News · Platform Pups
Pups join Platform programme as educational access is widened further

Westminster Platform opened its doors once again in January, with a new Platform Pups programme now sitting alongside the original Platform and Platform+ strands for Year 5 and Year 10 learners. The first group of six- and seven-year-old children attended the session at Westminster Under School, focusing on developing and stretching their fundamental English and mathematical skills.

Like the older groups, the new ‘Pups’ have come from state schools across London, to join pupils from Westminster’s well-established flagship community programme. All those selected attend classes given by teachers from Westminster School and Westminster Under School on ten Saturday mornings throughout the year, with the aim of challenging them academically and to supplement the content they are studying during the week at their schools.

The second Saturday session in February saw all three Platform groups attending on the same day. At the Under School the 12 Pups explored adjectives, with a focus on synonyms, and worked together to solve some arithmetic puzzles. In an educational environment that is designed to build resilience and develop academic curiosity, the young participants were all eager to raise their hand to contribute answers and opinions, showing an excitement for learning and an ability to think quickly on their feet.

Across the corridor, some Year 5 Platformers worked on an extract from the David Wood play adaptation of The Witches, in which two characters are transformed into mice, using vocal characterisation to create contrast for comedic effect; others were being given a Bunsen burner safety demonstration, experimenting with iron filings, and being tested on their knowledge of science in a group quiz.

At Westminster School, the Year 10 Platform+ group on the STEM stream, learned about the impact of the environment on our genetics, looking specifically at how the epigenome can vary depending on our lived experience. They examined how a mother rat’s attentiveness to her pups can encourage the production of a specific type of protein, allowing them to respond quicker to stress hormones. They then went on to consider the effects of enthalpy and entropy on why chemical reactions happen. In a detailed analysis of the Persian Empire and its attempt to occupy Ancient Greece, the Platform+ Liberal Arts stream studied the complexities of the Greco-Persian Wars, with an emphasis on how the ancient world can provide interesting and refreshing outlooks on democracy and national identity.

One Platform Pups parent said:

My son is very happy that he joined the Platform Pups. He says that his teacher is very nice and he likes her, and he is happy because he has got to know new friends… He is always excited to come on a Saturday.

These are just some examples of the varied and in-depth subject matter that forms the Platform Programme’s syllabus, providing a space in which those involved can fulfil their need for academic enquiry in areas of interest that reach well beyond the standard taught curriculum. By attending the Programme, the hope is that pupils will grow their confidence at different stages of their school life, to set them up for a future best suited to them.