HEdSTART is an ongoing project, launched here at DGSB in September 2011 from a belief on our part that students need a much more active and directed preparation for university study than most schools – including ourselves – have tended to provide in the past.
At the moment, the project has two strands. The first is a timetabled course called Core Skills which all Year 12 students attend for one period every week. The course is designed to deal with any and every aspect of study which is not subject-specific. Note-taking, time-management, reasoned argument, presentation technique, higher reading and writing skills – these are just a sample of the things we aim to cover, and students themselves are at liberty to suggest topics which they would find helpful.
The second strand, still very much ‘work in progress’, is the attempt to develop the ways in which we do our Sixth Form teaching so as to recreate as far as possible the sorts of approach students must expect to encounter in Higher Education. Obviously, practice will always vary to some extent from teacher to teacher and from subject to subject, but the overall aim is that each student should experience, by the end of his or her course, a mixture of lecture-style and seminar-style teaching, the requirement to produce some sort of longer, annotated dissertation in addition to the standard short essays, the management of a fairly substantial reading list, and so on.
Alongside all of the above, we are continuously looking for opportunities to make available to students direct contact with universities, whether through group visits to campuses, invitations to academics to visit the School, or in any other way. Interesting new opportunities are constantly arising, and we expect the HEdSTART project to keep evolving for some time to come.
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