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Stamford School

Independent Learning & Intellectual Curiosity

1. What does it mean?

Independent Learning & Intellectual Curiosity (ILIC) is SES’ academic ethos. We believe that it is our duty to instil a love of learning that will last a lifetime. We strive for our classrooms to be places where curiosity and interest are inspired and encouraged, and that also offer the right conditions for students to grow intellectually, being constructively challenged and suitably supported by both staff and peers.

The “Independent Learning” strand communicates that we also take seriously the need to give our students the very best learning skills that will enable them to act on their academic interests and make substantial progress under their own steam. This means not relying on being told an answer, but being able to take ownership of their learning and pursue their own thinking in an effective way.

2. Why does it matter?

There has never been a more crucial time for a school to have such an ethos. Statistics show that more than 30% nationally drop out of university in their first year and many university academics openly protest against spoon-fed students who cannot cope with the independence of higher study. We are ambitious enough to want our students to leave SES possessing far greater academic qualities so that they are ready for whatever they encounter.

Furthermore, as the exam system changes to incorporate more open-ended questions which require independent thought, the only way to prepare students adequately will be to ensure that these challenges are common-place in their educational experience. This emphasizes, quite rightly, that teaching to the test will not lead to the highest possible success in the test.

3. How does it work?

To set an ethos in a school, it needs to be part of the DNA of the institution. There are now integrated ILIC lessons at various points in the timetable, which are being developed to serve needs at each stage of a student’s education, particularly focusing on areas that a dominant exam culture might threaten, such as divergent thinking and creativity, which will be increasingly important skills as a student progresses beyond school.

We also work hard to ensure that each lesson in every subject is planned so that the activities undertaken will promote the skills and ways of thinking that can be identified as ILIC. There is also a wealth of additional activities, competitions, societies, trips and initiatives that give further outlets for the academic enthusiasm shown by our students.

4. Who is it aimed at?

The ILIC approach is for every student. We believe that everyone can be enthused about different subjects and shown the skills to be a more successful learner. In this way every student will be sufficiently challenged and supported to make optimal progress in their studies and work towards their goals. Due to this inclusivity, ILIC encompasses a vast scope, from showing our youngest members how to start to research effectively, to providing expert coaching and supervision to Oxbridge applicants in Year 13.

5. What next?

We are committed to developing ILIC to best ensure the academic success and futures of our students. This will include ongoing training for staff so that while we continue to work in tried and tested ways, we will also be at the cutting edge of innovative teaching techniques - in particular, keeping pace with rapid technological progress. Please visit this section again to see the regularly updated content, showing off our students’ achievements and sharing the thinking and the actions that are continuing to make ILIC a reality at SES.

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