Art & Design
As a student at Merchant Taylors’ School you have access to some of the best facilities in the country. The recent reconfiguration of the Art Department means it now includes two purpose built teaching studios and shared resources in the new Design Building. This adds to our three other teaching studios, one used exclusively for sixth form art students. All studios are equipped to teach painting, printmaking, sculpture and, with our recently purchased kiln, ceramics. We have an Art IT suite large enough for all class sizes with Adobe Photoshop software on every computer. All our teachers are practising artists with a wide skills base and a balanced range of specialisms.
Whilst taking art at Merchant Taylors’ School you will be exposed to an exciting range of approaches to creating work. In addition, during trips to galleries and studios in the United Kingdom and abroad there will be many opportunities to see how materials and subjects are used professionally. We will help you find your inner creativity in a supportive environment, enable you to gain confidence in your approach to using materials and increase your awareness and appreciation for other artists and cultures. Art can offer you exciting opportunities for independent research and learning, so that even if you decide not to take the subject further you will leave with a deeper appreciation of the power of Art as a tool for communication.
There are six experienced teachers in the department supported by two dedicated technicians. Biology is one of the most popular A level subjects (usually over 60 boys study Biology in the Sixth Form) and we have a large uptake of biology-related subjects at university, including Medicine (for which there is a bespoke A level set and for which we also offer bespoke BMAT & UKCAT classes) Natural Science and Dentistry. There is always a strong field of Oxbridge applicants and additional lessons are also provided for these boys to help with interview preparation and additional reading. There is a significant science culture in the school that includes extra-curricular societies, trips and significant academic contributions to the enrichment programme.
Curriculum & Results
Biology is taught by subject specialists, as a separate subject throughout the school. Biology is a practical subject, therefore practical work is paramount throughout all year groups. In Years 7 and 8 boys follow a programme of lessons based loosely on the Common Entrance Biology syllabus and then begin to study the Edexcel International GCSE course in Year 9. Approximately 75% of students sit the Triple Award IGCSE at the end of Year 11 with the remainder completing the Dual Award Science Papers. The department currently offers the 2 year, linear OCR specification at A level alongside extension classes to Upper 6th boys and clubs.
Exam results are consistently impressive - in 2015 32% A*, 93% A*/B at A level and 81% A*, 98% A*/A at iGCSE. There is, additionally much enthusiasm for the subject beyond the syllabus. In recent years the department has enjoyed notable success in the Biology Olympiad, being the best school in 2008 and runner-up in 2006. This year, 3 Lower 6th Boys received Gold Awards in the Biology Olympiad, showing exceptional knowledge as they are only half way through the syllabus.
The Biology Challenge is taken by Division and 5th Form pupils. We have been hugely successful and each year groups of boys from Taylors’ are invited to the awards ceremony for their exceptional performance.
Resources & Accommodation
The department occupies an entire wing of one of the school’s newer buildings and is housed over two floors with its own suite of adjacent labs. The accommodation comprises four large and well-resourced laboratories and a smaller teaching classroom, together with a Prep Room, a Meeting Room and an office for the Head of Department. All teaching rooms are equipped with data-projectors, digital microscopes and smart boards; the department makes extensive use of practical work and IT. The department is ideally situated for easy access to the school’s new nature reserve where pupils carry out a range of ecology practicals.
Every year boys in Years 12 and 13 enter the national Biology Olympiad competition and boys in Year 10 and 11 compete in the Biology Challenge. Students also participate in a number of other national competitions such as the Peterhouse, Cambridge essay prize. The Department runs a very popular Dissection Society, Biology Film Club and has involvement in the Science Club activity for Year 9 boys and the Senior Science Society. The department are also developing a nature reserve to build on the school’s Green Flag status. A number of field days are also linked to Biology alongside other subjects. This year, year 8 boys attended Tring museum for a joint Biology and Art trip. Boys were to produce a 3D sculpture or painting on an endangered species and research the reasons as to why it is endangered or extinct.
