The curriculum throughout the School is broad and balanced, offering all pupils the opportunity to study an extensive range of subjects. Lessons are delivered by specialist teachers in a challenging, stimulating environment that is conducive to a positive, enjoyable learning experience for the pupils. Dauntsey's is keen to promote independent learning, enabling pupils to fulfil their potential and develop a range of key skills needed in later life. The timetable offers a great deal of flexibility with a well-structured weekly lesson arrangement and the extensive options system provides well for the different interests and aptitudes of all pupils.
The Dauntsey's curriculum begins with a wide range of subjects for younger pupils which gives a firm foundation on which to build gradual specialisation. An extensive PHSE programme is delivered in timetabled periods to all pupils from the First Form to the Fifth Form. Pupils with a specific learning difficulty and overseas pupils requiring additional English lessons receive extra support as appropriate without missing lessons. From the First Form though to the Fifth Form, pupils have a timetabled period of PE/swimming each week and all participate in two sessions of games each week. In addition to their timetabled classes, a large number of pupils of all ages take music lessons and an extensive selection of clubs and societies support and enrich the quality and breadth of education provided.
There are eight 35-minute periods on each weekday and six periods on a Saturday morning, giving a total of 46 lessons in the weekly cycle. Many lessons, particularly in the Upper School, are taught as double periods.
The Lower School: First Form to Third Form
The emphasis in these important years is on breadth and challenge and a busy programme enables pupils to study a wide spread of subjects. Dauntsey's takes advantage of its independence to foster courses beyond the confines of the national curriculum and there is much focus on making lessons interesting and enjoyable, with a variety of teaching styles in the classroom.
Pupils are taught in mixed ability classes of about 20, except in Mathematics where pupils are banded in the First Form and setted by ability in the Second and Third Forms. Languages are seen as an important curriculum area and pupils take classes in French, German, Spanish, and Latin in the First Form. In the Second Form, pupils opt for two of these subjects and continue with these in the Third Form, (a small number of pupils take three languages). Third Form pupils also participate in the popular Moonrakers programme of outdoor pursuits.
The Upper School: Fourth and Fifth Form
It is the firm policy of the School that a strong and balanced programme for GCSE should be studied by pupils in the Fourth and Fifth Form. English, Mathematics and Science are compulsory, forming the core curriculum, and breadth of study is achieved by the provision of a wide range of option subjects arranged in five columns. Pupils are taught the more rigorous and testing IGCSE specification in Mathematics and Extra Science appears in the options list, enabling pupils to study three separate sciences rather than the science and extra science awards; each year some 80 pupils take this option. The majority of pupils take nine subjects for GCSE, but each year a significant number take 10 subjects. A real strength of the system is that there are no set columns, giving pupils a completely free choice of subjects. This gives a great deal of flexibility in individual schedules and does not restrict subject combinations. A programme of careers lessons and guidance commences in the Fourth Form and continues throughout a pupil's time in the Upper School.
A recent initiative has seen the introduction of a complementary curriculum for Fifth Form (year 11) pupils. This exciting new course broadens and enriches academic programmes and encourages pupils to develop their own opinions, study independently, and investigate matters of significance to their lives. Central themes include: critical thinking, citizenship, global issues and independent research.
The Sixth Form: Lower and Upper Sixth Forms
The School offers a considerable amount of choice at A-Level. Pupils are able to either study four A-Levels for the full two years, or to study four subjects in the Lower Sixth before dropping to three in the Upper Sixth, or alternatively to focus on three A-Levels and an additional qualification like an EPQ.
There are no set option columns, giving pupils a free choice from the 26 subjects available. This gives a great deal of flexibility and does not restrict subject combinations. A general studies programme also adds breadth and enrichment to individual programmes of study.
In addition, there are many lectures, societies and other activities of an academic nature to enhance and broaden experience. Pupils applying for Oxbridge are monitored and supported by departments and both specialist teaching in timetabled periods and interview practice are provided as appropriate.