Our senior school-Unicity College-is a unique setting resting upon pupils’ daily practice of their faith as they grow in maturity. At senior school, we adopt a Liberal Arts focus in the study of academic disciplines and incorporate the spirit of the Montessori Method in community life, work and independent study as appropriate to the adolescent stage of our pupils’ development.* This creative blend provides a stimulating yet protected environment for pupils to make their transition through the delicate stage of adolescence, whilst equipping them with an understanding of the society they will enter, alongside the essential skills they will need, to be a part of it.
Key Features of the Senior School
Personal Development in Adolescence
Sports, Arts, Crafts and Singing are greatly valued in opening up ways of expression as a means for pupils to develop a balanced personality and to have a fulfilling and enriching experience at school and later on in life. Opportunities for pupils’ to engage with creative and physical expression are integrated within their study of the academic disciplines as tools of communication, illustration and demonstration of understanding. Additionally, pupils have open space to pursue and develop their individual interests at other times in the week and take up projects of their choice if they wish to do so.
We aim to teach most subjects holistically so that pupils may come to see the interrelatedness of academic disciplines and inquiry. An interdisciplinary approach to disciplines is informed by classical traditions in which studying texts necessitated and opened up the study of languages, history, scripture, religion and art amongst other things. At our school, this approach may mean that in their study of Science, pupils also investigate the cultural, geographical and historical context for the achievements and discoveries of the great names in science from Aristotle to Einstein. Similarly, their study of Literature may take them to the study of historical periods and social contexts and equally to familiarisation with the study of languages, the study of religion and moral questions or socio-political theories.
Choice and Independence
Senior school pupils access work and study in a way that is more akin to college-style learning than the typical secondary school. This means that they have individual plans of work and study, tailored to their particular age or stage of learning, and spend some portion of every day engaged with this work through independent study where they are generally able to choose how to organise their time as well as the pace at which they work. At other times in a day, they access in-person delivery of key lesson presentations, participatory seminars, one-to-one teaching, group sessions or meetings as connected to their studies, or other activities of school life. Students track and log their work and learning across all subjects themselves and keep account of their time and their progress, deciding their next actions and arranging next lessons in discussions with teachers. They have bi-weekly individual meetings with teachers to review what they have achieved through each period of two weeks across the curriculum and to highlight any hurdles or blocks. Pupils who are found to struggle are supported through step-by-step directions.
Pupils acquire knowledge and skills as appropriate for their particular stage of development whilst learning and working in a mixed-age environment. As is the practice in our junior school, pupils in our senior school participate in some activities, seminar discussion groups or lessons in interaction with peers older and younger than themselves. The mixed-age settings at our school model the natural social settings of the wider world, diversify learning experiences, raise younger pupils’ aspirations and skills in adaptability whilst nurturing compassion and empathy in older pupils.
Our senior school environment provides opportunities for pupils to build skills in social collaboration, apply moral and ethical questions about the needs of the self versus the needs of the collective in practice, and try on different roles within the school community to care for themselves, each other and their environment. In daily school life, pupils choose and divide up roles in regularly maintaining their environment. Community meetings provide a space for pupils to raise matters with each other and teachers or resolve problems and conflicts. Pupils also run ‘hosting and sharing’ events for the wider community. These allow them to take part in extended ‘living together’: they are involved in allocating and dividing roles between themselves, in designing invitations, planning menus, sourcing materials, planning space layouts, choosing readings and songs to share, preparing and laying out furniture, food and related items, greeting and hosting guests.
A 'growth mindset', 'high aspirations', 'thinking out of the box', 'time-management' and 'holistic learning' are all common terms used to describe what an elite education should focus on. Many schools, educators and adults pay lip service to these terms, but very few actually focus on developing these skills and attributes in their learners in a tangible and systematic way. Deenway is different. At our school we consciously teach our pupils the best, tried and tested methods of time management, leadership, productivity and thinking skills from the real world. The life work, findings and teachings of David Allen, Stephen Covey, Francesco Cirrilo, Tony Buzan, Josh Waitzkin and others inform how we teach and prepare our young people to be better thinkers, manage their work, make good decisions about next actions, plan projects and solve complicated problems. Here's just one example of the work we've done: Deenway School and Josh Waitzkin's the Art of Learning.
The Liberal Arts
Our teaching of disciplines is guided by the principles of the classical tradition of the Liberal Arts which outlines grammar, logic and rhetoric as three stages of training in disciplines. This means that in our curriculum we give particular attention to the teaching of grammar and rhetoric in Language and to the study of critical thinking and reasoning in Logic. Across the curriculum this also means that when studying any discipline, pupils are guided to:
build a ‘grammar’ of subjects under study. This means equipping students with a strong knowledge-base of texts or ideas of importance to the subject. This may also include committing some selections to memory where appropriate and learning chronologies, names and dates and being well-versed in key terminology.
adopt critical reasoning in the subjects under study. This means fostering an inquiry-driven approach to learning training students to approach subjects with an eye to bring out key ideas, analyse and critically evaluate the presentation of these ideas through discussion and dialogue with their peers and teachers.
develop skills in rhetoric. This means giving students ample opportunity to articulate their knowledge and reasoning as it develops informally. It also means cultivating students’ abilities in conveying their responses and their thinking around themes in a formal way through writing and speech. It includes familiarising students’ in the art of narration, reading texts aloud for effect and in recitation and delivery of extracts from memory.
Movement and Physical Education
Physical education, health and movement are a very important part of the curriculum at Deenway. In an age where mental and physical health concerns are increasing in young people and adults the importance of physical education cannot be over emphasised. Understood broadly, the physical education curriculum at Deenway can be understood as consisting of two main parts:
Sports & Athletics
Sports can further be divided into two:
Games: These consist of team and individual games such as football, basketball, netball, tennis, dodgeball etc. These are enjoyed by pupils through the Autumn and Spring Terms using local facilities such as Reading University's Sports Park.
Sacred Sports: these are principally archery, wrestling/grappling (BJJ) and martial arts. These are introduced to pupils in special sessions during the year and pupils are encouraged to continue their studies of these after school hours at Deenway Dojo.
Athletics consists of track and field events such as track races (100m, 1500m etc), cycling, long jump, high jump and others.
The Sports & Athletics programme culminates in an Annual Inter-House Athletic games event where pupils compete in individual and team athletic events, as well as Archery and Grappling to win points for their House and for themselves.
Natural Movement Training
Deenway is proud to be the first UK school to officially incorporate Erwan Le Corre's MovNat natural movement training into its physical education curriculum. The school has invested in hosting the UK's only MovNat licensed facility (MovNat UK) on its grounds and also hosts speciality MovNat training and certification events for adults.
MovNat focuses on unspecialized natural movement's innately suited to the human creature. These include movement skills that involve walking, running, balancing, climbing, lifting, throwing and more.
Our MovNat P.E. program helps students:
— foster a growth-mindset
— increase physical capability and sense of confidence
— increase kinesthetic awareness and proprioception
— increase strength, mobility, coordination, and stamina
— increase overall athletic or movement performance in other modalities
— foster teamwork and social skills
You can find out more about our physical education programme by following the appropriate links in the menu. Information about MovNat is available at MovNat UK and MovNat.
*Learn more about the Liberal Arts and the Montessori Method by following the appropriate links in the menu.