- Art & Design
- Computing & ICT
- Design & Technology
- Enhancement & Enrichment
- Modern Languages
- Physical Education & Games
- Theology & Philosophy
Art & Design is a curriculum subject for all pupils in Years 7 and 8 within which, a broad and exciting programme of study is undertaken. In Year 7, we engage students in the Formal Elements of Art & Design from the outset, whilst working creatively with a variety of different media, materials and techniques. Critical and analytical contextual studies are fully incorporated into the course, encouraging the students to make relevant links to the works of traditional and contemporary artists or designers. They explore key genres and movements such as the Renaissance, Abstract Art and Surrealism. By Year 8, students have developed their confidence and ability to demonstrate a more personal response to a theme. Their projects include 'Graphic Communication', 'Architecture' and 'Craft and Culture'.
In Year 9, the Art & Design courses enhance the skill, depth and individuality of pupils’ work. In Fine Art, they are encouraged to develop their imaginative and practical skills with a focus on drawing and painting. They investigate themes such as 'Distortion and Expression in Portraiture', 'Still Life and Structures' and 'Landscape and Perception of Colour'. In Graphic Communication, the focus is on creating designs using traditional as well as digital drawing, collage and printing techniques. Pupils respond to design briefs inspired by concepts, for example 'How Graphic Design Helps to Create Better Architecture', 'If You Could Put One Message on A T-shirt What Would It Be?', 'Do You Judge a Book By Its Cover?' and 'Can Graphic design Save Your Life?'
At GCSE level and A Level, we mainly work 1:1 with our pupils forming a partnership of creativity aiding students in advancing their style and approach. At this stage, we encourage the pupils to develop deep meaning behind their work, pushing the boundaries of art and design to create highly original, complex and sophisticated ideas. Students are actively encouraged to seek new artists and experiences to inspire experimental and inventive work. All pupils develop a personal investigation, recording their journey in sketchbooks and making accomplished outcomes. Their ambitious and exciting body of work is displayed in our much-anticipated annual exhibition in the Bourne Foyer. Each year, selected pieces are put on permanent display around the school as well as a small number of works being shown in the Haberdashers’ Hall. We aim to embed Art & Design within the school community with paintings located in the Aske building and our iconic Fine Art Cows along with wire animal sculptures visible in the school grounds.
The overall experience, in Art & Design, is strengthened and extended through our lively programme of additional activities where pupils can enhance their learning through clubs such as architectural modelling, canvas painting or ceramics. Life drawing, with professional life models, is a popular and challenging choice for Y9-U6 who also enjoy our open studio time when they can work on their own projects in an informal setting. We are very fortunate to be able to provide one day artist led workshops for our most promising pupils as well as exam classes. In these workshops, pupils gain insight and inspiration through working alongside artists, for example Darcy Turner, James Lake and Ian Murphy, creating impressive additional pieces for their portfolios. The annual House Art Competition attracts participants from Year 7 to Year 9 and sees pupils completing high standards of observational drawing with commitment, focus and pride. We also run our very own “Turner Prize” for these year groups. At Sixth Form, pupils can opt to study Landscape Painting, Portraiture or 3 Dimensional Studies with us as part of their Enrichment programme.
The unity of features shared by living things provides the main conceptual theme for Year 7, and pupils are introduced to the main categories into which organisms are classified; they also learn how to make, and use paper and online keys in identifying unknown organisms. The school grounds provide a useful area for field-trips during lessons, so that living material is readily acquired for study. Whilst there is a natural inclination of pupils to want to concentrate on human biology, the Biology department tries to open the eyes of the boys to the wonders of nature in general, in the belief that they will become more environmentally responsible citizens.
In Year 8 the whole year is devoted to the study of microbes, both in relation to disease as well as in relation to the dependence of humans upon them in ecology, agriculture, food technology and biotechnology. This year provides pupils with numerous practical experiences, exploring the use of microbes in such processes as bread, beer, yogurt and cheese making, as well as investigating the variety of ways in which bacterial action can be fought, preserving food and fighting pathogenic diseases. The boys are also introduced to significant historical biological scientists, such as Louis Pasteur, and their modern legacies.
In Years 9, 10 and 11 the boys follow the Edexcel IGCSE Biology specification, leading to a GCSE at the end of Year 11. The sequence of topics is unique to Habs, with animal and plant nutrition and ecology in Year 9, human physiology in Year 10, and genetics and responses of plants and animals in Year 11. A significant amount of time is devoted to examination skills and revision in Year 11. Assessment is by terminal examination only; there is no coursework. Nevertheless, the emphasis on practical work continues, supporting the theory, as well as allowing pupils to develop their personal investigation skills. The ecological aspects are taught in the school grounds.
