Psychology – what’s it all about?

Periodically, questions are raised about the rigour and value of some A Levels, of which Pyschology is one. Most recently, Barnaby Lenon, Chairman of the Independent Schools’ Council (ISC) was reported in the Daily Mail as saying that girls who should be doing Physics are instead doing Psychology, and urges schools to persuade capable girls to choose the latter. Why? Because he says this will help to get more women into Science, Technology, Engineering & Maths (STEM) careers and, importantly, onto university courses in subjects such as Engineering and Medicine. It is of note that he at least partly absolves independent schools from his analysis although I am unconvinced by his argument. Psychology was introduced as a subject at least in part to get girls more involved in Science, a task at which it has surely excelled. Although well established in universities, it was not until the 1970s that Psychology A Level was introduced in the classroom. Today more than 50,000 students are entered for the examination each year, making it the fourth most popular A Level nationally – also the case at Bedales. And, yes, it remains popular with girls.

The ongoing mantra is that it simply is not as difficult as Maths and the Physical Sciences, with great play made of its omission by the Russell Group universities from its list of ‘facilitating subjects’ – those identified as having the greatest transferability across university degree subject areas. In fact, the Russell Group identifies Psychology as ‘useful’ in relation to a range of degree subjects, whilst a number of different assessments of the difficulty of A Level subjects place Psychology above some facilitating subjects. Survey findings in 2003 found that the majority of students regarded Psychology as both their most demanding and most interesting subject (McGuinness, 2003). In 2008, the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) found that Psychology was comparable in terms of standards with Biology and Sociology (although with a caveat about the difficulty of comparing different subjects).

Psychology employs a research approach and methods – for example, experimental design – that is consistent with those employed in the Natural Sciences. However, Psychology A Level also requires familiarity with the less tightly controlled observational method – also associated with the Social Sciences. Consequently, it is our belief that Psychology provides a unique opportunity to explore different and sometimes conflicting schools of thought with regard to theories of knowledge and scientific method.

That Psychology A Level is a subject that faces usefully both the Natural and Social Sciences is reflected in Psychology provision at university undergraduate level. For example, the University of Cambridge Psychological and Behavioural Sciences Department stresses the ways in which the subject overlaps with and contributes to Anthropology, Archaeology, Computer Science, Linguistics, Philosophy and Sociology.

We think there is great value in a subject that may lead students down so many potentially interesting paths. When students know exactly what they want to do beyond school, it makes sense for them to study those subjects that will get them to where they need to be next. The study of Medicine, for example, calls for a major commitment to the Natural Sciences – as a third of fourth subject Psychology might be interesting and valuable, although not essential.

However, for the significant proportion of students who have not yet decided where their future interest lies, Psychology can be a very useful way in which to ensure that the Sciences are represented in their mix of A levels.

By Sarah Flavell, Head of Psychology, Bedales School

More information about the Bedales Psychology curriculum.

 

Dog psychology explained

One of the greatest things about Bedales is the variety of speakers. At a recent Jaw, Dr Juliane Kaminski from the Dog Cognition Centre at the University of Portsmouth presented her research on dog psychology. She explained the different experiments she had carried out, proving that dogs are more aware of their surroundings than apes and chimpanzees. Juliane described how dogs respond to different objects and hand gestures, and that one particular dog can recognise over 1000 different objects on command. Her experiments verified that the relationship between dogs and their owners is extremely unique, but perhaps the most surprising fact was that dogs have been domesticated for 30,000 years with findings of humans buried hugging their beloved canines. The question however of whether our ‘best friends’ are truly loyal to us out of love or if they are more selfish and always looking for a reward is yet to be answered.

By Megan Harley (Block 4), Winnie Hall (Block 5) and Freya Deane (6.2)

*************************************************************************************************

Bedales School is one of the UK’s top independent private co-education boarding schools. Bedales comprises three schools situated in Steep, near Petersfield, Hampshire: Dunannie (ages 3–8), Dunhurst (ages 8–13) and Bedales itself (ages 13–18). Established in 1893 Bedales School puts emphasis on the Arts, Sciences, voluntary service, pastoral care, and listening to students’ views. Bedales is acclaimed for its drama, theatre, art and music. The Headmaster is Keith Budge.

