Academic Ethos

We recognise that pupils need to develop skills in risk taking, blue-sky thinking and creativity as part of their education

There was a time when education was all about cramming information into pupils’ heads for them to regurgitate on an exam paper in the distant future. Content and knowledge were priceless commodities, and schools’ jobs were to provide them in spades.

At Forest, we realise that developing skills and academic agility is about a lot more than that. We recognise that pupils need to develop skills in risk taking, blue-sky thinking, creativity and even sometimes failure and learning to pick themselves up and learn from their experiences as part of their education.

Perhaps in the past education didn’t always value such things, but our pupils are living in a very different world, one in which information is easily and freely available, in which the pressures on young people have never been more intense, and in which examination performance is only one measure of the intellectual dexterity that the world will demand of them.

So, with robustness, courage and independence, we are rising to the challenge of educating young people to be not only well-informed and knowledgeable, but most importantly of all, really adept life-long learners. Our curricular and co-curricular offer, pedagogical frameworks, and the language of learning embodied in The Forest Learner are all centred around the need for pupils to understand what they are doing when they learn because they’re going to need to continue learning for their whole lives.

In the end it’s not just about what we can do for these pupils, but what they can do for themselves that’s important. After all, we want them to leave as proficient, confident, imaginative innovators who will shape the brave new world they enter at 18.

The Forest Learner

The Forest Learner is a framework of characteristics that prompt pupils to take initiative to carry out meaningful planning and exercise responsibility in their learning echoing the School’s motto: ‘In Pectore Robur’ (strength in the heart). Whether they are learning in the science lab, on the cricket pitch, the dance studio or anywhere else, these essential learning characteristics will be the key to success.

Project Qualifications

In the same way, our introduction of the HPQ and EPQ projects for all pupils at GCSE and in the Sixth Form enables pupils to exercise enthusiasm, take personal academic responsibility for their learning, find things out for themselves, and become more expert than their teachers in any topic of their choosing.

Digital Learning

Digital learning has similarly enabled pupils to exploit the fact that they don’t just go to the internet to find information. Nowadays they take it with them wherever they go, and it’s a place where learning happens through interaction, not alone.

Academic Monitoring

Our cycle of academic monitoring is structured in such a way that pupils set their own ongoing targets, arising from comment-only marking, and reflective, individualised discussions with tutors: pupil progress is the result of collaboration, but Forest pupils are helped to exercise their own responsibility in this process: spoon-feeding is out!

The Forest Diploma

And in the end, our exciting sixth form curriculum the Forest Diploma similarly places emphasis on independence and personal challenge. The Diploma helps pupils to make sense of all the skills that employers and universities have told us they want their applicants to offer but we give responsibility to the pupils to find their own ways of exhibiting these.

If our clever, confident pupils want to be successful and they do, they’re hungry for it, they have to be given the freedoms and frameworks in which they can flourish by themselves. It takes bold and exciting teachers, an ambitious curriculum, a sincere emphasis on independence, and strong faith in our pupils to enable that to happen.

Where next?

Explore Forest

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