Fostering a love of learning, thinking and scholarship is one of the most important ways in which we can try to ensure that our students thrive not only at school and university but also later in life. To this end, we offer all students from Year 7 to Year 13 a variety of opportunities for intellectual engagement that are both interesting and demanding.
Lower School students (Years 7 and 8) are encouraged to attend our lively weekly meetings, where difficult and fascinating ideas are introduced, such as the nature of perception, the ethics of veganism, or the problem of free will. Essays on subjects such as these are an important part of our challenging Scholarship examination, which is open to any student in Year 8.
In the Middle School (Years 9, 10 and 11) the Scholarship programme is extended. Weekly meetings run by the Head of Scholarship, assisted by other members of the teaching staff, are complemented by half-termly set-piece events, such as lectures and panel discussions. Middle School students are encouraged to enter the Gareth Evans Essay Competition, named after an illustrious Old Alleynian philosopher. Recent essay topics have included: ‘Do future generations have rights?’ and ‘Has the internet changed the way we think?’ Finally, Middle School students are offered the opportunity to attend conferences organised by other institutions, and to visit colleges and museums in Oxford, Cambridge and London.
In the Upper School, we encourage those students who are intellectually ambitious to attend weekly enrichment sessions in the subject they wish to study at university. If their choice of university subject is not offered at A-level by the College, such as Anthropology or Law, sessions are organised by the Head of Scholarship. A number of one-to-one tutorials are also offered, as well as practice university interviews, run in conjunction with other schools. Students are encouraged to read as widely as possible: advice and bibliographies are available from departments, in the Wodehouse Library and on The Thinkers’ Hub. The Thinkers’ Hub also has links to museums’ online displays, easily accessible university lectures, online courses, as well as to various essay prizes (mainly for Year 12 students). These essay prizes are more often than not offered by the colleges of Oxford and Cambridge, but there is also the Erasmus Essay Prize (an inter-schools competition in which candidates from the College have been regularly successful).