We have a curriculum that blends the very best of educational tradition with an innovative, enquiry-based cross-curricular approach that allows students to make connections, synthesise knowledge and develop advanced research skills.
By the time a student leaves Benenden, she will have achieved her very best possible grades at GCSE and A Level, but also have a love for learning and a set of skills enabling her to meet the challenges of both her professional and personal life in the years ahead.
While the School recognises the great importance of certificated courses and celebrates the achievements of its A Level and GCSE students, it also realises that not every aspect of education needs to be or should necessarily be assessed by way of exams and qualifications. For this reason, the Electives Programme steps outside the confines of syllabus and curriculum and embraces learning for the love of learning, revelling in the inherent value of knowledge.
Students rotate through a wide range of esoteric courses (69 in total), ranging from the practical, such as An Introduction to Investments or British Sign Language, to the more curious, such as Decrypting Crosswords, Meteorology, and Metacognition. Including Arts, Sciences, Languages, and many other areas of specialism, the choice of courses is truly diverse and reflects the wide-ranging interests of staff at Benenden.
Academic Stretch and Support
Most parents want to know how the school they choose will stretch their daughter, especially if she enters as a high achiever already, and how she will be supported if she finds things difficult. A summary of how we do both these things is below.
How do we achieve this?
Universities tell us that the Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) Level 3 is an excellent preparation for undergraduate study as it gives real evidence of independent, critical thinking. It is a stand-alone qualification, an extension from studies, which enthuses students by offering the opportunity for open debate and research on their own topic.
Students of all abilities from the Lower Fifth Form can opt to take the EPQ, alongside their GCSE or A Level studies and will be taught skills such as researching effectively or time management. It is essential that students work independently, but have a supervisor who assesses their progress.
What does the EPQ focus on?
The text focuses on the following aspects:
• A solid and coherent grounding in a specialist topic.
• An ability to undertake independent and self-directed learning.
• The ability to think laterally, critically, and creatively.
• Problem-solving skills.
• Reflective learning abilities.
• Self-management skills.
• The development, presentation, and communication of information.
• The delivery of presentations to an audience.
Examples of recent titles undertaken at both GCSE and A Level levels include:
• How did Chairman Mao eradicate a generation of Chinese teenagers through re-education since the 1960s?
• Can one train the mind to overcome performance anxiety in competitive sport?
• How do past racial prejudices in America affect contemporary black Americans?
• Does the right bit matter for your horse? An investigation on the importance of bits for horses.
• What contributes to the creation and spread of fake news, and what are its impacts?
• Will the Sugar Tax be successful in reducing obesity levels in the UK?
• Damien Hirst & Chris Ofili: To what extent is contemporary British art a revival of Primitive Art?
• Is the English Criminal Justice System as successful as it can be in its support and protection of female rape victims?
• Have the European Union’s founding principles of peace been successfully upheld post-Brexit?
• How feasible is a high-speed train service between Melbourne and Sydney?
• How does biology determine whether someone is male or female?
• “We the people of Mars”: What are the political and legal implications of a corporation colonizing Mars?
• What are the environmental, social, political, and economic impacts of the Grenfell Tower fire?
• Visions of Beauty: How does late Victorian art depict and classify female beauty?
A key part of the Benenden Complete Education is to prepare pupils for their future education, career and life. Much of this is done through the activities of our Careers Department, but also in lessons, Enquiry Weeks, the Professional Skills Programme, extracurricular activities and Seniors’ events.
Benenden School is unique in that it has three dedicated members of staff in its Careers Department, providing a bespoke Careers programme embedded throughout the School.
This, coupled with our open door policy and central location, allows all girls to be fully supported in their Career and Higher Education planning. We have a specialist in overseas university applications who is also a qualified adult careers advisor and we work closely with a company which advises on scholarships to the United States.
Each year, a number of Benenden girls will apply to study overseas, largely in the US, but also in Canada, Australia, Hong Kong, Ireland and Europe. The majority of girls applying to UK universities proceed to Russell Group universities.
Over the years thousands of Benenden Seniors have gone on to make a difference in the world in many different ways.
Discover more about some of their stories and achievements.