The aim of the CAS system is to ensure that each specialist undertakes a purposeful and balanced programme of extra-curricular activity. Specialists should not merely participate in activities to fill in time, but to learn from them. They will do this by planning what to do and reflecting on what they have done.
We are inclusive in our definitions of Creativity, Action and Service.
Creativity: the Arts (such as Art, Design and Technology, Music and Drama) and any other activity which involves creative thinking or expression, such as writing for the Carthusian, participating in the Verse Speaking Competition, or even designing a sports coaching course.
Action: physical exertion contributing to a healthy lifestyle. For most this will mean sport, but clearing land for an environmental project or participating in a Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Expedition will count as Action. Kicking a football aimlessly about on J ground will not count, however.
Service: unpaid and voluntary activity to benefit another individual, group or community, which has a learning benefit for the student (so doing the departmental photocopying won’t count). This might take place within school (such as by acting as a Peer Mentor, instructing younger pupils in the CCF or by organising the House Singing) or outside school (such as by teaching primary school children or by visiting the elderly).
One of the pupil’s activities should be done in a group and cover at least two of the elements of Creativity, Action and Service. This group activity or Project provides pupils with an excellent opportunity to initiate their own collaborative activity.
Although pupils are made aware (by means of published lists) what activities the school will provide, they should determine their own extra-curricular programme, and not just be given things to do. So if a pupil comes up with their own activity which is purposeful and a challenge for them, it should be approved.
Pupils aim, over the first five Quarters of their Specialist years, to complete approximately fifty hours in each of the three areas of activity. Fifty hours is regarded as a benchmark: an increased commitment to one area may offset less time spent in another, but pupils must make a significant commitment to each area. We are not in the business of counting the minutes, but the figure of fifty hours will help to define what is a “significant” commitment.
Fifty hours over five terms is more or less equivalent to one hour per week of term time. But time spent on any activity outside term time (such as on sports tours or expeditions) also fulfils a pupil’s commitment.
Some activities involve two or even three elements of CAS. For example, coaching younger pupils in sport is both Action and Service, so a two-hour coaching session would count as one hour’s Action and one hour’s Service.
Planning and Reflection
In order to make the most of these activities as tools for learning, it is essential that each pupil plans and reflects upon them. This planning and reflection need not be more sophisticated than answering questions such as: “What am I trying to get out of this activity? What do I need to make it happen? Am I making progress? How can I increase my rate of progress? How did it go? What advice would I give someone trying something similar?” Answering these questions will help make a pupil’s extra-curricular activity purposeful, and help avoid the mere practising of mistakes.
Planning and reflection are most conveniently be carried out by keeping a journal on line, using a website called ManageBac. Short regular updates of each activity are the best way of making the most of this learning tool.
Role of the Tutor
Pupils are guided in their choice of, planning for and reflection on their CAS activities by their tutors. Tutors ensure that each activity represents a challenge for the participant, and they have access to pupils’ on-line journals and so are able to monitor their charges’ participation in and learning from these activities.
They report on pupils’ CAS programmes both in the End-of-Quarter report and as part of the Attainment and Effort grading system. The Attainment grade will be used for the quality of their planning and reflection, and the Effort grade their participation in CAS activities.
Each activity needs a supervisor who can vouch for the fact that the activity has taken place and the aims achieved. This supervisor can be any adult who is not related to the pupil.
CAS and DofE
Activities taken as part of a pupils CAS programme may also be used towards a pupil’s Duke of Edinburgh’s Award.
Service activities (including CCF) take priority on Mondays, but if a pupil’s Service is given at another time, Monday afternoons can be used for Creativity or Action, or academic work.