In the Sixth Form Habs follows the OCR Biology specification. Once again, the emphasis is firmly upon learning by doing. The course is taught using a wide range of practical activities to enable pupils to develop their understanding and to engage their scientific curiosity. The AS course consists of three units; Unit F211 Cells, exchange and transport, Unit F212 Molecules, Biodiversity, Food and Health and Unit F213 Practical skills in Biology . The practical skills unit is assessed under exam conditions in practical lessons and consists of three separate tasks; Qualitative, Quantitative and Evaluative tasks. Pupils will have two chances to tackle each of these tasks.
The A2 unit which is studied in the upper sixth form consists of three units: Unit F214 Communication, Homeostasis and Energy, Unit F215 Control, Genomes and Environment and Unit F216 Practical skills in Biology 2. The practical skills unit is assessed under exam conditions in practical lessons and consists of three separate tasks; Qualitative, Quantitative and Evaluative tasks. Pupils will have two chances to tackle each of these tasks.
The first term in Year 7 is devoted to practical applications of Chemistry: separation of mixtures, acids and bases, indicators and chromatography. In the second and third terms there is a shift in emphasis as the chemical changes studied are placed in a theoretical framework based on the understanding of elements, compounds and reactivity. Year 8 work develops these themes and expands the theoretical base to include formulae and equations.
In Years 9, 10 and 11 the Chemistry Department follows the Edexcel IGCSE specification leading to a GCSE at the end of the Year 11. Assessment on this course is by terminal examination only; there is no coursework. The course develops an increasingly sophisticated theoretical understanding of the subject while continuing to emphasise the practical basis of the subject and its vital contribution to contemporary society. In Year 9 the key concepts of atomic structure, bonding, the mole and periodicity are introduced and then used as the basis for extending the study of the elements. In Year 10, basic ideas on rates of reactions, thermochemistry, metal extraction and Organic Chemistry are introduced. This continues into Year 11 when the concept of equilibrium is introduced, along with associated industrial processes, and the theoretical understanding of acids and bases is extended.
In the Sixth Form, boys follow the Edexcel specification, which extends and develop the ideas of IGCSE Chemistry introducing more modern concepts such as atomic and molecular orbitals and treating reactivity on the basis of understanding simple thermodynamics including entropy.
The courses are each divided into two modules, all self-contained with clear learning objectives. The emphasis of the syllabus is on the relevance of the subject to everyday life and it is therefore an interesting and dynamic course for boys to study. Assessment is by terminal examination (80%) and continuous assessment (20%). The A2 course is a more advanced treatment of the ideas studied at AS, building on earlier concepts. The structure of content and assessment in A2 is similar to that in the AS. The results at AS and A2 combined give the overall Advanced level grade.
Its approach is quite different from that of the old style Latin courses: it encourages pupils to see Latin as the language of Roman civilization, which is at the heart of western European culture, and great stress is placed on learning about Roman institutions, history and culture. Language skills are developed from reading material consisting of realistic stories often using historical characters and an absorbing story line set in the first and second centuries A.D. Such topics as religion, art, the army, trade, education, women, slavery, law and government are all covered. To this end, the department holds a massive library of support material which is used regularly to bring the subject to life. In Year 9, many of the new entrants from other schools join the Latin groups and settle quickly. Although it is a reading course (with no English-to-Latin translation), the essential language points are fully rehearsed to give a strong foundation for examination work.
The School firmly believes that Latin is a valuable study in its own right but always has an eye to its usefulness in reinforcing the study of the English language; for example, word derivations are constantly explored and similarities with French are also investigated.
Latin is a popular option for GCSE : the courses in Years 10 and 11 see that the transition to reading the Latin of Roman writers and an interesting selection of some of the best of Latin literature is offered for examination. One of the GCSE coursebooks was written for Cambridge University Press by Phillip Parr (the former Head of Department and retired Head of Sixth Form). Many pupils continue the study of Latin in the Sixth Form and in the past 5 years 13 boys have gone on to study Classics as their chosen undergraduate degree at university – nine of them at Oxbridge.
A Greek GCSE (short course) is now offered to approximately half of the boys who opt for Latin GCSE. In an ‘accelerated’ class in Year 10 they start a Greek introductory course (language only at this stage) alongside their Latin language and literature studies; in Year 11 they continue their Greek studies (language and history) to prepare to sit their two Greek GCSE examinations in addition to their four Latin examinations. In other words, they finish their GCSE courses with a full Latin GCSE and a short course Greek GCSE.
There is an active Classical Society which arranges talks, films, competitions and outings to museums and sites of interest. Joint initiatives with the Girls’ School have included balloon debates, lectures and shared enhancement/enrichment classes encompassing a broad range of Classical subjects. Visits to Rome, Pompeii, Hadrian’s Wall and tours of Greece and Provence in France have all been arranged as Classical expeditions.
