Enrichment & Life Skills
The period of home learning can be used by our students to enrich their academic experience, and to enhance their CVs for the future. Future employers might ask our students how they used this period of time to develop their academic profile.
What is academic enrichment?
When teachers refer to academic enrichment, we mean academic study undertaken beyond the confines of the usual curriculum. We believe that this enrichment is extremely important, to broaden academic experience, and to undertake academic study solely for personal interest and the joy of learning, rather than in preparation for an exam.
We hope that our students and parents will appreciate the compelling reasons given above for academic enrichment, and therefore engage in the opportunities recommended. We will regularly update the information provided below, as new opportunities for enrichment become available.
We also encourage parents to try some of these courses. They offer a great opportunity to promote lifelong learning.
Separately to the opportunities suggested, we will continue to deliver by distance learning the AS Level courses in our existing sixth form enrichment programme: English Language, Politics, and Mathematics and Statistics.
Keeping safe when working online
Please see our document Guidance for parents on online safety to ensure that you remain safe while using the various online services listed below.
OPPORTUNITY 1. Online university courses (MOOCs)
Universities for a number of years have delivered a huge number of outstanding free courses on their online learning platforms. The main platforms are:
- edX: includes universities such as Harvard and MIT. Courses generally have a focus on mathematics, science and computing; these are open to students of any age. Find out more
- Coursera: includes a wide range of universities around the world, and a very wide range of courses across all subject areas. These are open to students aged 13 or older. Find out more
- Futurelearn: a range of courses from predominantly British universities. Minimum age is 13 years. Find out more
- Open University: Offers a wide range of distance courses with online learning and flexibility. Find out more
- Kialo: A platform for rational debate through friendly and open discussion. Find out more
- The TEFL Academy:Qualify to teach English as a foreign language from home. Find out more
- Speakers for Schools: Virtual talks targeted to different age groups. Find out more
The Class Central website keeps track of the various MOOCs created by universities:
For example, Monmouth staff have taken three excellent and challenging courses in recent years:
- an edX Computer Science course with Harvard University (this course, ‘CS50’, is the single most popular course delivered by Harvard, and is now globally renowned; the course was passed this year by a 10-year old student!)
- a Coursera Financial Accounting course with the Wharton Business School (this is adapted from the accounting course in their MBA programme)
- another Coursera course on Financial Mathematics, with Stanford University (since then the Monmouth students have been subjected in lessons to various calculations on bonds, stocks, and portfolios!)
A selection of top-ranked online courses with Coursera are listed below, to give you a flavour of the sorts of courses available:
- Learning How to Learn: Powerful mental tools to help you master tough subjects, UC San Diego
- Machine Learning, Stanford University
- Social Psychology, Wesleyan University
- Introduction to Finance, University of Michigan
- The Data Scientist’s Toolbox, John Hopkins University
- Developing Innovative Ideas for New Companies: the first step in entrepreneurship, University of Maryland
- Introduction to Public Speaking, University of Washington
- Introduction to Philosophy, University of Edinburgh
- Greek and Roman Mythology, University of Pennsylvania
- C# Programming for Unity Game Development, University of Colorado (a programme of four courses using the Unity Game Engine for 3D game development)
For a taster of these online courses, the introductory lecture for the Harvard Computer Science CS50 course is at:
(You might be surprised to see that the Harvard professor teaching this course uses a ‘muppet’-type character to introduce the course!)
Please do feel free to contact staff if you have questions about online courses: Dr Daniel has experience of a number of the courses, and Mrs Hope has expert knowledge of a number of the computing courses. We hope that students will see them as an opportunity to create a positive academic experience in the current challenging times.
OPPORTUNITY 2. Preparation for Extended Projects (EPQs)
The EPQ is a self-directed and self-motivated project that carries UCAS points and is worth half an A level. You will need to choose a topic (outside your curriculum studies), plan, research and develop your idea and decide on a finished product. You will have a supervisor to guide you through your journey, but it will be up to you to arrange meetings and record discussions in the log book. You will also have some taught sessions on time management, research skills, referencing, presentation skills etc. The finished product may take the form of:
- A research based written report/essay (3000 words)
- A production (fashion show, sports event, charity event), plus a 1000 word report
- An artefact (piece of art, computer game, video), plus a 1000 word report
You will need to use a log book to record the project process. This log book is as important as the finished project itself. You will also need to give a presentation about the project and the process you followed to a small audience. The final product, log book and presentation are all marked holistically.
The EPQ is only available for those that are intending to continue it into Year 12. If you’d like to know more, please watch this presentation:
Download presentation (Internal access only)
OPPORTUNITY 3. Sign Language Courses
This course is available online from British Sign Language:
(Note, however, that they have been so overwhelmed with demand recently that they are now charging £3 per enrolment to pay for an upgrade of their servers. This is still very good value.)