Resources & Accommodation
The Chemistry Department consists of six teachers in well-equipped laboratories, two of which were recently refurbished. The remaining two laboratories are scheduled to be refurbished in the near future. In addition, there is one other teaching room, a staff office and a technicians’ preparation room. The four technicians provide excellent support in the preparation of practical lessons.
Curriculum & Results
In the Chemistry Department, we teach Edexcel at A Level and IGCSE, the latter leading to Separate Chemistry or Double Award Science qualifications. Approximately 85% of students sit the Separate Sciences IGCSEs at the end of Year 11, an average of over 90% of whom achieve an A* in Chemistry. There are currently around 80 students taking Chemistry in the Sixth Form.
Typically, 95%+ of our A level candidates pass A* to B, with around 25% gaining A*. On average, a third of the 20 or so boys going to Oxbridge from the school each year read one of the sciences. The department also has an excellent record in the Chemistry Olympiads and Cambridge Chemistry Challenge.
The department has a lively extra-curricular presence. We run a Junior Chemistry Society and play a full role in the school’s Science Society. There is an on-going after-school provision of stimulating and demanding activities for those who are the keenest chemists. We also enter teams for the Top of the Bench Competition, the Year 10 Chemistry Challenge and Salters' Festival of Chemistry, and take students to the annual Newlands Lecture at Imperial College London.
MTS has two full time Computing teachers, combining 20 years of experience delivering Computer Science to teenagers. In the Lower School (Years 7-9) the department teaches the basics of Computing to all pupils, a course which includes programming in Scratch, TouchDevelop and Python. We use a range of software and hardware, including BBC Microbit and Raspberry Pi and the Unity game engine.
In Years 10 and 11, we offer a CIE Computer Science IGCSE to some 70 boys, while in Years 12 and 13 we offer AQA A-Level Computing. There are currently 16 pupils reading Computing in the Sixth Form.
The department’s public examination record is strong. We have taught A Level Computing at MTS for fourteen years with considerable success, reflecting a friendly and supportive environment where every boy is stretched and encouraged. We have an excellent track-record in preparing our pupils for entrance to Oxbridge.
Curriculum & Results
A2 Computing 100% A*-B; GCSE Computing 100% A*- A (94% A*/A);
The department played a leading role in both the Next Generation Skills and Royal Society Reports that propelled the reintroduction of computing into the secondary curriculum; it enjoys excellent relationships with a number of blue-chip players in the IT, entertainment and digital F/X industries. The NESTA film featuring the school is online at www.youtube.com/watch;
The department runs two computer clubs after school, encouraging pupils to develop 3D games using C# and the Unity games engine, and an active group building on the School’s MinecraftEDU server, which we also use in lessons. The department has had some success in the British Informatics Olympiad and ‘Hall of Fame’ entrants in the BEBRAS Computational Thinking challenge.
IT organisation at MTS
IT at MTS is managed by a colleague on the Senior Leadership Team who leads an IT Steering Team to advise the school on IT strategy. The other members of the Steering Team are the School Network Manager, the Head of Academic Computing and his departmental colleague, the teacher in charge of the school’s MIS, the Staff Tutor, and the Second in Modern Foreign Languages (who has IT as a specific part of his brief).
Resources & Accommodation
MTS is one of the leading schools in the UK in terms of IT provision. The entire campus in networked, there is a desktop in every classroom and there are data projectors/interactive whiteboards in all full-sized classrooms and many smaller rooms. Internet connectivity is amongst the fastest in the UK (200Mb/s) and there are wireless hotspots in all main public areas. A 6-person Technical Services Team, led by the Technical Services Manager, manages all aspects of ICT and AV within the school. The network is supported by 29 servers and a 1 Gb (shortly to upgrade to 10Gb fibre-optic backbone).
There are 16 dedicated computer Labs across the campus: 2 central labs in the Computing Centre (also used for cross-curricular IT); computer labs in Art, Classics, Design and Technology (3), English, Geography (2), the Library, Mathematics, 3 digital language labs in Modern Languages Music and Physics. There are mobile facilities in Chemistry, English, Politics & Economics, and several smaller clusters in Careers, Film Club and the Sixth Form Centre. Extensive software is available to enhance the boys’ studies across the curriculum.
