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GSE - Something Old for a New Age?

Posted: 24th January 2020 | Category: Headmaster's Blog

We were fortunate enough this week to be joined by parents, children, senior school staff and staff from the broader Bellevue community, keen to learn more about how we are developing a creative senior years’ curriculum. I am pleased to say that the children, as always, were the highlight, demonstrating great communication skills, excellent subject knowledge and boundless enthusiasm. 

Project based learning is not a brand new concept, and a thematic approach is used broadly across the country - but the GSE syllabus is different. The emphasis behind this style of learning is to encourage independence, promote student voice, enhance study skills, direct their own learning and develop transferable skills which will prepare them for the 21st Century beyond the classroom.

This approach to learning inspires the children to explore their interests, play to their strengths and identify any weaknesses to work on. Their first exposure to this style of learning was the topic of Sussex - a great introduction due to it being very much on their doorstep. The children were able to visit the Sussex Downs, see the impact of coastal erosion, identify floodplains and meanders in the Cuckmere, visit the site of the Battle of Hastings and stand where Harold was shot in the eye, see the Georgian built Redoubt fortress and Martello towers on the Eastbourne seafront and the hotels that sprung up along the seafront during the Victorian age. 

This real life context, coupled with the creative digital skills of presenting their acquired knowledge in a new way, researching effectively, understanding Sussex’s geographic location and identifying their own interests within the topic of Sussex, culminated in some incredible e-books, a reflective podcast and some analytical thoughts on their learning through Kloodle.

The next focus for the children is ‘Disaster!’, which I know will be anything but. The children will be comparing contemporary sources to first hand experiences, researching tectonic plates and the natural disasters that have occured due to their movement and exploring video editing software. This combination of the foundation curriculum knowledge, creative 21st century skills and current affairs will conclude with the creation of a News program, showcasing their knowledge of disasters - from volcanic eruptions, to the Chernobyl disaster, or possibly for some, England losing the cricket. This topic will allow us to delve into Philosophy and Ethics and consider the impact of tolerance and understanding of religions, developing their understanding of British values. 

By the end of their time at Skippers, this curriculum will allow the children to develop the curriculum subject knowledge and broad skill set for learning, a digital portfolio and reflective log and a broad view of the world, not confined to the examination topics. GSE is not something which has been done before, as now the emphasis is placed back upon the children in order for them to reflect, to develop and grow, and understand themselves as learners - allowing them to maintain their individuality.

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