‘Breadth of curriculum is key to a well-rounded education’ says Head, Rick Clarke
OUR school system can sometimes seem as if it has just one goal: to pass exams. And lots of them – preferably with top marks.
Benchmark testing throughout the state system and entrance exams for both prep and secondary schools in the private sector can dominate a child’s early years. As anxious families hear whether their child has got their first choice of primary, secondary school or sixth form college, perhaps we should pause for a moment and consider what education is really for. Surely, we are trying to equip our children with a lifelong love
of learning and a curiosity about the world – not a qualification in passing exams on demand? And yet, the current system assumes that all children – Winterborn and Summer-born – will reach the same milestones at the same time. We all know that this is not the case, but often, in pursuit of this goal, more creative subjects as well as hobbies outside of school fall by the wayside. I believe that children can only become the best version of themselves when they mature at their own pace, developing the innate skills which will better equip them as adults who can cope and adapt to whatever life throws at them. At my school – Frensham Heights in Rowledge – this is exactly what we have been doing since 1925 when two pioneering women founded our school on a 120-acre site in the Surrey Hills. Their vision was an alternative to the restrictive educational approach of Victorian times. We continue to be a school that does things differently. From the age of 3 through to 18, we have Open Morning | Saturday 16th May
a very broad curriculum where each subject has equal space. In the early years, it is the children’s curiosity which guides the teacher’s innovative lessons. By Years 7 to 9, every student takes art and design technology for three hours a week, as well as three hours of dance, drama and music. At GCSE, everyone is encouraged to take at least one creative or performing art subject – and pursue interests away from the mainstream GCSE curriculum. The focus at A level is very much on individual passions and interests with 29 subjects available including new ones such as Film Studies as well as the Extended Project Qualification and our own Edge programme – additional courses covering a myriad of topics which help our students to develop other skills such as leadership and collaboration at the same time as extending their learning beyond their chosen A levels. Throughout the whole school, it is the individual spark, the curious mind, which we are seeking to encourage. The best thinkers-outside-the-box, the gamechangers in life discover their brilliance slowly and in their own unique way. There’s little doubt that activities outside the classroom lead to greater success within it. As such, we hold the prestigious Gold standard award from the Association of Heads of Outdoor Education Centres – the only school in the country to do so. Certainly, there is more freedom here than at most schools – for instance, we do not have school uniform – but we are not without boundaries and structure. Neither are we disdainful of exams. In fact, we are very proud of our results. What we do believe, however, is that there is nothing uniform about a child’s developmental milestones. If there were, wouldn’t employers ask job applicants when they first rode a bike without stabilisers, or read a book on their own? Every child has their own personal journey through childhood and adolescence. They are individuals. At Frensham Heights we believe they should be treated as such. @rickclarke72 @FrenshamHeights If you would like to visit us please contact Sarah, our Registrar: firstname.lastname@example.org Open Morning | Saturday 16th May BOOK YOUR PLACE AT WWW.FRENSHAM.ORG Open Morning | Saturday 16th May BOOK YOUR PLACE AT WWW.FRENSHAM.ORG Open Morning | Saturday 16th May BOOK YOUR PLACE AT WWW.FRENSHAM.ORG Open Morning | Saturday 16th May BOOK YOUR PLACE AT WWW.FRENSHAM.ORG