From The Head of Secondary
Secondary school is a rolling seven-year project. Coming in at the start are the 11-year-olds: full of energy, potential, fizz and buzz. Going out at the end are the 18-year-olds: mature, well-rounded, proactive, thoughtful and fully prepared for the next stage of their lives – which, in almost all cases, will be university somewhere in the world. Academic success is a very important and successful part of that project at BST – but there is a whole lot more going on here as well.
In common with most British schools, we use English National Curriculum terminology, so Year 7 (age 11-12) is where it all begins. Years 7-9 are grouped together as ‘Key Stage 3’. This is the time when a common curriculum is studied by all. It is our job – of course – to engage all students in their learning but also to encourage and develop intellectual independence to a high level. Although knowledge is most definitely power, even in this super-connected age, I should never be happy if BST students were simply parroting the ideas and opinions of others. They need to build their own strength of character, to pursue ideas and then to cultivate them.
Years 10 and 11 are the GCSE (starting in September 2013 this will change to IGCSE) years. These are external exams, set and marked by independent, internationally-recognised bodies and taken at the end of Year 11. In England, GCSEs are a very important building block in the overall educational experience for all children and BST maintains this culture as a matter of course. Because GCSE is a well-defined two-year course, it can often be tricky to move schools in the middle. However, we have a very nice solution: please see our pages on the exciting F1 course for details.
The last two years of school (Years 12 and 13) are normally (if a little confusingly) referred to in England as the Sixth Form. BST offers a strong range of A-levels, armed with which our students then depart to the best universities in the world. A-level is the national academic qualification of England: an enormously well-respected gateway to any of the top universities in the world.
Alongside the academic aspects of any good school will always exist a deeply-embedded extra-curricular culture. BST is certainly no exception. Learning does not just involve books, computer screens and tests. It is a whole-person, lifelong, enormously rich experience. We spend two weeks of every year learning outside the standard classroom in our ‘second home’ at Hakuba, up in the Japan Alps. We run an extensive sporting programme, with fixtures against local international schools as well as some opportunities for competition further afield. We have a heavy instrumental programme as well as concerts and international music tours. Our students take up the challenge of the International Award (known as the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award in the UK) from Year 10. And this really is only a small part of what goes on in our thriving, dynamic and remarkably engaged community.
I’m very proud to be able to say that BST Secondary School is, along with all the above, also the nicest environment I have ever worked in: our students are thoughtful, helpful and polite and they really do support each other in wonderful ways. If you get the chance, please do come and visit us. We’ll all be delighted to see you.
Head of Secondary