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How Harrow is engaging with the local community

Earlier this year the latest findings from the Independent School Council (ISC) revealed that the economic benefits of independent school education are vast, saving the taxpayer a huge £3.5 billion each year. These savings come in many forms – by privately educating children who would otherwise need state places, providing employment, community facilities and tax contributions.

The report also touched on the beneficial impact that private schools can have in their local communities, from charitable fundraising, to volunteering, to the sharing of facilities with nearby state schools. In this feature, Tim Dalton, Director of Shaftesbury Enterprise at Harrow School, provides some wonderful inspiration by telling us how Harrovians are engaging with their local community…

In the spirit of the great 19th century reformer, the 7th Earl of Shaftesbury, Harrow has a deep tradition of philanthropy. Knowing that leadership and service go hand in hand, we encourage Harrovians to be outward-looking, to understand their privilege, and to be of good influence beyond the School.

As Harrow approaches the 450th anniversary of its foundation, we have been reflecting with both pride and humility on the charitable aims of the School’s founder, John Lyon, and his courageous belief in a good education for all. To this end, today we work hard to achieve excellent outcomes, not just for Harrovians but also for others who live in our community.

A programme called Shaftesbury Enterprise encompasses all of our charitable and partnership work. Through it, boys and staff engage purposefully with educational projects designed in collaboration with partner schools. Together with our work with other local organisations, these make a significant impact in the Harrow borough and beyond.

Every Harrovian participates in charity work, be it through teaching or coaching primary-age pupils, partnering with secondary students, raising sponsorship money through fundraising events, providing companionship for elderly people, or working in charity shops or with disadvantaged groups.

This culture of caring for others is at the heart of life at Harrow. Last year, Harrovians gave 8,000 hours to Shaftesbury Enterprise projects, and over 100 members of staff gave 2,000 hours in co-ordinating, coaching, mentoring and other contributions. Some example projects follow.

Projects with Primary Schools


Companies of Harrovians devise productions to play during the Spring term to audiences of children aged five to seven in the local area. This year’s production, The Land of Nod, was about following your dreams and the importance of a good night’s sleep.


Harrovians visit local primary schools to run masterclasses that they prepare for the schools’ top mathematicians, stretching their problem-solving and reasoning skills while also providing support. All the children who have taken part in the project are now working at an accelerated level.

Learning and Play

Woodlands Primary School in Edgware, North London, is a maintained primary school for pupils aged three to 11 years who have a range of complex and profound learning difficulties. Last year, 10 Harrovians visited Woodlands each week to support learning and play activities. Walking to the park and using playground equipment, for example, helped improve the children’s motor co-ordination.

Projects with Secondary Schools and Young Adults 

Tall Ships Challenge

In the fourth year of this project, 10 Harrovians worked with young people from Harrow Youth Offenders and Harrow Carers to sail two 22m yachts chartered from the Tall Ships Trust around the Channel Islands. The trip aimed to minimise preconceptions, as well as to offer a neutral space where both the Harrovians and the other young people were outside their usual comfort zones. The first challenge was for the Harrovians to raise sufficient funds both for their own places on the trip and those of the other young people.


Spear is a six-week programme that helps unemployed young people to secure and remain in work. Since 2013, around 15 Harrovians have volunteered to support the programme each year. Some serve on the Harrow School Spear Committee, others organise and host an annual Spear Celebration, produce job bulletins for past and present trainees, fundraise, and raise the programme’s profile by writing articles or speaking publicly about it. Harrovians also volunteer in the Spear Harrow Centre to support the trainees directly.

Harrow Rifle Corps

Twenty-five army cadets from Harrow High School attend weekly training sessions with the Harrow Rifle Corps (HRC), our tri-service combined cadet force. The cadets, a mixture of girls and boys aged between 14 and 17, take part in a full range of activities including fieldcraft training, skill-at-arms instruction, shooting on the School’s range and adventurous training. They also attend the HRC’s week-long summer camp on the Isle of Wight.

Projects with Local Organisations

Long Ducker

Each year, over 1,000 Harrovians, Old Harrovians, staff and parents take part in Long Ducker, an annual festival of sponsored sporting events. Most participants run 10km from Wembley to Harrow on the Hill, with some running the full 20km to Wembley and back. A few boys complete the Double Long Ducker – a 10km swim, followed by the 20km run – while others swim either 5km or 10km, with some going on to run 10km. 2018 was a record year for fundraising, with over £130,000 raised for a local caring charity.

Art for the Elderly

Lower Sixth Harrovians lead five-week programmes of afternoon art classes for senior citizens in Harrow’s Art studios. Classes cover a range of media, including drawing, painting in watercolour and oils, and intaglio (etching) printmaking. The classes are very popular and often over-subscribed. 


Certitude provides personalised residential support across London for people with learning disabilities, autism and mental health needs, as well as their families and carers. Harrovians help the residents in whatever way they can, such as organising parties, cooking meals, decorating spaces, building furniture and helping in the garden. The Certitude residents have said that the visits are a highlight of their week.

Our thanks to Tim Dalton, Director of Shaftesbury Enterprise at Harrow School. Tim completed a BSc in Mathematics at the University of Birmingham, before completing a PGCE at the Institute of Education. In 2003, he joined Queen Elizabeth’s School, Barnet, to teach Mathematics, before moving to Harrow School in 2007. In 2014, Tim left Harrow to become Assistant Head Teacher (Head of Sixth Form) at Twyford Church of England High School in Acton. He returned to Harrow in 2016.


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