Provision For Exceptionally Able Pupils

The da Vinci Programme

At Princethorpe College we aspire to the Renaissance ideal that all people should endeavour to develop their capacities as fully as possible, to enjoy broad interests, profound knowledge and wide ranging accomplishments. Whilst we may be born with certain predispositions, we are completely able to change and develop skills as much as we wish to and when a student demonstrates three interlocking traits - ability, task commitment and creativity - they will achieve high level performance. We recognise that young people can only perform at a high level if they are given opportunities to do so and this growth mindset is an integral part of teaching and learning at Princethorpe College. It is a mindset which encourages students to become independent, robust and enquiring and embeds a culture of challenge, aspiration and dedication throughout the school. Tasks which offer our pupils the opportunity to demonstrate their ability, task commitment and creativity are firmly embedded in the day-to-day delivery of the curriculum, exposing learners to complex resources, challenging questions, high-level thinking skills and within-class grouping. When a student performs at da Vinci level they are awarded a da Vinci merit. These merits are logged on a data base and this allows us to carefully monitor high performance across all subjects and year groups. 

Those pupils who consistently perform at da Vinci level are celebrated and offered further opportunities for stretch and challenge (such as invitations to guest lectures, membership to IGGY (a social network designed to help gifted young people aged 13-18 realise their full potential), Level 1, 2 and 3 Project Qualifications and days out to the Challenger Learner Centre at the National Space Centre). Ultimately, the student who achieves the most da Vinci merits in an academic year and who most embodies the Renaissance ideal is awarded the da Vinci Shield at the College’s annual Prize Giving.

The Elite Sports Programme (ESP) and numerous opportunities in every subject across all years - as well as a wide range of co-curricular activities - allow students who demonstrate these three  traits to further develop their prowess in their areas of interest. The termly College pupil magazine, The Pinnacle, celebrates outstanding work produced by the pupils of the Foundation and is a showcase for our Renaissance ideal.

Project Qualifications

The College offers Project Qualifications to Academic Scholars in Year 8, high performing da Vinci pupils in Year 9 and to all students in the Lower Sixth. A Project Qualification is like a mini PhD, comprising an individual research project rather than an exam. Project outcomes can be in the form of a dissertation, investigation, artefact or performance. Upon completion, students give a ten-minute presentation on their research to teachers and a group of fellow pupils and take questions at the end. Pupils are assigned a mentor who provides advice and guidance as required and with whom they meet regularly for direct teaching, instruction and assessment, or other structured learning such as directed assignments or supported individual study. Pupils also meet regularly with the librarian and other EP pupils to be taught the necessary research and independent learning skills needed to undertake such a project. Pupils’ own private study is an additional commitment to these guided learning hours. Extended Projects are welcomed by many universities, and admissions tutors may well use them in differentiating between applicants for offer making.

The Level 2 Higher Project is worth the equivalent of half a GCSE. The Level 3 Extended Project is worth the equivalent of half an A-level.

Mrs Helen Pascoe-Williams

Leader of Learning, Innovation and Character Development, Teacher of English & Drama, da Vinci Co-ordinator

Click here to go to the latest edition of The Pinnacle.