Externship and flexible high school system: how to focus on what is most important?


High school is the point of greatest stress for many students. Stress seeps into virtually every area of students' lives. On the one hand, it is necessary to mobilize all forces and get good grades in the certificate in 13-14 subjects (in some schools - 18), on the other hand, to actively prepare for the Unified State Exam in the Russian language, mathematics and specialized subjects. Private life also requires attention, and amid the school load, you have to make time for sports, creativity or hobbies. Of course, such a schedule will not benefit anyone, and at the end of the 11th grade, schoolchildren find themselves in a situation of permanent fatigue and the resulting irritability and demotivation.

This state of affairs is not the norm, says Ekaterina Gavrilyuk, academic director of the Unified State Examination Center. And there is a way out - external studies and special high school programs, focused only on the subjects the student needs, following the example of the British system. Most of the academic load could be mastered much faster and more efficiently, thereby reducing the student’s expenditure of effort and time, she believes. This way, students will have the opportunity to pay more attention to specialized subjects necessary for further admission to university. The Unified State Examination Center concentrated on these two areas, alternative to the classical school curriculum. We talk about a learning experience in which nothing was left unneeded.
Externship, or Achieve everything in a year
As statistics from the Unified State Examination Center show, from year to year the school receives 5–10% more applications for the external program. This indicates, if not growth, then at least a steady interest of parents and students in the opportunity to save 6 to 12 months of school life. This is understandable: often by the time they graduate, students have already decided on their priorities and their future academic and professional tracks.

Different students enroll in external programs: some are involved in sports professionally and need schedule flexibility and more free time, others are involved in the arts and have the same needs. This path is also chosen by those who simply want to leave a large period of time in reserve for intensive preparation for the Unified State Exam, professional self-determination, or work on admission to a foreign university. In other words, the key reason is the desire to find time and quickly master the school curriculum. But the main thing that a future external student must understand is that such a program requires a large investment of one’s own strength, a high degree of responsibility and discipline.

The Unified State Examination Center approached the problem flexibly: the compulsory focus of education for schoolchildren remains only the subjects they need (Russian language, mathematics and specialized disciplines) that will be required upon admission. Everything else is studied at a basic level sufficient to pass certifications.

This approach may slightly frighten parents, the school believes. After all, it turns out that in high school their child will pass by most of the subjects. But these fears are in vain. Gavrilyuk emphasizes that the general education course ends in the 9th grade, and in high school the program is structured in such a way that it reinforces the topics already covered. The only exception is mathematics, but those topics that appear in grades 10-11 are necessary for successfully passing the Unified State Exam and are necessarily studied in preparation for the exam. So you don’t have to worry about erudition. Moreover, horizons are formed through positive motivation, passion and curiosity. If by the 10th grade a child who dreams of becoming an engineer has not developed an interest in literature, then the question of its appropriateness naturally arises. The hours allocated to language arts in a traditional school can be used with greater efficiency and interest.
No frills high school
In its alternative high school program, Unified State Examination Center also got rid of everything unnecessary. Instead of a standard set of disciplines from physics to life safety, the school implemented a British approach: in addition to the compulsory Russian language and mathematics, students themselves choose which subjects to study. The study is focused on a specific goal - passing the Unified State Exam or Unified State Exam. But this does not mean that all training comes down to “getting used to it.” On the contrary, the Unified State Examination Center places the exam in the context of the program and thereby ensures both high-quality mastery of the subject and effective preparation for the exam. Thanks to this approach, the content of school lessons no longer contradicts what is expected of graduates at the Unified State Exam. Disciplines on which there is no need to focus, as well as on the external program, are studied at a level sufficient to pass certification, but no more.

This decision freed up enormous time resources. This allowed the methodologists and administration to develop a flexible system of student schedules. The latter themselves determine what day and time they will study, and thus create a unique educational experience that can be easily combined with other activities outside of school (and if for one reason or another you cannot attend the lesson

succeeds, the teacher goes live on Zoom and connects the student to the lesson). If something changes in a student’s life during the school year, then you can move to another group - the schedule is initially drawn up so that the school can provide students with a similar opportunity.

In addition, schoolchildren are no longer grouped into classes; subject groups have taken their place. The distribution among them depends on the student’s input knowledge, so he finds himself in an environment suitable for his level of preparation, which reduces the level of stress and makes learning comfortable. At the same time, traditionally, from 6 to 11 people gather in a lesson. This volume of students in the class allows the teacher to pay attention to each student. An unobvious consequence of this decision is the absence of bullying in the school environment. After all, there is no soil on which it could form.
Work for results and the school environment
According to an analysis of the exam results, the results of school graduates on the Unified State Exam are 27 points higher than the Moscow average. However, it was not the educational system alone that created such success. Teachers who go through a long selection stage are invited to teach. Many of them work in other advanced educational institutions, are authors of manuals and scientific articles on pedagogy, laureates of various professional competitions and Unified State Examination experts. But, of course, in addition to education, the school environment also depends on these people.
Konstantin Erdman, founder of the Unified State Examination Center school
“Good teachers are the key to an excellent education. Indeed, in order to prepare for the Unified State Exam or study a discipline at a high level, you need a deeply immersed teacher and mentor who understands his topic, says the founder of the Unified State Examination Center school, Konstantin Erdman. “But school is not only about studying. For our students, in addition to quality education, other things are important: the people around them, a pleasant environment, comfort, a circle of like-minded people... In a good environment, it is easier for them to form their values and determine their guidelines. That’s why we pay so much attention to the surrounding learning process.” For this reason, school and academic life is not limited only to the educational process and the Unified State Examination, but is expanding towards additional activities and support for students.
Firstly, the Unified State Examination Center holds meetings with people of interesting professions, additional classes on various topics, sporting events and excursions to various industries, which increases students’ motivation, contributes to their professional self-determination and develops their horizons.

Secondly, the school environment itself is under the strict control of psychologists-supervisors, who are ready to help at any moment: the school focuses on a favorable psychological climate. In it, students can discard unnecessary worries (or deal with them), discover themselves, their personal qualities and academic potential. All this creates special learning conditions that help you not to stray from your chosen path and confidently reach its finale.

“The entire school team is working to ensure that our students feel comfortable here so that they want to stay in school and return to it. Overall, we are creating a school of a new format, in which extreme freedom is combined with effective preparation for exams and the future path,” concluded Erdman.

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