High on our agenda over the past four years has been encouraging a culture of independent learning. It is crucial that students leave us understanding how they learn, and knowing how best to create an environment in which they can succeed; they need to know what to do when they don’t know what to do.
Our ‘Learning to Learn’ program starts in Year 7 and runs throughout the school, and is supplemented by a series of ‘How to Revise’ and ‘Exam Skills’ workshops for the older years. Partly in response to concerns raised publically by universities about the resilience of their undergraduates, and partly in response to the needs we have identified in our own students, our aim is that students learn how to take responsibility for their own learning and become accustomed to accepting struggles as part of success. Consequently, our teaching style has adapted to allow plenty of opportunity for students to experiment with different learning styles and to make second and third attempts at tasks within lessons.
Outside of lessons, we have a wealth of societies and optional talks and lectures that add depth to students’ academic subjects and encourage them to wonder more widely, make connections between their subjects, and engage with topics beyond the classroom. We have a thoughtfully stocked and regularly updated library from which to recommend wider reading and we encourage students to challenge and extend what they hear: staff can often be found in the corridors between lessons or at break times debating a point they have made in a lesson with a student!