Our individualised approach to education at Long Close makes us quick to identify children with particular gifts and talents. In the case of academic high-flyers in the Prep School, this means we can set them harder work – making use of the ‘Challenge Corner’ set up in the classroom for just this purpose. And we can arrange for our Senior School students to attend local universities for short courses on, say, creative writing or art. We also look to challenge children who excel at music, drama and sport, forging links with local cricket clubs, for example, to produce a series of county level players.
The Cognita Schools Group as a whole takes pride in the development of gifted and talented pupils, but Long Close is considered a leading light within the group. We award silver and gold badges to those who excel in their exams; we record academic achievements on an honours board in the school reception; and, more notably, we were among the first schools in Britain to adopt the concept of ‘curriculum collapse’, in which an entire week’s timetable is replaced by a single themed experience.
During these weeks boys and girls from across the school come together to take part in activities designed to break down the traditional barriers of curriculum and age group. The idea is to give pupils a chance to demonstrate their gifts and talents by immersing them in an enriched and inspiring learning environment.
Themes in recent years have included ‘Spy Academy’, in which the children were challenged to break codes and solve mysteries, and ‘Space’, which saw pupils construct a planetarium and launch a rocket from the school playground.
The scheme has had an energising effect on pupils and staff and it is no coincidence that more Long Close children have since gone on to win scholarships.