The Sixth Form Curriculum for the 21st Century
The Forest Diploma is our expression of the education we believe Sixth Formers require to thrive in a world of exponential change and exciting challenges.
Following the announcement of major educational reform, Forest School seized the opportunity to improve and restructure the Sixth Form experience. The Forest Diploma was developed following extensive consultation with a wide range of university academics and employers from the City of London and beyond.
The Diploma is very comprehensive and covers a vast variety of skills and experience; it was positive and reassuring to look back and actually see how much I achieved in one year
At the heart of the Forest Diploma are the three A-levels and the EPQ. Students who take Further Maths A-level are able to take four A-levels. Supporting the academic core is a bespoke curriculum which offers space for the development of independence, depth of intellectual experience, communication skills and deep engagement with the world beyond the White Gates.
Ultimately, our Sixth Formers leave Forest School as independent, informed, proficient, experienced and aware young citizens, ready to make a positive difference in the world.
We are proud that the Forest Diploma reflects the individual and very distinctive ethos of excellence and opportunity in education that characterises Forest School.
The students were particularly impressive in their obvious maturity – not just intellectual and emotional intelligence – but strikingly in their unpretentious confidence. Each of them had appreciated the co-curricular elements of the Diploma programme as much as the academic
The Super Curriculum
Super-curriculum is a term coined by academics at the University of Oxford. The super-curricular element of the Diploma is what takes our sixth formers above and beyond the bare requirements of their A-level studies. Students choose from a vast range of opportunities laid on by Forest’s staff, as well as initiating their own projects and activities.
Admissions tutors often stress the importance of ‘super-curricular’ work not ‘extra-curricular’ work. This means focusing on depth… in your Sixth Form study: exploring and reading around your key subjects.
Whether it is attending (or even setting up!) an academic student society, preparing for further studies in Medicine or Law, completing a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course), or attending outside talks and lectures, we expect our students to delve deeper into their areas of interest.
Students really must explore their subject outside the classroom. For many students this will involve a range of ambitious reading (and thinking!)…Why are super-curricular activities important? To do well at a top university, it is important to have two things: passion for your subject [and] a capacity for independent study.
What the students say
“One of the best things was the incentive to expand my knowledge of my subjects outside the curriculum (through super-curricular activities) and engage with my interests more fully outside of a classroom setting.”
“Doing super-curricular activities forced me to go out to lectures which I would otherwise not have done.”
“I am more confident and assured in my abilities… I now know I am actually pretty competent and capable in the things that I care immensely about!”
The Competencies component of the Forest Diploma has been designed to help our Sixth Formers prepare for life outside of the classroom. Students have a weekly timetabled Competencies lesson, and over the course of Year 12 will complete four eight-week courses in: Adult Life Skills, Mindfulness, Personal Decision-Making and Professional Skills.
The mental health and wellbeing of our students is of primary importance, which is why every Forest Sixth Former takes the highly-regarded Mindfulness course in Year 12. Mindfulness is a set of practical techniques and practices which help promote good breathing, a sense of calm and focus in an increasingly over-stimulating world.
Adult Life Skills
In this lively, enjoyable and hands-on module, students learn new skills which will help them thrive in their future lives: DIY, cooking well-balanced meals, managing a budget, even learning to iron a shirt! These are the kind of ‘real-world’ skills which schools rarely get the chance to teach.
We want our Sixth Formers to leave school as confident, well-qualified young adults who can make good decisions. PDM gives them the opportunity to discuss potential situations and the possible decisions that can be made in a safe environment, using accurate circumstantial information. Students critically evaluate and debate issues and apply this to real life situations.
This module seeks to provide opportunities to develop the skills, confidence and independence that Sixth Formers require to succeed in their future professional lives. Throughout the course students will continually reflect upon their strengths and weaknesses and improve their own professional skillset accordingly. They will also develop leadership, teamwork, public speaking and other key skills.
What the students say
“Professional Skills has enhanced my leadership skills and taught me ways to be a more efficient and effective leader, which in turn has boosted my confidence.”
“I learnt about relaxation in Mindfulness, and techniques to avoid stress, which were useful when I attended interviews the next year for University entrance.”
“Because of the Competencies, I have more awareness of how beneficial it is to be well-rounded. Learning how to actually manage finances has been a huge positive!”