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Academic Life

Our aim is to provide pupils with a long-lasting love of learning. We try to achieve this through a variety of means, depending on the age group and ability level of each individual.

Connections programme

In this programme, pupils are challenged to think beyond the normal demands of subject curricula: to learn to connect together what they are taught, and to place their knowledge in the context of man’s intellectual and cultural development over the centuries. Each year group has a different focus within the programme and, within the overall focus, teachers develop their own syllabuses based on a personal interest or expertise. The Fifth Form, for example, have an array of courses examining how our civilisation has developed, and how it currently functions . Half of the course time is taught, and half given over to independent research; course titles give away some of the breadth and stimulus offered: Rich kid, poor kid - a society divided; Science and society: Good and Bad reasons to believe; An Introduction to Your Personal Inner Political Compass. In the other years, the focus broadens to examine the place of the individual in society, first by examining some of the historical developments in various cultural areas, and then by looking at the models for a successful society that have been used both in the present and the past.

Lecture programme

In the Lower Sixth, a broad lecture programme complements an intensive course in critical thinking, and in the Upper Sixth the focus returns to the individual as each of our young adults tries to understand how he or she will fit into the world beyond Canford. For Shells, the programme is incorporated into an overall curriculum that comprises a number of cross-curricular projects taking place throughout the year, and culminating in a two-day programme where pupils use their enthusiasms for academic areas in the context of a group project.

Oxbridge preparation and societies

True academic excitement demands detail as well as the big idea, and over the course of the Lower Sixth subject groups gradually harden their focus to become the Oxbridge preparation groups that have led to large numbers of successful applications to the two top UK universities and the highly competitive entry to Medical Schools. As well as these groups, there are academic societies that meet regularly to discuss ideas within a particular subject, such as the Layard Society (History), the Physics Book Club, the Literary Society, and so on. The Heretics Society is a group of invited Sixth Formers that meets to discuss the grand philosophical ideas that are of interest to all with a lively and open mind.

Changes to Sixth Form external examinations

Latest thinking on exam reform