Academic Enrichment

Senior school > Co-curricular > Academic Enrichment

There is a busy programme outside of the classroom with many departments involved in academic extension and enrichment. Below is just a taste of some of what is on offer.


Gresham’s has a thriving Debating Society and competitive debating in the school dates back to at least 1900. Each term, there is an inter-house debating competition in which all eight houses put together a team of three debaters and compete for the honour of a trophy. Michaelmas Term sees the Sixth Form in action, Lent is the Year 10 and 11 competition, and the Summer Term is given over to a Year 9 contest. Debates take place on Monday evenings from 7.45pm and last for about an hour. They are usually well attended! In addition, Gresham’s teams compete termly in the Pizza and Polemic Debates hosted by Langley School and the annual Oxford Union Schools’ Debating Competition (reaching Finals Day at the Oxford Union in 2023 and 2024), the ESU Mace Debating Competition (reaching the third round in 2023 and 2024), and the ESU-Churchill Public Speaking Competition (reaching the second round in 2023 and 2024). 


The Auden Society is the department’s flagship, representative of what we offer to the Sixth Form beyond the curriculum. In the last few years, as well as talks from staff and students on such subjects as Norwegian Noir, South African literature and Apollonaire, we have enjoyed readings from recent graduates of UEA’s Creative Writing MA, Professor Vic Sage, award-winning poet Andrea Holland, Kzrzystof Fijalkowski – an expert in literary Surrealism – from Norwich University of the Arts and a reading from novelist and poet Elizabeth Cook, who also edited the Oxford Keats.  The Auden Society is student led, well attended and meets each half-term. The English department hosts a variety of competitions over the course of the academic year to showcase the literary talents of our student body.  Two particular highlights of our social calendar include our celebration of Auden’s birthday and our Burns Night Supper


The Geography Society is open to all geographers who hold an interest in events taking place around the world. We meet each half term to discuss current events, muse matters of geographical influence alongside listening to a host of internal and external speakers. The society thrives on the enthusiasm of pupils and we welcome any newcomers. 


Both native and non-native speakers of German are invited to meet weekly at the German Conversation Club, where they all have the opportunity to impart knowledge as well as receive it. Our German student community is increasing in numbers and they are very keen to represent their language, culture and modern European identity in a very interesting, contemporary and youthful way to our learners of German in year 12 and 13. The group has been very successful and from these conversations and language-based activities, friendships have been formed and intercultural understanding deepened. The German Conversation Club is a forum, a space in which solely German is spoken, ideas, notions, music, film, food, fashion, people, politics and life are discussed and laughed about in full! 

History Book Club and History Society

Each term, Gresham’s historians meet to discuss the implications of a recent history book that they have read. In 2022, students met to discuss Frank Dikotter’s ‘Dictators’ and ‘Empireland’ by Sathnam Sanghera. History Book Club meets on Wednesday evenings during each term. In addition, the History Society hosts a series of events, quizzes and activities throughout the year.   

Religious Studies and Philosophy – Discussion Clubs 

These are overseen by the Religious Studies and Philosophy department and seek to provide pupils the opportunity to discuss and investigate all questions of life, the universe and everything. Any pupils who have an interest in issues of philosophy, ethics and politics are welcome to come along and discuss ideas, news stories and key issues in order to broaden their education. Meetings are usually held in GAPs time each week, in room 6, Big School. The format will vary but usually comprise introductory talks and presentations followed by general discussion. Recent topics include the value of different political systems, the function of language, the value of education and the challenges of equality. This group is a real opportunity for exploring ideas with cross-curricular conversation in an informal setting. Sixth form pupils take responsibility for the society, choosing topics for discussion and taking the lead in the meetings.


Extra-curricular activities give pupils the opportunity to tinker and discover new ways of working. At Gresham’s, pupils are building robots from LEGO; using chemistry experiments to paint; designing, building and racing electric cars and even using computing to code a character for a drama performance.