Shrewsbury has been in the vanguard of schools offering the Cambridge Pre-U and I was fortunate enough to be invited to write the Physics syllabus and to be involved in syllabus development and teacher training for both Physics and the new Global Perspectives (GPR) course.
The Pre-U philosophy is to nurture independent thinking and research skills along with a love of deep academic study, encouraging students to apply their knowledge in unfamiliar contexts. These critical and research skills are exactly those that top universities seek (and have often failed to find in school leavers in recent years). As a physicist I am delighted to be able to teach on a two-year linear course and to push both the mathematical and philosophical aspects of the subject further than on a modular A-level course.
As more Faculties embrace the Pre-U at Shrewsbury, the Pre-U philosophy is also catching on internationally. In late June 2012 I will join a small group of teachers and executives from the Cambridge International Examinations Board (CIE) for a week-long training event in Miami. The US College board has asked the CIE to develop a new course, similar to GPR to be taught alongside its own Advanced Placement courses and we are launching the pilot scheme.
Shortly after my return to the UK, I will be taking our own Shrewsbury School Physics Team to Germany to represent the UK in the final of the International Young Physicists' Tournament (aka 'The Physics Olympics'). It's going to be a busy summer (but fun too!).