3 February 2016
Message from the Head
What is an all-round education? Do we offer an all-round education at St Birinus and what does it look and feel like? I would say categorically that we do and will try to explain what some of its elements are.
The Key Stage 4 options process is about an all-round education. We actively encourage students to keep their options open and to select subjects which means that they will experience a broad and balanced curriculum at Key Stage 4. We know that in the UK students experience a much narrower curriculum than their counterparts in North America or Europe, particularly after they are 16. There are advantages to this – A Levels provide considerable intellectual rigour and depth of study – but it is also very limiting. Do we want scientists who don’t know their History? Or lawyers who can’t speak another language? Of course we don’t. We want young people who have experienced a good range of subjects and are not pigeon-holed or trapped too early with narrow curriculum choices which they cannot change.
The next element of an all-round education is extra-curricular activities. As a school, we perhaps have not always communicated clearly to parents quite how much is happening at St Birinus. Just last week I walked through a packed and raucous after-school Drama Club, sent celebratory postcards to our triumphant Year 7 football team and signed off the new licence for the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme. Three examples but there are so many more. As I have written before, it is often not the lessons we remember from school but what we did outside the classroom.
The final element of an all-round education is personal development. The stand-out example from last week was the visit of Holocaust survivor John Fieldsend who again came to talk to Year 9 students about his life and experiences as a Jewish child faced with Nazi persecution. It is a powerful, emotional and important presentation and a vital one for our students. I would like to thank Mr Fieldsend again for coming to visit us. In a week when we talked about Winston Churchill as the ultimate British hero it was a strong reminder of the sacrifices that previous generations made for our freedoms today.
John Marston, Headteacher
Linked to ideas of achievement is the implementation of a new learning outcomes system in all lessons. This centres around differentiated levels of achievement in each and every lesson structured around bronze, silver and gold standards – much more to come on this in the coming weeks but students are already very positive indeed about the change.
Finally, we are delighted to welcome Mr Russell Boulton to St Birinus School as teacher of Design Technology. Mr Boulton will be covering for Miss Cottrell’s maternity leave and we are very pleased indeed to recruit a teacher of his calibre in what is such a challenging time for teacher recruitment. We do of course also wish Miss Cottrell well with forthcoming events.
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