Pupils enter the upper school in the autumn after their fourteenth birthday. A class guardian then has the care of the class for two years; pupils take GCSE examinations at the end of Class 10. Teaching in the upper school aims to develop the pupils’ critical faculties, personal judgment, independent thinking and social awareness.
On leaving school, pupils will confront a complex and challenging world. The central aim at Michael House is to equip them emotionally, spiritually and intellectually not only to meet the future but to play a part in shaping it.
Pupils take GCSE examinations at the end of Class 10. Examination subjects taken in the upper school include:
English Language, English Literature, Mathematics, Double Balanced Science (Physics, Chemistry, Biology), German and Art.
In addition to these main lesson subjects the Steiner curriculum studies continue and include:
Computer Studies, Modern History, History of Art, Geography and Geology, Handwork, Woodwork, Eurythmy, Physical Education and Singing.
Pupils are then able to maintain a balance of subjects and to keep their examination studies in perspective. Michael House pupils have a good record of achieving GCSE grades A-C. With the range of subjects covered in the main lesson being so broad, those pupils who wish to do so, have no difficulty in taking up a wider range of subjects to study at A –Level, when they move on from Michael House.
The Stages of Development of the Upper School Student
Fifteen year-olds have reached a stage in their development when the search for independence in the life of feeling can reach an extreme form. The individual feels distanced from all the security of school and family life. The student craves independence, but also feels a great need for emotional comfort and support. On the other hand, they have a strong will to engage in life and the awakening intellect requires clarity of explanation and an open- hearted humour.
Whereas the Class 9 pupil can often retain a childlike innocence, the Class 10 pupil can appear, after the summer break, as a very different being. The intellect has matured; students not only need to know, but to know how it is they know. Class 10 age has the flavour of a quest, of finding life’s path, but also there is a need for balance for finding the middle path. The Class 10 pupil experiences a threshold in their inner development and it can be a very low period emotionally. There is a temptation to flee from the challenges of the world into a fantasy world. This is a very decisive moment in the development of the maturing adult that the pupil will become.
We can summarise the situation of the student on entry to the Upper School as follows:
- the awakening of a stringent logic and thinking potential that requires distance from one’s own self and other people
- the search for balance between intellectuality and the realm of passion and urge-driven will
- the experience of the emergence of a higher ideal humanity
- the search for a new harmony with the world, but one that should not be gained at the loss of the new-found and still tentative identity and personal freedom