OPPORTUNITY 4. Learn a Language
For example, here is the set of language courses (in 36 different languages) currently listed on the Coursera platform:
- Afrikaans (1)
- Mongolian (6)
- Greek (9)
- Russian (33)
- Polish (4)
- Persian (15)
- Chinese (China) (51)
- Swedish (1)
- Ukrainian (3)
- Portuguese (Brazil) (21)
- Chinese (Traditional) (9)
- Lithuanian (2)
- English (143)
- Bengali (1)
- Arabic (52)
- Hebrew (3)
- Spanish (62)
- Indonesian (4)
- Georgian (2)
- Albanian (2)
- Portuguese (Portugal) (1)
- Catalan (5)
- Bulgarian (1)
- Romanian (3)
- German (20)
- Tamil (4)
- Hindi (9)
- Vietnamese (23)
- Marathi (1)
- Urdu (2)
- Korean (1)
- Turkish (5)
- Serbian (1)
- French (17)
- Japanese (12)
- Slovak (4)
For learning a language, there are a number of online platforms. Some are free and some offer a limited amount of free sessions to see how you get on, with an option to subscribing to further tuition.
OPPORTUNITY 5: Read
“Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are”. Mason Cooley.
The Library have updated their Oodles links on Firefly. Included is a guide for students on how to access Oodles from Firefly and what is on there. There is also information on how to analyse the research / sites pupils are looking at – the 5 Ws etc. This will also help pupils enhance and practise their independent research skills and critical thinking.
The book lists include exciting and slightly different suggestions that you might not otherwise get from a usual fiction theme and genre shortlist.
Included is the current Bronze, Silver and Gold Reading lists for MB students – and MG girls could also use this as a book list guide too.
OPPORTUNITY 6: Take part in an essay competition
Preparing an entry for one of these competitions is a valuable experience for academically motivated students, allowing them to get to grips with University-style questions. It is a great example of academic exploration for an application to Higher Education and a good educational way for students who are now at home to explore their subject of interest beyond the school curriculum.
For example, at Lucy Cavendish College, University of Cambridge
Three brand new essay and design prizes for Year 12 students:
- The Keith Maddocks Prize in Engineering & Design
- The Cottrell Essay Prize for Medicine and Veterinary Medicine
- Lucy Cavendish Essay Prize in contemporary issues 2020
The deadline for submissions is midnight on 30th April.
Opportunities for Years 10 – 13:
Opportunities for Year 12:
Opportunities for students aged 16 – 18:
OPPORTUNITY 7: UCAS preparation / careers advice
In the summer term we will be starting our UCAS preparation and training with our Y12 group. We will send further details in the summer term.
OPPORTUNITY 8: Cooking for life
We would like to build a ‘Cooking Community’, and will be uploading cookery demonstrations soon, with a weekly recipe demonstrated online on a new channel on our website. We will provide advice on different topics such as: cooking on a budget; cooking with store cupboard basics; creating a balanced meal together with limited and unusual ingredients; safety and food hygiene while cooking.
Videos & Podcasts
Dylan from Year 8 – Cookery Podcast
Watch Dylan from Year 8 demonstrating how to make Blueberry and Lemon muffins:
Grub on a grant
Our sixth form enrichment course ‘Grub on a Grant’ demonstrates recipes which are based on these principles so we will work to make this available to all. Download the recipe book below:
Grub on a Grant Recipe Book (PDF – 4.3mb)
There are some extremely good online courses that sixth formers and Year 11 could study and therefore receive a qualification. These courses have transferable skills that employers would look for in a CV, and would greatly enhance UCAS applications:
- Level 1 & 2 Food Hygiene
- Food Allergen Awareness
- Environmental Awareness
- Customer Service Training
All of these are readily available online and cost between £10 and £30 if purchased individually.
OPPORTUNITY 9: Music
- BBC Young Musician of the Year 2020 – semi-finals being broadcast: Find out more
- Radio 3 In Tune Mixtape – 30 minute playlists: Find out more
- Kanneh-Mason family daily performances: Find out more
- NY Phil on Zoom – Find out more
- Elena Urioste & Tom Poster daily performances: Find out more here or on their Twitter accounts
- Yo-Yo Ma daily posts on Twitter – Songs of Comfort: Find out more
- Lessons with Nicola Benedetti – Find out more
- Met Opera performances: Find out more
- Berlin Phil performances: Find out more
- And for a bit of fun
- Melodica Men (a slightly less-than-serious way to learn the classics) offer online lessons Find out more
Videos & Podcasts
Virtual Guitar Ensemble performing Ode to Joy:
Senior boys Virtual Guitar Ensemble performing Ode to Joy:
OPPORTUNITY 10: Arts and Culture
Google Arts & Culture (https://artsandculture.google.com/) has teamed up with over 2,500 museums and galleries around the world to bring you virtual tours and online exhibits of some of the most famous museums around the world.
