This document should be read in conjunction with the booklets:
The aim of the Shell year is to provide a broad and sound foundation for a boy’s education at Radley. No subject is excluded, so that a boy has the chance to experience a range of different disciplines and skills. At the end of the Shell year he continues with a core of English, Maths, a Modern Language, Science and Theology, and makes a choice from a set of Option blocks which permit him to pursue four additional subjects to GCSE.
When a boy arrives at Radley he is setted separately for English, Maths, Modern Languages* and Science, according to his performance in the Scholarship or in Common Entrance. It is perfectly possible to be in Set 1 for one subject and Set 4 for another, as boys have different aptitudes. He will be allotted a form master from within his social - a sub-tutor who specialises in inducting new boys into Radley. This form master helps the boys to settle into the social, to make friends but also to learn the standards that Radley will expect of them, especially in the academic realm.
(*From September 2019, all Shells will be expected to study TWO from French, Spanish and German*. French is no longer be compulsory). Boys of top linguistic ability will be able to study three languages (French, German and Spanish) each on three periods per cycle.
Radley works on an 8-day timetable, with 48 periods in that cycle. The distribution of periods is as follows:
English: 5, Maths: 5, Theology: 1, History: 3, Geography: 3, Classics: 4, Modern Languages: 9, Biology: 3, Chemistry: 3, Physics: 3, Design Engineering: 4, Art: 2, Music: 1, Critical Thinking: 2
When a boy arrives at Radley he is given a Diagnostic Test, an 80-word spelling test and a piece of free personal writing. For boys who are found in this test to need support, or for those with a history of learning difficulties, extra tuition is available from a qualified learning difficulties specialist. A specific programme is arranged for each individual, whose progress is monitored closely and regularly assessed. The Mathematics Department also conducts tests, in October, and boys with weaknesses are helped by Mr Bishop. This programme is co-ordinated by the Head of Academic Support. Any past arrangement for support (at Prep School) must be communicated to the Head of Academic Support before the start of the Shell year. No external arrangement with an educational psychologist should be organised once a boy is at Radley. We use our own educational psychologist.
Regular reporting on boys serves several purposes: it lets boys know how they are doing, it enables dons, Tutors and parents to monitor progress, and it provides the opportunity to spur on those whose effort is deemed to be less than it might be. We report fully to parents at the end of each term through an emailed report. We also have a system of internal electronically recorded reports. These assess effort, each boy’s organisational skills and ability to communicate in class. These reports are e-mailed to parents in the week after Common Room has completed them. Regular monitoring aims to get the best out of boys. We have in the last year or so put greater emphasis throughout Radley on developing in the boys an ability to learn, and research independently. Shell boys are taught Critical Thinking (CT) skills by five different teachers across the year. The CT course is designed to help them navigate their way through the complex and often misleading world of modern media and develop analytical and other forensic skills which will help them in their academic and wider lives.
Each year at Radley there is a meeting for parents to discuss their sons’ progress with dons. The Shell meeting is on a Sunday morning in mid-May. Parents, of course, are encouraged to keep in touch with Tutors at all times over a boy’s progress. The Head of the Shell Year is also an important point of contact. There is a great deal more to life at Radley than academic work, even though the latter is inevitably at the centre of a boy’s time here.
Radley offers a 1-1 iPad scheme for the new Shells starting. Each Shell receives an iPad to ensure everyone has access to the technology. The iPad policy covers the academic and organisational needs of each boy. iPads are used to provide all the educational benefits whilst at the same time allow access to other devices, such as phones, to be more closely monitored and, especially in the junior years, appropriately restricted. This will provide reassurance to parents and to Tutors from a pastoral perspective but allow educational advantage to flourish.
