On Friday 5th February, the whole of Oundle’s Third Form (Year 9) set off just after dawn on twenty different Trivium Trips - Trippium - around the country. Designed to place learning for its own sake at the heart of the curriculum, Trivium is a course, based purely on ‘interestingness’. It complements the School’s extensive Voluntaries programme and Extended Project Qualifications (EPQs), encouraging pupils to extend their learning beyond subjects for academic assessment.
Among destinations far afield, pupils explored the history and architecture of London, the libraries, colleges and ancient printing presses of Oxford, the fine art, controversies and quadrangles of Cambridge, the mediaeval strongholds and cathedrals of Lincoln and Coventry, alongside modern exhibitions, debates about Kafka and piles of weaponry. Other groups closer to home toured the historic centres of Stamford and Uppingham, and one group even ended up in prison - a planned stop, of course!
Head of Trivium, William Gunson commented, “Trippium is the annual day trip for all Trivium sets, where each group of ten pupils and their teacher goes somewhere different, with carte blanche to explore something interesting in the UK, linked to their current extension topic.
Pupils reported having their eyes opened to myriad hidden corners of culture, enjoyed the off-piste day out, and thrived on the open challenge for the event to take the most eccentric picture - a competition to which there were over a hundred pupil entries from the twenty different locations.
Many thanks to all staff who drove, shepherded and intrigued our Triv pupils out and about for the day.”
Further information on Trivium:
Twenty teachers at Oundle are involved in the Trivium course, and their brief is to educate; to introduce pupils to ideas and culture, to sow seeds and to broaden the educational experience. The topics explored vary from group to group; whilst one class is studying the works of Koestler, another is immersed in the art of Berlin. One set of pupils is discussing ethical aspects of technological advance whilst another is being introduced to the poetry of Yeats.
The Trivium course is studied by all Third Form pupils in groups of ten for four lessons per week. Oundelians are intellectually ambitious but it is vital that they do not equate all learning with assessment. ‘Triv’ has no syllabus and no prescribed content.
Many of the Trivium themes will overlap, and this is important: appreciation of a work of art is enhanced by an understanding of historical context. What links all the sets in this course is the method of teaching – Trivium’s ‘traditional three ways’ of Grammar, Logic and Rhetoric. Oundle provides a modern Trivium, but expects that these three disciplines will remain central to the teaching.
The close relationship between the teacher and the pupils develops during the course of the year, with small set sizes allowing for the classroom atmosphere to be similar to that of a tutorial. The philosophy of the course can be summed up the words of E M Forster: only connect.
Oundle’s extension programme is strong, with academic societies, extension courses, Voluntaries and EPQs all offering many opportunities for intellectual challenge.
Fifty eight Voluntaries courses are open to First to Fourth Form (Year 7-9) pupils including photography, mah-jong, climbing, origami, astronomy, palaeontology and yoga.
Ben commented, “Voluntaries represent the chance to broaden pupils’ academic horizons, and to explore artistic, literary, cultural or sporting activities without ever having to be tested on what they have learned and experienced. Voluntaries are an opportunity to delve deeper into things that really interest pupils, or they could be a chance to have a go at something that they have never done before. Above all, they are supposed to be fun. “
Extended Project Qualifications (EPQs):
In addition to traditional A levels and Pre-Us, pupils may choose to produce an individual project in an area of particular interest rather than opting to follow a taught course for their Sixth Form extension.
The final project will be completed by the end of the Lower Sixth, and may take the form of a 5000 word report or a ‘product’ (which may be a CD, DVD, crafted object, original composition, work of Art) with an accompanying 1000 word report. Each project will be assessed to gain the AQA Extended Project Qualification.
EPQ Level 2 Projects at Oundle require a high level of independent work and original thought. It is a stand-alone qualification completed in one year where pupils can gain an A* grade equivalent to half a GCSE.
Background Information on Oundle School
Oundle School is situated in the quintessentially English market town of Oundle, about 90 miles north of London. The School’s buildings, dating from the 17th to the 21st centuries, are dispersed throughout the town, which is, to a large extent, its campus.
The School’s history dates back to 1556, when Sir William Laxton, Master of the Worshipful Company of Grocers and Lord Mayor of London, endowed and re-founded the original Oundle Grammar School, of which he was a former pupil. In 1876, the Grocer’s Company divided the School into two parts; Laxton Grammar School, primarily for the inhabitants of the town, and Oundle School, primarily for pupils from further afield. In 2000, the Grocers’ Company reunited the two schools under the common name of Oundle School and retained the name of Laxton for the day House.
At the beginning of the 20th century, Oundle was put firmly on the map of leading English public schools by its most famous headmaster, F W Sanderson, who established Oundle’s reputation as one of the great science and engineering schools, a reputation still renowned today. In 2007, SciTec - a major and ground-breaking new science complex - opened, housing 16 state-of-the-art laboratories. The School is now embarking on a large SciTec Campus development project which will see a new Mathematics department constructed adjacent to SciTec as well as a significant upgrade to the Design and Technology department within the Patrick Engineering Centre. Due for completion in September 2016, the development will unite Science, Mathematics, Design, Technology and Engineering both physically and philosophically, enabling pupils to move seamlessly from theory to practice and from pure science to the achievement of a workable technology. A concurrent Sports MasterPlan will upgrade sporting facilities across the School over the next few years, including a new 1st XI cricket pavilion which opened in April 2015 and new astroturfs due to be completed this year.
There are currently 1110 pupils on roll at Oundle School, with 860 boarders and 250 day pupils. Also within the Corporation of Oundle School is Laxton Junior School, a day school for children aged 4 to 11.