NASD Principal, Matthew Farthing, has announced that the school intends to offer British curriculum A-Level qualifications in addition to the IB Diploma Programme. Speaking exclusively to WhichSchoolAdvisor.com Mr Farthing was keen to explain the thinking behind the addition.
Mr Farthing, why offer A Levels, and why now?
Our students are very good at directing their own learning, and as a result, we have been approached by a number of them who want to study A-Levels and remain at NASD for Sixth Form. I think this is the most important thing to say; this change is a direct result of healthy, professional negotiation with our existing students. As a school, it’s incredibly important to us to ensure personalised learning for all our students and this is one way in which we can achieve that. It’s about responding to the demands of our student body.
What subjects do you plan to offer at A-Level?
Again, we plan to respond to the needs and wants of our students. It will depend on demand. So far, we are looking at A-Levels in English, Maths, Business Studies, Economics, Sports Science, Biology, Geography and, perhaps Psychology.
In fact, if we look Sports Science, it is a good example of why some of our students want to study A-Levels. A-Level study allows a little more time for our most athletic sports men and women to commit themselves to a team sport. The time commitment required for the IB programme makes this a challenge.
What will this change mean for your IB Diploma programme and students?
I think it’s important to stress that this is about looking after the students who have come through the school. If students from other schools want to join our A-Level programme, then of course they can, that is great! But we are incredibly conscious of not diluting the commitment to our IB programme. Anyone who knows me will know that I am something of an evangelist for IB, and that will not change!
Will parents see an impact on fees at Sixth Form?
No. The fee structure will remain the same, nothing will change there.
Are there any plans to offer vocational pathways at Sixth Form e.g. BTEC or IB CP?
Last year, we had a small number of students studying BTEC Business and BTEC Leisure and Tourism (very successfully, I might add). For now, we do not plan to expand this. Students and parents know that we have a record of academic success, that is where our focus will continue.
How will A-Levels fit in with your distinctive style of learning at NASD?
For me, the values of the IB Learner Profile are the values of a Nord Anglia education. I’d like to stress to all our parents and students that this does not represent a change to our identity.
Our A-Level students will have the same breadth of a NASD education experience. We will encourage them to make links between their A-Level subjects, just as they would in IB. The commitment to philanthropy, service, innovation, technology and entrepreneurship will all be there, as will the access to our programmes with MIT and Juilliard. A-Level students will join their friends on the Duke of Edinburgh award scheme, and it is very likely that we will ask them to complete the EPQ [EPQ stands for Extended Project Qualification, which allows students the opportunity to develop their interests in a particular topic, experience or skill].
Where do you see the NASD A-Level programme heading in the coming years?
Increasingly, I believe the role of the teacher and educator in that crucial Year 11 and Year 12 phase will also be a guidance counsellor, supporting learning that students have initiated directly themselves. This is what we are doing here, responding to demand stimulated by our students. We will watch how this develops over the next three to five years, and continue to respond to our students’ passions and interests.