The Classics Department occupies a significant position at the heart of the intellectual and academic life of the school, both within and without the classroom.
Boys who enter at 11+ and 13+ study Latin: about 50 of them continue to GCSE. Greek is fully timetabled and becomes an option in Year 9. In the last few years typically 10 boys have carried it on to GCSE. At A-level there is normally one strong Latin set (but occasionally two) and a small but dedicated Greek set.
There is a longstanding and consistently strong record of pupils going to read Classics at Oxford, Cambridge, and other Russell Group Universities, as befits a school whose Classical alumni include: Sir Gilbert Murray, A.W. Gomme, Alan Sommerstein, Douglas MacDowell and Tony Brothers.
The department consists of five full-time graduate teachers, some of whom also carry out responsibilities outside the department. The style of teaching in the department blends much that is innovative and original with more traditional methods.
Curriculum & Results
Up to and including Year 9 for Latin, we use the Cambridge Latin Course, substantially supplemented with in-house material to consolidate linguistic knowledge. To prepare for GCSE in Greek and Latin we use the relevant books by John Taylor, the Disce Latinum readers and a variety of other publications. All teachers are expected, however, to develop their own resources to use as they see fit. Our public examination record is exceptionally strong. We follow the OCR specifications in Latin and Greek for both GCSE and A-level. Results are always very good, often above even the school’s high average.
Resources & Accommodation
The department is well-resourced with 4 classrooms, a departmental office and a well-stocked departmental library. All teaching rooms are equipped with data-projectors and interactive whiteboards.
The department has run several successful trips in recent years, most notably an annual Middle School trip during Easter to an area of Classical interest. There are also visits with the Art Department and the RS Department to the National Gallery and the British Museum respectively. Individual teachers are encouraged to arrange trips with their teaching groups to plays and lectures as the opportunities arise. The last few years have seen the renaissance of the Classical Society, which has been instrumental in inviting a host of prestigious speakers to the school.
The department is one of the most successful in the UK, and extremely popular amongst the boys. We currently have 12 for Arkwright Scholars and have had more Arkwright scholarships awarded than any other school in the country. Boys have won the Young Engineer of Great Britain award twice recently, and we also have a thriving Young Engineers’ group.
There are 4 full time and one part-time teachers in the department, supported by a full-time technician. The department has recently moved into a brand new, ‘state-of-the-art’ £7m building in which there has also been heavy investment in new equipment.
Curriculum & Results
All boys study Design Technology in years 7-9. In the GCSE we typically have 80 boys taking GCSE Resistant Materials technology (AQA) and around 20 taking Electronic Products (AQA).
Across the sixth form, over 20 boys usually study Product Design (AQA), while A-level Control Systems is a new innovation for this trial blazing department.
The department is open all day for students to drop in and work.
We offer Scalextric, Greenpower Challenge, a Young Engineers group and two junior DT Clubs; we also open the workshops for twilight and Saturday morning sessions.
The Economics Department makes a significant contribution to Sixth Form education at Merchant Taylors’ School, both in terms of numbers taking the subject and results.
There is a long-standing and consistently strong record of pupils going on to Oxford, Cambridge, LSE and other Russell Group universities, and a significant proportion of our students choose to follow a social science degree course. There are four teachers in the Department, which is enough to offer the A level course in Economics to all who choose it; Economics is the second most popular subject at A level with over one hundred boys taking the subject across the Sixth Form.
Curriculum & Results
Each set is shared by two teachers and we follow the Edexcel specification in Economics. Our public examination record is strong. Some members of the Department are experienced examiners.
In addition, fifteen boys received offers from Oxford and Cambridge between 2013 and 2016 to read Economics, PPE and Economics and Management.
We believe that it is vital to promote interest and enthusiasm for the subject beyond the constraints of the specification, to engender intellectual curiosity and to develop the capacity for independent thought. The Alfred Marshall Political Economy Society (after Taylors’ old boy, Alfred Marshall) regularly invites guest speakers from the world of economics, politics and business.
