Boys and Girls : 13 - 18 : Boarding
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Our curriculum broadly "shadows" the National Curriculum, so we follow the attainment targets of the National Curriculum while retaining the flexibility to include in our curriculum more than basic requirements in areas such as Classics or a second foreign language.
All new pupils generally study: English, Maths, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, French, History, Geography, Religious Studies, Art, Design Technology, Physical Education, Music, ICT and Life Skills (PSE). In addition to French, pupils study either German or Spanish (or both), and also a classical subject, either Latin with Greek, or Latin or Classical Civilisation.
We will contact you in the summer term before you son, or daughter, is due to come, asking whether you would like to express a choice over their modern language and /or classical subject option.
Pupils are set by ability, and sets sensitively reviewed throughout the year for each major subject area: English, Maths, Languages, Science, History, Classics and Geography.
In the Fourth Form classes have around 18 pupils in them. In the GCSE years (Lower Fifth and Upper Fifth) the average class is a little smaller – around 17 pupils. In the Sixth Form the average class size is 9.
There is a "Life Skills" lesson every week for all pupils, which covers in a structured programme such topics as sex education, personal relations and social development. This process continues throughout a pupil's time at Uppingham.
Life Skills includes study skills. In addition each pupil has a Tutor (as well as a Housemaster/Housemistress) who will keep an overview of their work - as well as other areas of their life at the School. Teachers and Tutors communicate regularly – both formally and informally.
There is a period set aside every evening for private study. In the Lower School (years 9, 10 and 11) there are three set preps of half an hour each per evening, normally done in the Houses under the supervision of a Prefect, and Tutor or Housemaster/Housemistress.
In the Sixth Form pupils are expected to undertake as many hours of private study each week as they have lessons; they undertake this private study during the evening prep periods and also during study periods during the day.
The setting of pupils outlined above helps teachers stretch their classes appropriately, and the curriculum is designed to offer subjects which are suitably demanding in line with pupils’ abilities. We also encourage cross-curricular thought with a programme of challenges outside lessons organised by the Head of Lower School. The Leighton Group, overseen by the Master of the Scholars, provides a separate programme of academic enrichment and mentoring for academic scholars and others invited to join the group. Some pupils in the Lower Fifth will be invited to join the Junior Seminar Group, and in the Upper Fifth some will pursue a lecture programme culminating in AS General Studies.
In the Sixth Form pupils benefit from additional seminars, competitions, trips and visiting speakers arranged by academic departments. Many choose to pursue a research project in addition of their taught subjects.
The School's policy is that, while we have no special unit for children with severe learning difficulties, we are able to offer help by means of special assistance from teachers in the Learning Support Department who are trained to deal with dyslexia and other learning difficulties. This help is given on an individual basis. The School will require you to inform us of any previous history of learning difficulty.
There is a brief assembly in Chapel most mornings for the whole School - either an act of corporate worship, or a talk or presentation by a member of staff. There are then two 55-minute lessons, followed by a 25-minute break, followed by two more 55-minute lessons. The pupils then return to their Houses for lunch. On three days a week there are afternoon lessons (Monday, Wednesday and Friday), whilst the others (Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday) are ‘games afternoons’. Between afternoon lessons/games there are lots of activities, music, drama etc to get involved with. Supper is at 6.20pm, followed by the prep period.
Bed times vary – for the Fourth Form it is 9.45pm, in the Lower Fifth it is 10.15pm, 10.30pm Upper Fifth. The Sixth Form have to be in their bedsits by 11pm.
The study in depth of specialist A level/Pre-U subjects is at the heart of the sixth form curriculum at Uppingham. The courses we offer are rigorous and intellectually demanding, and we offer a great deal of flexibility so that each sixth former can follow a programme suited to his or her interests and aptitudes. All subjects require students to organise their time effectively and develop an appreciation of the value of hard work.
We have, along with most schools, considered the alternatives to A levels.
