Curriculum Overview and Rationale
Our intent is for our girls to leave us after seven years well qualified and well rounded; intellect and character. Ready to take on the world and to change it for the better. Ten feet tall. They’ll have their eyes open to a world full of possibilities, to different & global perspectives and to all that they are capable of. They’ll sign up, take part, join in, STAND OUT. They’ll be unstoppable!
Our implementation of that intent is through a highly ambitious curriculum. A rigorous and academic, though future focussed, curriculum framed around the EBacc, outstanding teaching & outstanding care and a unique personal development and character education programme, The FSGBacc, to provide girls with outstanding opportunities and experiences – all align in a compelling, comprehensive and coherent curriculum vision driven by the unshakeable belief that whilst exam results don’t define us, shyness can; a lack of confidence can! Those who lack confidence don’t join in, don’t sign up, don’t take part, don’t have a go. They settle!
Opportunities are missed.
Options are narrowed.
That lack of confidence starts to chart their course for the future and to define the person they become.. We want our girls to realise that they are capable of more than they know. So, our ambition for our girls goes beyond solely the academic – after all exam results play only a part in shaping the person you become. Our academic curriculum therefore is only a part of what we do! We want all girls to have the opportunity to explore and excel, to GROW, LEARN & DEVELOP - not only in the classroom but beyond it. Our international outlook is also at the heart of what we do and equally vital to our ethos; we want our girls to know that as human beings there is much more that unites us than divides us. Our work in this area, and our success, has only made us hungry to do even more. We have reflected upon and refocused our views that curriculum should not just interest and inspire the girls, not just reflect and respond and be relevant to the world we live in but that we need to be much more ambitious; that the curriculum we teach should help to change the world for the better: a curriculum that teaches our girls to value themselves, value each other, value the world we live in and the world around them. A curriculum for values. A curriculum for empathy. A curriculum for wisdom. A curriculum for the whole child, every child. A curriculum to change their world. A curriculum to change the world.
Our impact is in outstanding academic results results (Progress 8 at 0.52 seven year average), in the sheer volume of outstanding opportunities applauded in our ‘year in the life’ slideshows and in our girls - who leave us after seven years well qualified and well rounded - ready for their onward journey and next adventure. It is evident in our international and global school status and the lens that affords us through which to focus curriculum change. It is evident in the engagement of our students with our FSGBacc programme – 90% of students regularly engage!; 400 students for DoE, 300+ cadets, 1500 volunteering hours paid back to our local community, over 1000 primary students taught as part of our language ambassador programme. Our curriculum offers dedicated FSGBacc time in Years 7/8/9 and 10, FSGBacc camps as part of our transition package, and extends into post 16 with our new FSGAmbassador programme & Ivy House Award.
Our ambition for our school is to be the best in the world; nothing less. To be world leading and world changing; to know the whole child/every child and have a curriculum which develops the whole child/every child.
Our ambition for our girls is that they leave us after seven years well qualified and well rounded; intellect and character. They will feel ten feet tall, be bold and spectacular. They will have the knowledge, the skills, the drive, the courage, the wisdom, the optimism and the values to change the world for the better.
Intellect & character. This is our curriculum. It is what we do. It is who we are. We are extremely proud of it.
'...consideration must be given to the question, what constitutes education and what is the proper way to be educated? At present there are differences of opinion as to the proper tasks to be set; for all peoples do not agree as to the things that the young ought to learn, either with a view to virtue or with a view to the best life, nor is it clear whether their studies should be regulated more with regard to intellect or with regard to character' - Aristotle
Arguably the most important aim of education is personal empowerment – enabling our students to take control of their own lives and to shape their own futures. Education is, though, also about passing on ‘the best of what has been thought and is known in the world’ from one generation to the next. We must also prepare our girls to become good people, good friends and good neighbours, good colleagues, good parents, good citizens. Education is, of course, also inextricably linked to economic prosperity and therefore preparing students for the world of work must also be carefully considered.
The Folkestone School for Girls has a long established and enviable reputation of delivering outstanding academic results. However, in response to the questions posed by Aristotle all those years ago, we believe that education must maintain a balance between intellect and character. An outstanding education is not either/or. It is both. At the heart of our school, then, is an unshakeable belief that whilst exam results and academic qualifications are, of course, important they are not everything! Exam results are what you get; they do not define who you are and will play only a part in shaping the person you become.
So, if exam results don’t define you then an obvious question is what does? It’s hard to argue with R. J Palacio, author of ‘Wonder’ and her assertion that; “Courage, Kindness, Friendship, Character. These are the qualities that define us as human beings and propel us, on occasion, to greatness.”
We would add a few more to that list - teamwork, service, resilience, leadership, wisdom, integrity…
Whilst exam results don’t define us, shyness can; a lack of confidence can! Those who lack confidence don’t join in, don’t sign up, don’t take part, don’t have a go. They settle!