We participate in the ‘Target 2.0’ Bank of England Challenge, reaching the Final in 2012. Students have regularly performed well in national essay competitions: we won The Times/ Citizenship Foundation “Chance to be a Chancellor” competition (in 2009 and 2010 and were runners-up in 2011) and a few essay submissions to the Royal Economic Society and Fitzwilliam College essay competitions were highly commended. Our boys won the London heat of the ICAEW Business Strategy Competition in 2014 and 2015. We have also had ongoing success in “Brightest Business Brain” competition (RBS).
English is one of the largest and most successful departments in the school, comprising 11 teachers who offer a diverse range of expertise and interest in the subject. The atmosphere in lessons is clever, supportive and stimulating, as you would expect to find in a busy, high-achieving school. The newly dedicated English Office is the hub of the department, surrounded by a suite of English classrooms, all of which have a networked PC and interactive whiteboard to enhance teaching and learning. Our new location next to the library means there is generous provision in terms of books and audio-visual resources, and there is plenty of scope for exploring new texts and ideas. In addition, we have a 25-seater dual-use English ICT classroom with flip-top desks that convert to workstations. We also enjoy a separate Studio Theatre and drama classroom, with major productions taking place in the school’s recently refurbished Great Hall.
The department teaches its own rich Lower School curriculum, broadly based on the National Curriculum but tailored to the interests and abilities of MTS students. Boys are encouraged to become both creative and critical thinkers, with a love for reading placed at the core of our teaching. To this end, each class in Years 7-9 has a dedicated weekly library lesson, during which time boys are presented with a wide and challenging range of literature. Through structured initiatives run in partnership with library, the boys are expected to review their reading and share their reflections with both peers and subject representatives in the Sixth Form.
At IGCSE, we offer the CIE English Language and English Literature courses, in which the department has built up a long track record of success. Take up of English at A Level is extremely strong at MTS and Sixth Formers have a choice of the new linear OCR specification in English Literature or the AQA specification in English Language. In the conjunction with the Drama Department, Drama is taught throughout the school, and we offer Edexcel Drama at GCSE, and Drama & Theatre Studies at A level.
Results and University
The department has enjoyed consistently excellent results in public examinations. In 2015, at A Level English Literature, 71% of our candidates achieved A*/A, whilst at IGCSE, 88% of the candidates were awarded A*/A in English Literature. Each year several boys choose to read English at Russell Group universities and the department puts students through a rigorous preparation for Oxbridge interviews and essay prize competitions. We currently have boys studying English at a number of Oxford and Cambridge colleges, among them Hertford and St Hugh’s, and Gonville and Caius, Fitzwilliam and Peterhouse respectively. This year we have had a record number of boys offered places at Oxbridge, one of whom, destined to read English Literature at Emmanuel College, recently won the prestigious Trinity College Essay Prize.
We take full advantage of our proximity to both London and Stratford to arrange a wide range of theatre trips, together with an annual trip to a literary festival such as Cheltenham. The school has a literary and dramatic tradition that spans nearly 500 years and includes a legacy of influential OMTs including: Edmund Spenser, Thomas Kyd, Robert Herrick, James Shirley, and John Webster. Our English Literature Society – The Herrick – offers weekly opportunities for English teachers to share a particular literary interest with students eager to discover literature beyond the syllabus. The department regularly hosts guest speakers including poets, like Carol Ann Duffy, Isobel Dixon, Daljit Nagra, and Simon Barraclough; and novelists like Michael Morpurgo and Conn Iggulden, a former student of the school. The brand new Mythology Club has proven hugely popular with the younger boys as they learn about the ancient and classical myths that underpin much of Western literature. There is a thriving culture of student publications: the Sixth Form produce The Dependent, the much anticipated satirical school newspaper; while Pulse and Tech ‘n’ Mech showcase Lower and Middle School creative and journalistic writing.
