The aim of this brief is to outline the curriculum which boys take at Radley in their Remove and Fifth Forms (years 10 and 11 in National Curriculum terms). That curriculum consists firstly of a Core of compulsory subjects — English, Maths, French and Dual Award Science — which are examined, as well as a course in Religious Studies in the Removes, which all boys attend but which does not lead to public examinations. Boys in the top sets are prepared for both English Language and English Literature GCSEs; boys in the lower sets benefit from a focus in the timetable allocation to attain high grades in just English Language. Some boys are entered early for one or more of these core subjects; for example, in Maths boys in higher sets take IGCSE (International GCSE) in the Remove year. In French, top set linguists are entered for IGCSE in May of the Remove year, with the second set sitting it either then or in the following Michaelmas term. In practice this policy ensures that the more able boys can be stretched beyond the scope of the GCSE syllabuses. We have recently moved across to doing the IGCSE dual award Science examination, which is a better preparation for Sixth Form Sciences.
In addition, there is a selection of Option subjects, each of which is taken to GCSE or IGCSE. In choosing a combination of Options, certain advice might be borne in mind. It is, educationally speaking, desirable to study a humanity, History or Geography; to pursue a second language (either for practical use or in the case of a classical language, to learn about the mechanics of language so that future learning is made easier); and — where there is an aptitude — to pursue a practical or artistic subject (Design and Technology, Technology, Art, Theatre Studies or Music). However, it is distinctly possible that a boy may have a particular leaning. The Option Block system thus permits the choice of subjects to satisfy those with special inclinations, allowing Greek and Latin, German and Spanish, Art and Design. For the all-rounder, choosing four options can be an agonising matter, and discussions with appropriate Heads of Department, current Form Master and Tutor will be important. Each year a number of boys find it difficult to give up subjects they have enjoyed in the Shells, and so a while ago we extended the number of options from three to four.
All these GCSE and IGCSE subjects are radically different from the old ‘O’ levels. Some have a controlled assessment element, assessed by Radley’s departments, and then moderated externally. They reward the steady, diligent and well-organised boy prepared to work methodically over the two-year courses. Many GCSE subjects are transformations from the old ‘O’ level syllabuses — and consequently encourage much more practical communication in the languages, greater use of sources in History, and a stronger emphasis on practical work in Geography and the Sciences.
As in the Shells, we timetable the Removes and Fifths over a 48 period, 8 day cycle.
Religious Studies 1
Option 1 5
Option 2 5, 4 in fifth form
Option 3 4
Option 4 4, 5 in fifth form
For those boys who have been diagnosed in the Shells as having learning difficulties, weekly sessions to improve organization or to tackle individual areas are arranged with members of the learning support team.
In the Lent Term of the Fifth Form, the Parents’ Meeting is used to discuss sixth form choices. Provided a boy achieves successful GCSE grades, and has shown the right motivation, he can move into the Sixth Form where he will find a regime which relies a great deal more on his own organisational skills. He will be helped by Form Masters in time management and work planning, but he will be required to research and read on his own to a much greater degree. Sixth form courses are demanding, and they inevitably narrow a boy’s education in the pursuit of specialised training across three, four or five subjects, in a carefully phased manner. Despite the alternatives on offer, Radley has stuck with the existing A level system, and nearly all boys in the first year sixth are now studying four, or in a few cases, five new AS levels (courses representing 50% of an A level). In the second year of the Sixth Form boys will pursue three or four of these subjects through to A2.
In addition, all boys in the Sixth Form follow a course designed to broaden intellectual horizons and foster independent learning. Your sons have undertaken independent research in projects as Shells to foster research, précis, and exposition skills. In 6.1 they will follow a lecture course, ‘Standing on the Shoulders of Giants’, a series of lectures on significant intellectual and cultural interests and moments, given by a team of three, often contrasting, speakers - sixth-formers and dons alike. At the end of the lecture series, boys may opt to do the 6,000 word Extended Project which carries AS UCAS points, on a subject connected to the lectures or to their own interests; or do presentations or prize essays. All Oxbridge and Medic candidates must undertake some form of research on a personal enthusiasm; it is optional to others, though a valuable recommendation for all applying to university.
In 6.2 boys attend weekly lectures given by distinguished speakers, including in the past ex-Prime Ministers, cabinet ministers, Heads of the Civil Service, CEOs, ambassadors, judges, media stars and explorers. All of this is intended to stretch boys’ minds beyond the A level syllabus. We trust that a boy’s lower school education here will have inspired in him interests in the world of the arts, and it is our belief that a richly cultural and artistic life in the Sixth Form can assist those broadening processes which we are ultimately aiming to foster.
Below you will find Radley’s block system for optional GCSE subjects. In addition to the Core, boys choose four Option Subjects, one from each of the blocks indicated. Following a GCSE option choices meeting for boys at the beginning of the summer term, we ask them to submit provisional GCSE option choices which are then reviewed by heads of departments, tutors and subject teachers ahead of the Shell parents’ meeting at which each boy’s option choices are formally discussed.
Boys should choose their second modern language in block 1 where they have five periods a cycle. Only if they choose to do a second and third modern language should they choose Spanish in block 3. Boys may opt to do either Design course, but they may not do both. Due to Health and Safety policy, Design is limited to 24 boys in each of blocks 2 and 4. Due to timetabling requirements, Geography is subject to a maximum of two sets in block 2, but there is no limit on numbers in block 3.