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Oakham’s Academic Cornerstone Course launches!

This week saw the launch of Oakham’s Academic Cornerstone Course (ACC), an innovative two-week programme for pupils in Forms 5 and 7.

Oakhamians from across the country, and indeed the world, were a part of the live launch that took place on Monday via Microsoft Teams.

Headmaster, Henry Price, introduced the new course by saying, “It may be a bit of a cliché, but education isn’t all about examinations. All of the aspects included in our Academic Cornerstone Course are things that we would love to see embedded and entwined in the education that we offer, but aren’t always able to do so, due to the pressures of the formal examination system.”

The two-week programme sees pupils take part in a series of courses that cover academic skills, life skills, and employability skills. Six strands have been identified as ‘cornerstones’ for pupils’ future success; simultaneously providing strong foundations whilst also enabling pupils to view their studies from a different direction. They are: Numeracy, Literacy, Communication, Critical thinking and analysis, Creativity, and Leadership in a changing world. Given Oakham’s longstanding expertise in delivering the IB Diploma, and more recently in developing the IB MYP for pupils aged 11-13, the course has inter-disciplinary learning at its heart; both from the way the course has been designed, and the way in which pupils will learn. Each strand has been designed by a team of teachers selected from across several departments, to ensure the course is original and impactful, as well as drawing on Oakham’s wide range of teaching expertise, experience and enthusiasm. Over the coming weeks, pupils will take part in lessons and study sessions, all delivered live and interactively vis MS Teams, with Form 5 completing all six strands and Form 7 choosing three or more strands in which to take part. Form 5 will also return to the course next year, as it continues to positively shape their Upper School studies throughout Form 6.

The ACC is just one part of Oakham’s educational provision for Form 5 and 7 (Years 11 and 13) whose learning journey has been most impacted by the Coronavirus due to the cancellation of formal examinations. “A lot of things have changed, and the process of this transition can be likened to a journey into the unknown,” says Leo Dudin, Deputy Head (Academic). “We’ve thought long and hard about how we can best support Oakhamians with this journey; to make it less daunting.” During his introduction to pupils, he gave the analogy of this transition being like walking alone in the dark across the countryside. The School has already, over the last few weeks of distance learning, provided consolidation courses. “Pupils have been able to finish their studies in each of their subjects - which has built their confidence by embedding their learning and core knowledge.” This, he described, is akin to equipping them with a car to make their journey, rather than having to walk, which will both speed up their transition and give them some security. 

The Academic Cornerstone Course equips pupils with key skills that enables their transitional journey to be both successful and enjoyable. Dr Dudin likened the six strands of the course as being different headlights that each play an important role in illuminating the path ahead. “Each of the ACC strands offers very different things, each equally important for pupils to be equipped with. It is our hope that pupils, during this course and over time, will challenge themselves to ‘turn the dial up’ on each of these headlights, to increase the brightness of their future.”

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