9 Star at Sedbergh
The concept of 9 STAR at Sedbergh, an established programme for our top academic scholars in Year 9, captured the imagination of a cohort of our teachers, many of whom found that their intellectual interest had been satisfied only when they went to study at Oxford or Cambridge University, or other leading universities. These teachers wish that they had experienced this opportunity when they were in Year 9 and have driven the content of this unique academic course.
We propose a new paradigm for our top Scholars in Year 9. Instead of it being a foundation year, it becomes a year of diversity and an opportunity for pupils to discover new subject areas, new ways of thinking, problem solving and communicating.
The core subjects of maths, English, science and a modern foreign language remain critical and diversity of ability is provided for through traditional setting. This constitutes 50 per cent of the curriculum. The traditional curriculum model then provides small blocks of time for a wide range of subjects including the humanities and creative arts. 9 STAR is a programme which moves away from the knowledge-based curriculum to one which is founded upon the ability to think logically and express opinions on a wide range of subjects, the ability to conceptualise ideas, plan, solve problems and revise methodology in the light of experience, and it creates a framework to understand how learning develops. Beyond this, the pupils also learn about the importance of commercial and entrepreneurial behaviour.
The 9 STAR programme will represent 10 per cent of curriculum time. Pupils will undertake the following study:
9 STAR is designed to suit a small group of pupils with certain characteristics who should show prior evidence of mastery of the core subjects, motivation and organisation, and evidence of previous independent study.
9 Star and Beyond
9 Star is just the beginning of a programme that weaves its way throughout a Sedbergh education. As pupils progress into Year 10 we anticipate they may join the Phoenix Society, our debating and academic discussion society for the Middle School. This is a pupil-led society, which aims to stimulate intellectual curiosity, wider reading, academic debate and academic ambition. As well as this, pupils are encouraged to get involved with departmental academic societies, such as the Brantwood Society (English), Keynes and Hayek (Economics) and The Invisible College (Science). The pinnacle of Academic Societies at Sedbergh is our School of Athens society, run by Sixth Form students, which aims to promote and provoke intellectual academic debate across the spectrum.
As well as our superb support for all Sixth Form pupils, we have specialist support and advice for pupils who may be wishing to apply for the most competitive universities across the world, including Oxford and Cambridge universities. Many pupils who started their academic journey through the 9 Star programme find themselves in this group of pupils, and we have plenty of support available, including a trip to an Oxford or Cambridge college, subject specialist support, mentoring, and personal statement support.
Dan Harrison is Headmaster and has been instrumental in the launch of the 9 STAR programme. A graduate in Natural Sciences from Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge, he went on to do a PGCE in Chemistry, also at Cambridge, and has a particular interest in the History and Philosophy of Science. Dan masterminded the Oxbridge programme at Sedbergh between 1996 and 2000.
Rev Paul Sweeting
Rev Paul Sweeting is the School Chaplain. He teaches Religious Studies, Physics and Mathematics. He seems to have collected degrees that begin with a ‘Theo’ – Theoretical Physics BSC from Lancaster University and a BA in Theology and Ministry from Durham University. He has a PGCE in Secondary Mathematics from S. Martin’s College, Lancaster and has a particular interest in the theology of Kierkegaard.
Dr Gareth Downes is Head of English and is an expert on twentieth-century literature and modernism. Earlier this year he was a speaker at Dylan Unchained: The Dylan Thomas Centenary Conference at Swansea University. He obtained his BA and MA degrees in English Literature from Swansea University before being awarded a PhD from St Andrews University for a thesis on James Joyce. He has published essays, articles and book chapters on James Joyce and David Jones in a number of scholarly journals and collections.