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Canford Festival of Ideas

There is a misconception that Academic Enrichment in general is about elitism or that it is simply an extension activity for the exceptionally able. This is not the case at Canford. We want our pupils to explore, to engage, to discover, to analyse, to criticise and to interpret. We want them to think creatively and to innovate within their own specialist spheres. We want them to have every opportunity to pursue their academic ambitions (at any level) and to do this not for the mercenary reward of an exam result – though these are of fundamental importance – but because they enjoy and are passionate about their education.

At Canford, every pupil is entitled to an enriching experience of education that begins in the classroom but extends well beyond it. Linking into the personal passions and interests of each of our pupils, the Enrichment Programme is a tailored and varied pathway to independent learning that aims to inculcate a love of learning for its own sake which remains a critical aspect of a Canfordian’s identity long after they have left in the Upper Sixth.  



Throughout their time at Canford our pupils are offered numerous opportunities outside the classroom to develop the intellect and imagination: we do everything we can to encourage the view that life of the mind and the emotions forms a part of the daily life of a school like ours. Some opportunities invite a mass audience while others cater for small groups of enthusiasts, so in any given week there may a group of fewer than ten students heading down to the Lighthouse in Poole to hear a symphony played by the outstanding Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra while the whole of a year group might hear a talk on a philosophical or cultural subject from one of the many outstanding outside speakers who visit the school, some of whom will stay on to run seminars or workshops.

A unique programme of cross-curricular festivals, events and visiting and virtual lecturers to develop enquiring minds, encourage debate and to provoke creative thought includes:

  • A post GCSE programme to challenge and excite after the rigours of exams
  • Departmental and cross-curricular societies for all year groups
  • Extended Project Qualifications for Lower Sixth
  • The annual cultural Festival of Ideas Theme Week which this year was replaced by Black History Month
  • University interview exchange programme in collaboration with local schools and the City of London Academy

It would be difficult for pupils to attend absolutely everything on offer, although some do, so house staff will encourage them to try out something new.  It soon becomes clear that when something interests you, it seems so much easier to remember and recall the information.  If we can foster live, enquiring minds, then the challenge of exams becomes much more manageable.  In the end however, what drives the Canford programme is a belief that the world into which our pupils will move is both exciting and demanding and that, with live minds, verbal confidence and an openness to ideas, they will be so much better placed to thrive and make the most of their lives.