As Church secondary education grows in the Thames Valley, there’s a new academy consultation in Aylesbury, in close association with Bucks LEA. Leslie Stephen, our diocesan director of Education, and I have been trying to scope sixth form learning in an age of increasing homogenisation and box ticking. Historically English A levels have been the local gold standard. A levels, however, have significant blind spots, and some universities (most recently Imperial College) are finding them inadequate as means of selecting candidates for undergraduate courses. In a globalized world, they seem curiously narrow.
The International Baccalaureate is different. You study more subjects across the board, but with a small flush of specialisms. There are mandatory elements to develop emotional intelligence and leadershp skills. Historically these have not been part of the curriculum, although some schools, especially in the independent sector have worked hard to develop them.
Converting from A level sixth forms to IB is difficult, but with new sixth forms, why not? Why shouldn't a broad and balanced curriculum post 16 be available for free, and why shouldn’t church schools lead the way?