Opportunities are missed.
Options are narrowed.
That lack of confidence starts to chart their course for the future and to define the person they become - but working together, parents and school, can tackle that. We want our girls to realise that they are capable of more than they know. So, our ambition for our girls goes beyond solely the academic to focus efforts on personal development & character education, cultural capital, emotional health, a global dimension & international outlook, the hidden curriculum and much broader educational outcomes; we call this the FSGBacc. Our ambition is not focussed on league table positions or on a relentless focus on grades alone. Instead, our curriculum goes far beyond the specifications to affect change on the whole child/every child. Our girls will leave us with a strong portfolio of academic qualifications, highly developed interpersonal skills, a broad range of interests, experiences and memories and will be well prepared to pursue varied and fulfilling careers and to take on the world. They will join in, sign up, take part, STAND OUT. They will feel ten feet tall!
Our academic curriculum therefore is only a part of what we do.
You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem and smarter than you think.
Our school has a host of opportunities available to all students - right from the outset of Year 7 - with FSGBacc activities like Mountain biking, self defence, Climbing, Archery, FSGRadio, CoJo’s, Cheerleading…even our own Escape Room! In Year 8, they’ll be a Language Ambassador and teach primary students in French or Spanish! They can join the Combined Cadet Force and in Year 9 begin their Duke of Edinburgh journey! They’ll have an opportunity to perform in music concerts, drama productions, dance performances and/or to combine all 3 in the big summer musical! They could represent the school in sports or debating, be a part of Model United Nations or a campaign champion for ‘sendmyfriend’ or start their own business through Young Enterprise - literally something for everyone! There are loads of trips and visits too, from overnight camps here at the school to trips all over the world - and in each and every one of the activities listed above, the chance to build confidence and create lifelong memories with friends and the chance to make new friends! So be it climbing to the top of the climbing wall, riding the seesaw on our mountain bikes, teaching a lesson in a foreign language or completing the obstacle course as a cadet...
Students will learn to push themselves; to feel the fear and do it anyway! Join in, sign up, take part!
There is more in us than we know if we could be made to see it;
perhaps, for the rest of our lives we will be unwilling to settle for less.
Students therefore do not complete an inordinate amount of qualifications as a matter of course. We subscribe to a ‘quality, not quantity’ rationale. Instead students at FSG complete what we believe to be a sensible number of qualifications. This allows students time to focus efforts on achieving the very best grades within these, but also time to participate in co-curricular activities and interests – both at school and at home, and additionally, time to spend with friends and family. A justifiable balance between intellect and character.
- 8 to 10 good GCSEs;
- 3 or 4 good A levels in mainstream academic subjects;
- Work experience/internship placements to develop awareness of the world of work and a global dimension curriculum to build critical thinking, reasoning and analytical skills, problem solving skills and social influence/’soft power’ skills;
- Art, Drama, Music, Sport, Combined Cadet Force (CCF), Duke of Edinburgh Award (DoE) and a host of other opportunities and activities as part of our character education and personal development programme, The FSGBacc - for breadth and balance , to demonstrate and develop character and confidence and build ‘soft skills’ such as leadership & teamwork. And to just have fun!
- An international outlook and a global perspective.
- An appreciation for the traditional British Values of democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and responsibility, mutual respect and tolerance and to see these as fundamental principles of our own, and any community;
- A happy, friendly, caring community which allows individuals to flourish.
Our curriculum naturally focuses on traditional, rigorous academic subjects with the importance of these subjects reflected in the time allocated to their study. Commonly referred to as the ‘Ebacc’ – these courses and qualifications remain central to our curriculum. Mathematical proficiency, the highest standards of spoken and written English and general academic knowledge/competence are, and always will be, crucial.
However, we are also a caring community where girls’ ‘other’ achievements are viewed as equal to academic attainment. Creativity, sporting prowess, community involvement and empathy for others are all key goals. We are also committed to ensuring that girls understand and accept key British values such as a respect for the rule of law, democracy and a tolerance of difference. With our commitment to caring for girls as individuals and our strong moral base, the school has a zero tolerance of sexism, homophobia, racism and other prejudicial attitudes. We encourage students to aspire, to find out who they are and to develop their strengths across a broad spectrum of activities; our curriculum reflects this in the subjects offered and the additional opportunities presented. Careers education ranges from workplace visits in year 8, to mock job interviews in years 10 and 12, to work experience and internships post 16. However, we see all education as careers education and our whole school curriculum aims to develop the 6 learning areas as identified in The CDI Framework
We have a vast array of educational visits with over 140 taking place in the last academic year alone, covering all year groups - students have visited sites from Kent to London, France, Belgium, Berlin, Iceland, Washington DC, Cuba and were due to visit Namibia in Summer 2020 and Tanzania, Nepal, Cuba, Spain, Morocco & Colombia in Spring/Summer 2022 as part of our successful Turing Scheme bid; there have been visits to museums, galleries, theatres, festivals, movie studios, concerts and areas of scientific and geographic interest exploring sports, the arts, the sciences and political & social history. This enriching and enlivening curriculum is crucial to the ethos of the school and to the outcomes achieved for our girls.
