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Cultural Capital and Critical Thinking

There is a story doing the rounds at the moment about a young woman who is studying for 24 A Levels. There's lots of discussion around the relative merits of this approach to extending learning but one point that seems unarguable is that there are few opportunities for able students to expand their knowledge and skills beyond the demands of the GCSE and A Level curriculum.

Schools are at their absolute limit at the moment: they are understaffed, underfunded and still grappling with the learning deficit left by the Covid lockdowns. Offering lessons beyond the requirements of the GCSE or A Level specifications is simply not possible for most publicly funded schools.

Assessment and exams are of course important but students need more than just grades. They need the skills to wade through the deluge of information and misinformation that is pumped out of their phones every hour of every day. They need a broad sweep of understanding of the past to help them contextualise events and texts. They need the resilience and communication skills to be able to discuss difficult and complex subjects with nuance and critical thinking.

Over the next few months I'm going to be creating courses to support students who wish to build up their general knowledge of history, literature and philosophy as well as courses in critical thinking and conversation. We will establish good intellectual habits, practice respectful and challenging discourse and build a framework for effective and impartial research and communication. I intend to run some face to face in the Chippenham area but I will also be offering some online. All courses will be for students in Years 10-13 and most will be limited to a maximum of ten students per class.

If you would like to be kept informed of developments, email me at with the subject heading CCCT and I will let you know as soon as I have more information.

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