The Blackstone curriculum can be seen in its widest sense as the entire planned learning experience. This includes formal lessons, as well as learning that takes place outside of the classroom. It has been created to develop independent thinkers with a passion for learning. The curriculum, both within taught lessons and without, seeks to create an environment where free thinking, independent inquiry, team work and creativity are encouraged.
As an independent school, we have decided to base our curriculum on the liberal arts – in particular the trivium. The reason for doing so is ultimately to give each pupil the tools of learning, and initiate them into a life of continuous learning. We have chosen to move away from the national curriculum which is conventionally used in schools, as we believe it to be unconducive to a student’s learning and unfulfilling to the true purpose of education. The Blackstone curriculum has been designed with a view to nurture the next generation of competent imams, spiritual leaders and academic scholars of the Qur’an and other Islamic sacred scriptures, who are well-versed in both Western and Islamic traditions. The curriculum therefore has a particular emphasis on teaching grammar, logic and rhetoric, which are the arts of communication, that govern the means of communication – namely reading, writing, speaking and listening. Thinking is inherent in these four activities; and is a tool necessary in approaching all other subjects. The trivium will be taught through four strands of learning: humanities, sciences, creative and physical education, and foundation alimiyyah.
|Humanities||The humanities – including the study of language, literature, history, geography and comparative religion – are concerned with issues pertinent to humans and life on earth. They cover areas such as human relations and emotions, and tradition and culture. The study of these enable young people to make sense of the experience and knowledge they are constantly absorbing, in addition to giving them the essential and liberating attitudes and methods of reasoning to understand human societies. Humanities aims to instil within pupils a sense of curiosity and awe in how humans interact, and have interacted in the past with each other and the physical world. We believe it is essential for our pupils to understand the dynamic and fast changing world that they are living in, in order that they understand where they fit in, and how they can help towards creating a better society.
The interdisciplinary nature of Humanities will take learning beyond subject boundaries and allow pupils to gain deeper insights into the literature and resources they will explore. Pupils will have the opportunity to read literature with rich historical, religious, political and social contexts, where they can compare human societies in different times and circumstances. They will look at human development in various parts of the world and critically analyse social and economic conditions, and the impact they will have on future generations.
Humanities will be taught in light of the trivium, and will therefore be separated into three stages: grammar, logic and rhetoric. In grammar, pupils will be taught the grammatical rules of English, in order to gain a mastery over their language of communication and comprehension. It is an emphasised section of humanities, as all thinking and communicating depend on grammar. This will also be the stage at which they learn the foundation and fundamental concepts of the human and social subject areas covered in humanities – equipping them for the understanding stage. In logic, pupils will be taught the methods of reasoning and thinking critically, which will allow them to view things objectively and guide them to discovering the truth. At this stage, pupils will also begin to develop an understanding of the fundamental and basic concepts they have previously learnt, allowing them to form opinions and analysis. The last stage is rhetoric – the consolidation of previous knowledge – where pupils will learn how to present their ideas and thoughts in prose and effective speech.
Pupils will study the content in the curriculum through a literature based approach, in which authors’ original narrative and expository works are used as the core experiences to support pupils in mastering grammar, logic and rhetoric. Through this, pupils will develop literacy skills of reading, writing and thinking by having real literacy experiences and getting support from those who are more experienced in reading. The literature resources are made up of a range of fiction and non-fiction books, with a selection of poetry that increase in difficulty through the three stages. Through the humanities’ literature resources, pupils will gain exposure to various human and social themes and concepts that are embedded in the literature, giving pupils insight into social and historical development in various parts of the world. Through the literature, they will come to understand the economic, political and religious climate they are living in, and that of those before them.
|Sciences||The sciences are made up of natural sciences and formal sciences, which is also known as mathematics. Science and mathematics are integrated in the world outside of the classroom, and technology has become a natural extension of this integration. Our curriculum therefore seeks to combine them under one discipline. Teaching them together enhances understanding of what is being taught and makes it possible to teach knowledge and skills simultaneously; and allows for a natural holistic learning and teaching.
