Beyond the Curriculum
The extra-curricular and enrichment activities on offer are further enhanced by co-operation between the two Sixth Forms. Many activities are run jointly and benefit from the expertise and enthusiasm of staff from both schools. Joint musical and dramatic productions are regularly undertaken, encouraging students to perform to an extremely high standard. Academic departments also relish the opportunity to run joint subject societies and joint study trips, both locally and further afield, in order to strengthen the links between the two departments and to share good practice. The Monmouth Enterprise Initiative is an exciting event, involving an overnight stay in London, a formal dinner at Haberdashers’ Hall, and a work placement the following day. It is organised and funded each year by the Haberdashers’ Company. This trip represents a tremendous opportunity for the boys and girls involved, to see at first-hand how companies at the heart of the City work and to make contacts with some of its most dynamic businessmen and women.
Enrichment and Challenge
In the Sixth Form, students have dedicated time to undertake a variety of courses of their choice outside of their A Level subjects. There is a diverse range of courses from which students can choose, all of which aim to broaden their outlook and complement their chosen course of study. In VI.1, four periods are allocated each week for the Michaelmas and Lent terms; in VI.2 two periods are allocated, allowing additional private study time.
Enrichment Courses have included a nationally recognised Lifeguard qualification; “Young Enterprise” (where students set up and run their own business with guidance from an external advisor); “Engineering Education Scheme Wales” (where students link with a company to design and build a solution to a problem the company faces); Arabic; Japanese culture; Philosophy; Secular ethics; “Greenpower” (where students develop, build and hopefully race a single seat electric race car); Rugby and Soccer coaching qualifications. Some are examined, others are not. Some are life skill orientated and some are career focused. Most courses are run in conjunction with HMSG, allowing greater diversity and mixed classes.
Wednesday Afternoon Enrichment
The Combined Cadet Force
CCF As a newcomer to Monmouth School and its Sixth Form a student can request to transfer membership from another cadet organisation or join as a fast track recruit. Hopefully, he will accelerate through the ranks and be able to take up a position of responsibility before he leaves school. Holding rank as an Non Commissioned Officer (NCO) in the CCF is a privilege and offers a broad experience of taking charge of juniors in a responsible and caring way. CCF is a disciplined organisation which provides mental and physical challenges. Sixth Formers who are NCOs learn to plan training and exercises for juniors and have to communicate their skills to small sections of boys and girls. They have to earn respect and set standards. These are all qualities which are valued in any organisation, not just the military.
In addition to the opportunities to assume responsibility and develop leadership skills, senior cadets have opportunities to attend courses and camps run by all three Regular Services (Army, Royal Navy and RAF). These can range from PE Instructors to Artillery or Gliding courses. Adventure Training Camps are also available (several of our cadets have won places for the six week summer camp in Canada in past years). In addition, CCF lends itself to completion of the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme, up to Gold Level. For example, being an NCO will qualify a student for the Volunteering component of the Award Scheme (subject to the appropriate qualification period being served).
Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme
The Award concept is one of individual challenge. It provides a balanced non-competitive programme of voluntary activities which encourages personal growth, self-reliance, perseverance and responsibility to oneself and the community.
Those entering the School in the Sixth Form will normally be invited to join the scheme at Gold Level. If a student has already completed a Silver Award then Gold can be completed in 12 months but if not, it usually takes a minimum of 18 months to complete a Gold Level Award Scheme. Successful participants are normally invited to collect their Gold Awards from St James Palace, London. Careful consideration should be given to entering the Award Scheme, which takes commitment and can be time consuming. Participation in the Scheme will involve up to a week away on a residential course or project of the participant’s own choosing.
