A Message from the Head Teacher on Changes to the Curriculum
Changes to the curriculum and shape of the School day at CH
From September 2021, CH will see a number of changes to the curriculum and the shape of the School day that aim to enhance the experience and wellbeing of pupils.
These changes constitute a measured, progressive and strong response to universal concerns about the pressures placed on young people as they emerge into adulthood. The enduring safety, health and happiness of our pupils in this early 2020s context is firmly placed at the core of this project.
The New Curriculum
As pupil take up has been relatively low, we will no longer be offering a choice between IB and A-levels. Instead, senior pupils will have the choice of taking four A-levels, or three A-levels and the Extended Project Qualification (EPQ). I am particularly excited about the value that the EPQ will bring pupils in developing research skills and independent learning, as well as encouraging a deeper passion for a topic chosen by each pupil under the supervision of a teacher.
All pupils will benefit from a new Learning for Life programme, which extends and enhances the current Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) curriculum, and has a particular focus on key transition points. In the first two years of School, the programme will support the crucial transition to senior and boarding School, centred on values and resilience. At the senior end of the School, the programme will help prepare Deputy Grecians and Grecians for their transition to university, employment and independent living. It will also spotlight and widen pupils’ understanding of essential values, whilst sharpening their critical thinking and decision making.
The New Shape of the Day
One of the most complex but rewarding pieces of work has been reviewing the structure of the School day. In particular, this has provided a chance to reconsider elements of the daily and weekly routines that currently cause congestion and unnecessary pressure on our pupils. For example, the evening prep experience for the Second and Third Forms and the LE has been completely revamped to separate it from bed times; conflicts between sports fixtures and other activities have been all but removed, and a thorough review of middle-of-the-day (lunchtime) arrangements has produced more space at this important transitional moment in the day. In this restructuring of the School day, whilst nurturing the mental alertness needed to foster independent and challenging thinkers, there is a child-centred focus on creating time and space so that all pupils can benefit fully from the opportunities and support available at CH.
While you may notice some changes to the shape of the School day, Christ’s Hospital’s unique approach to education and its great traditions continue to remain central.
The broader curriculum is a vital element of the School’s curriculum and in the new Shape of the Day arrangement a number of initiatives beyond the classroom will be introduced to enhance its lifelong benefits for pupils. Chief among these changes is the further development of sport in the early years so that more pupils experience a full range of sports, thus creating a wider platform upon which to build their enthusiasm and expertise in later years. This will be achieved whilst ensuring that music remains the heartbeat of the School.
The full Christ’s Hospital Band will continue to march out for Lunch Parade on four days a week. However, on Tuesdays and Thursdays the significant conflicts between lunchtime activities will be eased by not holding Lunch Parade. The Bugle Band – made up of senior and junior trumpets and drums – will be further developed into the new junior Band and have dedicated weekly rehearsal time. As is currently the practice, Junior Band members who have reached an appropriate standard will be drafted into the Senior Band. Training for the corps of drums at all age groups will be formalised, with important opportunities for leadership by the Senior Drummer and other experienced Grecian drummers.
These two initiatives will increase pupil involvement in the bands in terms of numbers and instrumental variety, and allow for more consistent and effective training of our younger musicians. As these pupils develop their musicianship and skills through the School and finally arrive in their Grecian year, they will be more able and more experienced.
Most importantly, the changes to the shape of the School day and the curriculum will offer the right balance between providing opportunity and ensuring breathing space for pupils so that they can contribute strongly to the unique community that is Christ’s Hospital. In this way we aim to build even more strongly on the extraordinary traditions of their predecessors.