All students in years 7 and 8 study a broad and balanced curriculum accessing the traditional spectrum of academic subjects: Maths, English, Science, Geography, History and Modern Foreign Languages. For breadth and balance, they also study Music, Art & Design, Drama, Computing, Religious Education, PSHE and Physical Education. There is an early focus on ‘joy and wonder’ as opposed to ‘shock & awe’ as we seek to engage and inspire students about the majesty of the world we live in and the chances we have. In year 9, students are able to personalise their own curriculum to better reflect their own interests and aspirations. All girls choose 2 options from the Ebacc suite of subjects: History, Geography or a Modern Foreign Language (from a choice of French or Spanish). Whilst language study is encouraged as part of our international and global school focus and whilst languages are chosen by the majority of girls, our traditional academic curriculum does not currently compel girls to study a Modern Foreign Language and instead we prefer to offer girls a greater degree of choice within their academic curriculum. Together with 2 x English, Mathematics and 2 x Science GCSEs these subjects combine to form the broad and balanced academic package that our girls will need for the future. With GCSE Religious Education compulsory too, all girls therefore study at least 8 traditional academic qualifications to GCSE.
Students then choose two further subjects which provide an opportunity for girls to personalise their learning to reflect and pursue their own strengths, interests and aspirations for the future.
- Art & Design
- Business Studies
- Health & Social Care
- Other Ebacc
Other Ebacc allows the girls the chance to study Geography, History and a language or even all four – Geography, History, French & Spanish.
All students study all sciences in Year 9 with year 10 decision time as to whether Combined Sciences or Separate Sciences is the most suitable route for GCSE.
Our long term goal is that the overwhelming majority of students will also complete the Duke of Edinburgh Bronze Award in Year 9!
Our curriculum model:
- adheres to the school vision of 8 to 10 good GCSEs
- maintains a broad, balanced, relevant, and enjoyable curriculum for girls and ensures sufficient depth of learning to ensure subject mastery
- provides increased time for students and staff to participate in personal development and to enliven & enrich and frame & focus our curriculum beyond simply the requirements of the national curriculum and/or examination specifications.
- provides the time to support our relaxed, purposeful ethos and to support positive caring relationships; the ‘hidden curriculum’ is important to us and central to our school ethos; optimism, kindness, care. Beyond a culture of safeguarding FSG has a culture of care and this takes time.
‘Exam results are what the girls get; they do not define who they are and will play only a part in shaping the people they become’. A further implication of the belief that there is more to life than exams is that the education we offer should not be governed solely by exam preparation. There are other things of interest to learn and to know beyond simply exam content. We want our girls to be able to have a broad general knowledge, to be curious about, and question, the world around them; to have a grasp of the wider world beyond simply examination specifications. We also aim to provide students with memorable experiences and rich opportunities to frame and focus their academic learning, inspire further work and/or to develop personally. Not just narrowing gaps or closing gaps but filling gaps with experiences and memories – cultural capital. Our annual ‘Listening Project’ in History is an obvious example, as is our ongoing relationship with The Big Reveal Community Arts Charity which affords our girls the opportunity to work and perform with professional actors and directors, undertake small tours; even illustrate and publish our own children’s book. Our academic curriculum reflects our school context with study of the Suffragette movement in History and a year 9 English focus on ‘women writing’ notable reflections on this. Even November 11th and Remembrance is viewed through the lens of our school context – with recent years focussing on the Gurkha regiment, women in war, Belgian refugees in Folkestone, Walter Tully, Hellfire Corner and our school evacuation to Merthyr Tydfil! Geographers tackle environment vs development through local study of Prince’s Parade and Otterpool developments. In Mathematics, students study ‘misleading statistics’ and how these can be used to create fake news; they also study personal finance and ‘best buys’ are questioned for their wider impact, such as food waste, beyond solely value for money. There are exciting developments in problem solving in the pipeline with our very own onsite Escape Room!
We also seek to reinforce learning between subjects. The world, its wonders and its challenges are not neatly subdivided into subject areas! Climate change has obvious links to Geography and Science for example and we seek to reinforce and broaden learning through looking for opportunities between and across subjects. Imaginative cross-curricular projects, such as ‘Dear Freddie Mercury’ which focuses on immigration or ‘The Ministry of Information’ which considers how the media, social media, fake news and misleading statistics have the power to shape our thoughts, influence our decisions and perhaps even to change our world – are a reflection of our ongoing curriculum review to ensure that our curriculum remains relevant to the girls; their world; the world. They are also a reflection of our international outlook and the global dimension which is woven through all that we do here at FSG.