Public speaking has become an important feature of the department and we prepare boys for both local and national competitions over the course of the year. Poetry recital is popular, too, and each year, following internal heats, we produce a school representative for the Poetry by Heart competition. Drama is vibrant, with an exciting and varied programme of events to which all are welcome to contribute. In recent years, productions have included Hamlet, The Tempest, and Coriolanus as well as Marlowe’ Edward II, interspersed with musicals and contemporary theatre pieces, such as Gas Station Angel, Amadeus and Our Country’s Good. The inaugural student production this year of Twelve Angry Men was a tremendous success and has set a precedent for budding impresarios to step forward. In short, there are plentiful, exciting opportunities for the right individual to take advantage of and enjoy. Old boys of the school are well known in the world of film and theatre, with actors like Nigel Lindsay and Riz Ahmed continuing the tradition begun by Boris Karloff, and with many more working in writing, direction, and production. To a man, they can trace that original spark back to a Merchant Taylors’ School English classroom.
The department endeavours to create a learning environment where all boys are encouraged to give of their best. Our aim is to develop students who are interested in the world, are capable of working independently, and are rigorous and ambitious in their academic approach. Wherever possible we look to integrate current affairs and the world of work into their lessons so that students understand both the relevance and the efficacy of Geography. The subject is thriving, in terms of both academic results, and the number of boys opting to continue with the subject to GCSE and A level. This is in part down to our talented team of teachers who develop strong rapport with their students and deliver engaging and varied lessons. Most importantly, there is a friendly atmosphere and culture in the department which allows students to enjoy their work and maximise their progress
Curriculum & Results
We offer Geography to all pre-GCSE years and the subject is a very popular choice at GCSE: In most years, we have over 110 GCSE candidates. Typically we have 70 geographers across the sixth form. In Years 7 and 8, our teaching programme extends national curriculum recommendations combined with new topics that include 'Pole to Pole' for Year 7, “Energy” in Year 8, and “Health” in Year 9. We look to incorporate GCSE, A level, and university content early to stretch the boys to provide a more sophisticated approach for all.
From September 2016, we will be adopting the new AQA course for both GCSE and A-level. Topics include globalisation, natural hazards, and resource conflict. Our examination results have been consistently strong and in summer 2015 48% of boys achieved an A* at GCSE, 63% achieved an A grade at AS and 68% gained at least an A grade at A2. Each year we have between 10 and 15 boys going on to read Geography at university and we have consistently placed geographers at Oxford or Cambridge each year.
Resources & Enrichment
Geography teaching takes place in a suite of five classrooms (two of which are fully equipped with PCs), together with a departmental office. There are six full-time members of staff, who teach at all levels. The department is very well resourced and all the classrooms have projectors and smart-boards. There is a suite of tablets to integrate innovative activities into lessons, and students are supported with a huge range of enrichment opportunities through the Senior and Junior Geography Societies, as well as a Geography magazine. There are also a range of Oxbridge style seminars available to students at different stages of the school, as well as tailored support outside of lessons for students who find certain parts of the course more challenging.
The department has a fieldwork programme that teaches the skills necessary at each level of study and serves to promote and inspire further geographical enquiry. In the Lower School, we carry out an assessment of sport-led regeneration, focused on Wembley and complete a rivers investigation. All boys in Year 10 complete fieldwork in the local area to collect the data for their GCSE skills paper and at AS, boys spend a will have the opportunity for an extended research project towards their course. We also have a highly successful programme of overseas expeditions designed to inspire geographical interest and aid understanding of key elements of the course. We have enjoyed trips to Morocco, Switzerland, New York, California, the Netherlands, Iceland, and China in recent years and we will be travelling to the Azores this autumn.
The study of history is one of the most capacious of all academic callings. The History Department therefore aims to help students become skilled scholars. The curriculum teaches the analytical, interpretive, and writing processes necessary for understanding the connections between past and present. History is a pragmatic discipline in which the analysis of change over time involves sifting the influences and perspectives that affect the course of events, and evaluating the different forms of evidence historians exploit to make sense of them. Teaching students how to weigh these sources and convert the findings into persuasive analysis lies at the heart of the department's teaching. We also maintain close relationships with diverse departments and programs, underscoring the interdisciplinary nature of the study of history.
