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Academic Curriculum

It is a privilege for us as teachers to be catalysts for our pupils’ learning. Teachers and pupils work collaboratively in the pursuit of academic excellence, motivated by intellectual curiosity and a shared passion for knowledge.

Ieuan Weir - Deputy Head Academic

Parent Power 2023

Canford ranked 1st among co-educational schools in the South West region for its A Level results 2022

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A Top 20 UK Co-ed Boarding School for A Level Results 2021

A Top 20 UK Co-ed Boarding School for GCSE Results 2021

Our aim is to provide pupils with a long-lasting love of learning. We try to achieve this through a variety of means, depending on the age group and ability level of each individual. In addition, we aim to develop an inspirational curriculum of study, we offer a challenging and exciting academic enrichment programme across all year groups where pupils are encouraged to think beyond the normal demands of subject material.

True academic excitement demands detail as well as the big idea.  Through our curriculum, and through all the work that happens outside the classroom, pupils learn that learning is not the same as entertainment – but is entertaining.  We want our pupils to develop a passion for learning.

In their journey towards intellectual maturity, the excitement of forging one’s own path through previously unexplored territory may be one of the most compelling times of a young person's academic life.

The journey starts when pupils enter the school in the Shell year (Year 9). Arriving from many different backgrounds into an unfamiliar environment, it is through engaging with the familiar world of the classroom that many pupils first find their feet – and will often have their first experience of falling in love with learning, whether in the context of a specific subject, or through one of the many cross-curricular projects they undertake. Our Shell curriculum is designed to encourage habits of concentration, of aiming for the best and of taking risks in order to achieve something special; the work they do in this vital year enables our pupils to make the most of the curriculum opportunities they have through their GCSE choices in Years 10 & 11 – the Fourth and Fifth forms.

The GCSE curriculum allows our pupils to see a wide panorama of further intellectual opportunities, which they will strive towards during the Sixth Form. Here, alongside lessons to explore the depths of the A level curriculum, pupils learn to plan and execute extended projects through the EPQ programme, Ivy House programme and enrichment programme, and they have the chance to develop deep and personal knowledge of the subject they wish to make their own, through University preparation groups that encourage reading and study beyond the curriculum.

Detail and the big idea: the cultural and intellectual enrichment groups, sitting alongside our formal curriculum enrichment, work together to offer a rich diet and a rewarding journey for all of our pupils.

Shell Curriculum Guide

GCSE/IGCSE Course Guide

Fifth Form GCSE Coursework Guide

Curriculum Policy

Cross-Curricular Learning - Shell Projects

We believe that subjects you study do not exist in isolation. All subjects are connected, both to a wider world and to each other. Learning across subjects helps to develop a wide range of skills.

The Shell Projects have been designed to foster and develop the eight Canford Cross-curricular Competencies which permeate throughout our academic teaching across all year groups:

• Literacy
• Communication skills
• Organisation, research and planning
• Team work
• Critical thinking
• Independent Learning
• Self-Reflection
• Global Awareness

Link to Enrichment area

Sixth Form Curriculum

At Canford, we have taught A levels for many years.  For us, the excitement of A level teaching remains undimmed and we believe that there are huge challenges in mastering the content of any of the A levels we offer.  The A* grade, introduced in 2010, provides a real and demanding target for the most able.

We believe that there is ample scope at GCSE level for pupils to test their ability in a wide range of subjects.  Sixth Form academic choices are the start of the process of specialisation for a University degree.  

While we do not offer the IB at Canford, there are elements of the IB programme which we like and have adapted these into our Sixth Form curriculum. The IB's extended essay has led to the introduction of Extended Project Qualifications (EPQs) and the Ivy House programme for interested Lower Sixth.  The Theory of Knowledge component has been threaded throughout Canford's unique General Studies programme, called Connections, giving pupils in every year group the chance to place into a wider context the knowledge they gain through subject lessons. For further information about our Academic Enrichment programmes, please click on the link on the right.

By using the Cambridge Pre-U where appropriate (currently in Art and Modern languages) alongside A levels we believe we have a modern Sixth Form curriculum that offers the most flexible combination for today’s sixth-former.

A Level course guide

Link to Sixth Form area