Key Stage 3
The transition from Primary to Secondary School is an exciting and significant event for students. It may also be one of the scariest things they will have done in their lives to date! The experience that HGS provides for students in KS3 is designed to provide a solid foundation, not only to their continuing academic studies but also in their development as young, productive and valuable members of society.
Throughout Year 7, students are encouraged to attend an extra-curricular school trip in June. This is designed to help students integrate more effectively within the Holcombe community, whilst also providing opportunities of getting involved in activities and challenges that they might not normally experience. From Year 8 onwards, students are encouraged to get involved in other whole-school trips, many of which are undertaken through the Languages Faculty with our friends and colleagues in other countries throughout the world.
The accelerated KS3 curriculum offered in Years 7 and 8 covers a wide range of subjects, skills and experiences. Lessons are taught by subject-specialists, but transferable skills are developed and used throughout the subjects. Individual focus days and weeks, including a cross-curricular week in Year 7 and a Maritime Project day trip in Year 8, provide extended opportunities for students to develop valuable functional and inter-personal skills.
Students are also encouraged to get involved in many other aspects of the Holcombe community. A large number of extra-curricular activities are offered with an extensive range of sports clubs, subject-specific societies and music and drama groups. Students also have the opportunity of making an impact on the life of the School through a number of different positions of responsibility including being a member of the School Council, the Diversity Group or taking on the role of Form or Sports Captain.
Key Stage 4
At HGS the transition from KS3 – KS4 begin when students start Year 9. Prior to this students are fully prepared for this change by being involved in a Year 8 Option Evening where both students are parents are given support and guidance as to what subjects are on offer and secondly how they will impact on future career paths.
During their time in KS4 students will follow a curriculum which they themselves have designed in conjunction with both staff and parents. They will however have to follow some compulsory elements of the curriculum such as English, Mathematics, Science and Modern Foreign Languages with additional enrichment activities to develop your child further. The Key stage 4 team and Form Tutors see your child on a daily basis and have the biggest impact on your son’s education. They follow a vigorous programme of activities during their time with your child offering one to one mentoring support catering not only for their academic performance but also their general well being.
The Key Stage 4 team provide a range of resources that will help you as parents understand the academic demands that your son’s will go through as well as providing strategies to help support your son. Students are also supported with a range of support materials additional to those supplied by their subject teachers in order to strive for success.
Students are encouraged to be actively involved in school life and are given opportunities to have their voices and opinions heard by volunteering to be Form or Sports Captain or member of our School Council and Diversity group.
Key Stage 5
Almost all of our students continue their post-16 studies here at Holcombe, joined each year by around 100 students from other Kent and Medway schools who choose to undertake their Sixth Form studies here as well. This results in an energetic and vibrant Sixth Form with a tangible sense of community and belonging. And because we are such a large Sixth Form, we can offer a very wide range of subjects for students to choose from, delivered on the Holcombe site.
Although your academic success is at the heart of everything we do, we believe that education is about a lot more than that. Therefore we provide lots of opportunities for you to participate in a range of clubs and activities including exchanges and trips to Europe, America and Asia, musical and dramatic productions, sporting teams and events, Young Dragons, the UK Maths Challenge, the Bank of England competition, the Duke of Edinburgh award, the opportunity to participate in debates and in mock trials, and much, much more. And we will also be keen for you to develop your leadership skills through becoming a school council representative, a prefect, a student mentor or by becoming a member of the School Captain’s team.
Cognitive Education at HGS
At Holcombe Grammar School we believe passionately in providing our students with the best foundations on which to build their academic and personal success. In doing so we draw on the very latest pedagogic research to place cognition and Thinking Skills at the heart of our teaching and learning provision.
As part of our journey toward being acknowledged as a centre of best practice in this field, we will continue to work towards gaining accreditation as a Thinking School from Exeter University’s prestigious Cognitive Education Development Unit through September 2016-17.
“The philosophy of developing students’ thinking skills is being developed well… evidently motivating students to challenge themselves and step outside of their comfort zones.” – Ofsted October 2014
What is a Thinking School?
Thinking Schools follow many different paths, but one useful definition that encapsulates our approach at HGS is that offered by Knapp:
“A school which is successfully developing as a thinking community will strive to ensure that all pupils are developing and demonstrating independent and co-operative learning skills using a range of thinking tools and strategies. The school will generate high levels of achievement and an excitement and enthusiasm for lifelong learning. ”
Thinking Tools and Strategies at HGS
Thinking Maps are eight graphic organiser that foster students’ abilities to see connections across their studies and encourage lifelong learning. Taken together they form a visual language of learning that is shared by staff and students.
Widely used in business, Thinking Hats provides a practical method of directed cognition. Each of six distinct types of thinking are represented by a different coloured hat. When an individual is ‘wearing’ a specific hat they focus their thinking in the associated manner. Consequently the method helps people be more productive, focused, and mindfully involved.
Thinkers’ Keys are a set of twenty different ways of approaching an issue or subject designed to engage and motivate learners in a range of thinking activities.