At Gad’s Hill, we understand that being a teenager in our modern society brings huge pressures, from exams to relationships, from navigating the risks of social media to understanding finance and the jobs market. For that reason, our students are able to broaden their horizons and take on increasing responsibilities in a supportive, nurturing community in which they are treated as individuals and held to high standards of conduct.
We are passionate about the work we do to develop our independent young people who are well-equipped both academically and socially to fulfil their potential and their dreams. Our small class sizes, educational rigour and outstanding pastoral care mean that whatever path our students follow, we are able to encourage and facilitate their journey – whether that leads to success at top universities, a job in the City, musical or acting careers or elsewhere.
What we know at Gad’s Hill is that sixth forms and colleges are looking for students who stand out from hundreds of other applicants. That’s why, in addition to a broad selection of GCSE core and optional subjects, we expect our students to complete a wide range of additional qualifications in areas as diverse as the Duke of Edinburgh scheme, First Aid, LAMDA or BTECs in Teamwork and Personal Development or a Level 2 qualification with the Institute of Leadership and Management. Several of these additional qualifications are achieved through membership of our renowned Combined Cadet Force. These are courses that supplement a strong set of GCSE grades and mean that our students time and time again impress at interviews because they have real life experiences about which they can talk with passion and self-confidence.
You will almost certainly have heard about the significant changes that have happened to GCSE qualifications in recent years. In addition to the change from letter grades to a 1-9 numbered system, you may also have learned that almost all coursework has been removed from the national curriculum in favour of rigorous, terminal assessment at the end of Year 11. Perhaps also you will be aware that in most subject areas there is significantly more content to be covered now than previously, and to a standard reserved previously for A-level study.
Fortunately, even if you have only a passing acquaintance with the new face of public examinations, you will be pleased to know that at Gad’s Hill we have long anticipated them and adapted to ensure that our students are well equipped to cope with the demands. For example, for a number of years now, all of our Upper School students have completed three sets of progress assessments each year in our sports hall to acclimatise them to the unique pressures of final exams and to teach them the revision skills necessary to approach them purposefully. Likewise, we offer our GCSE option choices at the end of L4th (Year 8), allowing three years rather than two to cover those challenging syllabi in greater detail. In line with our rising aspirations and growth in the Upper School, we have recently been able to introduce a broader range of GCSE subject options that will allow our ambitious pupils to leave Gad’s Hill with an even more diverse range of successes.
On starting in our Upper School, students quickly discover exactly why we put such an emphasis on securing high standards, even from the very start of Upper Shell (Year 7). Parents and students learn immediately why we insist on the completion of every homework and why we bring students into the exam hall in October, March and June every year. The reason is that this year group will have already begun to learn the expectations and form the good habits which are essential for GCSE success – habits which are far easier to develop at the age of 11 than 16.
We put significant emphasis on student wellbeing: active, healthy, interested children who make time to pursue hobbies and activities such as music, sport or drama will time after time outperform academically those who do not. At Gad’s Hill, students have the opportunity to develop creativity alongside a strong work ethic, and leadership alongside friendship. Indeed, our small community means that so many of our students have the opportunity over the coming years to take on important roles of responsibility, whether as Ambassadors and Prefects, or Subject Leaders, Heads of House and ranking officers in our Cadet Force.
Above all, our students are recognised as an individual. Never lost amongst a crowd, teaching colleagues will quickly understand each child’s personal skills and interests, fostering remarkably strong relationships within a supportive atmosphere. The smiles on faces across the school are genuine and testament to something very special.