Sociology is currently offered as a one-year course to year 10 & 11 students. The exam board we use is AQA and students are assessed at the end of course through two written exams. AQA is also the exam board used by Richard Huish, Exeter College and Petroc, so this provides an excellent basis for those wishing to study this further at post-16.
Sociology provides students with an opportunity to explore and ask questions about the workings of the society they live in. Sociology can be thought provoking and challenging because it will encourage them to think carefully about their views and assumptions. It also allows them to develop their analytical and questioning skills through studying topics such as research methods.
In GCSE Sociology, one of our topics is Education. This includes studying the purpose of education and different types of school to evaluate their strengths and weaknesses, for example private, state and specialist schools. One of the schools we study is Sands School in Ashburton. Sands was founded in 1987 and is a democratic school. This means that all decisions about the running of the school are discussed and voted on by everyone. There is no headteacher, no uniform and no division between staff and students. There are lots of democratic schools across Europe and in the USA.
After some students from Sands School visited us in the Autumn Term, we returned to visit them on Wednesday, 11th June. When we arrived we were surprised by the appearance of the school as really it is just a large house! After a guided tour we joined some lessons and discovered how independent the students were. We also joined a school meeting where new rules were being discussed and the day to day running of the school took place. We enjoyed lunch in the garden, meeting and chatting with staff and students to find out more before coming back to Tiverton.
Here are some of our thoughts…
“I really liked the relationship between the staff and students because they were like a big family”
“I liked the way everyone had their own identity and so much independence”
“I was surprised by the confidence of students in speaking in the meeting and how much input they had in the decision making process”
“I liked the idea of their school but would prefer to stay at Tiverton because I like the structure of the education we receive here”