As a girls’ school we also, of course, champion women. Our school was founded in 1905. The local boys’ grammar in 1674. Why the difference? When ordering vintage book cover posters for our sixth form centre, we could only find books by predominantly male writers – why? In observing the world around us we want our girls to ask such questions, to be curious, to delve deeper – not for the purpose of passing examinations, but because we want them to take on the world!
The overwhelming majority of students continue into Sixth Form. Most students complete 3 A levels, but some do 4 and exceptionally some study 5. We have an extensive offer post 16 curriculum (some 30 subjects) focused mainly on A level but covering all disciplines. From the Mathematical and Scientific disciplines students can choose from Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Mathematics, Further mathematics, ICT and Computer Science. In the Arts: Art, Dance, Drama and Music. Humanities subjects offered include History, Geography, Government and Politics, Sociology, French, Spanish & English Literature. We also offer Business Studies, Health & Social Care and Psychology. Typically, around 85% of students continue onto university, the remainder directly into employment. We continue to expand our EEP curriculum post 16 as per our whole school focus on personal development with lessons for example on Cheer and self-defence.
The Folkestone School for Girls provides access to a wealth of additional opportunities within school through our comprehensive personal development & character education programme, The FSGBacc. There are opportunities to take part in a host of different sports clubs and competitions, to participate in our many Dance and Drama productions or indeed to sing or play in one of our many choirs, ensembles or musical evenings. Students in year 7 & 8 have FSGBacc afternoons once a fortnight as part of their school day and in years 9 & 10 PE lessons are double staffed to allow access, during curriculum time, to our more ‘high octane’ experiences – climbing wall, mountain biking and archery – which require smaller groups. In Year 8, students can join our Combined Cadet Force, students in years 9, 10 and beyond can access the Duke of Edinburgh Award programme. We also have Debating Societies, Language Ambassadors, Peer Mentors, Young Magistrates, Young Enterprise and many other clubs, teams, performances and activities throughout the year. We believe this is in an incredibly important part of education. Being part of a club or organisation requires teamwork and commitment. It develops self-confidence and simply can allow us all to grow and flourish in other arenas. Employers too are looking for these attributes. A broad and strong portfolio of academic qualifications is important but equally so is the chance to demonstrate what else you have done and can do! What will you talk about at a job or university interview? What would be your talking point?
Complementing our rigorous, academic curriculum, then, all students will take part in a personal challenge to develop attributes such as self-confidence, determination, resilience, teamwork and leadership. We call this the FSGBacc. We think it’s so important that it’s a part of our formal curriculum in years 7 and 8 with time during the working week dedicated solely to this.
Every student will have a broad portfolio of strong academic qualifications – and a sensible amount of them! Typically, 10 x GCSE & 3 x A level.
- Not too few so as to limit options and limit the opportunity to reflect individual strengths, interests and aspirations but also not too many...
- Not too many because nobody needs 14, 15 or 16 GCSEs and fewer qualifications means more time to broaden and deepen knowledge to achieve the very highest grades within these
- Not too many so as to leave time and scope for other interests (in or out of school)
- Not too many so as to leave time and scope to just relax, to be a child, a teenager, to spend time with friends and family.
But over and above grades and qualifications, all students will take part in a personal challenge – Rock climbing on our new wall, or Mountain biking on our new trail or being in the cast or crew of the Big School Production - that challenge might be different for everyone. For some it might be scaling a rock face and overcoming that fear of heights, for others it might be standing up in public and performing. Feeling the fear and doing it anyway. We believe then - A sensible balance and a focus on developing INTELLECT & CHARACTER.
‘Know thyself’ said Socrates.
The FSGBacc pushes you out of your comfort zone; challenges you to test yourself; to pit you against you be that on the sports field, the mountain bike trail, the climbing wall or the stage; on expedition with Duke of Edinburgh or on night exercises with the CCF. You will learn to know yourself; and all that you can do.
Many schools and educators aim for students to leave them as committed ‘lifelong learners’ but do little to affect that. It is a stated intent but with little attention as to how it is implemented. Our FSGBacc aims to support and achieve that ideal; to have impact; to support and achieve students recognising; “You are capable of more than you know. If we can help you to realise that then you will never settle for anything less”.
A research project on the lifelong value of Out-of-Classroom Learning Experiences (OOCLEs) commissioned by Gordonstoun School and carried out by The University of Edinburgh noted that an astonishing 94% of respondents claimed that OOCLEs had an overwhelmingly positive impact on their personal growth; “A curriculum rich in OOCLEs leads students to develop personal responsibility, teamwork and leadership skills”
- “Overcoming obstacles leaves students feeling that they can overcome subsequent, unrelated challenges”.
