Core subjects

We offer a balanced, flexible curriculum that can be tailored to suit every student's individual needs, talents and future ambitions. In addition to our core GCSE and IGCSE subjects outlined below, girls choose from a range of optional subjects, additional subjects and extension opportunities.

Our core subjects

Everyone studies:

  • Mathematics
  • Religious Studies

Depending on a student's first language, each girl will choose either:

  • English Language and English Literature GCSEs. If English is not your first language, participation in GCSE English Lanaguage and English Literature courses will be at the discretion of the Head of English and the Head of EAL.
  • English as an Additional Language (EAL)

Students choose from six options (including two or three Science subjects and at least one Modern Foreign Language):

Science

  • Three separate Science IGCSEs (Biology, Chemistry and Physics)
  • Two Science IGCSEs (Science Double Award)

Modern Foriegn Languages

Choose between one and four different languages:

  • French
  • German
  • Mandarin Chinese
  • Spanish

Expand each title below for an overview of our core courses.

Mathematics

Course specification: Edexcel 1MA1 (9-1)

The assessments will cover the following topic areas:

  • Number
  • Algebra
  • Ratio, proportion and rates of change
  • Geometry and measures
  • Probability
  • Statistics

The assessment objectives are to:

  • develop fluent knowledge, skills and understanding of mathematical methods and concepts
  • acquire, select and apply mathematical techniques to solve problems
  • reason mathematically, make deductions and inferences, and draw conclusions
  • comprehend, interpret and communicate mathematical information in a variety of forms appropriate to the information and context

All examinations take place in the summer of Year 11. There are three equally-weighted papers, each 1 hour 30 minutes in duration. Only Paper 1 is a non-calculator paper.

Each paper has a range of question types; some questions will be set in both mathematical and non-mathematical contexts. The qualification will be graded and certificated on the nine-grade scale from 9 to 1 using the total mark across all three papers where 9 is the highest grade.

There are two tiers of entry:

  • Foundation Tier – grades 1 to 5
  • Higher Tier – grades 4 to 9 (grade 3 allowed)

The majority of students will be entered for the Higher Tier. The course begins in Year 9.

Optional trip: Maths Inspiration Talks Year 11 (Approximate cost: £14.50)

 

Religious Studies

Course specification: AQA GCSE Religious Studies A (9-1) 8062

This syllabus is non-denominational and nonconfessional. It is appropriate for those of any faith or secular background and is concerned with exploring and evaluating ideas, beliefs and morality. This takes place within the context of the predominant local religion, Christianity, along with additional study of aspects of Judaism.

Component 1: The study of religions: beliefs, teachings and practices

  • Christianity: beliefs and teachings – key beliefs; Jesus Christ and salvation
  • Christianity: practices – worship and festivals; the role of the Church in the local and worldwide community
  • Judaism: beliefs and teachings – key beliefs; the covenant and the mitzvot
  • Judaism: practices – the synagogue and worship; family life and festivals

Component 2: Thematic studies

The following thematic study options have been selected from the syllabus and are studied in the context of Christianity and Judaism:

  • A: Relationships and families – sex, marriage and divorce; families and gender equality
  • B: Religion and life – the origins and value of the universe; the origins and value of human life
  • D: Religion, peace and conflict – religion, violence, terrorism and war; religion and belief in 21st century conflict
  • F: Religion, human rights and social justice – human rights; wealth and poverty

Each component will be examined in one examination lasting 1 hour and 45 minutes.

English Language

Course specification: AQA GCSE English Language (9-1) 8700

The new AQA English Language GCSE has been designed to inspire and motivate candidates, providing appropriate stretch and challenge whilst ensuring, as far as possible, that the assessment and texts are accessible to the full range of students.

The specification will enable students of all abilities to develop the skills they need to read, understand and analyse a wide range of different texts covering the 19th, 20th and 21st century time periods as well as to write clearly, coherently and accurately using a range of vocabulary and sentence structures.

The two year course is assessed through two examinations at the end of Year 11. There is no coursework or controlled assessment assignments. Each paper has a distinct identity. Paper 1, Explorations in Creative Reading and Writing, looks at how writers use narrative and descriptive techniques to engage the interest of readers. Paper 2, Writers’ Viewpoints and Perspectives, looks at how different writers present a similar topic over time. There is also a separate nonexamined speaking and listening assessment which enables students to develop their speaking and listening skills. This does not contribute to their final GCSE grading but is separately endorsed on the certificate.