A full range of industry-standard software and the internet are available for use by all staff and boys. All learning resources are available from both home and school through the school’s well-developed platform for accessing files and sharing information. All boys in Years 7, 8 and 9 develop the skills required to make the most of our curriculum and to enhance their creativity. In addition, subject departments develop skills using technology through a range of activities including film making, music composition, language learning, analysis of sport skills and game strategy, using mathematical packages and modelling with spreadsheets, internet research, modelling using Computer Aided Design and graphics; creating websites, surveys and using a variety of presentation tools.
Have a look at our independent learning project where we launched the micro:bit to Year 7 in June 2016 with great success and the school's involvement was written up by Kings College London as part of Microsoft research. See below for more detail.
In Year 10, boys may choose to study Computer Science as one of their GCSE options. In the Sixth Form, the department offers advanced level Computer Science and a variety of general studies options for making sense of Big Data, making films for YouTube, advertising, stop motion animation, game making, creating original music videos and documentary making.
Boys are encouraged to use the computers in their own time during the day, before and after school. Sixth Form boys are also able to use all the computing facilities during their private study periods.
The Haberdashers’ Aske’s Boys’ School developed a “secret agent mission” for the BBC micro:bit initiative - a pocket-sized computer pupils can code, customise and control to solve their everyday problems, bringing their digital ideas, games and apps to life. This student-centred activity was designed to develop their ability to tackle difficult challenges and understand the potential of the device in an open-ended learning situation supported by our industry partners.
The resources are available here on the CAS website
The programme is part of a school-wide drive to pioneer ‘Computational Thinking’ as a key learning strategy for both staff and students. “Although derived from the technology sector, Computational Thinking is essentially about breaking down complex problems and focusing on the core skills needed to design and implement successful, empathetic solutions,” says Ian Phillips, Head of ICT. “We are innovating systems, inspired by our working relationships with Google, Microsoft and Intel, to ensure our boys have the skills they need to be the global citizens who will help solve international challenges such as cancer and world famine”.
This approach, and its cross-curricular implementation across the whole school, will be the subject of a year-long conversation to understand how it can benefit our boys whilst extending the conversation at the ISC Digital Strategy Group Conference and the Dubai Education Summit. Through sharing the concepts and approaches developed at our school with other schools we hope to be able to continue to provide the best educational experiences possible for our boys.
The department has three large workshops and two multipurpose rooms with computers and CAM facilities. Each workshop is equipped to allow boys to work with a wide variety of resistant materials, together with specialist equipment for computer aided design, metal working equipment, aluminium casting, vacuum-forming polymers and extensive computer aided manufacture facilities.
Each pupil, during Years 7 and 8, will take a course in Design and Technology, following the requirements of the National Curriculum. Using a series of problem-solving projects, the boys are introduced to a variety of materials, processes, tools, components and technology, including mechanisms and CAD/CAM systems.
In Year 9, boys may opt to study either Resistant Materials or Graphic Products courses which build upon the skills learned in the first two years. These courses may be taken as GCSE options in Years 10 and 11. Boys wishing to study the subject at a higher level may choose an AS Product Design course in the Lower Sixth. The department also contributes courses to the Wellbeing and Enhancement and Enrichment programmes.
Habs has a long history of producing plays of exceptionally high standards and senior students regularly have the opportunity to perform on the Edinburgh Fringe. Recent productions have included “Amadeus”, “Antigone”, “Around The World in Eighty Days” and “Romeo and Juliet”. There are three major Co-curricular productions a year involving the Senior, Middle and Junior schools, a weekly Drama Club for boys in Years 7 and 8, as well as annual House Drama Competitions for all boys.
All boys in Year 7 and 8 take Drama for half a term as part of the School’s Key Skills course. Drama can be taken as an option in Year 9 and again at GCSE in Years 10 and 11. Theatre Studies at AS and A2 level is also offered in the Sixth Form. Boys who opt to take the subject at examination level, study all aspects of practical theatre from the perspective of the director, designer and actor including the principles of lighting, sound, set design, costume and make-up.
The boys are well aware of the value of Drama in providing transferable skills (in presentation and communication; resilience and confidence; creative thinking and teamwork) which are relevant in all careers from Law to Medicine, from Engineering to Business. Boys who study Drama (many of them up to A Level) go on to study a wide range of courses at universities, including Oxford and Cambridge. Recent Drama students have taken up courses in Maths, Medicine, Law, English, Politics and History. The Department comprises three specialist teachers, one of whom is the Lead Teacher for Academic Drama, a Head of Performance Drama, and a Theatre Technician who provides expert support as well as overseeing set construction and prop-making for Drama lessons and School productions. The department also appoints annually a graduate Director-in-Residence who assists in all aspects of co-curricular Drama.
The department takes full advantage of its proximity to London and there is a considerable programme of visits to plays in the West End, the South Bank and Stratford-Upon-Avon for boys studying Drama at all levels.
