Academic Stretch and Challenge
We strive to offer all our pupils opportunities to develop their full academic potential. Many of them will depart Kimbolton at age 18 to Russell Group universities; we aim to fully equip them to meet the demands of their future courses and the careers that lie ahead of them.
We inspire pupils to engage in independent learning and extend their academic interests beyond the curriculum, through academic clubs, lectures and competitions, the possibilities afforded by our e-learning platforms, extension projects, educational visits and other special events.
Our teachers encourage pupils to see that not all learning needs to have an examination at the end of it to make it valuable. A love of learning can be attained by encouraging and empowering children to engage in their own areas of interest and discovery.
Key to our approach at the Prep School is our rich, challenging curriculum and our small class sizes which enable staff to target work at individual children. Our pupils perform at their developmental, rather than chronological age. As we lay the foundations of learning during the early years, we start to identify those who can cope with extension activities that demand higher order thinking and analysis.
We are conscious that children develop at different rates so regularly review individual progress. Children are grouped in sets for Mathematics so that they can work alongside peers of similar ability. Homework in English and Mathematics is differentiated to stretch even the most able.
Specific opportunities for more able children at the Prep School include:
- Explorers Clubs (from Year 2). Children play strategic games and take part in problem solving quizzes that encourage higher level thinking, decision making and peer discussion.
- Years 3 to 6 English Club which includes participation in local, regional and national poetry and writing competitions.
- Individual Primary Mathematics Challenges.
- Inter-schools Design Technology Challenge.
- Years 3 to 6 Chess Clubs and the inter-schools Chess Challenge competition.
- iPad Ambassadors. More able children are encouraged to become experts and assist others in the use of the class iPad sets.
At the Senior School, we provide opportunities for pupils to be academically stretched and challenged in a variety of ways:
- Individuals. Departments offer a range of suggestions and opportunities for students to extend their learning beyond the content of academic lessons. These include:
- Resources accessed via our e-learning platforms (Moodle and iTunes U) such as websites, videos, TED talks and podcasts for pupils to delve deeper into areas of interest.
- Regular lunch time helpdesks.
- Department-specific guidance and support for those Sixth Form students intending to apply to Oxbridge.
- Academic Clubs and Study Groups. Our academic clubs and societies are open to all within their target age groups and include:
- Clubs and societies with strong subject links such as the History Society, Digital Learning Club, Politics Society, CSI Kimbolton (Biology and forensics), Kimbookworms (junior book club).
- Those with a broader appeal including Debating, Philosophy Society, Literary Film Society, Ghana Group.
- Our Junior Scholars programme for those in the First to Third Form that hold academic awards. Members of this group follow a thematic programme of study each year, to which a variety of subjects across the curriculum contribute, and they complete an annual project.
- Societies with a vocational theme such as Medical Society, Engineering Club, Law Society.
- Our Perspectives Group for those Sixth Formers who are interested in applying to Oxbridge. This entails a range of after school seminars in the Summer and Autumn terms, which as well as offering specific advice on the Oxbridge admission process, provide aspiring 6th Form students with stimulus beyond their A-Level studies.
- Competitions. Departments, clubs and societies also facilitate pupils’ involvement in a huge range of academic and cerebral competitions, both internal and external, at school and off-site. Some of these take place during the school day, others during evenings or weekends. We have had considerable success in a wide range of external competitions, often reaching national or regional finals. More details of the ones that we enter are in the departmental pages but for illustration purposes include:
- Junior, intermediate and senior individual and team Maths challenges
- Biology, Chemistry and Physics Olympiads
- ‘Poetry by Heart’ recitation competition
- ICAEW's national Business, Accounting and Skills Education competition
- Model United Nations debating conferences
- European Youth Parliament events
- Rotary Club of Great Britain Technology Challenge
- Young Enterprise business awards
- Inter-school general knowledge quizzes
- ‘Make it with Mince’ and other food and nutrition competitions
- Annual summer art competition
- Peter Smout Memorial Essay Writing Competition
- Mock law trials.
- Lectures. We offer a range of lectures, often in evenings, given by subject specialists from the academic and professional worlds. Many are organised by our societies but they are open to all, including parents and sometimes local residents.
- Projects. Projects offer our pupils excellent opportunities to develop their research, analytical and critical thinking skills. They help to prepare students for the style of independent learning expected at university level:
- Scholars in the First to Third Forms may undertake a Higher Project Qualification (HPQ) at GCSE level.
- Sixth Form students with 5 or more A*s at GCSE may apply for our Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) [link] course which provides students with the opportunity to research an area of interest outside the A-Level syllabus.
- Educational Visits. We place great value on educational and cultural visits for all our pupils, recognising that they provide a unique opportunity to enhance the curriculum and to extend and support class-based work. For all pupils, and particularly the most academically able, these trips can enrich understanding and inspire further research.
- Special Events.
- We enjoy a special week each year devoted to either the arts or STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) subjects with external speakers and unusual events for every year group.
- Every two years, every Senior School pupil has the opportunity to take the national Mensa test. Our most recent tests were in June 2015 and mean that we now have over 50 current Kimboltonians with invitations to join the British Mensa organisation – an excellent addition to many a CV!
- Our in-house Model United Nations session takes place on the non-sporting Saturday in January. With specific committees organised for beginners and more experienced debaters, a large number of students of all ages can come and develop their speaking and presentational skills, whilst gaining a deeper understanding of pressing international issues.