Sevenoaks School Certificates
A long-standing concern, shared by many schools, is that traditional Middle Years curricula and examinations, such as GCSEs, are uninspiring and lacking in rigour. They have tended to encourage a mindset defined only by the limitations of unadventurous examinations, and as a result a poor means of preparation for further study at university, as well as the workplace.
As a result, a number of recent initiatives have been implemented in the Sevenoaks Middle School curriculum that rethink the way these years operate. The first is a suite of new Sevenoaks Certificate courses in English Literature, Art and Art History, Drama, Music and Music History, Classical Civilisations and two courses in Technology: Robotics and Visual Communication.
Structure, examination and moderation
The Sevenoaks School Certificates were launched in 2010, with the first examinations, in English Literature, taken in 2012. They have been developed internally by Sevenoaks School and are recognised by UCAS as a Year 11 qualification.
A range of assessment methods is employed, including terminal examinations, coursework portfolios and oral assessment. The terminal examinations take place in June of Year 11, with regular and scheduled opportunities for written and oral assessment throughout the two years of the course. Sevenoaks publishes the SSC results at the same time as the release of GCSE and IGCSE results in August of Year 11.
Each course is internally examined and moderated, but final moderation is undertaken by an independent external specialist, and there is a re-mark facility involving a second external marker, with a separate appeals process available for students and parents.
Exciting, distinctive qualifications for students of the digital age
Freedom to construct these courses ourselves has meant that we can introduce exciting, distinctive elements designed to elicit a strong sense of personal engagement with them. Music students compile a dossier of public performances, as well as personal compositions; Drama students work towards devised group productions in addition to an individual research project, and our History of Art course invites students to undertake an in-depth personal exploration of 50 works of art that have had an impact on the way we see the world.
We are also mindful of the need to prepare students for learning in the digital age; Technology students learn about computer aided robotic design as well as programming and acquire advanced 3D digital manipulation skills; students of English Literature complete an online research course and Art is assessed in part through a virtual gallery of particular works in relation to which students conduct formal presentations.
Each Sevenoaks School Certificate course places emphasis on the notion of learning independently.
In addition, each places emphasis on the notion of learning independently. In part, this emerges through the introduction of an element of choice; for example, not only can students select particular courses within a given faculty area (such as Art or Art History, Robotics or Visual Communication) but within each course they are invited to pursue certain areas in which they feel a particular interest. The English Literature course, for instance, asks students to nominate a period or genre on which to focus their independent project, and in both drama and music, students can select practitioners or theories in which they are particularly interested, as well as whether to follow an historical, technical or expressive individual journey.
The second key innovation comprises the introduction of ‘core courses’ in Years 9-11 that all students study. These are courses that promote critical and creative thinking about matters of ‘real life’ religious or philosophical importance. Further details are available on our Critical Perspectives (Year 10) and Ten Ideas that changed the World (Year 11) pages.