Paper 1: Explorations in Creative Reading and Writing

  • Written examination: 1 hour 45 minutes
  • 50% of GCSE

Paper 2: Writers’ Viewpoints and Perspectives

  • Written examination: 1 hour 45 minutes
  • 50% of GCSE

English Literature

Course Specification: AQA GCSE English Literature (9-1) 8702

The new AQA GCSE English Literature specification is designed to inspire, challenge and motivate every student, no matter what her level of ability, and encourages an appreciation of literature and its role in society.

A wide range of texts has been chosen to cater for the needs of all students. The course offers a thorough grounding in poetry, 19th century writing, Shakespeare and contemporary fiction and drama and, in doing so, offers excellent preparation for A Level English Literature, as well as giving students access to a wide variety of literature that will resonate with them for life.

The examination includes one question on a poem they have not studied. This tests skills of analysis which we will practise throughout the course.

The two year course is assessed through two examinations at the end of Year 11. There is no coursework or controlled assessment assignments. Each paper has a distinct identity. Paper 1, Shakespeare and the 19th Century Novel, allows students the opportunity to appreciate a rich literary heritage. Paper 2, Modern Texts and Poetry, provides experience of contemporary writing and a wide range of styles and eras of poetry.

Paper 1: Shakespeare and the 19th Century Novel

  • Written examination: 1 hour 45 minutes
  • 40% of GCSE

Paper 2: Modern Texts and Poetry

  • Written examination: 2 hours 15 minutes
  • 60% of GCSE

English as an Additional Language (EAL)

The EAL courses taken in Year 10 and Year 11 by students whose first language is not English provide internationally recognised qualifications. They enable students to develop their knowledge of English vocabulary and grammar and improve their reading, listening, writing and speaking skills.

In addition, every effort is also made to develop an interest in the language, a set of learning skills and a familiarity with useful, authoritative reference materials so that students have the means – and we hope the desire – to continue their language learning independently beyond these two years.

The textbook for each course, which is provided free of charge, is supplemented with topical reading texts and listening and viewing materials. Students give presentations, take part in role play exercises, discuss a wide range of issues and write in a variety of different genres. Feedback is detailed and extensive, and students are expected to act upon this.

Year 10

In Year 10, students prepare for the upper-intermediate Cambridge English: First (also known as the First Certificate in English) examination, which is taken in May or June. This consists of a total of 3 hours and 30 minutes of tests in reading and use of English (that is, grammar and vocabulary), writing, listening and speaking.

In the 15-minute speaking examination, students must undertake a number of tasks with a fellow candidate. While Year 10 EAL provides a sound foundation for Year 11 EAL, even if a student spends only eight months in the UK, she will have, at the end of her stay, evidence of her English language competency that is valid all over the world.

Year 11

In Year 11, students prepare for the Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) examination, since the validity of this examination, unlike that of IELTS, is not limited to two years. The CAE consists of 3 hours of written papers in reading and use of English and writing, a 40-minute listening test, and a 15-minute speaking examination, taken in pairs. Passing this demanding examination is an impressive achievement in itself, and a high C constitutes a university entrance qualification for many prestigious courses.

Cambridge English courses

Cambridge Assessment now gives scores in terms of both a letter and a number on the Cambridge English scale (which makes it possible to compare them with IELTS scores), and universities now quote their requirements in this way. For instance, Oxford University and the Medical Faculty of Imperial College require 185 with a minimum of 176 in each paper; for Law, LSE requires 185 and a minimum of 185 points in each paper.

A list of other institutions accepting this qualification can be found on the Cambridge English website via the ‘Why EAL Cambridge English?’ tab. (University departmental websites should detail which score is required for a particular course.)

An A grade in Cambridge English: Advanced is worth 70 UCAS points. For all students, whatever their achievement, preparation for Cambridge English: Advanced provides a challenging and enriching course that is an excellent foundation for A Level subject studies. It will also stand those wishing to take the IELTS examination in the Sixth Form in good stead, given that high scores in this examination cannot be attained without a mastery of advanced vocabulary and grammar.

Cambridge English

Modern Foreign Languages

Modern Foreign Languages are both academic subjects in their own right and useful tools to accompany other disciplines. We offer the following Modern Foreign Languages at IGCSE:

The UK is historically, geographically and culturally a part of Europe and our own language has its roots in both northern and southern European languages. Job opportunities in a variety of fields, such as banking, law, commerce, tourism and journalism, are enhanced by qualifications in Modern Foreign Languages, and employers in areas as diverse as engineering, financial trading, ICT, telecommunications and import/export may all now request at least a working knowledge of one or more modern foreign language.