The department follows the OCR specification. In the Lower Sixth year, students study the Market System, Market Failure and the National Economy and take the AS exams in May. During the second year of the A Level, in Year 13, all boys study Business Economics and the Labour Market, and extend their macroeconomic knowledge to understand issues in the Global Economy. The department also contributes to the enhancement programme by providing weakly lessons which aim to prepare students for applications to Oxford, Cambridge and many more leading institutions.
We pride ourselves on the abundance of opportunities we provide for the boys to engage with Economics outside of the classroom. These include:
- Economics Society - A regular meeting run by the boys to debate and further explore topical issues.
- Economics Day – An annual event featuring prominent speakers from the business, higher education and policy making community.
- Economics Book Cub – A weekly group that reads and reflects upon the latest Economics books.
- Equilibrium – The Department’s own Economics journal, written by students and published twice a year.
- Target 2.0 – this allows boys to take on the role of the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee and present their ideas to judges from the Bank in competition with other schools.
- Habs Den – a competition that involves the boys using their business acumen to try and maximise profits from an initial lump sum investment, all in the interests of the school charity.
- Student Investor – Groups of four from Year 9 upwards use an imaginary £100,000 to invest in financial assets of their choice. They learn about the ups and down of the markets whilst competing against their peers and many other students nationally.
- External Events – Opportunities to learn more about Economics outside school are regularly publicised. In 2016, boys attended conferences at SOAS and the University of Cambridge.
The Haberdashers’ Aske’s Boys’ School’s extensive Sixth Form Enhancement and Enrichment programme is unique to the school, and sets Habs apart as a school in which the wider development of each individual pupil is taken as seriously as academic excellence.
The programme has two aims: to enhance the pupil academically above and beyond the syllabi and to enrich him by giving him an opportunity to pick up a new life-skill or interest.
It is also within this programme that pupils are prepared for university based tests such as the BMAT, the TSA, and the LNAT, which students need to sit to gain entry to some of the most competitive degrees at some of the most prestigious universities such as Medicine, Economics and Law at Oxford and Cambridge. All pupils are offered a course in Critical Thinking and the Enhancement and Enrichment programme is designed to help support our boys with all aspects of the UCAS application process. Enhancement and Enrichment is timetabled for four periods a week and there is a system of rotation which allows pupils to tailor their courses to their specific needs and interests. Pupils will follow as many as ten courses during their Sixth Form career. Half of the Lower Sixth courses are run in conjunction with the Girls’ School to help prepare our boys for the co-educational experience offered by universities.
The Enrichment side to the programme includes introductory courses in Arabic, Japanese and Chinese language, cooking and wine-tasting courses, as well as more physically demanding courses such as martial arts instruction, survival training and bush craft. These courses aim to broaden the cultural horizons of our boys as well as helping them to develop skills for life. With more than 80 courses to choose from, the school offers a uniquely diverse and exciting programme taught by members of every school department, offering academic enhancement and personal enrichment alike.
In the first three years of English study, from Years 7-9, we aim to enthuse your son with the endless possibilities of literature in English. He will study an enormous range of texts in these years: from Chaucer in translation to the latest West End play, via Shakespeare and Steinbeck and Orwell, as well as many others. Teachers are encouraged to respond to their classes’ interests in choosing texts for study: there is a departmental stock of more than 10,000 books to challenge and extend the interests of every age group, to stimulate critical response and to encourage reading. All classes in Years 7-9 have regular timetabled lessons in the excellent School Library, to encourage students to read for pleasure and to offer sessions on research skills.
The writing process often begins with reading, and ideas are teased out, developed and challenged through discussion and debate in pairs, groups and as a whole class. Fostering students’ skill in using the English language forms a crucial part of the curriculum, and literacy skills are taught both implicitly and explicitly; students are encouraged to plan their work carefully before writing and check and improve their work meticulously after writing, and teachers mark for literacy in students’ written work.
Results at GCSE are exceptional, with 99% of boys receiving A* or A for English Language and 95% for English Literature; in both subjects, nearly two-thirds of boys received the top grade possible. In years 10 and 11, all boys follow IGCSE courses in English Language and English Literature with a folder of coursework and examinations set by CIE. Coursework is also a vital component of the specifications for OCR English Literature at AS and A2 level, and boys are encouraged to read a wide array of criticism relating to the set texts for examinations. The School also offers AQA English Language as an A-Level, which allows boys to investigate areas of linguistic interest and produce professional quality pieces of original writing. Last year, 86% of boys received A* or A for Literature A-level, and 12 students went on to pursue English-related degrees at universities as diverse as Oxford, Edinburgh, KCL, Leeds and Trinity Dublin.
