Academic EnrichmentSUB MENU
We are fortunate at The Leys to have a thriving and diverse Academic Enrichment programme which is growing and developing all the time.
Our pupils are encouraged to think critically, to make independent judgements and to explore beyond the parameters of the syllabus. A host of opportunities exist for them to do this.
Headmaster’s Society & The Academic Society
These are our discussion groups; The Headmaster’s Society for those in Year 11 and above, and The Academic Society for those in Years 9 and 10. Academic Scholars are expected to be academic leaders and form the core of these groups, but, like all our groups and societies, they are open to anyone who shows an interest. The groups meet about four or five times a term to discuss issues, to be challenged in their thinking and to be encouraged to articulate their thoughts in a variety of topics which span all academic disciplines.
The Headmaster’s Society is led by Mr Alex Welby, Head of Classics, and this year’s programme of discussions has been put together by Mr Robert Culshaw. His theme has been “Ways of Thinking” and has covered such topics as Time, Risk and Silence.
The Academic Society is led by Mr Laurence Higgins and in recent months that group has been considering a wide range of issues, including the British legal system, how war dehumanises individuals and a session called “Thinking about thinking” led by the Headmaster.
The Russell Group is a pupil-led society which invites speakers to the school for a talk and discussion. Recent talks have included the economic effects of falling oil prices, the decline of printed newspapers led by John Ridding (CEO of The Financial Times) and the phenomenon which is the Rightmove website.
The Cambridge Experience (CamEx)
The Leys has always taken pride in being more than just an 'exam grade factory', and as an institution it has always taken life beyond the classroom seriously. This is reflected in countless ways and the rich and varied wider curriculum on offer can be rightly regarded as one of the outstanding features of the school. The Leys also never forgets the city that surrounds it and for this reason it offers 'The Cambridge Experience' to members of the Sixth Form.
Sixth Formers are given the opportunity to sample the cultural and intellectual delights and highlights of Cambridge with events 'sprinkled' throughout the year, as well as having Cambridge-based speakers coming into school to cover anything from the birth of Anthropology to why Zebras' stripes are vertical.
Sixth Formers are expected to attend the compulsory events in school and to sign up for those outside school which might be of interest to them. The operating principle is to encourage them to discover a little more about the city and university, as well as to broaden their intellectual and cultural horizons. Their challenge is to make the most of what we hope will be a wide-ranging, eclectic and fascinating programme.
Our proximity to Cambridge University means that there is a wide variety of opportunities of which to take advantage, for example the annual Science Festival and Festival of Ideas. Pupils regularly attend lectures and events in these two festivals. We also have links to the world-famous King’s College Chapel and our Art pupils have been given special permission to sketch in the chapel and our musicians to attend Evensong there.
We have also been making increasing use of Cambridge post-graduates and under-graduates to come in and work individually with our more able pupils. This adds to the teaching they receive in class, but enables them to give rein to their instinct for intellectual exploration. Sessions run more like university supervisions and allow pupils to gain a greater depth of understanding in their chosen field.
The Debating Club and Model United Nations have both become hugely popular in recent years, reflecting the appetite for healthy discussion and for robustly proposing and defending points of view. There is an Inter-House Debating Competition which adds a competitive edge and draws large audiences from the pupil body.
Each department has its own clubs and societies which allow pupils to explore beyond the syllabus in those disciplines and these groups are often led by the pupils. They successfully enter competitions, both internal, local and national and there are many outlets for their work to be published.
The School magazine, The Fortnightly, is written and edited by pupils, and the English, Geography, History, Modern Languages and Psychology departments all publish their own magazines of pupil work. Departments run trips abroad and in the UK to places of interest and these supplement the huge array of activities going on in school.
We have launched a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) programme which spans the Physics, Computing, Mathematics and Design Technology departments. The objective is to draw together those four strands into a problem solving team and for pupils to see the practical application of their subjects. It has been possible to set up this STEM project in-house, as we are very lucky to have staff who are passionate about facilitating this sort of work; Nicholas Robinson is doing pioneering work with Computer Science and getting pupils to use Raspberry Pis to operate a hovercraft built using a 3D printer. A Fellow of Clare College, Cambridge has been working with the group on the maths involved in the project.
STEM projects are offered from Year 11 onwards, with emphasis on technical, leadership and collaborative skills. A project brief is explored and developed into a specification, which is then turned into a prototype, assessed, refined and extended as required. Wherever possible, pupils specialising in non-technical subjects are involved as well, in costing, planning, documenting, photographing and evaluating. The overall aim is to equip pupils with the skills needed to work on real projects in the workplace.