"The greatest danger for most of us lies not in setting our aims too high and falling short but in setting our aims too low and achieving our mark" - Michelangelo
Academic work is at the heart of Sherborne School and is based on the principles of encouraging lifelong learning and independence. Supported in the classroom by well qualified and experienced staff, boys at Sherborne are challenged to question, to be reflective and to develop their learning skills. Preparation for public examinations is essential but it complements our learning ethos rather than driving it. Success in the adult world beyond Sherborne will require academic qualifications but also the need to display integrity, the ability to communicate effectively, moral courage to stand up for what you believe in, a tolerance and understanding of other people and cultures and a willingness to take intellectual risks. We believe that a Sherborne education achieves this balance and ensures that the boys leave us both confident and well prepared for the challenges of an ever changing world.
Sherborne is fortunate in having a Common Room of exceptional quality which I firmly believe is by far the school's most important resource. A Common Room that displays a depth of pride in and dedication to a school in which all have invested a huge amount, in many cases over many years. Yet while this is a Common Room that respects the traditions and practices that have made Sherborne what it is, it is not one that is stuck in the past and it recognises the need for successful institutions to change with the times. Academic innovation whether the move towards IGCSE, the introduction of the Extended Project in the Sixth Form, the recent appointment of a Head of Digital Education all illustrate Sherborne's commitment to develop our academic programme to support and prepare the boys for their lives beyond the school.
We are committed to a curriculum that recognises diversity in both ability and interest. We do not, like many schools, have pre-set blocks for subject choices thus ensuring as wide a range of combinations as possible at GCSE and A level. Nor do we subscribe to a 'one size fits all curriculum.' For example, able linguists can choose three modern and two ancient languages in their first three years in the School, extra lessons are provided in English, Maths and Sciences within the curriculum for those who struggle with these subjects and individual academic targets are set for each boy in examination years. Our excellent learning support department cares for all boys not just those with 'special needs', running programmes in revision technique in the Fifth Form and supporting all boys in their first term with a seminar programme that helps them adapt to the new academic and organisational demands of a senior school.
Outside the classroom the boys are given opportunities to develop their intellectual horizons either through regular seminars by guest speakers or through presenting papers to each other. In this way, the boys come to understand that education is not something that is done to them but something in which they themselves are intricately involved. Whether in the Copeland Society for Lower School boys or at the Turing Society in the Sixth Form, all boys are given the opportunity to explore their academic interests and to present to their peers.
We also have the privilege of being able to work closely with Sherborne Girls, offering a wider range of academic options at Sixth Form than one would think possible. This includes Italian, History of Art, Russian, Drama, Politics and PE at A level, but at the same time we are able to maintain the single sex environment in the early and middle teenage years that we believe works to the academic benefit of our boys and girls.
Boys leave Sherborne with an intellectual curiosity and resilience that prepares them for the challenges of the wider world. For the majority this will be university and the demands of undergraduate study. For others it might be professional training or internships. But whichever route Sherborne boys take, they leave the school having been educated to learn about themselves and how to make the most of the many gifts they have, to have the highest expectations of themselves and an awareness that with the opportunities they have enjoyed comes a responsibility to be active citizens working for the benefit of others.
David Smith BA, MPhil, PhD
Deputy Head (Academic)