We are a community of scholars with interests spanning social to intellectual, political to military, economic to legal history, and all parts of the globe. Chronologically, our research ranges from medieval to the present. The Department of seven boasts four Oxbridge graduates, and three teachers with post-graduate degrees. Two members are also embarking on part-time post-graduate research.
The History Department offers a rich curriculum including regular trips to the Somme, Munich and Berlin. Recent Upper School trips include visits to Istanbul and America’s Deep South. The Bulstrode Whitelocke Society frequently hosts external speakers. In the last academic year the school has been treated to lectures from Dr David Smith (Selwyn, Cambridge), Dr Andrew Spencer (Corpus, Cambridge), Dr Ian Archer (Keble, Oxford), and Dr John Watts (Corpus, Oxford).
The History curriculum:
Year 7: Medieval Britain; the Crusades
Year 8: Tudors; Stuarts
Year 9: French Revolution; Russian Revolution; the First World War
IGCSE: Inter-war years; Nazi Germany; Cold War
Pre-U: Medieval Britain; Modern America; the Crusades; Personal Investigation
The Mathematics Department at Merchant Taylors’ is outstandingly successful. Mathematics plays a very strong role within the culture of the school, with plenty of enthusiasm for the subject above and beyond the syllabus. The department aims to realise the potential of each student by providing clear, positive, committed, and inspiring teaching tailored to the individual needs of the student whilst developing mathematical confidence and the ability to problem solve independently in all learners. Mathematics is the most popular subject choice at A-level, with about 100 candidates in each of the Lower and Upper Sixth Forms. Students regularly go on to read Mathematics and over related subjects at Oxbridge and Russell group universities.
Curriculum & Results
At A-level, students currently follow the Edexcel Modular syllabus in Mathematics and Further Mathematics in the Sixth Form. In September 2017 this will change to a linear course with exams taken only at the end of the Upper Sixth.
Examination results are consistently outstanding (90% A*/A/B at A Level (43% A*) and 80% A*/A at Further Maths A2 (50% A*) in 2015).
We offer Edexcel IGCSE, with about half the year group taking it at the end of the Divisions and then going on to FSMQ Additional Mathematics in the Fifth Form; the rest of the students take IGCSE in the Fifth Form. Typically, everyone gets A*, A or B (95% IGCSE A*/A overall in 2015).
Resources & Accommodation
The department has thirteen specialist full-time teachers with their own classroom.
Considerable use is made of technology. There is a networked PC in every classroom and all classrooms have permanently installed projectors & interactive whiteboards; there is also a well-equipped departmental resource centre.
Annually the department run a House Maths competition, an essay competition and Prep and Primary Schools’ Maths Afternoons for local schools. A Maths society run by the subject prompters in the Sixth form is also currently developing.
Students in the Divisions and Sixth form are given to opportunity to attend inspiration lectures, whilst a trip to Bletchley Park, the site of the celebrated British code-breaking effort in the second world-war, is organised for our outstanding mathematicians in the Fourths. Substantial time is also devoted to preparing Oxbridge candidates.
Each year students are entered for the British Mathematical Olympiad and associated competitions, UK Mathematics Trust Team Challenges, in which the junior team achieved fourth place nationally in 2016, and the Hans Woyda Competition for schools in the London area. We have also started to annually host a heat of the Senior Team Challenge.
The Modern Languages Department at MTS is made up of three distinct departments (French, German and Spanish) all with their own Head of Department, co-ordinated by the Head of Modern Languages. There are eleven full-time language teachers, four language assistants and a visiting teacher of Japanese. Modern Languages are strong in the School with many boys currently studying two modern languages at IGCSE and consistent numbers following the highly-regarded Pre-U course in the Sixth Form. Numbers of pupils studying languages compare favorably with the most successful MFL departments nationally.