The Monmouth Science Initiative (MSI)
Students studying two or more science A Levels and are interested in a degree course with a scientific bias, may be interested in an alternative option that can be taken instead of the Enrichment courses on a Wednesday afternoon. MSI is a programme for Sixth Form science students with high aspirations. It consists of three modules, each of seven weeks’ duration and covers all aspects of science. Participants will be trained in high level practical techniques and there is the opportunity to visit a Cardiff University department for further instruction. During the programme of events there will be a conference, where speakers from various scientific disciplines will talk about their roles in science. This programme is open to members of both Monmouth Schools and students from local comprehensives, so students will find themselves working with a wide range of people. Numbers from each school are limited and there are likely to be 12 places available for Monmouth School.
Some participants have been further inspired to successfully apply for Nuffield Bursaries that have enabled them to undertake a four-week placement at universities such as Cardiff and Swansea, where they carry out an extended project. This can also lead to achieving a British Science Association Gold Crest award
This programme will enhance the prospects of any student keen to follow a scientific path, including medicine and veterinary science. It is an excellent opportunity to achieve skills and knowledge that will favour any application to study science at one of the more competitive universities.
The one thing we ask of students is commitment: absence must be requested. Sessions begin at 1.45pm and finish when the task is complete. Very occasionally, the end of a session does not coincide with departure of the school buses, for example if we visit Cardiff University.
Some pupils may have lessons or activities timetabled for Wednesday afternoon that take priority, but most pupils will be able to include this as one of their Enrichment course options. For further information, please follow us on twitter @monmouth_MSI. Should none of the courses quite fit the bill, VI.1 students undertake supervised private study
Sixth Form Societies
There are also a number of subject-related Sixth Form Societies which meet several times a term in order to broaden understanding, to debate and to hear students and outside speakers give papers. These Societies are usually run jointly with HMSG and include: Astronomy, Agincourt Society (History), Classics Society and the Keynes Business Society.
William Jones Society
Named after the School’s founder, this society meets regularly usually after school on a Friday. It is a forum to discuss issues of ethical, political, social and scientific importance. The members are drawn from Monmouth School and HMSG, and all Academic Scholars and Exhibitioners are expected to attend. Overseen by members of staff, it is run by Sixth Formers from both Schools, who have the responsibility for arranging each meeting. All those attending are encouraged to contribute to the general discussion after the presentation of the main topic of the meeting. In the summer term there is an annual dinner followed by a lecture by a guest speaker.
Sport plays a large part in the lives of many Sixth Formers. Games lessons on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons are a compulsory part of the Sixth Form curriculum until their last term, when permission is granted for some extra study time. There are four main team sports – rugby, rowing, football and cricket – and a wide variety of minor sports from which to choose. Monmouth School has a proud sporting tradition and has produced many sportsmen who have gone on to achieve national and international representative honours, in sports as diverse as rugby, rowing, fencing, canoeing and cycling. Overseas tours are a regular feature, most recently to Canada (rugby), South Africa (rowing and cricket) and Spain (football). In cricket, the 1st X1 won the Castle Festival in 2011, 2012, 2014 and 2015. In rugby, the 1st VII has twice reached the semi-final of the National Schools Sevens in the last five years, and the 1st XI footballers won the Mercian League in 2012/13. In addition, the golf squad has represented Wales in the Independent Schools Home Internationals. In the summer of 2014, the Coxed Four won Rowing’s prestigious National Schools’ Regatta at Henley.
The School is also fortunate to have a large number of highly experienced and qualified coaches, many of whom have, themselves, competed at high levels.
There is a wide choice of other sports available at Monmouth School which can be played at a very high level or just recreationally: athletics, badminton, canoeing, cross country running, fencing, squash, swimming, tennis, water polo and weight-training.
Sports Scholarships and Awards of varying fee remission (boarding and day) are available to particularly promising young sportsmen who wish to join Monmouth School as new pupils in the Sixth Form and who excel in one or more team sports. They must be prepared to play a full and active part in sport within the School and they will be expected to offer a strong and positive example of commitment to their peers.