The curriculum consists firstly of a Core of compulsory subjects — English, Maths, (at least) one European Modern Language and Science — which are examined, as well as a course in Theology* in the Removes (which all boys attend but which does not lead to public examinations). Boys in the top sets are prepared for both English Language and English Literature GCSEs; boys in the lower sets benefit from a focus in the timetable allocation to attain high grades in just English Language. Some boys are entered early for one or more of these core subjects; for example, in Maths boys in higher sets take IGCSE (International GCSE) in the Remove year. In practice this policy ensures that the more able boys can be stretched beyond the scope of the GCSE syllabuses. In addition, there is a selection of option subjects, each of which is taken to GCSE or IGCSE. These include: Art, Classical Civilisation, Drama, Design Engineering, Design Electronics, Geography, German, Greek, History, Latin, Music, Spanish, Theology.
*Theology GCSE is a full course and not to be confused with the compulsory sessions mentioned here.
In choosing a combination of Options, certain advice might be borne in mind. It is, educationally speaking, desirable to study a humanity, History or Geography; to pursue a second language (either for practical use or in the case of a classical language, to learn about the mechanics of language so that future learning is made easier); and — where there is an aptitude — to pursue a practical or artistic subject (Design Engineering, Art, Theatre Studies or Music). However, it is distinctly possible that a boy may have a particular leaning which may well be worth pursuing. The Option Block system thus aims to permit the choice of subjects to satisfy those with special inclinations, allowing Greek and Latin, German and Spanish, Art and Design Engineering. For the all-rounder, choosing four options can be an agonising matter, and discussions with appropriate Heads of Department, current Form Master and Tutor will be important. Each year a number of boys find it difficult to give up subjects they have enjoyed in the Shells, and so a while ago we extended the number of options from three to four.
As in the Shells, we timetable the Removes and Fifths over a 48 period, 8 day cycle.
Periods are allocated as follows. English: 6, Maths: 6, Religious Studies: 1, Modern Language: 5, Biology: 4, Chemistry: 4, Physics: 4, Option subjects: 4 or 5 each.
For details of the blocking system please see the booklet: How to choose your GCSEs.
(*From September 2019, French is optional for Shells and therefore no longer be compulsory at GCSE.)
The educational course at Radley is designed to teach boys the value of hard work and an intelligent management of time.
We aim for breadth in a boy’s academic programme, we try to ensure intellectual stimulus both inside and outside the curriculum, and we seek to achieve an easy command of, and familiarity with, Information Technology. We also endeavour to train Sixth Formers in the ability to research and synthesise for themselves, to learn independently. Beyond that we hope to awaken in Radleians an appreciation of literature and the arts so that they can gain real pleasure from pursuing these interests in their adult lives. When a Radleian leaves the Sixth Form, it is expected that he will have those attributes necessary both to command a worthwhile place in Higher Education and – beyond that – to compete effectively in the market place for jobs in the 21st century.
We have recommended the three A levels as standard model (four if one is Further Maths). In addition to taking his A levels, every boy will be expected to complete two courses within our Curriculum Extension Programme. Of course if a boy wishes to study four full A levels, we shall not try to hinder him, but as each subject will have ten periods taught per (48 period) cycle, those on a non-Further Maths four A level timetable would have 40 taught lessons plus at least five periods of extension classes. This would leave only three study periods per cycle.
We aim to equip boys to:
- be more independent in their thinking and practice
- take greater ownership over their academic work
- be able to make a successful transition to university level study
- engage fruitfully in extension work of their own choosing
The following A levels are available: Art, Biology, Chemistry, Classics, Design, Drama, Economics, English, French, Geography, Geology, German, Greek, History, History of Art, Mathematics, Music, Physics, Politics, Spanish, Theology.
We offer a four block system which caters to as many A level combinations as possible. Blocks are essential if a school is to undertake setting, which we believe - with the backing of considerable academic evidence – is vital to enable boys to progress and excel at a pace appropriate to them. No block system can provide for every conceivable combination and, in a small number of cases, some boys will need to revise their initial preferences.
For details of the blocking system please see the booklet: Choosing Your A Levels.
The Higher Education Guide details which A levels are explicitly required for university degree courses.