Every year, around 25-30 Hampton boys receive offers from Oxford and Cambridge universities to read a wide variety of different subjects.
Boys are given support in their application through academic extension classes run by the individual departments as well as general Oxbridge sessions directed at such matters as the UCAS form and interviews. All applicants will have the opportunity to have a number of mock interviews with staff, as well as at either Lady Eleanor Holles School or Surbiton High School.
Many of the staff at Hampton School are themselves Oxbridge graduates and are excellently placed to provide advice and academic support.
The Hampton Extended Learning Programme (or HELP for short) is a programme of extended learning open to boys in the Second and Third Years. A number of boys undertake projects in the form of extended essays on an area of personal interest, as well as creative projects such as building a model. Each student is overseen by a member of staff and the skills gained and demonstrated by the boys will be of great use to them as they move up the school. We are in an age where, increasingly, academic success is measured by exam results; one of the main aims of HELP is to encourage a love of learning for learning’s sake. The aims of HELP are:
· To foster a love of learning and encourage independent learning
· To provide an opportunity for the development of research and organisational skills
· To provide an opportunity to develop presentational skills
· To encourage creativity and free-thinking outside the everyday curriculum
· To better prepare students in the Lower School for Controlled Assessment at GCSE and for the Sixth Form.
Each student who undertakes a project has a member of staff acting as their supervisor, in as hands-off a manner as possible, whilst ensuring that the student has the support that he needs. The requirements for the project are:
· That it is genuinely outside the curriculum (i.e. a piece of coursework may not be submitted as a project, or vice versa)
· That it genuinely is an extended learning initiative – i.e. it should be something that can be completed over a period of time
· That it is manageable in the sense that it is feasible for it to be completed in the time available and that it is within the ability of the student to achieve it
Topics for projects in the past couple of years have included amongst many others: financial fair play in football; computer programming; black holes; neurology; the Battle of Stalingrad; the Big Bang Theory; moral obligation to obey the law; and the war poets.
For the First and Second Years, Think! sessions are held twice a week during lunchtime. These sessions are centred on the boys displaying marked academic ability. Boys are encouraged and motivated to take part in intellectually stimulating activities in an environment that will teach them how to think more independently and allow them to stretch themselves academically.
Every week there is a different approach and a different topic, covering all academic subjects. Skills covered include memory techniques, which have helped boys to tackle revision in a more productive manner. Literacy skills are worked on through ‘dingbats’, impossible stories, close reading, lateral thinking and critical thinking; some mathematical problem-solving is also covered.
Three main laboratory based workshops are carried out with the help of specialist subject teachers during the year and the use of computer rooms is also required for certain activities.
Some of the activities are based on the Bloom’s Taxonomy, which is a model for conceptualising higher level of thinking skills for gifted learners. However, the focus of the Think! Sessions lies on the three higher level of the taxonomy (analysis-evaluation-synthesis), enabling all pupils to develop their cognitive processes.
Thinking games and P4C are also useful tools to develop pupils’ curiosity, reason and precision in the use of language, which are the key to promote independent thinkers and learners.
The Hampton Extended Project was introduced to provide Sixth form students with additional stretch and challenge. It offers them the opportunity to produce an extended piece of work either in an area they are already studying, or one in which they have a particular interest. The process of organising and producing the project develops the skills of research, analysis, independent learning and time-management that are so highly valued by the top universities.
Students choose topics which interest them (a) alongside an A level or Pre-U syllabus; (b) cutting across syllabus boundaries; or (c) in new, but related, territory. Students then research and produce an essay of between 5,000 and 10,000 words, fully academically referenced. Once complete, boys will give a presentation to some of their peers and staff on the subject of their research and take questions.
The School is able to mention this work positively in the students’ university references and several boys have found themselves discussing their research in depth at university interviews.
Essays in the past few years have covered such diverse topics as:
- Scottish independence
- Quantum gravity
- Napoleon’s legacy on modern France
- A comparison and explanation of cross-culture kinship
- The development of the Japanese writing system and its impact on Japanese culture
- The concept of the sublime in literature
- The spread of Islam in Britain
- To what extent were Oliver Cromwell’s actions Machiavellian?
- The feasibility of time travel
- The history and future of Bitcoin
- Why the naked ape became smart
- The experience of the Russian serfs and their influence on Russian literature
- Artificial Intelligence, Robotics and the future of employment
- The misuse of statistics in the courtroom