Extended Projects students dazzle with intellectual dexterity

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From the deficiencies of European Union diplomacy to the artistic merit of a symphony consisting of 4 minutes and 33 seconds of silence to the fact that male criminals are often punished more harshly than their female counterparts, King’s School students have unveiled their in-depth studies.

All King’s Sixth form students must extend their studies, above and beyond the curriculum, to develop skills beyond those taught in normal classroom education.

Some choose to learn Japanese, others might become sports leaders, perform on the stage or go on leadership programmes, but this year 19 high-flying academics chose to study in detail an aspect of their chosen subjects they feel demanded closer examination.

Brendan Jacot, from Sutton, who got 10 A*s in his GCSEs and has an offer to read Politics, Philosophy and Economics at Hertford College, Oxford, chose to examine ‘The effectiveness of EU diplomacy in influencing global politics.’

Brendan, who is studying Maths, Economics and Spanish at A level, said: “Over the European Neighbour Policy, over the Ukraine crisis, the EU has been shown to be ineffective. Too many member nations take too long to take decisions which require immediate action, but because there are so many member states and decisions need to be unanimous, nothing is done, or what is done is too little too late.”

Brendan, however, added he was not advocating Brexit. “There are clearly economic benefits but as a global diplomatic actor the EU has fluffed its lines.”

Talented musician Will Fox, from Rainow, who got 10 A*s in his GCSEs and wants to study piano at The Royal Academy, chose to examine one of the 20th Century’s most controversial pieces of music, John Cage’s 4 minutes 33 seconds, where the orchestra enters the room but doesn’t play a single note.

A brilliant pianist, Will said: “It is about the audience appreciating everything outside of their of own existence, their own nervous systems, the audience coughing, the sound of the air in the auditorium and is a work of genius.”

Will who is studying Maths, German and Music, joked “It is true to say, however, it doesn’t demand too much from the performers, though I might still have to practise the piece”

Zoe Richmond, from Tytherington, who got nine A*s and an A in her GCSEs and is studying Chemistry, Maths and German A Level asked whether German Nobel winning chemist Fritz Haber was a saint or a sinner.
Zoe said: “His method was used on an industrial scale to synthesize ammonia from nitrogen and hydrogen and led to both fertilizers and explosives. Haber is also considered the “father of chemical warfare” for his years of pioneering work developing chlorine and other poisonous gases during World War One, so for me he is a sinner. Even his fertilizers have led to the destruction of natural ecologies by putting more nitrogen and ammonia into the lakes and rivers and destroying the natural algae. He was a product of his time, but he was still responsible,” said Zoe, who wants to read Chemistry at Bristol.

Louise Marchington, from Chapel, who got an A*, four As and four Bs at GCSE and wants to study English Language and Literature at university asked if mental illness had been portrayed insensitively in Literature.

She said: “The older the piece the more likely mental illness was to have had an unsympathetic airing. Look at Tennessee Williams writing A Street Car Named Desire in 1947 and his portrayal of Blanche Dubois. She lost her husband early and suffers from anxiety and depression, but in the end she is carried off kicking and screaming in a straightjacket. If you look at Ian Mcewan writing some 50 years later his treatment of a mentally ill patient in Enduring Love is far more aware and less clichéd.”

Kira Noad, from Macclesfield, asked why men were more likely to commit crime than women. Kira who got five A*s and four As in her GCSEs and wants to read Psychology at university, said: “It is both nature and nurture. Men have more testosterone, which makes them act more aggressively but they are also trained from an early age to be the hunter gathers, while women are seen as carers. That is probably why women appear to be treated more leniently in court as well.”

Ben White, King’s Business and Economics teacher who has taken charge of the Extended Studies Programme this year, said: “The EPQ is a stand-alone qualification which forms part of the AQA Baccalaureate, with the student spending approximately 120 hours working independently on a project of their choosing.”

Mr White added: “The EPQ is a well-recognised and very well respected qualification. The EPQ allows students to learn about working independently and gain the skills and knowledge that will help them greatly with university life and beyond. The project is completed at A2 standard and as such there is a significant level of detail involved in each project. This is especially helpful if the student is going on to study a related course at university.”

Mr White concluded: “The students have to present their findings and talk about the whole EPQ process as not only does it help them learn the skills they are likely to need for university and future employment, it forms part of their assessment.

“The EPQ Presentation Evening has been developed in order to give our students the opportunity to present their findings in an enjoyable way that allows them to share their hard work with their teachers, families and friends. We are very proud of what they have achieved and they should be too.”