CURRICULUM & RESULTS
The boys in Years 7 and 8 (three forms in each year) all study French and Latin. In Year 9, they (and the four new forms that join us at 13+) are offered a choice of subjects and continue with a minimum of one and a maximum of three modern languages. After one year, they decide whether to pursue the second or third languages to IGCSE. A clear majority of each cohort takes French IGCSE, with two groups (approximately 45 boys) taking it a year early at the end of the Divisions year, with outstanding results.
For early takers we have instituted a very popular in-house post-IGCSE cultural course, in the Fifth Form certificated by the Institute of Linguists. French, German, and Spanish are currently offered at in the Sixth Form, where we use the Pre-U syllabus. We also currently offer Japanese as an optional Sixth Form General Studies course. Results are very good indeed. In 2015, across the languages, 86% of candidates achieved A*/A/B grade at A level. At IGCSE, 99% of candidates scored A*/A/B. The Department has enjoyed considerable success in sending boys to the best universities and enjoys a steady stream of successful Oxbridge applicants
RESOURCES & ACCOMMODATION
The Department is housed in spacious and newly refurbished accommodation. Most teachers have their own classroom. There are eleven classrooms and four dedicated rooms for conversation classes with the native speaker assistants. We have three IT suites with capacity for a total of 60 pupils. We have a well-stocked and comfortable Languages Staff Common Room with networked computers, and printing and photocopying facilities. All teaching rooms are equipped with data-projectors, speakers and interactive whiteboards.
The Department organises a full programme of foreign visits each year comprising cultural trips, exchanges and an overseas work experience opportunity. We currently offer three different trips to Germany/Austria, five trips to France and two to Spain. There is a thriving academic Sixth Form Languages Society, Panglossia, which hosts talks by visiting speakers, current staff and OMTs. Recent talks, for example, have been given on Censorship and Satire from Voltaire to Charlie Hebdo, the Fall of the Berlin Wall and the Nouvelle Vague cinéastes.
Physics is an outstanding and popular academic department (99% A*/A iGCSE 2015and some 80 boys read Physics in the Sixth Form). We also enjoy a large uptake of physics-related subjects at university, including Engineering. We offer AQA A Level and Edexcel IGCSE (Physics is offered both as a separate science and as part of Combined Science). There is, typically, a strong field of Oxbridge applicants, reflecting the significant science culture within the school.
Resources & Accommodation
There are seven physics teachers in the department, supported by two dedicated technicians. Accommodation has been substantially refurbished in recent years, and comprises five laboratories; in addition, we have a state-of-the art prep-room, a workshop; and a departmental office.
The department has a lively extra-curricular presence in the enrichment programme and we currently play a full role in the school’s Science Society, as well as entering boys for a variety of competitions, such as the Physics GCSE Challenge, AS Challenge and the Physics Olympiad. The department routinely organises visits to places of scientific interest including in recent years the Kennedy Space Centre, CERN, the Greenwich Observatory and the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory. The department maintains good links with the Ogden trust and accompanies students to relevant local academic lectures or Astronomical events.
The Politics department makes a significant contribution to Sixth Form education at Merchant Taylors’ School, both in terms of numbers taking the subjects and results.
There is a long-standing and consistently strong record of pupils going on to Oxford, Cambridge, LSE and other Russell Group universities; a significant proportion of our A2 students choose to follow social science degree courses, including PPE and SPS. Old Boys of the school have served in both Houses of Parliament maintaining a tradition of prominence in public life that encompasses Cabinet Ministers, like Reginald Maudling and Sir Alan Duncan as well as former Government Deputy Chief Whip Sir John Randall, and which stretches back as far as Clive of India.
There are 3 teachers in the department, two of whom also support the work of the Economics department. Typically the department has 35 students spread across the sixth form.
Curriculum & Results
Each set is shared by two teachers and we follow the Edexcel Government and Politics specification. Our public examination record is strong. In 2015, the department secured 94% A*-B at A2.
Resources & Accommodation
The department is well-resourced. Classrooms have interactive whiteboards; there is a departmental office shared with the Economics department and also a well-stocked departmental library of books and magazines. Facilities and classrooms are relatively new. There is wireless-network connection and we have laptops for student use and make significant use of the departmental intranet and the school’s VLE in our teaching.
