Principal’s Blog: Creating the Perfect Learning Environment

14 Nov 2017

Another new term and new academic year is underway! Finally, almost all the teaching in the school is now on the new specifications: – the new linear A-levels and the GCSE syllabuses resulting in a numeric grade.

These are exciting times in education. I am pleased to see that greater academic rigour has been brought back in across the board at both KS4 and KS5. I have been in teaching for almost 40 years and have seen the modular system replace the linear system at A-level; we are now all seeing a return to the linear. When I sat my O-Levels, grading was numeric, so even here, a return to the former system (albeit slightly modified) has been adopted. We are fortunate that the College has the experience and expertise to embrace and deliver the greater demands of the new syllabuses. Teachers have to be more flexible and wide reaching in their teaching – challenges that my staff are well equipped to deliver.

It is possible to really challenge students academically with the new specifications – and this has to be a good thing. The College is well placed to achieve this in the classroom with the small groups and well-qualified teachers that are hallmarks of the College; but we are also stretching students by offering opportunities to participate more widely in national Olympiads and other academic competitions. We are encouraging more students to apply for more demanding courses at university. As I write, at least one student has already secured an interview at Cambridge University to read Computer Science and many students have sat the UKCAT test and will sit the BMAT with aspirations to read Medicine. It is very gratifying to see so many, well-qualified and impressive young men and women aiming high and looking forward to rewarding careers.

Many students have now submitted their UCAS form; the remainder will be sent off before the end of November. The College has already welcomed three speakers from UCL, King’s College and LSE earlier the term to address the students and assist them in this very important application process. The greater academic demands with echoes of the past require the internal academic monitoring processes to be even more robust. The target grades for all students have now been set (with a review in January). Personal tutors and classteachers are working closely with the students to ensure thatperformance in tests and assignments are measured against targets. All students are working hard towards their first major internal assessment – the first mock examinations at the end of this term.

It is important to keep challenging students and encourage them to aim ever higher; but it is equally important to ensure that they feel secure in a supportive environment of a wellmanaged school. Very few schools in the country can boast the consistently high value added score the college achieves in the annual Government League Tables. Such a record speaks for itself.

Dr Ian Moores


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