There is also a variety of sporting and adventurous training clubs run by well-qualified and experienced teachers. Each club organises expeditions or trips throughout the year. Recently, these have included skiing trips to France and Austria and outward bound adventures in Sri Lanka, Madagascar, Greece and Morocco.
Music plays a large part in the life of many boys at Monmouth School. Nearly half of all pupils take individual music lessons in school; around 300 individual music lessons are taught here each week. Students arriving at the School for the Sixth Form are strongly encouraged to continue with their musical interests and involve themselves in the musical life of the School, and this involvement in school life is invaluable when it comes to references and applications. It is also possible for someone who has not yet learned to play an instrument to begin learning here.
Instrumental lessons are taught by a team of nationally-renowned players and for Sixth Formers are usually timetabled outside lesson time. They take place in the generously-resourced Glover Music School, which includes a small performance space, ICT suite and numerous class and teaching rooms, all of which are equipped with good pianos. The School houses three organs, in the Theatre, Music School and Chapel. There are four full-time and twenty-three part-time staff. The department runs a number of instrumental ensembles at a senior level: Senior Strings and Symphonic Winds with HMSG, Chapel Choir, Choral Society, Jazz Orchestra and Brass Ensemble, as well as some chamber music. They all have many dedicated members and offer a strong sense of camaraderie and fun, both in rehearsals and in their numerous performances in and out of school. Tours occur on a regular basis, with groups visiting France, Spain, Morocco and Italy in the last five years. If students would like to be involved in one of the senior bands, choirs or orchestras, they simply need to ask any member of the music staff.
Instrumental and Choral concerts are presented each term, with smaller-scale chamber concerts and workshops taking place throughout the year. The School maintains a strong choral tradition; the Choral Society presents a major choral work every year (Orff’s Carmina Burana in 2012, Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms and Borodin’s Polovtsian Dances in 2013, Jerome Kern’s Show Boat in 2014 and Mozart’s Great C Minor Mass in 2015 and the Chapel Choir performs regularly in and out of school. As part of the School’s 400th Anniversary celebrations, a huge number of musicians from both schools performed in a Gala Concert at the Wales Millennium Centre and at the Service of Thanksgiving in St Paul’s Cathedral. Mr. Lawson would be very pleased to hear from any boys wishing to sing in one of the choirs. Boys showing a sustained and outstanding commitment to school music are awarded Colours by the Headmaster, and pupils regularly go on to study music in Higher Education, frequently winning choral and organ awards. Music Awards of up to 50% of the fees are offered to suitable candidates. Detailed information can be provided by the Admissions Secretary, Mrs. Diane Jakes (01600 710433).
The Blake Theatre is a state of the art performance space which provides an exciting venue in which to perform as well as being a theatre for the local community. The Drama department also has a fully equipped Drama Studio, which is used for rehearsals and where many small-scale productions are staged.
There are opportunities for Sixth Formers to be involved in Drama, whether performing on stage or providing technical support in the form of lighting, sound and set design/construction. There is a rolling program of joint performances between Monmouth School and HMSG, including musical theatre, which is usually open to everyone with an interest in the theatre. 2010’s sell out production of South Pacific, an atmospheric and spine-tingling Macbeth in 2011, the 2012 production of Tom Stoppard’s On the Razzle and the recent production of Hairspray were tremendously successful. In addition, Actor’s Lab, based at HMSG, is another drama group open to everyone which annually performs work, often written by the students. 2015 also saw the premier of The Argument, a thoughtprovoking new play written by Andrew Shakeshaft for the senior students of Monmouth School and HMSG. The senior play is an annual event and is open to all students in Form V and above.
We are always keen to take performances out of school and Sixth Form students have toured to the Edinburgh Fringe with great success. They have also performed at The Riverside Theatre as part of The Shakespeare Schools’ Drama Festival. There are regular theatre trips throughout the year and we also have a programme of performances in the Blake Theatre from professional touring theatre companies. Although these are usually for English or Theatre Studies students, everyone is welcome and interested theatre-goers should make themselves known.