Subjective options

The majority of our pupils have this week been receiving feedback from end-of-year examinations, and I hope they have treated this as a positive learning experience at the culmination of an extraordinary and challenging year. Regardless of whether they are continuing with all their subjects next year, they should nevertheless have tried their best – and that is all we can ask.

Whilst the curriculum in the younger years in England is laudably broad, we become more specialised than in many countries in the Sixth Form. None of us is good at everything, and I know that some pupils are always pleased to leave certain subjects behind as they choose their options. For others that choice is much harder, as they have strengths and interests in many different areas.

There is often a tendency to consider what will be useful or even which subjects are better. Our aim at LGS is to keep the curriculum as broad as we can for as long as we can, for we believe that all our subjects are of intrinsic educational benefit. For example, the creative and aesthetic subjects are as important for a child’s development as any other, and we remain committed to offering a full range of intellectually demanding ‘smaller’ subjects when some of these are disappearing elsewhere. There is no subject hierarchy at LGS, as all the courses we offer are equally valuable.

Last week, I read two articles which lauded the benefits of different disciplines (one of them kindly forwarded to me by a parent):



The first piece summarises the findings of recent research from Oxford University: ‘Studying maths beyond GCSEs helps brain development, say scientists’. And the second, from another neuroscientist at Oxford, highlights the positive effects of studying Classics for brain-development in the young:

“It is a very economic way of learning, because if you’re studying Cicero, that’s doing history and literature at the same time. Working away through a sentence that goes on for half a page and trying to understand it — again it’s very good for your prefrontal cortex. An 11-year-old can read Homer’s Odyssey and it teaches you about bigger things, like gods and goddesses, beyond yourself. And it’s much better than a video game.”

I realise that not all our youngsters would necessarily agree with that final sentiment, yet the logical analysis that comes with the apprenticeship of languages often engages the same area of the brain as the study of maths.

Our Careers Leader, Mrs Scott, is always happy to offer guidance on options (and a few courses do have very specific requirements), but our overriding advice will always be: follow your passions and your strengths, for the rest will then work itself out.

Best wishes,

John Watson