For those with real academic flair, Dean Close has a lot to offer in terms of excellent results backed up with a stretching range of activities, opportunities, visits and speakers. An academic scholar at Dean Close has an excellent chance of getting a place at a top university; this year eight pupils received offers to Oxbridge, 8% of the year group.
Over 25% of all GCSE grades are A*s and around 60% of all grades are A*/A. At A level the A*-A percentage is over 50%. In the last 12 years the School has achieved an average of six pupils per year into Oxbridge, with a total of 60% of all leavers going on to a Russell Group university.
Through the curricular and extra-curricular programme, academically ambitious pupils have a variety of vehicles to ensure they achieve their potential:
For the top 5% of intellects in the junior years (9-11) there is JESS, a Society which meets twice each term to debate stretching issues, most recently delving into the etymology of common words and phrases. The Bowden Society is the Sixth Form equivalent which, at a typical meeting, worked on “how to start a country from scratch”. Within an hour pupils had set up five fictional countries, with political, economic, socio cultural and religious systems, had allocated a strategic budget and pitched for international recognition. These societies introduce likeminded, academically able pupils to each other when they may not meet through the classroom, particularly in the Sixth Form.
DEPARTMENT EXTENSION OPPORTUNITIES
Individual departments find ways to push and inspire their most able pupils through subject-related competitions and challenges.
High-end mathematicians and physicists compete against the top students from other schools in the Maths & Physics Olympiads and last year Dean Close mathematicians were runners up in the National Mathematics Challenge. Top Classicists contend in Latin & Greek Reading competitions, both in a Dean Close competition with an external adjudicator and in the Gloucestershire competition, with an impressive track record of winning. History and Politics students enter the European Youth Parliament, debating against some of the top brains in the country in a ‘House of Commons’ style event, with pressure to think on their feet in a public forum. A Dean Close Critical Essay Writing Competition has Junior and Sixth Form categories. Entrants write a university style essay (using sources) with a rule that the essay must be multi-subject, and the event culminates in a dinner with a guest judge from another school. Modern Language students enter the Cheltenham Languages Competition, with the winners going on to National finals in London.
Top set mathematicians sit their GCSE one year early, studying Additional Maths in Fifth Form giving pupils two maths qualifications and better preparation for A level. Consequently, around 15% go on to take Further Maths at A level. Triple Maths has been facilitated for exceptional mathematicians who are looking to be statisticians, for example.
Talented linguists are able to study up to four languages (two ancient and two modern). A number of pupils take GCSE and A Level French one year early, enabling them to either take an additional A level or have more time/less pressure for their other studies.
Fast Track Triple Science has been introduced at GCSE allowing top flight scientists to take all three sciences within two option blocks, effectively studying three subjects in the time that most take to study only two.
PREPARATION FOR FURTHER STUDY
Oxbridge preparation starts in the Lower Sixth. Students analyse and assess the subject areas they are interested in and are helped through reading lists and practice interviews with staff from Dean Close and experts from outside. An Extension group known as MDV meets weekly to give extra help to aspiring medics, dentists and vets, preparing them for university life and extending the work done in the classroom.