The Knowledge Schools Trust aims to provide children with a classical liberal education, regardless of background or ability.
Key Characteristics of the Trust's Schools
- High aspirations, with a firm emphasis on academic attainment
- A classical academic curriculum
- Strong discipline
- A competitive atmosphere, particularly when it comes to Games
- Outstanding pastoral care
- Active parental and community involvement
- Specialising in Music
- A broad range of extra-curricular activities
- Encourage all children to be confident, hard-working and ambitious, regardless of background
- Transmit a core body of knowledge to all pupils
- Encourage every pupil to complete their education and do a sufficiently demanding course of Sixth Form study to progress to a good university
- Attract and retain outstanding teachers
- Instill a lifelong love of learning
A Classical Liberal Education
By a classical liberal education we mean a rigorous and extensive knowledge-based education that draws its material and methods from the best and most important work in both the humanities and the sciences.
The aim of such an education is not primarily to prepare pupils for a job or career. It is more to transform their minds so that they are able to make reasonable and informed judgments and engage fruitfully in conversation and debate – not just about contemporary issues, but also about the universal questions that have been troubling mankind throughout history. We want children to leave our school with the confidence that comes from possessing a store of essential knowledge and the skills to use it. We believe that independence of mind, not compliance with socio-economic expectations, is the goal of a good education.
'Independence of mind is the goal of a good education'
This sort of education requires children to be given information. But it is a mistake to imagine that the passing on of factual knowledge – often caricatured as “rote learning” – impedes the development of children’s ability to think. Factual knowledge and critical thinking are complementary. Daniel T. Willingham, a cognitive scientist at the University of Virginia, summarises the evidence:
"Data from the last thirty years lead to a conclusion that is not scientifically challengeable: thinking well requires knowing facts and that’s true not just because you need something to think about. The very processes that teachers care about most – critical thinking processes such as reasoning and problem solving – are intimately intertwined with factual knowledge that is stored in long-term memory (not just found in the environment)."
Bertrand Russell, the English philosopher, made the same point 100 years earlier in his famous essay on education:
“It is, of course, possible to impart information in ways that do not train the intelligence; it is not only possible, but easy, and frequently done. But I do not believe it is possible to train intelligence without imparting information [our italics], or at any rate causing knowledge to be acquired.”