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Canford Blog

Views from the study

Latest educational and intellectual comment from the Headmaster, senior staff and pupils at Canford School. It includes latest written papers, addresses at assemblies and departmental essays, reflecting the vibrancy and diversity of life at Canford.

The importance of English Literature
Richard Redwood, Head of English

Some are born to study great Literature, some achieve by studying great Literature, and some have great Literature thrust upon ‘em.1

Shakespeare understood the power of words. As a wordsmith, he forged many of our great sayings. Without him, our lives would be lacking. With him we can have ‘too much of a good thing’2, we can follow ‘neither rhyme nor reason’3 and learn about our ‘flesh and blood’4.

Nationally, the numbers of pupils studying STEM subjects at A Level are soaring but the numbers taking English are in serious decline. Almost 3,500 fewer pupils sat English Literature A level in 2019 compared to the year before. It seems that the STEM drive is eating us ‘out of house and home’5 and leaving us with a generation of computer-literate mathematically-minded engineers who may be unaware of our great literary traditions.

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Dr Patricia Gibbons - Philosophy & Theology

With the opportunity to construct a course for the Fourth Form within the remit of Philosophy, Ethics and Spirituality, I relished the idea of examining how biblical language and imagery is recycled in our culture.  That modest aim has developed into something more by leading me to examine what purpose such 'recycling' has.

At first I felt it important to give students some exposure to imagery and stories from the Bible itself, as over the years of my teaching career I have seen the amount of residual Bible knowledge that I can assume my students have, decline.  As a Religious Studies teacher that gives me the privileged position of sometimes being the first person to introduce them to certain Bible stories, and I see fresh, and sometimes startling, reactions from them as they encounter the ideas for the very first time.  As a biblical scholar by training, this aspect always fascinates me.

What riches and challenges we have found in our Bible Recycled course!  Not only in giving us a ready-made currency of language to narrate and frame personal aspects of our lives, but it can also help us to reflect on and develop our world-view.  As ever, what I the teacher thought I would bring to the students, has been more than matched by what the students have brought to me in their eagerness and responses.  What a great thing this broad education is!

Read More about The Stories We Tell: Bible stories recycled and what we can learn from them
Jessye Phillips (Upper Sixth)

Upper Sixth pupil Jessye Phillips is a passionate environmentalist and was inspired to write this spoken word poem following her attendance at the Extinction Rebellion strikes in London in April and march with XR youth, a fridaysforfuture strike in Exeter in April and most recently the Earth Strike in Bournemouth in September. Jessye gave speeches at the latter two and performed this spoken word poem at the recent school Yellow Hour.

Read More about Do or Die
Edward Johnson - Head of Biology

I wanted to speak to you today about the power of groups.  It is great to belong to for example, a community or a team and to feel part of something bigger.

It is fantastic to feel connected to other people, sharing things with them, working together for a common goal and enjoying each other’s company.  Just take a moment to consider what groups you feel part of.  You might feel a strong attachment to the Canford community, a sports team, music group or to your village, county or country. 

But there is a darker side to groups.  When a population is defined not by the things that bind it together, but by the exclusion of others, then it can become very unpleasant indeed.  History provides us with a catalogue of examples of where different groups have been dragged into conflict as leaders have managed to successfully portray some other people as being in some way different, less human and therefore less deserving of rights as those in their own group.

Read More about Whole School Assembly: Groups
Jamie Tian (Fourth Form)

This research will investigate the evolution of eukaryotic cells.

The aims of this research are to:

i)       Investigate how mitochondria and chloroplasts evolved by looking at the endosymbiotic hypothesis

ii)     Investigate how eukaryotic nuclei were formed by viral eukaryogenesis

iii)    Investigate the outside-in and inside-out hypothesis of symbiogenesis.

The main objective of this report is to find out possible ways of how eukaryotic cells were evolved from prokaryotes and how the different organelles within eukaryotic cells are developed and specialized to perform different functions. 

Read More about Investigation into the biochemical origin of eukaryotic cellular life
10 Top Tips to know before you start university
Alice Martyr - University of Bristol graduate

This summer I graduated after an amazing 3 years at the University of Bristol. I remember clearly being so nervous and excited as my parents drove me to Bristol for my first day. There have been ups and downs, but I have had the best time and already miss my university experience. Here are 10 top tips that I wish I had known before starting start university…

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Michael Doherty, Head of Careers

The third Thursday in August is awaited with a mixture of eager anticipation and apprehensive dread by all Sixth Form students – A Level Results Day.

It is very important to keep a cool head and make rational decisions on a day of such frenetic activity.  Here are a few points to keep in mind:

Read More about A Level Results Day - keep a cool head


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