The International Baccalaureate (IB) is admirable in many ways, but requires all students to continue with certain subjects and is still regarded by some university tutors as a less suitable preparation for higher education. By taking four contrasting A level/Pre-U subjects in the Lower Sixth a sixth former can study a wide breadth of subjects, but the A level/Pre-U system also offers the flexibility for some pupils to specialise – whether in the sciences, languages or humanities/arts – which is less easy in the IB system. At Uppingham the opportunity to pursue an individual research projects allows pupils to stretch themselves by writing a lengthy and independently researched dissertation alongside their A levels, mirroring the IB’s extended essay.
The Cambridge Pre-U courses have been adopted by the History of Art, Chemistry and Physics departments in the absence of a suitable A level syllabus.
Although one might not believe it from reports in the media, A levels remain the mainstream curriculum choice for schools in the independent sector.
The government’s A level reforms will affect pupils who enter the Lower Sixth in September 2015 and beyond. By September 2017 all subjects will be teaching ‘new’ A levels that are two-year courses with exams only at the end of the Upper Sixth, instead of the AS/A2 modular system we have been used to since 2000. Not all subjects are being reformed at the same time however; see the ‘A levels from September 2015’ document on the Academic Life section of the website for further details.
GCSEs are also being reformed in stages from September 2015, but these changes will have very little impact at Uppingham at that point, because the IGCSE courses we follow in most subjects will be unaffected.
The prospectus for A levels offered at Uppingham explains how the system works here. The information covers the course syllabuses and content and there is also advice on how to choose courses, and on the sort of combinations that might be considered.
There is an open day on a Sunday in the March before the September that new pupils join the Sixth Form at which there is an opportunity to talk more fully about Sixth Form choices. This day is specifically, though not exclusively, for this purpose. By this time most pupils should be close to making a decision, though even at this stage we fully understand that these decisions might depend on your GCSE results. Even after pupils have joined the School in September, there are opportunities over the first weekend for further discussion if there has been a change of heart.
Each department has the freedom to adopt the qualification it considers best. In some subjects we consider that the IGCSE offers a more rigorous and enriching academic experience and prepares pupils better for A level study, and a number of academic departments have started to offer IGCSE courses in recent years: Mathematics, Science, modern languages, English, History and Geography. The remaining subjects have chosen to continue with GCSE.
This number varies from year to year. In 2013 thirteen pupils received Oxbridge offers; in 2012 there were eleven, and in 2011 there were seventeen.
There is a system of regular Reviews - reports on academic progress written by those who teach your son or daughter, which are sent home each half of term by email. The Housemaster or Housemistress, and the Tutor will discuss these with your son or daughter and help them with any problems. If there are concerns the Housemaster, Housemistress or Tutor will talk to members of staff and discuss the matter with you as well.
There are annual formal Parent-Teacher meetings for each age-group, which all teachers attend to discuss your child’s progress with you. In addition there are half-termly Reviews, which the Housemaster/Housemistress and Tutors will go through with each pupil, and the contents of which are made known to you as they are sent home by email; there are also formal reports. The most frequent forms of contact however, are by telephone and email. If the Housemaster or Housemistress is worried about any aspect of your child’s progress, they will contact you and, similarly, if you feel unhappy about how your child is coping with any aspect of School life, you will be expected to share your concern with them.
Pupils are all provided with a School computer in the boarding houses. Sixth Form pupils are allowed to bring their own laptop, iPad or other tablet device to Uppingham, and if they wish may use it in lessons and when working in the School Library or Cavell Centre. Pupils in the Lower School are only allowed to bring and use their own mobile devices with the approval of the Learning Support department.
In September 2014 we created a new role of Director of Libraries and Learning Resources to provide support for pupils who are working on independent research topics to make the best use of online and traditional resources. She is responsible for the provision of research resources across the School and works in both the School Library and the Cavell Centre, the learning resource centre located in the new Science Centre.
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