We believe that it is vital to promote interest and enthusiasm for the subject beyond the constraints of the specification, to engender intellectual curiosity and to develop the capacity for independent thought.
In 2015, the department ran a mock general election and in recent years has invited high profile speakers from across the political spectrum including Vince Cable, David Gauke, Dominic Grieve, Bruce Kent and Lord Triesman. In 2016, a school wide mock EU referendum will be held.
We run an annual visit to the Palace of Westminster and the Supreme Court and students are encouraged to attend public lectures at LSE, UCL and SOAS. In 2015, students also attended a global politics conference at Wellington College and enjoyed a trip to see The Audience at the Apollo Theatre in London’s West End.
We also publish a student magazine, “The Backbench”, encouraging students to contribute articles on a wide range of domestic, regional and global political issues.
Psychology is the study of mind and behaviour. At Merchant Taylors’, we have typically 25 sixth form students study the AQA specification for A level (two year course). The course includes the following papers and topics:
Approaches in Psychology
Issues and Debates
There is no coursework. Each paper is assessed with a two hour examination.
Studying Psychology will involve developing a number of skills. The specification names specific studies and content so reading and note-taking skills are important. Psychology terms can often seem like a new language and so feeling at home with new and complex vocabulary helps. The way that studies are designed to investigate a specific issue means that logic and verbal reasoning skills are commonly needed. Psychology examination questions range from multiple-choice to 16 mark extended answers, which means that writing in a precise and sequential way is important. In research methods students gather and record their own data, which means that problem-solving and presentation skills are valuable.
Trips and extra-curricular
Psychology students have attended a range of trips, including Twycross Zoo (only collection of bonobos in UK), London conferences, theatre trips and data gathering projects. There have also been outside speakers including Cara Flanagan (AQA examiner and textbook writer) and Oliver James (psychotherapist).
In addition extra revision lessons occur in the examination season and are based on demand.
Religion & Philosophy
The Religion & Philosophy Department consists of two full time specialists and one part time non-specialist. We have 2 dedicated classrooms with whiteboards and projectors.
Pupils study World Religions and Philosophy of Religion at Key Stage 3. Uptake at GCSE and AS/A2 is increasing (typically 25 at GCSE and around 12 at A-level), we currently follow the OCR specifications (Philosophy and Ethics) at both levels, with the advent of new GCSE and A Levels we will be following OCR (Philosophy, Ethics and Developments in Christian Thought) at A Level and Edexcel Religious Studies B (Christianity, Philosophy & Social Justice and Islam, Peace & Conflict) at GCSE
Results are consistently good and the uptake of the subject at tertiary level has increased dramatically in recent years, overwhelmingly to Russell Group/universities of equivalent status, including Oxford/Cambridge.
In 2015 at A2 the department secured 67% A*-B while at GCSE the results were 90% A*-A.
Heritage and ethos
From Lancelot Andrewes to Donald Coggan, the school has a long and distinguished heritage in matters spiritual and philosophical, believing that hard-won values in combination with scholarly rigour are the key to self-knowledge. Our first Head Master, Richard Mulcaster, understood that ‘behaviour to enlarge virtue’ is as fundamental to education as, ‘knowledge to increase understanding’ and embedded that intimate connection into the school’s ethos.
As an inclusive, outward-looking, and diverse community that promotes civility and civilized discourse, we encourage a questioning spirit of mutual tolerance and informed dialogue based on openness, reciprocal respect & trust. We welcome boys of all faiths and of none.
Our values are rooted in the common spiritual heritage of the world’s great philosophies and religions. The Anglican tradition is maintained (the school has its own Chaplain); alongside the school’s commitment to an ecumenical, non-sectarian approach to matters religious and philosophical. There are philosophy clubs, Christian, Jewish and Islamic societies, a Muslim prayer room and a Hindu mandir community, as well as a Chapel, used both for Holy Communion and as a venue for House assemblies and the meetings of societies. Our emphases are always on dialogue, mutual understanding and tolerance, rather than doctrinaire or partisan sectarianism of any hue.