Academic Enrichment Programmes
While examinations are critically important, Canford enhances the academic curriculum with a number of enrichment programmes which aim to inspire creative thought, stimulate intellectual endeavour and encourage independent thinking. We believe that a school such as ours should and will always strive to offer more. We don’t want our pupils to merely accept knowledge, nor do we want them to think of learning in a compartmentalized, fragmented manner. We want them to question received ideas, to understand the world they inhabit and to make individual, informed connections between topics and disciplines. We want them to have an educational advantage, both practically and intellectually.
Canford's academic scholars are automatically enrolled on an enrichment programme when they join the school and membership is also open to any pupils who have the enthusiasm and ability for learning. Connections, our whole school innovative general studies programme, gives an opportunity to step beyond the curriculum with a focus in each year group on a different aspect.
That we have made time for this in the timetable is testament to Canford’s confidence in the need for educational scope and also the importance it places on reflection. We need some space to gather our thoughts and make sense of our experiences; the ideas that propel human civilizations stem from the piecing together of new and seemingly disparate thoughts; exposure to a range of ideas and topics allow for sparks to fly in imagination and intellect.
Connections is Canford's unique non-examined general studies programme. Pupils in all year groups take part in this for a double lesson each week. The aim is to challenge pupils to think beyond the normal demands of subject curricula; to learn to connect together what they are taught and to place their knowledge in the context of man's intellectual and cultural development. Each year group has a different focus and teachers provide their own personal expertise and interest into the topics.
The Shells focus on ‘the individual,’ in which exploration of the self is a key aspect, the Fourth Formers are offered courses under the heading of ‘timelines.’ The Fifth Formers concentrate on ‘society: roles, responsibilities and constructs.’ The Lower Sixths are exposed to a range of talks by outside speakers and can take a course on Critical Thinking - an incredibly useful tool as well as an academic advantage. Finally, the fusion of the practical and the intellectual in the Upper Sixth, the year of ‘reasoned subjectivity’, provides a great balance in as much as the pupils are prepared for life beyond Canford as well as given some weighty intellectual baggage. Ranging from ancient Egyptian culture and psychology to ‘Deep Time’ and medical ethics, there is a tremendous breadth of insight on offer.
Academic enrichment groups are available for scholars and all those with an interest in further developing knowledge in particular subject disciplines.
Shells attend 'Survivor', in which they are confronted with the task of reshaping and reconstructing the earth following an apocalyptic event, and 'Tower Society' where they debate philosophical questions of the age over dinner in the magnificent 'Top Tower' room. In the Fourth Form 'Tower Society' continues in more detail while in the Fifth there is emphasis on the connection between different areas of knowledge in 'The Knowledge Tree.' In the Sixth Form the programme becomes 'Pi', moving to discussion groups, the opportunity to study for an Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) and Oxbridge preparation.
Academic societies abound at Canford and are very popular. Pupils and staff meet regularly to discuss ideas within a particular subject, such as at the Layard Society (History), the Physics Book Club and the Literary Society. Heretics is a Sixth Form group which discusses grand philosophical ideas and is open to anyone with a lively, enquiring mind.