Students who are aiming to read languages at university and/or who have achieved a high standard in their languages in Year 9 would benefit from choosing two languages for GCSE. Having had the benefit of learning a language for at least three years, during the next two years students will mainly consolidate and extend their knowledge and focus on developing the four skills required for IGCSE i.e. speaking, listening, reading and writing.

There will be more emphasis on spoken and written accuracy, reinforcing topics and language skills covered in the last three years. Students are encouraged to build upon their existing knowledge of grammar and to be creative with the language. All Modern Foreign Languages are taught primarily in the target language.

There is no coursework. By learning a Modern Foreign Language students will learn a lot about the culture and daily life of other countries. Through learning about a different culture and set of customs and values we hope students develop the following personal and transferrable skills:

  • confidence in working with information and ideas
  • responsibility towards own learning
  • innovation to cope with new challenges
  • commitment to take any opportunity to strengthen knowledge of the language

French

Course specification: CIE IGCSE 0520

A good working knowledge of French is enormously useful. It not only gives students access to France’s rich and vibrant culture, it also opens up the entire francophone world which spans the globe, taking in places as diverse as Tahiti and the whole of French Polynesia, Quebec in Canada, Switzerland and several African countries.

The syllabus content is organised around five topic areas:

  • Area A: Everyday activities
  • Area B: Personal and social life
  • Area C: The world around us
  • Area D: The world of work
  • Area E: The international world

All students take the following four examinations, each worth 25% of the final grade:

  • Paper 1 Listening: students listen to a number of recordings and answer questions in French. The paper is divided into three sections and the examination lasts 45 minutes.
  • Paper 2 Reading: students read a number of texts and answer questions again in French. The paper is divided into three sections and the examination lasts 1 hour.
  • Paper 3 Speaking: students complete two role plays, a topic presentation with follow-up conversation and a general conversation. The examination is carried out by a teacher and lasts 15 minutes. It is recorded and assessed internally and moderated externally.
  • Paper 4 Writing: students have three different exercises and write exclusively in French. Section 1 has two questions: first students have to write a series of single words based on pictures and for the second question they are tasked to write 80-90 words. Section 2 gives the students a choice of three tasks, with each task consisting of 130-140 words. The examination lasts 1 hour.

The listening, reading and writing skills are assessed at the end of Year 11 as external examinations. The speaking skills are assessed in the Spring Term of Year 11.

Optional trip: French Study Trip in Years 8 & 9, 6 days. Approximate cost: £500.

German

Course specification: CIE IGCSE 0525

Germany is one of the world’s biggest industrial countries with world-famous products, so speaking German opens up a world of professional possibilities. Not all journals and publications are translated into English and, since German is the second most common language used in scientific publications, you may need a working knowledge of German to understand them, especially at research level.

Other industries that may require employees to have a working knowledge of German would include tourism, entertainment, banking, manufacturing, engineering and commerce, to name a few. Additionally, German speaking countries are located in the heart of Europe and have long histories and rich cultures. The syllabus content is organised around five topic areas:

  • Area A: Everyday activities
  • Area B: Personal and social life
  • Area C: The world around us
  • Area D: The world of work
  • Area E: The international world

All students take the following four examinations, each worth 25% of the final grade:

  • Paper 1 Listening: students listen to a number of recordings and answer questions in German. The paper is divided into three sections and the examination lasts 45 minutes.
  • Paper 2 Reading: students read a number of texts and answer questions again in German. The paper is divided into three sections and the examination lasts 1 hour.
  • Paper 3 Speaking: students complete two role plays, a topic presentation with follow-up conversation and a general conversation. The examination is carried out by a teacher and lasts 15 minutes. It is recorded and assessed internally and moderated externally.
  • Paper 4 Writing: students have three different exercises and write exclusively in German. Section 1 has two questions: first students have to write a series of single words based on pictures. In the second question students are tasked to write 80-90 words. Section 2 gives the students a choice of three tasks with each task consisting of 130-140 words. The examination lasts 1 hour.

The listening, reading and writing skills are assessed at the end of Year 11 in external examinations. The speaking skills are assessed in the Spring Term of Year 11.

Mandarin Chinese

Course specification: CIE IGCSE Chinese as a Foreign Language

Mandarin Chinese has the largest population of speakers in the world. Native speakers alone account for nearly 15% of the world’s population – 1 trillion people. Mandarin Chinese is the official language of China, one of the official languages of Singapore, Malaysia and Taiwan, and is recognised as one of the official languages of the United Nations.

