Discover our Senior School
Our Senior School delivers a values-based and wide-ranging education to individual students, where we capitalise on the rich and imaginative history of the College to deliver a deliberately ambitious and forward-thinking approach to education.
Our Curriculum is structured to inspire and support individuals to thrive, and is named after our founding Heads, each of which pioneered the education of the day.
Hecker, our core academic curriculum named after Headmaster William Hecker, ensures students develop a lifelong love of learning from subject experts, studying seventeen subjects throughout formative adolescent years, for a genuinely renaissance-style education that maintains breadth of learning to inspire young minds.
Stuart, named after our first Headmaster, refers to our innovative additional curriculum, which prepares students to thrive as an individual in a rapidly changing world, able to leave St Dunstan’s with a clear sense of who they are, equipped with the skills they need to be their authentic selves in the world of the future.
Forder is the name for our extensive co-curricular programme, building on the innovations of Headmaster Frank Forder who advocated for the education of mind and body for young people, pioneering outdoors education into St Dunstan’s school life. We continue Forder’s legacy, with our co-curricular clubs and societies timetabled into the middle of each school day to enshrine the development of interpersonal skills and individual character into the heart of our day.
Finally, Usherwood, the Headmaster during the turbulent global events of the 1930s, lends his name to our wide-ranging programme of pastoral care and development, which supports pupils in developing resilience, understanding and compassion with support from our state-of-the-art Wellness Centre and experienced pastoral teams.
Above all, we cherish our tight-knit community, with students encouraged to navigate their own journey through life whilst being nurtured to develop the Courage to be who they are, the Creativity to develop new ideas and approaches, the Confidence to try, succeed and fail, the Compassion to understand and appreciate others, and the Curiosity to always want to discover more.
We are proud of the diversity and grounded nature of our school community, reflective of the area we serve, and are confident in celebrating this diversity as we encourage every child to develop as an individual, feeling at ease with themselves and others. Our education seeks to match academic challenge and rigour with a genuine breadth to the educative experience, offering all students the benefits of an outstanding co-curricular programme and innovative curriculum, whilst all the time being nurtured and encouraged by our caring and inspiring staff.
We look forward to welcoming you to the Senior School at one of our upcoming open or virtual events.
Our Academic Philosophy: a school that does things differently
St Dunstan’s College has championed a forward-thinking approach to education for over a century, with the opening vision of our Catford school in 1888 being to provide a curriculum “in advance of the present time.” Translating as ‘Adorn the White’, our College motto, Albam Exorna, is as relevant today as it was at the time of our Lewisham foundation, in 1888. The white shield that serves as three quarters of our College crest is a blank canvas onto which is emblazoned the as-yet-unwritten story of each St Dunstan’s pupil
Our first Headmaster, Charles Maddock Stuart, was a pioneer in heuristic (hands-on) education,
designing the College to have science laboratories for students to discover learning themselves, the first school in the country to do so, and to devote significant time to hands-on scientific practical experiments for students to innovate and “do”, rather than passively observe.
St Dunstan’s continued to champion student-led learning before the 20th century, with fieldwork in geography, mathematical applications, and conversation classes in modern foreign languages, so that a St Dunstan’s education would empower students to be active participants in the world.
Subsequent headmasters diversified our curriculum further; Frank Forder introduced outdoor activities and sport into the curriculum, and John Usherwood took great efforts to update the College’s wider facilities to prepare pupils for whatever challenges lay ahead, through a care of students as individuals. William Hecker’s belief in resilience and creativity saw the College thrive during various evacuations of the Second World War.
Our modern Senior School curriculum and academic philosophy builds on the legacy of these four founding headmasters.
Students entering the College embark on an educational journey of curiosity, studying a wide range of subjects, enhancing their study skills, and committing to a variety of co-curricular activities, before any specialism. We believe that this wide-ranging, ambitious, and forward-thinking approach to education sets up a life- time of inquisitive independence, allowing our students to approach new and challenging concepts with courage and conviction.
As a College, we do not rush to make judgment on individual destinations or talents, but help individuals discover them through their time with us. From Year 7, our students are encouraged to explore and progress in all subjects, skills sets, and co- curricular areas, not just in those they arrive more confident in. We know that this liberal approach to education promotes individual self-awareness, and ultimately stronger outcomes in wherever a child’s journey takes them.
Fundamentally, we recognise the importance of teaching the child as an individual; only in this way will students develop the confidence to make positive choices about their futures, drawing on well-developed and wide-ranging knowledge, skills and interests. Above all, we teach our students to think, problem-solve, and be active partners in their learning.