The curriculum in the Upper School retains the balance of head, heart and hands of the earlier years, increasingly challenging students to stretch themselves – to explore and discover who they are and what they stand for. Following the Integrated Education Qualifications allows us to continue delivering a real Waldorf education throughout the Upper School, whilst ensuring that all learning and achievement is accredited and allows students to access whichever next steps they choose.
We begin the school year with the Drumduan Highland Games, field trips and visiting speakers: the emphasis always on supportive and inspiring learning environments; lively, rich learning; and developing the ability to think for oneself. The students in the Upper School do a whole day of outdoor pursuits each week- a chance to learn in a different environment, and challenge oneself in new ways.
The curriculum is broad and rich- Main Lesson blocks range through the Sciences, Humanities and Arts. There are weekly subject lessons in English, Maths, blocks of Craft; Individual and Group Projects; Outdoor Pursuits; Horticulture and Landwork; IT, Music, Games, Bothmer exercise, class trips, and expeditions. The students are prepared to enter the 21stC world with enthusiasm, competence, and kindness. They prepare detailed and high-level portfolios for the IE certificate- giving them the opportunity to deeply explore a subject, not just cram it for exams.
Portfolio Based Assessment
We believe that the current education system is broken and that the pressure on teachers and students to conform to a rigid exam system has created unsustainable pressure and ineffective learning.
Teaching to an exam is unhealthy and does not often encourage independent and inspiring learning. Our greatest goal is to create rigorous critical thinkers and motivated learners.
Our students create portfolios of work which are assessed and accredited - allowing students to forge successful paths beyond school in areas and subjects which genuinely interest them. The outdoor pursuits and extensive crafts and practical skills they learn give them a confidence and ability in skills and professions far beyond arts and crafts.
Having experienced learning whilst immersed in nature, many of our upper school students are naturally drawn to issues related to sustainability, human connection to nature, landscape or the environment.
By placing problem solving and creativity at the core of all that we teach our curriculum allows students to explore their passions and gifts for life.
Free from the constant pressures of testing and examinations, our students develop a love of learning and space to develop ideas and thinking. We believe it is that creative capacity to adapt and problem solve that gives our students something different and special to take with them, as they prepare to light up the world.
What are the Integrated Education Qualifications?
The qualifications consist of two stages: Level 2 (GCSE/Scottish National 5 equivalent) which is aimed at ages 14-16 and Level 3 (A-level/Scottish Higher equivalent) which is geared towards ages 16-18. There are four potential outcomes achieved through a credit system: an Award (12 credits), a Certificate (24 credits), a Diploma (69 credits) and an Extended Diploma (117 credits).
The courses are highly flexible, with the option to fast-track or slow down these stages - allowing the school to remain inclusive and learner-centred whilst adequately supporting and challenging all learners.
Delivery consists of a taught curriculum, individual student projects and a unique Creative Thinking Skills module which is designed to inspire innovation while developing various creative and critical thinking techniques. Rather than taking the conventional approach whereby subjects are taught independently of each other, the IE qualifications require an integrated style whereby teachers and students are required to make links across all curricular areas, reflecting a real-world approach to education.
There are no obligatory exams, assessment is based on a range of evidence — main lesson books, independent projects and a selected portfolio of work — which fits in with Drumduan’s style of experiential, immersive and self directed learning.
Numerous media articles in recent years agree that school leavers - despite an increasing level of qualifications achieved - are ill-equipped for the world beyond school which requires the capacity to act with initiative, independence, resilience, responsibility and the ability to work collaboratively and creatively.