- “The challenges presented by OOCLEs create social levelling and interpersonal ease; they push people physically, psychologically and are excellent social mixers”
- “Trying a wide range of challenging activities, alongside a diverse group of students, with the expectation to ‘give it a go’ appears to yield positive and lasting outcomes”
- “OOCLES seem to push participants in ways they have never been pushed before”
- “Leadership was identified as a key outcome from having participated in OOCLEs”
"Students develop a generalised personal confidence and resilience through participation in OOCLEs, on which they are then able to draw when facing new challenges both at school and beyond"
In other words...
Confidence is transferrable
A similar survey, carried out by the University of Northampton’s Institute for Social innovation and Impact on Cadet Forces in the UK similarly found that ‘cadets have improved self-efficacy because of the activities they undertake’ resulting in increased social mobility, improved educational outcomes, improved mental and physical wellbeing & enhanced employability. It concludes; “participation in the Cadet Forces has significant positive impacts on young people, increasing their performance at school and improving their employment and career prospects. The impact is particularly strong for those cadets that suffer economic and other disadvantages; it is very possible that being a cadet is, for a young person from an economically disadvantaged background, a key factor that enables them to achieve positive life outcomes”
We would assert that our FSGBacc programme has a similar impact on self-efficacy because of the activities they undertake
.A 2008 report published by Ofsted, on ‘Learning outside of the classroom’ acknowledged that ‘learning outside the classroom contributed significantly to raising standards and improving pupils personal, social and emotional development’ and that ‘memorable activities lead to memorable learning’. “Such hands-on activities led to improved outcomes for pupils and students, including better achievement, standards, motivation, personal development and behaviour. The survey also found examples of the positive effects of learning outside the classroom on young people who were hard to motivate”
It concludes that ‘the most effectively led, managed and confident schools included ‘Learning outside of the Classroom’ as an integrated part of a well-planned effective curriculum
…and more recently
The Centre for Education & Youth in their report on Enriching Education Recovery agree;
“There is robust evidence linking NFL (non-formal learning*) to improved educational outcomes, employment prospects, and physical and mental health. Investment in this area can also deliver economic benefits in the longer-term through improving educational outcomes and life skills”
They further report that; “Recent polling shows that - whilst people recognise that children and young people need extra support with formal, academic catch up, even larger proportions agree with the need for more access to extracurricular activities and wider learning experiences: almost 9 in 10 teachers (88%), and 8 in 10 parents and children and young people (78% and 80% respectively) want to see more around this. There is appetite among children, parents and teachers for extracurricular and enrichment activities to be a more integral part of the existing school day.”
* NFL takes place outside of such a classroom environment, with students participating in activities or acquiring a skill that is not formally assessed and is not always delivered by teachers. People typically refer to them as “extra-curricular activities”
A 2018 govt commissioned report for the Industrial Strategy Council highlighted the need for ‘21st century’ skills, especially:
- interpersonal skills
- Leadership skills
- Critical thinking and decision making
- Advanced communication and negotiation skills ( “soft power”)
- Learning strategies
The Skills Matter report by KPMG, of 2019, agreed, concluding “Many of the skills that we suspect we might need more of to keep the economy moving forward (inter-personal skills; customer service; leadership and management; empathy) are rather pejoratively tagged as “soft skills”. In a world of AI and bots, they could in fact be where we need to focus most future effort, so they deserve far more respect and attention than to be dismissed as fluffy or nice-to-have.” Simply put these are not soft skills at all; they are as essential as good English & Maths, good academic qualifications and should be a central part of any curriculum offer. The Institute of Leadership & Management agree; “Employers want new recruits to be work-ready with professional management skills and behaviours. Leadership and critical thinking skills are taught throughout the school curriculum but particularly via extracurricular activities”
You can access further information about our FSGBacc programme here and can download a comprehensive booklet via that link.
You can access a full list of the clubs and activities on offer every day, week in, week out here:
Our school website also lists opportunities locally. There are a broad range of clubs and activities available in and around our local community that might be of interest and that girls may consider joining. Many are free. Some do have a small fee. All allow our girls a further opportunity to do something they may not otherwise have the chance to do and to grow, develop and enjoy an interest away from school.
We are also an international & global school with link schools in Nepal, Cuba, Tanzania, Bangladesh, Spain, France, Morocco and Lebanon. Our international outlook is equally vital to our ethos; we want our girls to know that as human beings there is much more that unites us than divides us. We think this work is vital to a world leading and world changing curriculum. As the author R.J Palacio says “we can’t teach empathy, but we can inspire it’ and the direct contact between our girls and their counterparts overseas gives them a personal insight into life elsewhere and brings aspects of our curriculum into a real world context. We want them to understand that in exploring where difference does exist, we learn, we grow and we develop. An old adage suggests that at a party we should seek out and speak to the people least like ourselves. Don’t make a beeline for the people who seem just like you; dress just like you; think just like you! The people least like you are often the most interesting and our international outlook allows us to bring the outside world in – to beam children from around the world straight into the classroom; to meet different cultures, different races; to hear about life as a child elsewhere; to make new friends; to experience different points of view and to always be drawn back to the common traits that make us all human.
