Deputy Head Academic, Simon Balderson, considers the value of Saturday morning school at Westonbirt.
Saturday school is a feature of many boarding schools, often used simply as an extension of the standard week, to create more time in the curriculum. At Westonbirt, however, we have a different approach to Saturday mornings, which produces significant academic and pastoral benefits, complementing our broad, holistic approach to education.
Saturday mornings in Years 10 and 11 have an academic focus, but one which we believe to be more effective than simply adding more lessons to the timetable. Pupils study a different subject every week for the entire morning, allowing a 'deep dive' into a given subject or topic. Staff and pupils find this especially useful for working on coursework projects or extension work. Having a significant block of uninterrupted time dedicated to a single subject allows for a thorough investigation of the topic to hand, enabling pupils to explore well beyond the bounds of the curriculum and to deepen their understanding.
In Years 7, 8 & 9, pupils study our unique 'Skills for Life' curriculum; a super-charged version of what other schools might label 'PSHE'. Through a variety of sessions requiring discussion, collaboration and creativity, pupils delve into topics such as democracy and government, healthy eating, or safe and effective use of the internet. They can often be found developing their public speaking skills in a debate on a given topic or exploring our extensive grounds.