Academic Extension during Remote Learning
An unexpected but welcome opportunity offered by the current lockdown has been to expand our provision for the UV and UVI Forms. Whilst the Summer Term, under normal circumstances, would be dominated by revision and exams, this term we are able to do something rather different and have been delighted by the response from parents, pupils and teachers.
UV Form Extension
For the UV Form pupils, a primary focus of the newly designed programme is helping to bridge the gap between GCSEs and A levels, whilst also giving pupils the opportunity to experience other subjects that they enjoy or have an interest in finding out more about.
All pupils have selected at least six academic subjects in which they are having weekly tutorials. These include new subjects normally only offered in the Sixth Form, such as Economics, History of Art, Government and Politics and Psychology. In addition, the Extended Project Qualification gives pupils the chance to develop undergraduate level skills by researching and writing a 5,000-word essay on a topic of their choosing. Weekly online teaching sessions will furnish pupils with the skills and advice to enable them to decide on a topic and begin the research process.
We are also delighted to be working with Ivy House, a company that specialises in corporate leadership training. The Ivy House Award is an online personal development programme designed for students. Each participant embarks on their own guided journey by reflecting on aspects of themselves and their lives, which are then discussed in a weekly virtual meeting with other girls in their House. The aim is to ensure that all girls have considered carefully what they want out of life, how to achieve this, and what their personal strengths and areas of development are.
Another new initiative that we have arranged is a series of online talks delivered by members of Wycombe staff. In our first talk, Mr Massey shared his knowledge of what life was like in East Germany prior to the fall of the Berlin Wall. Other talk titles range from; ‘Defeating Carole Baskin: Why Joe Exotic should have read the “Art of War” by Sun Tzu’ to ‘The Ethics of Acts and Omissions’.
A General Studies programme is also being provided to cover important topics such as sustainability, finance, trends in the job market, InvestIN webinar and wellbeing, and we are also ensuring that all girls take time for exercise and to develop their own personal interests. We are confident that whilst this Summer Term will not be what most UV girls expected, it will prove to be beneficial and enjoyable for them.
One pupil writes, “I have really enjoyed the enrichment programme so far as it has allowed me to explore subjects that I wouldn’t take for A level but have a genuine interest in. The Ivy House Award programme is also very effective… and Carrington teacher talks online are an amazing idea as it allows us to learn completely new things and perhaps gain an interest in topics we would have never previously thought about, this coming at a perfect time as we have a lot of free time to explore the things that interest us.”
UVI Form Enrichment Programme
The change of programme for the UVI Form, whilst a result of difficult and frustrating times, has provided an unusual opportunity for Clarence girls to immerse themselves in an eclectic variety of courses designed to stimulate and challenge their thinking. Pupils have a free choice from twenty different subject courses, the large majority of which can be accessed without existing subject knowledge. This enables girls to undertake completely new intellectual journeys or, perhaps, return to areas they had left behind when entering the Sixth Form.
The UVI Form Enrichment Programme is non-compulsory, and the level of girls’ participation is entirely their choice. This reflects the fact that some girls have made additional commitments since the lockdown began, such as volunteering in the care sector. It has been suggested to girls that a selection of six or seven courses would be broadly equivalent to a normal lesson load, though they can take on more or less than this, as preferred.
The range and focus of courses offered reflect the wide interests and knowledge of Wycombe Abbey staff. Indeed, it is a pleasure for teachers to be able to explore areas that go well beyond any A level syllabus within a structure that is, perhaps, most comparable to a Liberal Arts programme. Although most courses do not require prior knowledge, the level of thinking is closer to an undergraduate experience.
The bulk of the courses are open access, not requiring specific knowledge or skills. Amongst these, girls can choose enticing titles, from Classics’ multidisciplinary Crossing the Rubicon to Physics’ What Time is it in Space? – An Introduction to Relativity. They can also pick up entirely new skills, such as Chinese or German for beginners. A smaller number of limited access courses, requiring an A level standard of knowledge, are designed to take the thinking of existing students to a higher level of challenge, such as The Magic of Chemistry, or Creative CompSci with Code.
The response from Clarence to the opportunities presented by this programme has been characteristically enthusiastic and committed. Always keen to rise to a challenge, the Upper VI girls have embraced the chance to explore new ideas and experiences.
Pupils have shared their feedback with us: “I have really been enjoying all of the enrichment courses; I particularly like the combination of lecture style teaching, online presentations and online resources which we are able to explore further.”
“I wanted to emphasise that I am really grateful to have the chance of experiencing lessons of teachers and their passions which we may not have been able to previously.”