new academic year has brought with it a new course, Trivium, for Third Formers (Year 9s) at Oundle School. Designed to place learning for its own sake
at the heart of the curriculum, Trivium
is a course based purely on ‘interestingness’. It complements the School’s already
extensive Voluntaries programme and Extended Project Qualifications (EPQs), encouraging
pupils to extend their learning beyond subjects for academic assessment.
teachers at Oundle are involved in the new Trivium
course, and their brief is to educate; to introduce pupils to ideas and
culture, to sow seeds and to broaden the educational experience. The topics
explored vary from group to group; whilst one class is studying the works of
Koestler, another is immersed in the art of Berlin. One set of pupils is
discussing ethical aspects of technological advance whilst another is being introduced
to the poetry of Yeats.
Director of Studies, Ben Evans, commented “Our
new Trivium course is studied
by all Third Form pupils in groups of ten for four lessons per week. Oundelians
are intellectually ambitious but it is vital that they do not equate all
learning with assessment. ‘Triv’ has no syllabus and no prescribed content.”
of the Trivium themes will overlap,
and this is important: appreciation of a work of art is enhanced by an
understanding of historical context. What links all the sets in this
course is the method of teaching – Trivium’s
‘traditional three ways’ of Grammar, Logic and Rhetoric.
Oundle provides a modern Trivium, but expects that these three disciplines will
remain central to the teaching.
close relationship between the teacher and the pupils develops during the
course of the year, with small set sizes allowing for the classroom atmosphere
to be similar to that of a tutorial. The philosophy of the course can be
summed up the words of E M Forster: only connect.
added, “Oundle’s GCSE results are
exceptional. The raw results have placed
us 30th in The Times’ league table for the past two years. The Value Added per pupil has improved
steadily for the last ten years whilst the academic ability of the average
Oundelian has remained remarkably consistent.
suggests that the results have reached a peak, and the new challenge is to
maintain standards, especially against a backdrop of falling GCSE top grades
nationwide. If we assume that we have
reached a zenith in terms of teaching towards examinations, we should
investigate further ways of improving the educational experience whilst still
maintaining the rigour involved with preparing pupils for GCSE.
We wish to sow
seeds for the future by providing intellectual stimulation from the off. Our aim should be to create something akin to
a ‘colloquium for all’.”
extension programme is strong, with academic societies, extension courses,
Voluntaries and EPQs all offering many opportunities for intellectual
eight Voluntaries courses are open to First to Fourth Form (Year 7-9) pupils
including photography, mah-jong, climbing, origami, astronomy, palaeontology
commented, “Voluntaries represent the
chance to broaden pupils’ academic horizons, and to explore artistic, literary,
cultural or sporting activities without ever having to be tested on what they
have learned and experienced. Voluntaries are an opportunity to delve
deeper into things that really interest pupils, or they could be a chance to
have a go at something that they have never done before. Above all, they
are supposed to be fun. “
Project Qualifications (EPQs):
In addition to traditional A levels and Pre-Us, pupils may choose
to produce an individual project in an area of particular interest rather than
opting to follow a taught course for their Sixth Form extension.
The final project
will be completed by the end of the Lower Sixth, and may take the form of a
5000 word report or a ‘product’ (which may be a CD, DVD, crafted object,
original composition, work of Art) with an accompanying 1000 word report.
Each project will be assessed to gain the AQA Extended Project Qualification.
year saw the introduction of EPQ Level 2 Projects at Oundle, which requires a
high level of independent work and original thought. It is a stand-alone
qualification completed in one year where pupils can gain an A* grade
equivalent to half a GCSE.