Year 8 Talent Across the Curriculum

Ronald Reagan once said, ‘It’s true hard work never killed anyone, but I figure, why take the chance?’ Fortunately, this has not been the attitude of Year 8 over the past few months, and I am delighted to be able to share another set of fantastic scholarship offers with the ECS Community. Year 8 have matched last year’s record tally, with 84% of pupils achieving at least one award. This is a testament to an enormous amount of hard work by both pupils and staff to prepare for a multitude of assessments, examinations, auditions, interviews and aptitude tests. This year’s cohort deserve particular praise for persevering during lockdown and for putting up with me appearing via Teams to interview them in their own homes!


For those less familiar with this process, conversations about senior school places may begin as early as Year 5 or 6, and this is usually the case if entry is being sought to larger public schools, which are increasingly pre-testing candidates in Year 6. More often, however, such enquiries start in Year 7, which is also when our bespoke enrichment programme begins.


It is important to recognise that although our enrichment programme and scholarship preparation are not exactly the same thing, they do complement each other. The enrichment programme runs in Years 7 and 8 and parents, in consultation with their children, choose between Music, Art, Drama and Sport. This choice is offered at the beginning of Year 7 and again at the beginning of Year 8, so it is possible to experience two different areas, one each year.


In the Michaelmas term, the focus of these sessions is on preparing candidates in Year 8 for their upcoming scholarships. It also allows those potential candidates in Year 7 the opportunity to see what is required of a scholar. As these groups are small and well-staffed there is time for each pupil to receive one-on-one support. This might involve the selection and preparation of drama monologues with Miss Bullocke, or music pieces with Mrs Featherstone. Similarly, Mrs Reavill works intensively with her art scholars, sometimes over an eighteen-month period, to help ready their portfolios, while Mrs Ross focusses on individual improvement, assessing fitness levels and tactical understanding in sport.


Preparation for academic scholarships happens largely in normal lessons. We do not run a separate scholarship stream but the majority of subjects are divided into sets, which means that additional challenge can be provided for pupils who have scholarship ambitions. All pupils work towards Common Entrance, which is a demanding syllabus in its own right, and scholarship papers are based on the same curriculum content. Once pupils have selected their senior schools, we are able to provide sample scholarship papers on which we provide feedback and advice.


These awards reflect the roundedness of the education offered by ECS. It is true that many are indicative of academic rigour, and musical excellence, which might be expected from a Cathedral School, but they also recognise Art, Drama and Sport. The greatest satisfaction I derive from these results is that they highlight the varying talents of our pupils, and the plethora of areas in which we excel as a school.


James Meeke

Head of Scholarships and Academic Enrichment

12 March 2021
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