Year 13s Take Part in Forest Diploma Vivas

The September 2015 launch of the Forest Diploma, the bespoke, in-house qualification we devised in collaboration with universities and employers, has allowed us to radically rethink our approach to Sixth Form education.

Times have changed; it is no longer sufficient to emerge from one’s school days with a clutch of sparkling, freshly-minted academic qualifications, ready to embark on the traditional ‘job for life’. Instead, universities and- especially- employers are increasingly looking beyond this rather limited measure of ability. Skills and competencies such as independence, communication, collaboration, resilience, confidence, emotional intelligence and ‘grit’ are more highly valued than ever, a situation that poses a stern question to schools tasked with preparing their students for life in a challenging world. It’s a mark of Forest’s distinctiveness and innovation, therefore, that it successfully established its own extended curriculum in the form of the Diploma, designed to offer a broad, holistic education to our Sixth Formers.

At the heart of the Diploma is a commitment to actively promoting and developing our pupils’ communication skills. In the week before Half Term this commitment was put into action when all Year 13s (some 132 of them!), took part in a Viva interview, which marked the culmination of around 18 months of work towards the Forest Diploma. During that time pupils have completed the Extended Project Qualification (EPQ), participated in a wide range of taught courses (including Adult Life Skills and Mindfulness) in addition to work experience and voluntary placements, attended fortnightly guest lectures, and worked actively to develop their communication and independent learning skills.

The Forest Diploma Viva is a one-to-one interview with a specially invited guest interviewer. The interviewers, several of whom are OFs, are highly successful professionals representing fields as diverse as business, industry, law, medicine, the arts and academia. The principal aim of the Viva is to offer students a priceless opportunity to reflect upon their progress, both academic and non-academic, throughout the Sixth Form. This process of reflection and self-evaluation is incredibly beneficial for our Sixth Formers as they anticipate the end of their time at Forest.

I am immensely grateful that our interviewers offered their hugely valuable time to visit us at Forest to assist with the Vivas. In turn, they reported back on what an enlightening and enjoyable experience it was meeting our Year 13 ‘Class of 2018’. A selection of the interviewers’ comments on our pupils can be seen below: