Horizons: pupils reflect on school enrichment programme
Here at Berkhamsted we want our students to broaden horizons and appreciate the value of learning beyond the classroom. Gaining knowledge, understanding and experience in topics not typically covered in the curriculum may set students apart in university applications and job applications.
Enriching academic minds
Berkhamsted’s Horizons programme enables pupils to stimulate their intellectual curiosity, wherever their interests lie. A new resource for Years 7 –13 provides a plethora of inspiration, activities, opportunities and competitions within 25 academic subjects. With an endlessly broad spectrum, the Horizon programme is designed to spark the imagination of any pupil or any young mind.
The new Horizons website has been created to showcase the vast range of opportunities.
Maddy (Year 12) has embraced enrichment opportunities throughout Senior School and Sixth Form. With a particular interest for English, she entered Berkhamsted’s Reading Competition in Years 7 and 9.
“They were fun and helped with my confidence; they also introduced me to what other people were reading at the time, inspiring me to read a few books that I wouldn’t have heard of otherwise.
Skills for the future
“I am currently working on my entry for the Woolf Essay Prize (Newham College, Cambridge) competition, which was put forward by the English Department for me. I’m finding it really interesting to research, and it will also be useful for University applications.
“The English Enrichment Course is also proving to be very beneficial, it allows me to look through a variety of different texts (ranging from poems to traditional novels, to modern plays), and I’m thoroughly enjoying analysing these pieces with people that are equally compelled by English.”
Maddy has centred her Woolf Essay on womanhood and feminism. She has chosen to explore the question of whether we should focus on studying ordinary or extraordinary women. She’ll be researching over the half-term holiday to build a rounded view on the topic and engage in differening perspectives.
Amy (Year 12) has entered competitions such as the Geography Association’s ‘finding physical Geography,’ and the Royal Geographical Society’s ‘word beyond my window.’ Having only joined Berkhamsted in September 2020 and discovered the range of opportunities on offer at the school, Amy’s achievements beyond her academic studies are remarkable.
Captivating and compelling
She was crowned national champion by the Geography Association for her physical geography project. Her photo taken during a hike in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region of France shows her discovery of an unusual rock formation that could easily be mistaken for tree roots.
The judge’s summary of her winning entry:
“A surprising photograph that it isn’t what you think at first glance, making for a captivating, compelling and beautifully composed image that completely captures the brief to provide an interesting, thoughtful and unusual observation of physical geography.”
Amy’s project continued to outline the theory behind her photo, demonstrating the in-depth research which is a hallmark of any successful enrichment project.
In April 2021 Amy will attend the (virtual) Geography Association annual conference to collect her award. It follows a recent trend of Berkhamsted success in these competitions:
Exploring beyond the horizons of the curriculum
She said “I would encourage any pupil at Berkhamsted to take part in opportunities like this, because it allows you to broaden your knowledge of different topics, beyond the curriculum, showing curiosity and interest. This is useful to include in your personal statement when applying to university, but more importantly, it allows you to gain a greater depth of knowledge. Not only this, but in exams and when writing essays, you will be able to expand by writing detailed answers meaning you can access the higher marks. Furthermore, these enrichment opportunities allow you to research topics which may link or influence other subjects you are studying – positively impacting your general learning experience at Berkhamsted.”
Engineering a pathway to success
Design and Technology is one of the 25 subject departments encouraging pupils to explore the world of academia beyond the classroom.
Year 7 pupils take part in Race to the Line, working in teams to develop their own model rocket cars.
The IET Faraday Challenge focuses on developing communication and problem-solving skills based on a real-world scenario.
Like many departments, they offer a diverse range of trips that enable pupils to explore the Design and Technology sector. Sixth Form pupils can attend the Product Design in Action Conference and learn from successful designers and discover where their interests could take them in the future.
Dominic (Year 12) has the potential to become a leading engineer if he chooses to follow the path of his current interests. Through the school enrichment programme he has maximised the opportunities to gain valuable and accredited experience. Dominic’s geothermal engineering project earned him an Arkwright Engineering Scholarship. He investigated the sustainable energy sources to power a high-speed railway in Chile giving him an understanding that stretches far beyond the curriculum.
“I have really benefitted from these opportunities given to me as they have given me a head start for my future career. It really was an enjoyable experience to explore my passions in that area and allowed me to fully push myself to the best of my abilities, and I highly recommend people to take these opportunities.”