To broaden the boys’ interest, the department offers an array of co-curricular activities, which in recent years have included residential creative writing trips and school-based competitions, performance poetry competitions and theatre trips, among many other opportunities. Many of the boys are debaters, often succeeding at the highest level in national competitions. The School LitSoc, organised and run by Sixth Form students in collaboration with teaching staff, manage a lively programme of visiting writers, performers and speakers, with events open to all students. There is also a thriving culture of creative, critical and journalistic writing in the school; the English Department magazine, ‘Scribe’, and the School magazine, ‘Skylark’, features original pieces by a variety of students and staff.
Fieldwork is an integral part of the subject. Junior school pupils carry out a local weathering survey in Year 7, coastal management research in Walton-on-the-Naze in Year 8 and participate in a whole year group climate change debate in Year 9. At IGCSE, pupils study rivers and coastal environments on a residential fieldtrip to Somerset and explore urban issues on a day-trip to Cambridge. In the Sixth Form, a residential fieldtrip to Dorset’s Jurassic coast – a World Heritage site – and the in-depth study of a local river, ensure pupils independently develop a broad range of geographical skills. Further to this, the department also provides pupils with an opportunity to go on an annual international fieldtrip e.g. Iceland or Morocco.
Geography is taught to all pupils in Years 7, 8 and 9. The aim of the course is for the pupils to achieve a broad understanding of today’s global issues; from Climate Change to Europe’s ageing population and the spatial impact of infectious diseases. The emphasis is on enquiry, using a myriad of teaching styles to engage pupils and equip them with the analytical and transferable skills needed to make sense of an increasingly interconnected and complex world.
Years 10 and 11 follow a course leading to the Cambridge IGCSE. The course provides a strong grounding in Geography, investigating aspects of both the natural and human environment and allows teachers to go beyond the core specification to follow the interests of the classes they teach. Sixth Form Geography follows the OCR specification. This balances modules studying both the natural and human world. The course emphasises the synoptic nature of the subject and looks at contemporary research debates such as how we respond to natural hazards and how we manage the impacts of globalisation and address global inequalities.
Outside of the classroom, Sixth Form Geographers publish a termly magazine named Habs Geographical, which is establishing a reputation for informed articles and comment. The vibrant Habs Geographical Society, which is linked to the Girls’ school, also invites outside speakers in to school and recent talks have focused on the UK’s energy security and China’s role as the next global superpower. The department is also an active member of both the Royal Geographical Society and the Geographical Association.
It is not surprising given this ethos that every year a number of pupils go on to pursue their Geographic studies at top universities and beyond.
The study of History stimulates independent and mature reflection, develops high-level literacy, and promotes human understanding and sympathy.
Throughout the curriculum, boys are encouraged to articulate confidently and persuasively their own ideas about the past. Pupils are supported so that they can write fluent, structured and increasingly sophisticated analytical responses.
In Years 7-9 the History Department aims to give every pupil a broad general knowledge of British, European and World History and a grasp of the principal skills of the historian. The course in Years 7 and 8 is broadly related to Key Stage 3 of the National Curriculum with its focus on English history after 1066. In Year 9, the boys study the First World War, the Russian Revolution and the impact of these events in shaping twentieth-century Europe.
In Years 10 and 11 boys study the Cambridge International Examinations IGCSE History course, with papers offered on twentieth-century world history, including a depth study on Germany in 1918-45 and an extended coursework investigation on the Second World War.
We offer three Sixth Form History options at AS and A Level, with courses on British, European and American History from the 1490s to the 1990s. Reading and lively discussion have long formed the core of teaching and learning of A Level History at HABS; all Sixth Form sets have lessons in the History Library, a specialist teaching room, well-stocked with texts on a wide variety of historical topics. History is one of the most popular subjects for Haberdashers to go on to study at university.
The Department is committed to extending the boys’ interest in History. Further reading and engagement with the subject is encouraged within and beyond the curriculum. The Junior History Club and History Societies for the Middle School and Sixth Form meet regularly for activities and talks by students, staff and visiting speakers. An annual Habs History magazine, Timeline, is published by the boys. The History Department organises a large number of trips locally and internationally – to the Tower of London and the RAF Museum at Hendon, for example, as well as to the battlefields of the Western Front, Berlin, Poland, and the United States.
Teaching broadly follows the National Curriculum throughout Years 7-11 with core material supplemented by investigations, ICT activities, puzzles and extension work. In-house, tailor-made course notes and interactive whiteboards are used extensively to deliver the curriculum.
The Department believes in enrichment rather than acceleration, and all boys take the IGCSE examination in Year 11. A great deal of extension work is offered throughout Years 7 – 11, so that the boys are not limited by syllabus content. They are given the opportunity to participate in UKMT Challenges each year and mentoring is provided for the most able pupils to prepare them for National and International Mathematics Olympiad competitions. Many boys also take part in team challenge competitions at various levels, and we are now introducing joint Maths Club activities with the Haberdashers’ Aske’s Girl’s School. There is a sixth form Mathematics society in which the boys present off-syllabus Mathematics to one another.