The incredible collection includes the British Museum in London, the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, the Guggenheim in New York City, and literally hundreds of more places where you can gain knowledge about art, history, and science.
British Museum, London
This iconic museum located in the heart of London allows virtual visitors to tour the Great Court and discover the ancient Rosetta Stone and Egyptian mummies. You can also find hundreds of artifacts on the museum’s virtual tour.
Guggenheim Museum, New York
Google’s Street View feature lets visitors tour the Guggenheim’s famous spiral staircase without ever leaving home. From there, you can discover incredible works of art from the Impressionist, Post-Impressionist, Modern and Contemporary eras.
Musée d’Orsay, Paris
You can virtually walk through this popular gallery that houses dozens of famous works from French artists who worked and lived between 1848 and 1914. Get a peek at artworks from Monet, Cézanne, and Gauguin, among others.
Who hasn’t dreamed of visiting NASA? You don’t have to be a scientist to get inside the gates of the Langley Research Centre in Virginia, the Glenn Research Centre in Ohio and the Space Centre in Houston. Simply go online to tour everything from flight simulations to supersonic wind tunnels, and let all your childhood dreams come true. For more information visit nasa.gov.
The National Gallery, London
If you’re in the mood for a bit of art and culture, you’ll be spoilt for choice with The National Gallery’s online offerings. Take a tour of 18 gallery rooms with over 300 paintings, including works by Titian, Veronese, and Holbein. Captivated by one particular piece? There’s also the opportunity to learn more about each of the paintings on view. For more information visit nationalgallery.org.uk.
Acropolis Monuments, Greece
Even without recommendations to practice social distancing and limit travel, it’s not every day you get to fly to Athens to see the Acropolis. Explore the archaeological site via an interactive tour online and learn about the most prominent monuments, including the Parthenon and the Temple of Athena Nike. For more information visit acropolisvirtualtour.gr.
Guggenheim Museum, America
Never got round to seeing one of New York’s most famous art museums? Fear not, Google’s Street View can transport you to the Guggenheim’s famous spiral staircase with the chance to view everything from the Impressionist, Modern and Contemporary eras. If that’s not enough to keep you busy, the online collection also has 1,700 artworks by more than 625 artists, as well as works from Venice and the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao. For more information visit https://artsandculture.google.com/partner/solomon-r-guggenheim-museum
The Louvre, France
Although we can’t actually jet off to France to see some of the famous landmarks, seeing The Louvre online is the next best thing. As one of the world’s largest art museums, it offers plenty of entertainment to keep you busy for months. Go online and learn about everything from Egyptian Antiquities to the remains of the Louvre’s Moat, built by French king Philippe Auguste. For more information visit louvre.fr.
Explore the masterworks from the Dutch Golden Age, including works from Vermeer and Rembrandt. Google offers a Street View tour of this iconic museum, so you can feel as if you’re actually wandering its halls.
Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam
Anyone who is a fan of this tragic, ingenious painter can see his works up close (or, almost up close) by virtually visiting this museum – the largest collection of artworks by Vincent van Gogh, including over 200 paintings, 500 drawings, and over 750 personal letters.
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
European artworks from as far back as the 8th Century can be found in this California art museum. Take a Street View tour to discover a huge collection of paintings, drawings, sculptures, manuscripts, and photographs.
Uffizi Gallery, Florence
This less well-known gallery houses the art collection of one of Florence, Italy’s most famous families, the de’Medicis. The building was designed by Giorgio Vasari in 1560 specifically for Cosimo I de’Medici, but anyone can wander its halls from anywhere in the world.
There are thousands of museum Street Views on Google as well, plus an opportunity to look round famous historical and heritage site, allowing you to explore the Statute of Liberty, the Taj Mahal or the Eiffel Tower, to name but a few.
Special features on Google Arts & Culture currently include stories ‘Four Things To Do With Your Camera Phone’, ‘The Weird and Wonderful World of Dinosaurs’ and a novel way of looking at the art world, called ‘Explore by Colour’.
If you are into your social media, there’s a great thought-provoking and hopefully calm-inducing hashtag to check out on both Instagram and Twitter, which allows institutions to share particularly zen artworks online to provide a moment of calmness amidst the current global anxiety. For more information click here.
And if you are missing the great outdoors, you can even go “outside” with incredible virtual tours of some of America’s best national parks.
TED talks offer mind-expanding enrichment on a whole range of different topics: www.ted.com
OPPORTUNITY 11: Learn to code
In addition to the computing courses listed in OPPORTUNITY 1, there are also great courses provided by CISCO: https://www.netacad.com/portal/learning
Monmouth students have enjoyed studying cyber security on these courses. There are also courses on the “internet of things”, “packet tracing”, and a range of other networking and security related topics.
https://code.org/student/middle-high Code.org runs courses online for building apps, web sites and games.
OPPORTUNITY 12: General research
The Zooniverse is the world’s largest and most popular platform for people-powered research.