The panel gave some helpful thoughts on what schools could do to better prepare students for University while acknowledging that there will always be a gap between the two phases of education: there has to be - eighteen year olds want to leave school and hence expect difference from their University experience.
We were urged to give students time and space to think and to learn beyond their subjects; collaborative and inter-disciplinary work was encouraged; modular study formats prepare students for life after School.
As a bridge between school and university, the panelists deemed EPQs as ‘terribly valuable’; the pursuit and study of a subject somewhat for its own sake combined with the chance to do some proper research, perhaps including exposure to some books!
In the light of this advice, I am delighted that decisions we made at Freemen’s a year ago are perceived as greatly beneficial: to expose more Sixth Formers to the EPQ; to add 60 hours to teaching each year so that our Lower Sixth teachers have more time to go beyond the confines of the curriculum; to launch Free Minds - modular, inter-disciplinary, learning for learning’s sake. All of these decisions combined might well, as we suspected, better prepare students for the next stage of their careers.
I was pleased too (not least after Roy van den Brink-Budgen
‘s start of year INSET with colleagues) that we were encouraged by this panel to give time to critical thinking, something that both helps students at University and beyond that in their careers.