In the Sixth Form, boys are taught a wider range of mathematical concepts which enables them to gain A level qualifications in Mathematics and Further Mathematics. The topics covered are taken from the general areas of Pure Mathematics, Statistics and Mechanics. Sixth Term Examination Papers (STEP) and Advanced Extension Awards (AEA) classes are available for Oxbridge candidates, though many related materials will be used routinely in class teaching.
The Haberdashers’ Aske’s Boys’ School has been at the forefront of the teaching of Modern Languages for the last 40 years. A recent evaluation of our languages provision has led to further developments within this part of the curriculum.
In Years 7 and 8, the aim is to develop a love of languages and provide a good grounding in Romance (French & Spanish), Classical (Latin) and Teutonic (German) languages. During Year 7 boys study all four languages on a carousel. In Year 8 they choose to continue to study two of these languages and thereby to deepen their understanding of them.
On entry to Year 9 all pupils (including new 13+ pupils) study two languages. They may continue to study the two languages they chose in Year 8 or they may decide to begin the study of an Exotic language (Arabic).
The full suite of languages is completed on entry to Year 10 when the School gives pupils the opportunity to begin a Slavic language (Russian). All pupils must choose at least one Modern Language to study through to IGCSE, though most boys study two languages and some will choose to study three languages.
The IGCSE examination is taken at the end of Year 11. All four languages follow the CIE specifications. In addition, top Year 11 sets in French, German and Spanish follow the School’s own extension course, accredited by the Institute of Linguists.
All our languages are offered at A level. We currently enter pupils for the AQA AS examination at the end of the Lower Sixth and the A Level examination at the end of the Upper Sixth. In addition we offer non-examined enrichment courses in Italian, Russian, Japanese and Arabic for those boys wishing to encounter a new language or culture.
A further distinguishing feature of the department is the very wide programme of trips and exchanges in which boys are strongly encouraged to participate. Indeed, we believe we have more ‘traditional’ reciprocal exchanges than any other school in the UK. We have close – and in some cases very long-standing - links with schools in many European countries. We firmly believe that our pupils are well-served by spending a period of time living with a foreign family and experiencing at first hand the culture of the language they are studying.
Years 7 and 8 class music is designed to develop musical knowledge and skills through a varied range of activities from singing and learning how to listen attentively to music, to working in the School’s two fully-equipped music laboratories utilising professional score-writing and sequencing software. ‘Hands on’ experience helps to consolidate basic principles of musical theory, aural responses, techniques of composition and improvisation.
At the start of Year 9, boys may choose Music as one of their creative/technical subjects. The course includes musical analysis, further development of music theory as well as stylistic composition and other creative work.
Music is a GCSE option in Years 10 and 11 and in addition to the skills developed through Year 9, candidates must give evidence of aural achievement and practical skill on an instrument. Much of the GCSE coursework is composed using computer software.
In the Sixth Form, boys may choose to study AS and A2 Music. The course includes aural work, detailed study and analysis of set works, stylistic composition to a given brief, as well as more advanced instrumental instruction. Boys can be prepared for university entrance examinations in Music, or may present themselves as candidates for choral awards or organ scholarships.
For many boys, their musical involvement extends beyond the classroom through membership of the School’s many orchestras, bands, choirs and other ensembles. Over 40 concerts are held during the school year, the most prestigious of which are concerts in the Barbican. The Boys’ School was last there in March this year, in a combined concert with Habs Girls’ School.
The priority sports are Rugby (Autumn Term), Hockey (Spring Term) and Cricket (Summer Term). Each activity involves substantial numbers of boys and maintains a full list of block fixtures on each Saturday, plus regular mid-week matches. The opportunity to take part in school sport is extended to include A, B, C and D teams where possible. Academic PE is offered at GCSE, AS and A2 Levels and boys achieve very good results in each of these areas.
The Director of Sport is supported by a Physical Education department consisting of a further 4 full time PE teachers, 1 Sports Hall Assistant and 1 Graduate Sports Assistant. A number of academic staff are also widely involved in the delivery of games sessions, and the extensive Co-curricular programme on offer. In addition to this we have developed valuable partnerships, which amongst other benefits, sees professional coaches employed from Saracens RFC, Middlesex CCC, Watford WP and Hampstead & Westminster HC.
As well as the priority sports, The Haberdashers’ Aske’s Boys’ School is very proud of its achievements and opportunities to participate in sports such as Athletics, Cross-Country, Football, Gymnastics, Archery, Sailing, Tennis, Squash, Badminton, Basketball, Golf, Orienteering, Table Tennis, Shooting (including Clay Pigeon Shooting), Ultimate Frisbee, Swimming and Water Polo.
