Learner’s Baccalaureate

What is the GTS Learner’s Baccalaureate?

This is the name given to the Year 7 curriculum at GTS.  By the end of the year learners will have developed four key learning skills (IKEA)

  • Independence – To initiate and pursue their own learning

  • Knowledge – To have a growing understanding of the world

  • Effort – To believe that through deliberate practice they can excel

  • Accomplishment – To behave and present their learning professionally

These skills will be taught and developed through a series of Challenges.

  • Frankenstein – Expressing the monster within – Was Frankenstein wrong to create life? Learners explore the story of Frankenstein’s monster.  They will dig deeper into issues of self-image and investigate the moral questions raised in the novel.  Students will learn to dance, exploring the themes of Romanticism and Nature, Revenge, Prejudice, Identity and Beauty. Learners will combine all that is learnt in staging their own trial of Victor Frankenstein.

  • Teach a rock to count – How do we communicate with computers? Students will cover the basics of programming, learn how to design, build and market a working game. Reflecting on existing sports and gaming concepts the task at hand is to develop a brand new game. Students will learn about the need for ‘fair play’, discuss laws within games and mutual respect for opponents. Students will develop practical workshop skills and the importance of planning the manufacturing process. And have the opportunity to present their designs to a critical panel.

  • A Slice of Pi – Learners will explore how an understanding of the beauty of mathematics can help them produce accomplished works of art. The challenge will include a focus on health, take a look at aesthetics and proportion through the world of sport. The use of statistics and data gathering for practical use will be combined with the practical elements of producing this data. All of this will inform their final sculpted piece which will be exhibited for the whole community to see.

  • The Big History Project – Learners will explore the history of the universe and mankind’s place within it, from the Big Bang to Brexit. Students will learn about the people who have shaped our history and the impact they have made to our civilisation today. This will give them an invaluable understanding of how science and history have shaped our lives today.

  • Who Do You Think You Are? – What makes us part of our community? What was Torrington like 80 years ago? How does our community differ from South American culture? Through practical research, students will delve into the culture of a South American country as well as the recent history of Torrington. As a result of this research the class will attempt to predict global changes and developments in the next 80 years. The outcome of this will be published in an iBook created by the whole year group. This challenge strongly supports the development of international links and the acquisition of new language.  

  • Money for Nothing – Some of the biggest issues facing mankind include protecting the environment and dwindling natural resources. Students will have the opportunity to look at ways we can intervene and have the opportunity to use new technologies to develop, market and sell products all aimed at reducing waste materials by upcycling, recycling and repurposing.

Why have the Learner's Baccalaureate Curriculum?

Most of what we know about the brain has been found out during the past 10 years. Our job in schools is to develop children’s brains, so we have an obligation to act on recent brain research.

When we learn, connections are formed from one brain cell to another. The more links each brain cell can make with others, the more embedded the learning becomes. For these connections to form effectively, the brain needs just the right amounts of dopamine and adrenaline. Dopamine is produced when we are relaxed, secure and have an emotional link with what we are learning. Adrenaline is produced when we are challenged and stimulated. Yet too much dopamine can lead to depression and too much adrenaline will lead to over-stimulation. So in school, we need to get the balance just right.

We concluded that learning will be maximised if the artificial boundaries between subjects were removed so as many links as possible can be made for new pieces of learning. We concluded that pupils needed to study topics that they thought were stimulating, engaging and presented them with a real life challenge rather than “imagine ifs…” This would lead to the right amounts of adrenaline being produced. We concluded we needed to give learners time to develop their ideas fully and have fewer than the 13-14 teachers they currently have in many other schools. This will allow learners to have a greater emotional link to their learning and so produce the right amounts of dopamine.

We quickly realised that our previous Year 7 curriculum was not designed in the best way to enhance learning. So we have explored up to date research into the brain and what is most effective in education. Building on this we have designed an innovative curriculum with the above principles at its heart.