From our extensive pen pal programme to subject specific developments through to our creative cross curricular projects in years 7/8/9, our international ethos and global outlook has become an intrinsic part of what we do. We want our girls to understand and be proficient in the use of ‘soft power’; building networks, communicating compelling narratives & establishing international rules. Climate change, mass migration, Covid-19, antibiotic resistance… will require global solutions. We want our girls to be at the forefront of those solutions – well versed and established at, and confident in, working with colleagues from across the globe. Our international school links provide the chance to hone hard and soft skills through international discourse and dialogue; hear alternative viewpoints, participate in international research and opinion and to form lasting relationships that can secure long term benefits for us all. A research project carried out by The University of Edinburgh acknowledges that for students, working in an international community has a positive influence on personal growth & development, interpersonal ease & social levelling. A second consideration is that this is a sustainable way to ensure that the vast majority of our students get some direct experience of a childhood lived elsewhere, of a global perspective – given that overseas trips are costly for students and costly in time and organisation for the staff who lead them. They are, of course, also for the few and not the many. That said, this is a way to provide heavily subsidised trips overseas to students who would never otherwise have had the opportunity to go. This last year alone, bar Covid 19 interrupting plans, 23 students would have visited Madrid and we had begun to plan a trip for 120 students to visit Nepal, Cuba, Tanzania, Morocco, Ibiza, France & Colombia as part of our bold and ambitious Turing Scheme bid – all either free of charge or virtually free of charge. However, all students can benefit from bringing life overseas directly into our classrooms through video conferencing technology and/or pen pal exchanges and the like. An international outlook is not offering lots of trips (though we do). It is a much more fundamental attempt to focus our curriculum on global issues and challenges, to provide opportunities for our girls to work with students overseas to better understand these challenges, (and each other) and to work collaboratively with teachers and educators overseas to share best practice. A global dimension, in fact, is woven throughout our school curriculum not only discretely, in individual subjects, but also through imaginative cross-curricular projects such as Dear Freddie Mercury which looks at immigration or The Ministry of Information which looks at the role of the media, misleading statistics, fake news and dodgy dossiers in shaping our perceptions of the world around us or Where you live should not decide whether you live or whether you die which considers the inequality that exists to this day concerning power and access to resources and education. Such cross curricular projects in Years 7 and 8 give way in Year 9 to our brand new, discrete ‘one World’ Curriculum, which looks through the 6 terms of year 9 at some of the biggest issues of our time under the headings;
Term 1 - One Planet. Environment and Sustainability
Term 2 - One Voice. Power of media, (Mini) United Nations, Active Listening; dialogue, discussion & debate
Term 3 - One World. Globalisation, Immigration, Politics and Economics, Interconnections, Interdependence
Term 4 - One Childhood. Equality, Opportunities and social justice
Term 5 - One Life. Living your best life. What makes us happy? Blue Zones, What can/can’t we control? Personal Finance, Resilience, Mental health and Wellbeing
Term 6 - One Day. What could the world be like – What should it be like – and how can we get there. Global problems require global solutions.
Greta Thunberg’s ‘blah, blah, blah’ speech did little to move the world forward. If it was so easy to solve climate change it would already be solved. Simply, Global Education allows us to study the interconnectedness of our world and the complex relationships at play in world politics and economics. Global Education develops critical thinking and problem-solving skills; these remain consistently at the top of the WEF list of skills that employers believe will grow in prominence in the next 5 years and will be much more powerful in moving our world forward that Greta’s challenge to ‘so called world leaders’.
First they came for the Communists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Communist
Then they came for the Socialists
And I did not speak out Because I was not a Socialist
Then they came for the trade unionists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a trade unionist
Then they came for the Jews
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Jew
Then they came for me
And there was no one left
To speak out for me.
Holocaust Memorial Day is a time when we seek to learn the lessons of the past and recognise that genocide does not just take place on its own – it’s a steady process which can begin if discrimination, racism and hatred are not checked and prevented. Sadly, genocide is not exclusive to the holocaust; Rwanda, Bosnia, Darfur and are more recent, tragic examples. Today there is increasing division in communities across the UK and the world; too focussed on building walls; not building bridges. Now more than ever, we need to stand together with others in our communities in order to stop division and the spread of identity-based hostility in our society. Not on one single day – but every day.
Martin Luther King noted that “When we look at modern man, we have to face the fact that modern man suffers from a kind of poverty of the spirit, which stands in glaring contrast with a scientific and technological abundance. We’ve learned to fly the air as birds, we’ve learned to swim the seas as fish, yet we haven’t learned to walk the Earth as brothers and sisters.”
