A Foreword from the Headmaster
At the heart of a King’s education is the dual pursuit of academic and co-curricular excellence. The wide-ranging interests, the intellectual ambition and the development of self discipline that such pursuits engender are highly prized in our modern global society. The quality of the teaching and the breadth of the activities outside the classroom mean that the lessons learnt and the skills acquired stay with our pupils for life.
An essential feature of this process is the way in which it does not matter if the passion is for sport, music, acting or chess – to make a random selection of the plethora of opportunities for young people at King’s.
That all this takes place in such a beautiful and historic context with the support and guidance of a talented and dedicated staff explains why I am so proud and enthusiastic about leading this very special school.
Headmaster's Lent Term Message
New Chemistry laboratories
The next stage of preparation towards the construction of the New Science building in Mint Yard was reached at the beginning of this term: the two old Chemistry labs in the basement of the Old Mitchinson’s moved to the other corner of the Quad where previously there were Maths and IT classrooms (these departments moved to new rooms in the Old Grange Yard and ‘J’ Block in September) and before that (for the memory of older OKS) the Old Gym. It is fascinating to compare the photos of the Old Gym in action with the recent Chemistry practicals during lessons! I am very grateful to the Bursar’s excellent team and to the Chemistry technicians and Dr Hayes, the Head of Chemistry, that we were able to effect the move over the Christmas holidays for a prompt start just now. The reports back from the pupils are very encouraging about the light, the space and top-quality equipment that has all been created. The ongoing refurbishment of our existing science facilities continues apace, as the attention focuses on the Chemistry labs in Parry Hall, along the North-Western side of the Quad.
Dr Hayes commented ‘The Chemistry department are very excited about our new laboratories – they are bright, spacious and perfectly designed to allow us to synthesise theoretical work with the practical aspects of the subject in all of our lessons. The specially designed desks allow students to flow from one task to another as well as providing ample space for more active teaching and learning. The fact that these labs are purpose-built means that the facilities are suited to our needs and, since we teachers have been fully involved in the design process, fulfil all of our hopes for the ideal teaching space’.
Once the New Mitchinson’s house is complete in St Radigund’s Street (this Half Term), then the next piece of the Precincts project jigsaw will centre on the old Mitchinson’s – further archaeology and then its ‘quiet’ demolition-leading to the construction of the state-of-the–art Physics block, emphasising our integrated approach to Science at King’s.
Breadth versus Depth
Michael Gove’s reforms to the ‘A’ Level curriculum when he was Education Secretary in the Coalition Government – ones that aimed to return the assessments/examinations to a linear system, greatly reducing (eradicating for some subjects) the amount of assessed coursework, and abolishing the half-way grading stage of AS levels at the end of 6b/Year12 – are now fully implemented. The high degree of success at King’s in the first majority-linear summer examination (May-June 2017) session would suggest that his reforms suit our methods of trying to continue to give academic breadth to our Sixth Form curriculum offering, but increasingly accepting at the 6a stage the need to focus on achieving university grade offers and on maximising individual pupils’ chances across their subjects. A balancing act is required and King’s feel that we have achieved that sensible balance by keeping most of our pupils to the task of trying out something initially in each of our five choice blocks, but also keeping most of the 6b cohort to the commitment of four ‘A’ Level subjects to the May Half Term of their 6b year.
Perhaps this breadth versus depth debate does need airing again at King’s for two reasons? Firstly, since so many of the Grammar and Independent day schools are narrowing down the options they give to pupils to three subjects from the word ‘go’, but, secondly, since the reformed ‘A’ Level courses (and the Pre-U courses we offer in six subjects) do surely require more study time if our pupils are going to do really well in them. What do you think?
If you would like to present comments or discuss the Headmaster’s forum message further, please contact Miss Claire Dixon, PA to the Headmaster – firstname.lastname@example.org