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Sevenoaks School introduces Middle School Diploma

New Diploma is designed to equip students with skills sought by universities and employers

Posted by Hannah Vickers | August 05, 2017 | Teaching

Sevenoaks School has launched its Middle School Diploma for students aged 13-16. The school decided that the GCSE curriculum fails to offer the breadth of education and skill sets desired by employers and universities and was inadequate for preparing pupils for sixth form. 

Created to sit alongside its own academic curriculum, the aim of the Diploma is to provide students with core skills that are not developed by pure academic study; the Diploma fosters key attributes such as creativity, problem solving abilities, critical thinking skills and teamwork. 

The Diploma acts as a record of learning experiences gained throughout the Middle School and encourages the development of a broad skill set to create well-rounded individuals; these activities are categorised into eight areas for accreditation:

•   Making and performing – to encourage creativity through pursuits such as Theatre Production,

•   Service – cultivating philanthropy and social responsibility via voluntary service and charity activity,

•   Physical and Outdoor education – recognising dedication to sporting activity including the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme,

•   Academic engagement – achieved through commitment to study and personal reflective comments on assignments and progress,

•   Core courses – awarded for student participation and excellence in ‘Critical Perspectives’ and ‘Ten ideas that changed the world’ to cultivate global awareness,

•   Entrepreneurship – the development of business skills through participation in workshops, attending guest speaker events and entering schemes such as the school’s Business Plan competition,

•   A research project – exploring an area of personal interest and developing independent study and research skills,

•   Tutor recommendation – acknowledging any other activities where a student’s tutor has identified outstanding contribution, such as leadership of group activity.

Students are also encouraged to reflect throughout the Diploma and use this process to become aware of individual strengths, areas to develop and set goals and create targets in order to progress. 

The Diploma will work in conjunction with the other qualifications offered by the school: IGCSEs, GCSEs and the Sevenoaks School Certificates (SSC). The SSC is the school’s own equivalent qualifications for GCSE-level study; it is marked externally and the qualification is recognised by UCAS. Originally introduced for English Literature in 2010 to offer a broader and more stimulating education than the GCSE curriculum, the school has since introduced the SSC in five other subjects including Art, Drama, Music, Technology (Robotics) and Technology (Visual Communications).  

Tim Jones, Deputy Head at Sevenoaks School, said: “The Middle School Diploma is a statement of our belief that education can be ambitious, broad, inclusive and exciting. The Diploma sits alongside our Sevenoaks School Certificates, and focuses on the development of skills and attributes that our students will need for success in the future.’’

I am delighted to see a school taking such clear steps to emphasise and celebrate crucial aspects of education, absent from performance tables but vital to a happy and successful life - Lord Lucas, Editor in Chief of The Good Schools Guide

Lord Lucas, Editor in Chief of The Good Schools Guide, comments: “I am delighted to see a school taking such clear steps to emphasise and celebrate crucial aspects of education, absent from performance tables but vital to a happy and successful life. The recording of achievements beyond the curriculum, and pupils' reflections on them, provide pupils with a substantial base of confidence and self-awareness to which they can refer for years afterwards.

“Sevenoaks School has shown, with its Sevenoaks School Certificates, that it can command the respect of pupils, parents and universities for the academic judgements that it makes about its pupils' work; they clearly intend to apply the same standards to its new Middle School Diploma. I hope that the government will continue to support the Careers and Enterprise Company in the creation of a Skills Passport, to help all schools take the same path as Sevenoaks School.”

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