FSG is proud to be an International and Global School to that end and whilst we educate and inform our girls of the challenges that issues such as immigration pose – to both destination countries and the countries of departure, we are proud to promote the Fundamental British Values of democracy, rule of law, individual liberty, mutual respect and tolerance for those with different faiths and beliefs. We believe;
- “Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.”
- “More than cleverness, we need kindness and gentleness”
- “We think too much and feel too little”
Knowledge vs Wisdom
I am a survivor of a concentration camp. My eyes saw what no person should witness. Gas chambers built by learned engineers. Children poisoned by educated physicians. Infants killed by trained nurses. Women and babies shot and burned by high school and college graduates.
So, I am suspicious of education. My request is: help your students become more human. Your efforts must never produce learned monsters, skilled psychopaths, or educated Eichmanns. Reading, writing, and arithmetic are important only if they serve to make our children more human.
Haim G. Ginott”
So, whilst Ofsted are more concerned with knowledge and facts, we consider wisdom to be the aim. We’d contest that if knowledge is power, then wisdom is the power to do the right thing!
Our ‘hidden curriculum’, our ethos and values and how these are demonstrated and reinforced through our international and global dimension, and our wider school curriculum are vital to us - we strive to ensure that our girls leave us knowing that it’s not what we are or who we are that matters but how we are.
Our curriculum aims are thus broad and far reaching. An outstanding, rigorous, though future focussed academic curriculum paired with outstanding teaching, outstanding pastoral care and outstanding opportunities for personal development and character education all align to ensure our girls leave as well-qualified and well-rounded young women. They will have a strong academic portfolio of qualifications, highly developed interpersonal skills, a broad range of interests and are well prepared to pursue varied and fulfilling careers and to take on the world! Our ambition is that after 7 years at The Folkestone School for Girls our students:
- Have a strong portfolio of academic qualifications
- Have the confidence and self-belief necessary to achieve their dreams and to contribute to society
- Have developed their own moral values and demonstrate tolerance and respect for others
- Understand their own strengths and areas for development
- Be positive/optimistic about new experiences, new ideas and the future
- Have well developed people skills and know how to work in teams, lead teams or work alone
- Love learning and have the skills and self-confidence required to learn anything in the 21st century world
Our curriculum is at the heart of everything we do. It drives our ethos as much as it is driven by our ethos. As a school we continually reflect on our curriculum and it continually evolves. There are four main considerations to our academic curriculum; In the KNOW
- Knowledge - What we teach.
- Nurture – Care for our students, our selves, each other, our environment.
- Organisation – Sequencing (what we teach when), cross-curricular links, relevance and the ability to adapt to world events and of course how we teach
- Wisdom - Skills, Values & Attributes to use that knowledge wisely; to do the right thing!
The whole school curriculum and ethos - in our academic curriculum, our international links and global dimension and in our personal development & character education programme, The FSGBacc - all fit together for a common purpose.
Our curriculum considers that all education is careers education and we commit fully to the CDI Career Development Framework with its 6 learning areas.
- Grow throughout life by learning and reflecting on yourself, your background, and your strengths.
- Explore possibilities open to you and learn about recruitment processes and the culture of different workplaces
- Manage career actively, make the most of opportunities and learn from setbacks.
- Create opportunities by being proactive and building positive relationships with others.
- Balance life and work with your wellbeing, other interests and your involvement with your family and community.
- See the big picture by paying attention to how the economy, politics and society connect with your own life and career
We achieve this through
An extensive personal development & character education offer in The FSGBacc, incorporating our new FSGAmbassadors scheme.
Opportunities through GoLD journals & personal statements for regular self-reflection culminating in The Ivy House Award post 16.
“A curriculum rich in OOCLEs leading students to develop personal responsibility, teamwork and leadership skills”
A future focussed academic curriculum, going far ‘beyond the specifications’ to look at the big issues of our time
International links to allow our girls to understand and be proficient in the use of ‘soft power’
It is clear that our curriculum is perfectly aligned to deliver powerful "Leadership Learning" and this focuses on 3 key strands right from the very outset of their time with us.
- Leadership of self
- Leadership of others
- My future.
This will commence, in earnest, in Year 7 at the Freshers Fair and follow on with students completing their GoLD journal and then personal statements in Year 9 ready for mock interviews in Year 10. As part of this ‘leadership learning’ package we are piloting two exciting new schemes for years 10 and beyond; the Future Leaders Project and the Ivy House Award. All this work aligns with the CDI Career Development Framework and its learning areas and aligns with our overarching purpose as a school – which is to prepare our girls today, for anything and everything tomorrow! After all our job is to prepare our students for life; not just for exams!