The School’s excellent sports facilities include 7 Rugby and/or Football pitches, 2 all-weather Hockey pitches (one floodlit) which become 18 Tennis courts in the summer, 3 grass Cricket squares, 3 artificial Cricket wickets (plus grass and artificial Cricket nets), the Solai Indoor Cricket Centre, a double size Sports Hall, Indoor Swimming Pool, Gymnasium, Fitness Suite, 400metre grass running track with synthetic sprint track and jump/throw areas, and a Shooting Range. Our state-of-the-art indoor sports complex, the Medburn Centre complements outdoor facilities and includes a 25-metre 8-lane Swimming Pool, Fitness Suite Gymnasium, Squash Courts, Multi-Use Space, Climbing Wall, Olympian Suite Conference Room, School Shop and Joe's Café.
The broad nature of the curriculum offered, particularly as pupils progress to the upper age groups, is a real strength of the department. This leads to the school achieving success across a wide range of sporting activities instead of just a narrow focus. Boys currently represent County sides or higher in Rugby, Hockey, Cricket, Athletics, Badminton, Golf, Judo, Orienteering, Shooting, Swimming and Water Polo.
The extensive Inter-House programme offers further competitive matches for almost every boy in the school. All boys are encouraged to participate at a level appropriate to them. Those who want to be involved beyond the competitive route can enjoy recreational levels of activity to maintain healthy lifestyles within the school. Pupils are monitored as part of a scheme developed with Essex University to provide individual fitness profiles. This information is then used to provide specific support appropriate to each pupil.
The school organizes a number of trips and sports tours during the school year and in the holidays. The most recent period has seen tours either going to, or returned from Sri Lanka (U18 Cricket), Dubai (U15 Cricket), Greece (U18 Football), Portugal (U13-U18 Golf), Spain (U18 Hockey), France (U14 Rugby), Ireland (U11 Rugby) and South Africa (U18 Rugby).
Safety in the Physics laboratory is a paramount theme for Year 7, beginning with the introduction of basic rules of conduct in laboratories and building up to the importance of careful consideration of the hazards involved in any planned procedure so as to reduce risks to acceptable levels. Experimental work is central to the majority of Physics lessons. Through a variety of observations and by collecting evidence first-hand boys are instilled with an excitement for the subject as well as a sense of independent enquiry.
The Year 7 course covers an introduction to the fundamentals of light, electricity, measurement and forces. This provides the foundation that allows boys in Year 8 to consider how a force can cause a turning effect, give rise to pressure in all states of matter and an introduction to astronomy and abstract ideas such as energy and heat transfer.
Year 9 marks the beginning of the delivery of material for Edexcel IGCSE Physics. The course is externally examined at the end of Year 11, and there is no coursework component. Experimental methods and techniques are further developed as the quantitative nature of the subject is given greater emphasis within the context of both problem solving and practical work. Graphical and numerical skills are a particular focus of our study of both mechanics and electricity in Year 9 whilst boys become more proficient in technical drawing as the topic of ‘light’ is revisited.
The cultural and social significance of Physics is embedded within the coverage of sound and waves, leading to our perception of sound, musical instruments, and noise.
In year 10, the pivotal role of physicists in shaping future decisions regarding energy supplies is a component of the study of nuclear physics and radioactivity, as well as further examples of applications of Physics for the benefit of society. This nestles alongside a review and extension of fundamental laws of forces are major electromagnetic applications, electrical charges and charge transfer, as well as an opportunity to discuss big questions regarding the scale, structure and evolution of the universe. Whilst revision and examination paper reparation is a significant component of Year 11, boys continue to be extended by microscopic explanations of pressure and temperature and the principles of electromagnetic induction for examples.
The higher level of demand as the IGCSE course draws to a close coincides with widespread participation in the Physics Challenge competition and many boys deciding that they wish to continue to study physics at Sixth Form level. Sixth Form Physicists follow AQA GCE Physics A. The specification provides a smooth transition from previous studies and develops interest and enthusiasm for the subject at a more sophisticated conceptual level. It also provides an appropriate pathway to university courses in Physics and other subjects in which Physics is a key component. The course allows a variety of starting points but Lower Sixth boys will experience contrasting topics in the principles and applications of particle physics, electricity, materials, mechanics and waves. Assessment is through two written module exams, and the practical abilities of boys are assessed internally through verification of practical skills demonstrated in experimental procedures throughout the year and then by an externally marked exam. In the Upper Sixth the course develops further the knowledge, understanding and applications of fields, nuclear and thermal physics with assessment following the same format as for AS Physics.
Politics is a popular Sixth Form only subject at Habs. Students study how power is wielded, the impact of government and different theories of how political power can be best utilised. We have a strong focus on debate in lessons and encourage students to engage critically but constructive and in an informed manner with different political viewpoints. Students study UK Government and Politics, US and Comparative Politics and Political Ideas as part of their A-Level course.
