An academic school with a flexible and engaging curriculum
There is a firm concentration on exam technique, but still the school isn’t seen as an exam factory.
RIC’s Lower School there’s a compelling combination of an informal atmosphere with a traditional academic curriculum.
The curriculum is founded upon the fundamental importance of the core subjects: English, Maths and Science. We recognise that a solid grounding in the core subjects is essential.
Beyond the core subjects, there is also a particular emphasis on creative and arts subjects including, Drama, Music, Media, Photography, Film, Art and Design.
Our informal atmosphere enables our students to relax and feel comfortable, an absolutely vital ingredient for successful and immersive learning. Anyone touring the College will see all of the lessons they would expect to find in any school, but with some interesting and engaging alternatives, all delivered by passionate and committed teaching staff in quiet and calm classrooms.
In addition to this varied and engaging curriculum, there is also a unique element to our provision. Our Community Learning programme provides experiential learning activities which are centered on community, creativity, collaboration and character.
Across the curriculum and central to the ethos is a focus on environmental issues in both local and international contexts. We expect all of our students to develop an interest in the world around them, to read books and newspapers daily and become responsible and creative users of technology and the internet.
Lessons take place around circular tables in very small classes which is great for discussion. There are no arguments, we all just get on – there is no chance for distraction.
“The average class size is a lipsmackingly small 8 (maximum 12).”
Lower School students benefit from being taught by the College’s team of highly experienced subject specialists. There’s an emphasis on practical work and hands on experience of experiments and research. We encourage students seeking to progress to Science A levels to take Biology, Chemistry and Physics as separate subjects at IGCSE.
English teaching in KS3 at Rochester Independent College seeks to develop students' knowledge, skills and enthusiasm for reading, writing, speaking and listening.
Students are encouraged to read widely and texts spanning varied time periods and genres are taught including canonical poetry, prose, drama and a range of non-fiction texts. Texts studied include a Shakespeare play in each year, Charles Dickens' 'A Christmas Carol', HG Wells' 'The Island of Doctor Moreau', John Keats' 'Lamia', George Bernard Shaw's 'Pygmalion', George Orwell's 'Animal Farm' and RC Sherriff's 'Journey's End' as well as recent fiction such as David Almond's 'Skellig', Benjamin Zephaniah's 'Refugee Boy' and Morris Gleitzman's 'Two Weeks with the Queen'.
Topics covered relate to a diverse range of cross-curricular subjects including PSHE and History. We encourage the use of ICT to research and present topics studied. Students are provided with the understanding and vocabulary to analyse texts of diverse forms and purposes and they are guided on how to apply such literary and linguistic techniques in their own writing. Classes are small and discussion-based learning is key, with speaking and listening tasks undertaken both formally and informally to develop understanding. Homework tasks, frequency and depth are differentiated based upon student needs and their progress, but tasks are meaningful, regular and equally, formatively assessed on a regular basis along with class work so that students are conscious of their achievements and how to further improve their attainment. We intend that students will finish their KS3 study keen, informed and well prepared to embark upon the demands of the GCSE courses.
In Maths we value traditional numeracy but teachers also try to introduce abstraction at an early age. We expect all students to know their times tables and to be able to survive without calculators. Students benefit from individualised learning plans and an emphasis on making the subject less intimidating but at the same time stretching the most able to complete GCSEs in Maths and Statistics early and proceed to A level study.
Visual and the Creative Arts
RIC’s provision in the visual arts is rich and students are taught Fine Art, Textiles, Photography, Ceramics and Graphic Design. The Digital and Creative ICT options available include short courses in Photoshop, Illustrator, Digital Video Editing Computer Programming and Music Technology. Film and Media are on everyone’s timetable from year 7 onwards, as is Drama and Music.
Lower School Arts Week
Lower School students take part in our Arts Week each year. We kicked off with a trip to the Design Museum. Workshops helped students to gain new perspectives on the role of designers and the impact of design in everyday life.