Bedales A Level Success

Bedales students have achieved strong A Level results for 2013 with 40% of all grades at A*-A. They have secured places at universities including Oxford, Cambridge, Edinburgh, Exeter, Bristol, St Andrews, York, Warwick, Leicester, Leeds, Manchester, Kings College London, University College London, Imperial College London, Plymouth, Aberdeen, Swansea, Sheffield, Nottingham and Brunel, art colleges such as Falmouth University, Arts University Bournemouth, City College Brighton, University of the Arts London and UCA Farnham, as well as international institutions including New York University.

Six Bedales students have secured places at Oxford and Cambridge; four have done so through this summer’s grades and two former students received unconditional offers.

Sam Wilkinson from Midhurst, who will read Physics at Oriel College, Oxford, received his results today having spent the summer working as a Data Scientist for NASA in collaboration with their team which is based at the Johnson Space Centre in Houston, Texas. Sam achieved four A*s in Chemistry, Physics, Mathematics and Further Mathematics, and an A grade in Biology.

Katie Millard from Hambledon will read French and Linguistics at Keble College, Oxford after achieving 4 A*s in Chemistry, Latin, English Literature and French. Maddy Green from Liss will read Medicine at Murray Edwards College, Cambridge after achieving three A*s in Biology, Chemistry and Mathematics, and an A in Further Mathematics. Nell Whittaker from Shrewsbury will study English at Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge after achieving an A* grade in English Literature and two A grades in Latin and History. Former student Christy Callaway-Gale from Petersfield will read Spanish and Linguistics at Oriel College, Oxford after achieving three A Level A* grades last summer. Rosie Nicolson from Cranbrook, Kent will study Architecture at Cambridge, having gained three A Level A* grades at Bedales in 2011. Three of the students, Christy, Sam and Maddy, were taught at Bedales Prep, Dunhurst, before progressing to Bedales senior school and sixth form.

Two students; Georgina Gulliver from Buriton and Deputy Head Girl, Katie Shannon, from Steep will both go on to read Architecture at the University of Manchester and the University of Edinburgh respectively. Georgina achieved two As in Art and Mathematics and a D3 in Music Pre-U. Katie achieved three As in Art, Design and Mathematics, and a B in Physics.

Tim Jones from Dorking will read Mathematics at Imperial College London after achieving three A*s in Chemistry, Mathematics, and Further Mathematics, and an A grade in Physics. Joe Pemberton from Chichester will also read Mathematics, but at the University of Warwick, after achieving two A*s in Mathematics and Further Mathematics, an A in Latin and a D3 in Music Pre-U. Lucy Waterhouse from Midhurst achieved two A*s in Drama & Theatre Studies and History, and an A grade in English Literature and will read History of Art at the University of Bristol. Evie Cullingworth from Downley, Buckinghamshire achieved two As in English Literature and Drama & Theatre Studies, a D3 in Music Pre-U and will study Drama at New York University.

Felix Conran from London is delighted to have secured a place at the University of the Arts in London to study Product Design and Arran Stamper from Preston, Lancashire will read Illustration at the University of Edinburgh (after achieving two A*s in Art and Russian, and an A grade in Design). This is a particular achievement for both these students as it is rare for Art and Design students to be offered places on such prestigious arts degree courses without having first completed a Foundation Diploma year. This was because their work was of such a high calibre.

Although both receiving university places, Archie Howes from Ropley and George Veys from Guildford have decided to set up their own business, Darkroom Productions, an event management company providing the sound and lighting for festivals, concerts and corporate events.

Commenting on the results, Keith Budge, Headmaster of Bedales Schools, said:

“Congratulations to our students on their hard work and good results. Bedales students progress to an impressive range of universities and art colleges in the UK and overseas. I’m sure that the 2013 leavers will go on to make a significant contribution in a broad range of fields across the arts, sciences and business.”

Other Bedales student successes include:

