Beyond the Curriculum

The gifted and talented programme at HRS
In 2011, The Helena Romanes School and Sixth Form Centre in partnership with a local education consultancy – Twenty Twenty Learning – designed a programme that would cater for the needs of the gifted and talented students at the school. The Beyond the Curriculum programme, now in its third year, has helped over eighty students realise their potential. There are currently two programmes running: The Year 7 and 8 programme in Citizenship, and the Year 9 and 10 programme in Psychology.

The programme was initially designed for Year 7s – with students applying in writing to be a part of the programme. Consultants from Twenty Twenty Learning worked with the group of chosen young people on Saturday mornings and during school holidays to prepare them for a GCSE in Citizenship. As well as studying for a GCSE, students were given the opportunity to expand their cultural perspectives and visit a range of art galleries, operas, ballets and plays and, through a range of workshops, explore the skills they need as learners in today’s competitive academic environment.

Simon Knight, Headteacher at The Helena Romanes School, was very keen to offer his Year 7 students something a little bit different. Mr Knight wanted to offer a programme that would give every new student at the school the chance to better themselves. He felt strongly that the programme should be – academic, thought provoking, interesting and holistic. He said ‘it isn’t just about the GCSE but it is about offering students a fantastic opportunity to grow as academics and to take responsibility for their own learning’.

The Year 7 and 8 programme in Citizenship
This year, with over 25 students enrolled on the Citizenship programme it looks set to be the most successful year ever. Students have already learned about the basic elements of Citizenship from understanding what it means to be British to learning about political parties and the voting process. A Year 7 student on the programme said: ‘I love learning about new subjects – I’d never really thought about what it meant to be a citizen or to be British. This programme is great because it’s going to prepare me for the future’.

As well as studying for the GCSE, students will be visiting the Henry Moore Foundation, Dickens’ World and will be taken to see a play, opera or ballet. Students also visited the Royal Opera House in December to see a performance of ‘The Nutcracker’ as well as participating in a range of workshops put on by the ROH – it’s an exciting opportunity for students to see what happens behind-the-scenes at the ballet.

The Year 9 and 10 programme in Psychology
For most of the Year 9 and 10 students participating in the programme this is their third Beyond the Curriculum course. As part of the trial cohort in 2011, they now have GCSEs in Citizenship and Sociology with fantastic results. Looking to achieve their third GCSE before the end of Year 9, they are still as eager as ever to continue their learning curve. Not only will the students be studying the GCSE, but they will also be visiting a university to inspire them to think about their future.

After the success of the last two years, these programmes highlight the dedication and commitment both the school and its students have for their own learning.

By Abigail Gallant
Twenty Twenty Learning