Back at College, students spent a day working to produce work in response to what they saw in London using practical skills and techniques in Fine Art, DT, Electronics, Graphic Design, Photography, Textiles and Three-Dimensional Design, designing and making simple lights using all manner of materials. The week culminated in a residential trip to Paris. As well as the obligatory trips to the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre we visited the Centre Pompidou and the Musée d’Art Moderne. On return to College, students worked on their own ideas inspired by their trip and designed sculptural pieces that were exhibited at the Summer Festival.
You won’t find Year 7 students in the classroom on Fridays in the summer term as they will be at the Kent Wildlife Trust’s Forest School.
The programme offers hands-on learning experiences in a woodland environment. Students develop a range of skills, abilities and experiences through self learning, exploration and discovery in a wild setting, increasing their knowledge and understanding of the world and encouraging an appreciation and respect for the environment.
Throughout the lessons in the Lower School we place an emphasis on living responsibly. Environmental concerns are passed on to students through the study of recycling, sustainable development, the use of public transport, and through the patronage of local environmental charities.
As with the Sciences, students are taught by dedicated subject specialists in History and Geography, ensuring a rigorous foundation for GCSE and A level. As students progress through the Lower School we ensure that a wide range of periods are studied and that key skills are developed. There is a particular focus on local History and project work but also an emphasis on ensuring students learn key facts about the world around them and the past.
German, Spanish, Italian, Mandarin, Russian and French are all offered and there is even a Latin club.
I like the way my timetable allows me to study three languages- German, Spanish and French- as this is what I’m really good at and want to specialise in in the future.
PHSE and Wellbeing
Health, fitness and nutrition are important parts of our Personal, Social, Health and Economic Education curriculum. Lively classes also see students learning about world faiths and religions, politics, government and citizenship in local, national and global contexts. Mental Health and Wellbeing week in the Lower School introduces students to matters of mental health and mindfulness and practical yoga sessions.
Students are encouraged to enjoy and achieve by celebrating their successes and sharing their skills and talents. Presentation and performance skills are taught in Music, Art, History and Drama amongst many others. Work on healthy eating and sun protection in Science directs each student to be healthy and stay safe. Media Studies supports many objectives of citizenship as students are encouraged to take a well-informed and critical view of world events, and they study the effect of the media on health and the reporting of crime. Literature studied in English stimulates reflection upon philosophical and cultural issues such as tolerance, diversity, respect and spirituality.
From time to time the Lower School curriculum is supplemented by short courses offered by the College’s team of subject specialists including Astronomy, Electronics, Food Technology, Business Studies and Economics, ICT, Philosophy, RE, Environmental Science and Art History.
Cross-Curricular Study Weeks
Last year, British Science Week went cross-curricular and landed in the Lower School at Rochester Independent College with an emphasis on all things space related. Students learned about the Cold War space race in their History lessons, polished their Russian language skills and donned a replica NASA space suit made famous by the Apollo missions. Seeds that went to space with Tim Peake returned to earth and our Year 7 and 8 students planted them and monitored their growth at set intervals. A film called ‘Space Race’ was scripted in English and filmed and edited in Media lessons.
This year the theme was Crime and saw Lower school students take part in a CSI-style investigation around the campus. Activities were centred around a major ‘crime’ staged in the main hall. Science lessons concentrated on the forensic methods used to collect evidence, fingerprinting and testing hair samples and blood spatters. A mock trial took place with students forming teams for the defence, prosecution and jury and there was a visit to the Crime Museum in Hastings.
In previous years ‘Britain and the Sea Week’ included visits to the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, the Historic Dockyard in Chatham, the traditional boatyard in Faversham and a day crossing the channel to France.
‘India Week’ included visits to East India Company sites in London’s docklands, the Brighton Pavillion, the Gravesend Temple, a local Indian restaurant and a Bollywood dancing workshop.
‘Darwin and Evolution Week’ included Kew Gardens, the Natural History Museum and Lyme Regis for Fossil hunting.
2019's art themed week involved a residential adventure for the whole Lower School to Cornwall where they visited Tate at St Ives, the Eden project and the Leach Pottery.
The college has focused on the well-being and educational development of the students, and on creating the desired ethos; students often articulated their extremely positive views about college life. The fulfilment of the aim to foster mutual respect, challenge prejudice and to develop an imaginative and informed attitude, is exemplified by the students’ excellent behaviour.