  • Sebi Bacon from Steep achieved two A*s in History and Mathematics, and an A grade in Physics; to study Economics at University College London.
  • Georgia Green from Steep achieved an A* in Drama & Theatre Studies and two A grades in English Literature and Spanish.
  • Elize Layton from London achieved an A* in Drama & Theatre Studies, and two A grades in Dance and Religious Studies.
  • Piper Anderson-Klotz from London achieved an A* in Art, an A grade in French and a B in Classical Civilisation.
  • Toby Matimong from Southsea achieved an A* in English Literature, a D2 in Music Pre-U, and a B grade in Biology.
  • Egor Platon from Chisinau, Moldova achieved an A* in Russian and two B grades in History and Mathematics.
  • Jessica Sankey from Petersfield achieved an A* in English Literature, and two B grades in Classical Civilisation and History; to study English at the University of Sussex.
  • Reuben Thompson from London achieved an A* in English Literature and two B grades in Economics and Geography; to study Geography at the University of Exeter.
  • Anna Brown from Liss achieved three As in Biology, Physics and Geography.
  • Scarlet Watney from Bosham achieved three A grades in Design, Economics and Mathematics.
  • Georgina Brand from Petersfield achieved two As in Design and Psychology, and a B in English Literature; to study Fashion Communication at Northumbria University.
  • Anna Jacobs from West Meon achieved two As in Biology and History, and a B grade in Mathematics.
  • Sophie Grierson from London achieved two As in English Literature and Drama & Theatre Studies, and a B grade in Classical Civilisation; to study English Literature at the University of Leeds.
  • Oscar Cooper (Head Boy) from Southsea achieved two As in Economics and History, and a B in Mathematics.
  • Bethany Maskall achieved two As in Biology and Chemistry, and a B in Drama & Theatre Studies; to study Biochemistry at the University of Sheffield.
  • Mohammad Pechuho from Karachi, Pakistan achieved two As in English Literature and Religious Studies, and a B in Classical Civilisation; to study Classical Studies at the University of St Andrews.
  • Talia Pick from Chichester achieved two As in English Literature and Drama & Theatre Studies, and a B in History.
  • Charlotte Robins from Winchester achieved two As in Biology and Mathematics, and a B grade in Physics; to study Natural Sciences at the University of Exeter.
  • Eleana Wilson-Smith from Midhurst achieved two As in Religious Studies and Spanish and a B in Art; to study a Foundation Diploma in Art & Design at Arts University Bournemouth.
  • Oliver May from Lymington achieved an A in French, and two B grades in Biology and Chemistry.
  • Neal Raithatha from East Meon achieved an A in Mathematics, and two Bs in Chemistry and Economics; to study Mathematics at Loughborough University.
  • Izabela Swiderska from Petersfield achieved three B grades in Design, Psychology and Spanish; to study a Foundation Diploma in Art & Design at University College Falmouth.

The full A Level statistics were as follows:

  • A* passes: 14%
  • A* – A passes: 40%
  • A* – B passes: 63%
  • A* – E passes: 99%

Cambridge Pre-U D1and D2 grades are equivalent to an A*; a D3 is equivalent to an A; M1 is equivalent to an A grade and M2/M3 merit grades are equivalent to B grade.

Please note that this data is provisional and subject to re-marks.

View photos.

Bedales A-Level Success 2013

Bedales A-Level Success 2013

Bedales A-Level Success 2013

*************************************************************************************************

Bedales School is one of the UK’s top independent private co-education boarding schools. Bedales comprises three schools situated in Steep, near Petersfield, Hampshire: Dunannie (ages 3–8), Dunhurst (ages 8–13) and Bedales itself (ages 13–18). Established in 1893 Bedales School puts emphasis on the Arts, Sciences, voluntary service, pastoral care, and listening to students’ views. Bedales is acclaimed for its drama, theatre, art and music. The Headmaster is Keith Budge.

Fascinating lecture day for psychologists

6.1 psychologists travelled to the Emmanuel Centre in Westminster to attend a psychology conference including a series of lectures featuring the prestigious Professor Elizabeth Loftus, who frequently appears in our AS textbook. One of the highlights was the talk given by David Wilson who has worked personally with serial killers. He explained that it was more important to recognise the vulnerabilities of the victims than to look inside the mind of a serial killer. For example Harold Shipman, the biggest serial killer in our history focused on citizens over 66 and so he concluded that we should protect the elderly. The day was organised by Cara Flanagan who wrote our textbook, therefore a lot of the information was relevant to our course, making the day very useful as much as enjoyable and fascinating.

By Freya Deane, 6.1

*************************************************************************************************

Bedales School is one of the UK’s top independent private co-education boarding schools. Bedales comprises three schools situated in Steep, near Petersfield, Hampshire: Dunannie (ages 3–8), Dunhurst (ages 8–13) and Bedales itself (ages 13–18). Established in 1893 Bedales School puts emphasis on the Arts, Sciences, voluntary service, pastoral care, and listening to students’ views. Bedales is acclaimed for its drama, theatre, art and music. The Headmaster is Keith Budge.