As an entirely unique subject, we are incredibly proud of our CIPS (Creative, Independent, Problem Solving) provision at St Nicholas’. This part of the curriculum is a hugely important part of what we offer at the School, and the rewards that we have witnessed since we expanded it to its current guise are already clear to see.
As a Preparatory School, we pride ourselves on going beyond a mere academic focus. This enthusiasm for learning is as important as academic subjects, and the CIPS curriculum aims to develop this enthusiasm, and indeed take advantage of it. Such independent learning allows pupils to build on skills that operate across subjects and beyond the classroom, helping them to improve their organisation skills and time management, as well as personal attributes such as confidence and communication.
The curriculum is designed to allow pupils to have greater control over their learning, giving them responsibility over the content they explore, the direction they develop their ideas and the means of presentation. Content will sometimes be linked to topics currently being studied in class, something pertinent to the time of the year or current affairs, or indeed may be something entirely abstract, but the teaching staff at the School have a number of wonderfully creative ideas to provide a framework for this style of independent learning that empowers pupils to embrace their education, as well as developing the wider reaching skills outlined above.
The opportunity this level of freedom provides pupils is an exciting addition to our timetable, but it requires that pupils have the level of freedom and independence to ensure that these skills are developed. CIPS homework is often set on a Friday in most instances, and then discussed at a later date in class. This opportunity for further discussion reinforces the skills we aim to develop, and as such, it is important that a pupil can participate in these conversations with their peers independently. We as always encourage parents to support children with their homework, but the real benefit from this curriculum derives from a child’s ability to access the tasks largely independently. As adults supporting learning, our aim is to guide and support the child when accessing the CIPS curriculum, not direct or dictate. This challenge is something that we discuss with parents and our community to help pupils to experience the subject as intended.
The skills developed in these CIPS sessions lay the foundations for a child’s future, and can be applied to applications for Senior School, for the challenges they face through the remainder of their education, from Year 7 up to University, and indeed will reinforce skills needed to tackle to wider world as adults. As a School, we are passionate about supporting our pupils as individuals, excited at the opportunities this curriculum offers us, enthused by the impact that it will have, and hope that this unique element of our curriculum engenders the same response throughout the School community.
Update: Our CIPS curriculum is referred to in the March/April edition of NW Families Magazine. Jump to page 6 to find out more!