshly baked cakes and cookies. Others have been keeping in touch with friends and relatives alone in lockdown with regular phone calls.

Sustaining NHS Critical Care Staff

Year 12 pupil Florence has very much enjoyed being part of a project collecting hot dinners from Manchester restaurants (eg Hawksmoor on Deansgate) and delivering them to hospitals (Wythenshawe and Stepping Hill) for the NHS staff on HDU / ICU wards. She said that it was a real pleasure to witness the happy response of the recipients.

Sewing scrubs for NHS workers

Miss Mottershead set to on her sewing machine making scrubs for NHS workers.