Key Stage 3
The curriculum in year 7 at Holcombe Grammar School is designed to help students develop a solid foundation, both in continuing their high level academic studies and in their development as productive and valuable members of society.
Our fortnightly timetable ensures students have access to a range of lessons and home learning opportunities to attain knowledge and abilities in preparation for their GCSE courses. Our curriculum builds on many subject specific skills, including numeracy and literacy covered in primary school, and develops transferable thinking skills that are used throughout the subjects. Many concepts studied are demanding and unfamiliar topics that enable students to discover new ideas that may shape their future choices in work and education.
Academic mastery in year 7 is rooted in a student’s wider reading, research and general world knowledge that supports the classroom based learning. Therefore, throughout year 7 lessons, form time and extra-curricular activities the development of a love of reading is a priority. In addition, students are encouraged to make use of the school library, share their book reviews with peers and attend extra-curricular book clubs to extend their interests and reading skills.
Individual focus days for year 7 include Thinking Tools training in term 1 and Revision Skills in term 4. These days are led by the form tutors to introduce the Thinking Tools that form the basis of Holcombe’s approach to teaching and learning, and by the School Captains and prefects to help students prepare for their end of year exams successfully.
Students are also encouraged to get involved in many other aspects of the Holcombe community. An extensive range of clubs, societies, music and groups are offered before school, at lunch time and after school. 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 an Anti-Bullying Ambassador, helping to run a club or taking on the role of a Form Captain 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
We are a large Sixth Form and offer a wide range of subjects for students to choose from. 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 school trips, sporting teams and events, the opportunity to participate in debates and much, much more. 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 Captains’ 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.