Overview of the IPS Lower Senior Curriculum
As befits a school with a deeply held commitment to the tenets of a liberal and humane education, the IPS curriculum reflects our aims and expresses the principles that we consider to be important and valuable. Examination success is important but the staff acknowledge that well-rounded individuals need to receive more than a ‘delivered syllabus’. Accordingly, IPS aims to develop assured and empathetic pupils who are confident in the world outside of School. We want our pupils to think and speak clearly, to see things from different perspectives, to reflect on the consequences of their actions whilst still retaining the courage to take risks, and not to give up at the first hurdle.
In the first three years of their Senior School career, our pupils study a wide range of subjects drawn from each of the major fields of human endeavour. As they move into Senior 10, it then becomes possible for pupils to introduce an element of specialisation to their curriculum, although they will continue to take all of the core subjects of English, Mathematics and Science in addition to French and one other classical or modern foreign language. In this way, they are exceptionally well prepared for the challenges of A-Level and Pre-U study which will come when they join our Sixth Form.
At IPS, the curriculum is refined from time to time and some of the more distinctive features of the Lower Senior Curriculum include:
- Teaching for Understanding: Too often there is a focus on giving pupils the essentials to pass a test or examination without ensuring proper understanding. Rather than seeing understanding as a by-product of learning, IPS sees it as the main aim of its teaching. To this end, staff plan activities which involve pupils manipulating and processing information to ensure resilient learning.
- Mindset Aspects: In agreement with most research of the past 30 years, IPS staff believe that intelligence is a malleable quantity, and pupils are encouraged to develop their intellect by promoting five key qualities: persistence, logical thought, initiative, clarity of thought and expression, and organisation. These Aspects infuse teaching and, indeed, are included in our reporting on pupils’ progress.
- Breadth of learning experiences: From Latin to Mandarin, Medieval History to modern technologies and practical scientific experiments, the range of subjects in the Lower Senior School is designed to open pupils’ minds to a wealth of knowledge as well as to methods of learning, according to established academic disciplines.
- Ethics, Rhetoric and Public Speaking: Pupils of all ages benefit from the opportunity to reflect on pressing ethical and religious questions, many of which they will inevitably confront in daily life. In addition to the general improvement of pupils’ awareness of ethical and religious issues, pupils also benefit from improved skills in reasoning, reflection, listening, discussion, and in articulating and evaluating their own and others’ views. This connects with the intellectual aims of the School in developing good thinking skills and a mature approach to learning. Pupils learn the rules of British parliamentary debating and participate in several class debates. They learn how to structure arguments, how to make persuasive speeches, and something of the history of rhetoric. Pupils are prepared for the English Speaking Board’s examination in speech and participate in the IPS Public Speaking Competition. Throughout the Lower Senior School, there are many other co-curricular opportunities for public speaking, discussion and debate, including LAMDA Speech and Drama classes, poetry reading competitions, ‘Think’ Club, the Lower Senior Debating Society and the House Debating Competition.