We see our job as opening eyes. As an international and global school we certainly aim to offer our girls a broader experience, a wider perspective and an international and global outlook; to open their eyes to a life lived elsewhere. We also seek to open eyes to a world full of opportunity and possibility through our academic curriculum. ‘When will I ever need to know this?’ has been, and is, a common refrain in classrooms around the world but actually that’s what makes education so exciting – we don’t know what we’ll need to know for our futures as we don’t know where our futures lie. Our job then is to prepare our girls today for a world full of opportunities tomorrow! ‘There is more in you than you think’ is a central tenet of our school vision and through our FSGBacc programme – be it DoE, Combined Cadet Force, mountain biking or rock climbing or ………. - we seek to open our girls’ eyes to all that they are capable of!
If ‘covid times’ could be summed up using the words “unusual, uncertain and unprecedented”, then for FSG we are determined to move our key language back to;
Unshakeable in our belief that exam results are what you get. They do not define who you are and will play only a part in shaping the person you become
Unwavering in demonstrating through our international outlook and global dimension that as human beings there is always more that unites us than divides us
Unyielding in our focus on wisdom over knowledge. If knowledge is power then wisdom is the power to do the right thing and we want our girls to know that educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all!
We believe we have demonstrated in all those awards and accolades earned over recent years and in all those new initiatives introduced that we are unstoppable. Our school development plan is even more powerful evidence of that; there are still ideas and plans to move the school even further forwards. Unstoppable. In the site developments and plans for our FSGBacc, unstoppable. In our Turing success, unstoppable.
Unstoppable in focussing on intellect & character
Unstoppable in focussing on the whole child, every child.
Unstoppable in our determination to be world leading and world changing
Unstoppable in our ambition to be the best school in the world; nothing less.
Unstoppable. This is our school. It is who we are. It is what we do. We are extremely proud of it
Covid-19 has been a springboard for the world in terms of connectivity; a global problem that could only be tackled with a global response. We were all in it together. The big issues of our time, climate change, mass migration, fakes news and misinformation, energy security, anti-biotic resistance etc are the same – they can only be solved with a global response and we want our girls to be at the front of that response.
- Knowledgeable in those big issues.
- The values, hope and confidence that those same issues can be tackled; problems can be solved; that a fairer, better world possible and that they are the people to do just that!
- With experience in working with all sorts of people from all sorts of places - they’ll be well versed and established at, and confident in, working with colleagues from across the globe to do just that!
With their eyes wide open to a world of possibilities and all that they are capable of, they’ll be world leading and world changing.
They’ll be unstoppable
And so will we.
The school operates a two-week timetable (50 x 1 hour lessons over the fortnight) The numbers in the table below represent hours per fortnight allocated to each subject.
|Curriculum Year||English||Maths||Science||MFL||Geography||History||PE||RE||PSHE||Art & Design||Computing & Digital Literacy||Music||Drama||FSGBacc|
|Curriculum Year||English||Maths||Science||MFL||Geography||History||PE||RE||PSHE||Art & Design||Computing & Digital Literacy||Music||Drama||FSGBacc|
Options: ICT, Computing, Art & Design, Photography, Textiles, Geography, History, French, Spanish, Dance, Music, Drama, PE, Business Studies, Health & Social Care
|Curriculum Year||English (2)||Maths (1)||Sci (2/3)||PE||FSGBacc||PSHE||One World (Global Education)||Ebacc A (1)||Ebacc B (1)||RE (1)||Opt A (1)||Opt B (1)|
Year 10 (RE GCSE completed in Year 10)
|Curriculum Year||English (2)||Maths (1)||Sci (2/3)||PE||FSGBacc||Ebacc A (1)||Ebacc B (1)||RE/ (1)||PSHE||Opt A (1)||Opt B (1)|
|Curriculum Year||English (2)||Maths (1)||Science (2/3)||PE (non-exam)||Ebaa A (1)||Ebacc B (1)||Opt A (1)||Opt B (1)|
Year 11 PSHE to be delivered through a termly afternoon.
FSGBacc mornings/afternoons in years 7 & 8
Students in Years 7 & 8 enjoy 1 x FSGBacc morning/afternoon each fortnight. Details of our offer is below
In Year 7, every student has
- 2 x terms Mountain Biking
- 2 x term climbing
- 1 x term self – defence
- 1 x term Commando Joes (problem solving activities)
In Year 8, every student has
- 1 x term of Mountain Biking
- 1 x term of archery
- 1 x term of climbing
- 1 x term of Cheer
- 2 x term of ‘language ambassadors’ culminating in each student presenting to/leading a language session in a local primary school!!
In Years 9 & 10 FSGBacc activities are absorbed into PE time with each class having 4 hours worth of PE over the fortnight. These are arranged as two single PE lessons and 1 double slot. Double slots are overstaffed so that students can enjoy traditional PE styles activities but also access the climbing wall, archery and mountain bike resources which require much smaller group sizes and longer sessions for safety reasons.