Our Sciences curriculum has been designed to give pupils an appreciation of the historical context behind scientific theories and a deep insight into the lives of the great thinkers of the past, as well as the present. This will allow them to regard old theories from new angles, and explore new possibilities; as well as come to understand how technology has helped towards the advancement of science and mathematics, and how it will continue to do so in the future. The curriculum will be taught in a way in which the three subject areas (science, mathematics and IT) are easily penetrable, which will aid pupils in their understanding of the wholeness of knowledge.
‘Nothing has such power to broaden the mind as the ability to investigate systematically and truly all that comes under thy observation in life.’ – Marcus Aurelius
The Sciences will be taught in light of the trivium, and therefore taught in three stages: grammar, logic and rhetoric. These are essentially three levels that pupils will gradually work through. Grammar will be the stage at which pupils learn fundamental principles and foundational knowledge, which will give them the ability and confidence to move on to the next stage that is logic. In logic, pupils will have the relevant knowledge and tools to then begin their understanding of theories and ideas, as well as looking at complexities within the sciences. They will explore the reasons behind the concepts they already know, and expand their comprehension skills. Thereafter, the final stage will be where pupils can criticise and analyse scientific theories and present their own ideas on the sciences and technology.
The literature and resources in the sciences curriculum will be studied alongside the key content in order to supplement the pupils’ learning. The literature consists mainly of popular science books which emphasise uniqueness and generality, whilst taking a tone of factual authority. It serves to show pupils a different approach to understanding the sciences, and how they relate to the world we are living in.
Creative & Physical Education
|PE||Physical Education plays an important role in encouraging students to develop a positive attitude and appreciation towards a healthy lifestyle. We focus on providing a fun, inclusive and developmental programme for pupils throughout their time at the school. The curriculum is dedicated to school sport and ensuring pupils’ cardio-vascular fitness is above average through regular participation in any form of aerobic training. We promote an active and healthy lifestyle, as we believe the stimulation and regular exercise of the body enhances and supports a person’s mind and ability to think.|
|Creative Education||Creative Education plays an important role in encouraging pupils to develop a positive and appreciative outlook towards different types of art and cultures. We aim to foster pupils’ creativity as this will enable pupils to think creatively and differently to those around them, allowing them to bring their thoughts and ideas to life. Pupils will be able to understand the world around them from different perspectives, explore the talents that they have within themselves and express themselves fittingly, with confidence. Creativity is a skill that needs to be developed in order for students to be successful. Success is found through creativity; it is found through innovation, and making a difference through original ideas, as well utilising the works of those in the past.|
|The Alimiyyah Programme is essentially an in depth study of the shari’ah covering the various Islamic sciences concerned. The sciences concerned are many and span across various different disciplines.|
|Aqidah||Aqidah provokes challenging questions about the ultimate meaning and purpose of life; beliefs about god, the self and the nature of reality, and issues of right and wrong. It examines the nature of divinity, prophethood, eschatology, divine revelation, indiscernible realities, as well as freewill and theodicy. It offers opportunities for personal reflection and spiritual development. It enhances pupils’ awareness and understanding of religions and beliefs, teachings, practices and forms of expression, as well as of the influence of religion on individuals, families, communities and cultures.
Aqidah encourages pupils to develop their sense of identity and belonging. It enables them to flourish individually within their communities and as citizens in a diverse society and global community. Aqidah has an important role in preparing pupils for adult like and employment. It enables pupils to develop respect for and sensitivity to others, in particular those faiths and beliefs are different from their own it promotes discernment and enables pupils to combat prejudice.
|Fiqh||Fiqh is about Islamic laws and rulings pertaining to the spiritual, social, and financial aspects of a Muslim’s like. It looks at the practical and theoretical elements of worship. It also deals with that which is halal (permissible) or haram (prohibited) in social financial interactions. In Fiqh, pupils acquire a broad range of subject knowledge and draw on a variety of disciplines such as law, mathematics, ethics and philosophy.