Boys assess and debate current political issues whilst developing an appreciation of governmental systems and structures. The focus in the Lower Sixth is very much on contemporary British Politics and Government. The A2 year in the Sixth Form requires boys to compare the constitutional, political and legal systems of the UK, USA and EU. Unlike most other subjects, a significant proportion of the course’s content has not yet happened! The key skills developed by the course include the ability to research political and legal issues and to communicate effectively both orally and on paper. We undertake regular visits to politics conferences in Westminster, the UK Supreme Court and the Houses of Parliament.
There is a very active Politics Society which invites speakers to the School. In the past four years Mr Speaker John Bercow, UKIP Leader Nigel Farage MEP, Former Foreign Secretary and SDP Leader Lord David Owen, Former Mayor of London Ken Livingstone, Shadow Foreign Secretary Douglas Alexander MP, Conservative Party Chairman Lord Andrew Feldman (OH), Minister for Europe David Lidington MP (OH), Peter Lilley MP, Richard Harrington MP, David Lammy MP, Jesse Norman MP, Douglas Carswell MP, Jacob Rees Mogg MP, James Clappison MP and the journalists Adam Boulton, Dominic Sandbrook, Hugo Dixon and Peter Hitchens have all spoken to the Politics Society. We will hold a school mock election to coincide with the forthcoming 2015 UK General Election.
The course builds upon skills developed in other GCSE courses, especially History, English, Theology and Philosophy and Geography. No prior knowledge of politics is necessary, though a curiosity about current affairs is important. The course will provide a valuable context to those opting for International Relations, Law, History, Economics or Business Management at university.
The curriculum in Years 7-9 is organised around a quest for answers to the ultimate questions of life: Where am I from? (Origin) Who am I? (Significance) Why is the world in a mess? (Evil) Is there a future? (Purpose) How should I live? (Morality) Is there a God? (Reality) How can I know? (Epistemology). In pursuit of this aim, the world’s major religions are studied on their own terms; with consideration given to how the ultimate questions are answered. As boys learn about and respond to the various religious positions the skills of empathy, tolerance and critical analysis are developed. This is supported by a unit on ‘What Makes a Good Argument?’ In addition, the classical arguments for and against the existence of God as well as units on Atheism, Christian Ethics and the way in which Worldviews are communicated through the Media are considered.
At GCSE, the boys can further their study of such major questions as the existence of God, the complexity of moral issues and the concept of miracles. These topics are considered in relation to the teachings of Buddhism and Christianity. This is a popular course and boys enjoy wrestling with both the abstract concepts and the concrete dilemmas with which they are presented.
In the Sixth Form boys are given the opportunity of studying either/both Theology or/and Philosophy. The Theology course examines units on the Philosophy of Religion, Developments in Christian thought and Ethics, which build upon and develop their experience of the GCSE course. The former includes a detailed consideration of the classical arguments for the existence of God as well as considering the relationship between religion and science and the problem of evil. In the ethics module various ethical theories are studied before considering how these can be applied to a variety of important ethical dilemmas. The module on Christian thought includes a critical analysis of the concepts of human nature in the context of the purpose of life, the self and immortality, natural and revealed theology, and historical and theological understandings of the person of Jesus Christ and Dietrich Bonhoeffer.
Philosophy is taught as a separate subject in the Sixth Form, where boys learn about the core academic disciplines which are centred on political philosophy and epistemology (theory of knowledge). The syllabus is designed to give the boys a good foundation in the history of western philosophy and of contemporary philosophical debates.
The classes systematically develop the boys’ ability to carry out individual research and sustained critical analysis by reading and discussing classical philosophers such as Plato, Descartes, Hume and Mill. The logical structure of arguments is clarified by breaking them down into premises and conclusions, and the arguments are subsequently assessed by reflecting on their soundness and validity.
In both the Theology and Philosophy A-Levels, boys are encouraged to develop skills which will prepare them well for university courses. These include engagement with primary texts, high expectations regarding the quality of essays and a deep critical analysis of a range of scholarly perspectives.
These skills are developed in order to prepare boys for the intellectual demands of higher education, with a particular view to universities such as Oxford, Cambridge, and London. Philosophy is an obvious subject to consider for boys who want to go on to read a PPE (Philosophy, Politics, and Economics) or PP (Philosophy and Physics) Degree. The Theology A-Level is particularly good preparation for degrees such as Theology and Religion at Cambridge.
The department publishes an annual journal, Veritas, written and edited by students. A number of conferences and trips are run each year for all ages. Our most recent guest speakers include Andrew Copson (Chief Executive of the British Humanist Association), Peter Vardy and Nigel Warburton who delivered an after dinner speech at the Theology and Philosophy Sixth Form dinner.