A forward-thinking IB co-ed school where wellbeing is a priority and a challenging academic programme is enriched by the pioneering use of technology.
Open for Grades 6-12 (11-18 years), the school promises to deliver a curriculum that “is academically challenging and rewarding, flexible and student-centred”. Describing itself as being innovative and a change-maker, Halcyon says that it is committed to pioneering education.
The school is advanced in terms of technology and it is one of the UK’s EdTech 50 schools in recognition of its innovative use of education technology to support teaching and enhance learning. The school is very clear about why it uses technology – it is “targeted, curriculum-oriented and research-led”. Every student has their own device, and the use of technology is varied: Alternative Realities take students outside the school walls and into space or over to Antarctica; an iPad editing programme is used to modify a student’s oil painting; or VR headsets are used to explore architectural creations and gain a new perspective on the applications of geometry.
Halcyon’s pioneering ethos is also evident in its wellbeing programme, which makes student mental health and wellbeing a priority. All teachers are trained as cognitive coaches and all students are assigned a teacher-mentor who they meet with for at least 15 minutes every week. It’s also committed to sustainability; it only serves vegetarian meals in the canteen and is working towards being virtually paperless.
Founded by a group of parents in 2013, Halcyon is the only not-for-profit IB school in London, so all the money is being invested back into the school. Proud of its multi-culturalism, the school follows a US-style semester structure for the academic year.
The director of school is Barry Mansfield, who has years of IB experience. He leads a team of international faculty, who have subject expertise and are experienced in the delivery of the IB programme. Ofsted inspectors found that, “Teachers are passionate about teaching their subjects at Halcyon. Strong subject knowledge permeates the curriculum and provides deeper meaning to concepts which straddle across different subjects.”
The school was rated Outstanding in its 2017 Ofsted inspection.
Halcyon offers the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme (IB MYP) for Grades 6-10 (ages 11-16) and the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP) for Grades 11-12 (ages 16-18). As an IB school, Halcyon focuses on plenty of student-led, inquiry-based learning, and this is enhanced by additional experiences that support both academic achievement and personal development.
All MYP students learn either Spanish or Mandarin and continue this in the IBDP, and the school supports its many international students with a Mother Tongue programme offering over 10 different languages including French, Swedish, and Japanese.
There are no exams during the secondary years here, so no GCSEs to sit; this is something to consider if your child was planning to sit A Levels or another Sixth Form programme elsewhere. However, all students do complete a Grade 10 Personal Project which could be as varied as designing an online language programme to teach Latin; writing an iBook about how to live sustainably; or creating and building a remote-controlled plane.
There’s plenty of innovation in the school’s delivery of the IB programme. For example, Grade 8 students wear Fitbits to record fitness data as part of their Science/Physical and Health Education unit. Students can also take online Pamoja courses in IT, psychology, economics, business management and film, for an extra fee.
Students mix with their peers in other year groups through project work and extra-curricular activities; for example, Grade 7 students learnt about probability in maths by making mini slot machines and wheels of fortune, and then collected data by testing them on Grade 6 students.
Halcyon is not known for its extensive sports programme or competitive sports teams. However, PE is compulsory until Grade 10 and the school helps to encourage an active lifestyle with Fit for Sport sessions at lunchtimes. While the school has limited sporting facilities on campus (one of the drawbacks of a city centre school), it does make full use of the nearby Seymour Leisure Centre for rock-climbing, basketball, swimming, and more; football grounds at Westway; and a London ice-skating rink.
Students study the arts throughout the MYP, and can opt to take a Music, Visual Arts or Theatre Arts in the IBDP. There are opportunities for students to showcase their talents in an annual music celebration and the IB Diploma Visual Arts Exhibition. The school takes full advantage of its city location to take students on trips to the museums, theatres, and exhibitions of London.
Halcyon’s extra-curricular programme stands out because it encourages students to explore unfamiliar interests and subjects, with options such as flamenco and Future Entrepreneurs that you won’t find on the curriculum.
Halcyon runs a popular Explorations Programme which offers Grades 6-10 weekly timetabled taster sessions from a selection of 34 different activities ranging from ice skating, horse riding, rock climbing and flamenco to building wearable technology, robotics, app makers and archaeology; an annual survey invites students’ ideas for new options to keep this programme fresh and relevant – and as a small school it has the flexibility to change the programme in response to student demands.
Students are also encouraged to “discover their passions” through a timetabled Personal Learning programme, which focuses on developing project management skills. And, before, during and after school, there is a wide choice of extra-curricular activities such as Model Nations, football, running club and eco committee.
As a relative newcomer, Halcyon has a strong six-year record of IB results. In 2020, the school’s average was 35 points and 41.4% of students received an IB score of 37-plus; in 2019, the school’s average score was 31.
Last year, 54% of students went on to Russell Group universities, and around 60% of students study at a UK university.
Halcyon is a selective school that is looking for students who can “thrive” in an IB environment, its holistic admissions process involves parent and student interviews with the admissions team, school reports and teacher references for younger pupils.
Parents do need to be comfortable with the idea that there are no exams at 16. This is not so easy for Brits who have the idea of exams at 16 deeply ingrained in their psyche, but is much more so for expats from countries where the equivalent of the GCSE does not exist.
Annual tuition fees are £26,715 for Grades 6-9, £27,432 for Grade 10 and £27,966 for Grades 11-12.
If you are the owner or the principal of the school and note any inaccuracies, or would like to update data, you can now open an account with us. You will also be able to add admissions availability per year group, and advertise current job vacancies. This is a free service. Please help us keep prospective parents up to date with your latest information.
Are you looking for a place for your child, and want help from our school consultants? If so, click on the link below, and we will forward your request for information to the school or schools of the same type that we are confident have availability. This is a free service for our readers. Request Information