The subject covers the legal prescriptional aspects of four of the five pillars of Islam: namely, salah, sawm, hajj and zakah. The topics covered in Fiqh include: ritual purification, ritual prayer, fasting, charity, pilgrimage, family law, inheritance, and commercial law. Pupils learn the linguistic and technical meanings of key terms and concepts in each topic in particular, and in Fiqh in general. Pupils learn the rulings related to each topic, their integrals, sunan, additional enhancers, undesirable descriptions, invalidators, modes of redress, and their supererogatory forms. A good quality education in this subject will also afford the pupil with a set of transferable skills.
|In our complex modern world, looking back at the past is crucial to make sense of the present. Islam has a rich history of spirituality, science, and art and culture that have developed and flourished over centuries. Islamic History begins by looking at the creation of the world and the story of Adam (peace be upon him). It traces world history through the lives of the greatest prophets Allah sent to this world at different times and places. This will develop an awareness and understanding of different world religions helping pupils make sense of the diversity that exists in the world today. The story of Islam will be studied in what is known as the Seerah. The rich spiritual, intellectual, and cultural heritage that the world inherited from Islam will be traced through the Islamic caliphates from the Abbasids through to the Ottomans.
Islamic history will help pupils develop an identity by looking at the nuances of people’s lives, the diversity in societies, the processes of change and the relationship between different religions and groups of people. It will inspire pupils with curiosity and encourage them to think critically and ask questions. They will learn to deal with arguments, weigh evidences and develop perspective and judgement.
|Hadith studies look at the traditions of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him). The importance of hadith in Islamic legal theory is only second to the Qur’an. The Qur’an can be seen as the text and the vast corpus of hadith as its commentary and explanation. Hadith therefore, coupled with the Qur’an, is the basis and source of all learning in Islamic studies. All the rules, laws, and ethics in Islam are derived from the Qur’an and hadith and ultimately are referred back to these values that can be internalised to enhance a person’s moral, social, and spiritual.
|Arabic Language||Arabic is one of the most widely spoken languages in the world today. It is also one of the oldest languages alive. But most importantly, it is the language of the Qur’an. Allah says, “We revealed it as an Arabic Qur’an that you may understand.” So for the Muslim, especially the pupil of Islam; or the pupil of the Qur’an and hadith; Arabic is the key. It is the key that unlocks the doors to a vast ocean of knowledge and wisdom, science and literature, and art and culture. Arabic is indispensable for the serious pupil of Islam. Having said that however, Arabic is not only for the scholar, it is for all Muslims in general because the Qur’an was not revealed to a selected few but to all.
Language is the key to civilisation. Learning a new and additional one helps the pupil to understand and appreciate the nuances of cultures and societies. The subject aims to equip pupils with a beginner’s level of proficiency in reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills. This will help pupils understand many basic verses of the Qur’an without the aid of a translation. It will also enable them to express their thoughts and ideas in Arabic and to understand and communicate, both in speech and in writing.
Tahfizul Qur’an Programme
|Tahfizul Qur’an||The Qur’an is like no other book. It is the eternal, everlasting, and uncreated word of Allah. It is the final dispensation of celestial guidance to earthly beings residing in a temporal world. No other book will be revealed, nor any other messenger sent until the last day. The Qur’an therefore, must be preserved until that day. There is no doubt it will, because Allah has taken it upon Himself to preserve the Qur’an as He declares, “Surely it is We who have revealed the remembrance (Qur’an) and it is We who shall preserve it”. Thus, it is a proven fact, and one of the greatest miracles of the Qur’an, that the Qur’an we have today is exactly that, which was revealed more than 1400 years ago to our beloved Messenger (peace be upon him), with no alterations.
Our tradition is essentially an oral one. The Qur’an has been orally transmitted from one heart to another for over a millennium and a countless number of fortunate and blessed souls have memorised it and preserved it in their hearts. Memorisation therefore holds an important place is traditional Islamic pedagogy. It is the foundation on which other types of higher thinking and understanding skills are built. In our Tahfizul Qur’an programme, students are taught to memorise the Qur’an and retain it for the rest of their lives. The course immensely develops and enhances students’ memory and retention which gives them a solid foundation to progress onto other higher learning skills. The spiritual benefits of the course are huge: as students engage with the Qur’an in hundreds of thousands of recitals, their souls are nourished with the blessings, mercy, peace and tranquillity and solace that emanates from the Qur’an; and they develop a profound bound and love for Allah and His Book that lasts forever.