Currently, the GDP value of China alone represents approximately 15% of the world economy. In the last few years, the connections between the UK and China have been strengthened, especially in bilateral trade. In 2013, the value of this trade surpassed £43 billion.

The syllabus content is organised around five broad topic areas which provide contexts for the acquisition of vocabulary and the study of grammar and structure. The topic areas are:

  • Area A: Everyday activities
  • Area B: Personal and social life
  • Area C: The world around us
  • Area D: The world of work
  • Area E: The international world

All students take the following four examinations, each worth 25% of the final grade:

  • Paper 1 Listening: students listen to a number of recordings and answer questions with non-verbalresponses (e.g. tick boxes) and verbal responses in Chinese (either using Chinese characters or pinyin). The examination lasts approximately 35 minutes (30 marks)
  • Paper 2 Reading: students read a number of texts and answer questions with non-verbal responses (e.g. tick boxes) and verbal responses using Chinese characters. The examination lasts 1 hour 15 minutes (36 marks)
  • Paper 3 Speaking: students complete two role plays, a topic presentation/conversation and a general conversation. The examination is carried out by the teacher who has taught the class and lasts approximately 15 minutes. It is recorded and assessed internally and moderated externally (100 marks)
  • Paper 4 Writing: candidates respond in the target language to three tasks. The examination lasts 1 hour 15 minutes (45 marks)

All skills except speaking are assessed at the end of Year 11 in external examinations. There is no controlled assessment in this subject.

Spanish

Course specification: Edexcel IGCSE 4SP1

There are almost 430 million native Spanish speakers in the world: this is more than in any other language except Chinese. It is spoken in 23 countries and is recognised as one of the official languages of the United Nations. Spanish is spoken by more than 11% of the US population, especially in New York, Los Angeles and other large cities.

It is also becoming increasingly important in the world of business: Spanish speaking countries represent 6% of the world’s GDP and the total value of business between Spain and the UK is around £21 billion per annum. The syllabus content is organised around five topic areas:

  • Area A: Home and abroad
  • Area B: Education and employment
  • Area C: Personal life and relationships
  • Area D: The world around us
  • Area E: Social activities, fitness and health

The structure of the examination is as follows:

  • Paper 1 Listening (25%): students listen to a number of recordings and answer questions with non-verbal responses (e.g. tick boxes) and verbal responses in Spanish. The examination lasts 30 minutes with an extra five minutes of reading time (40 marks)
  • Paper 2 Reading and Writing (50%): students read a number of texts and answer questions with nonverbal responses (e.g. tick boxes) and verbal responses in Spanish. There are two extended writing tasks: the first requires about 60-70 words to be written in Spanish, and the second will be narrative, descriptive or discursive and may be a letter, report, article, or page from a diary, for example. The examination lasts 1 hour 45 minutes (80 marks)
  • Paper 3 Speaking (25%): students complete a presentation and discussion based on a picture of the student’s choice and a general conversation covering two of the topic areas listed. The examination is carried out by the teacher who has taught the class and lasts 10 minutes. It is recorded internally and assessed externally (40 marks)

All skills are assessed at the end of Year 11 in external examinations. There is no controlled assessment in this subject.

Optional trip: Spanish Study Trip, Years 10 and 11, 6 days. Approximate cost: £650.

Science

Course specifications:

  • Edexcel International GCSE Science 2017 (9-1) (Double Award)
  • Edexcel International GCSE 2017 (9-1) Biology
  • Edexcel International GCSE 2017 (9-1) Chemistry
  • Edexcel International GCSE 2017 (9-1) Physics

The Sciences are core subjects for this level and the International GCSE Science 2017 specification is designed to meet the diverse aims and ambitions of all students, from those who simply want to understand the world around them, to those who want to progress onto further, in-depth study.

The sciences are an essential foundation for many careers: medicine, veterinary, science, dentistry, engineering and physiotherapy, to name a few. A study of scientific subjects develops logical thinking which is invaluable in other unrelated professions and complements other subjects.

The IGCSE Science courses aim to:

  • develop students’ understanding of the science around them that affects them in their everyday lives
  • develop students’ questioning, analytical and evaluative approach to scientific problems and issues
  • develop students’ practical skills in science and an understanding of how science works
  • encourage enthusiasm about science leading to continued study

The choice students are asked to make is whether to take two or three IGCSE qualifications in science. Before making a decision, each student receives individual advice about which course best meets her needs.

  • The Edexcel IGCSE in Science (Double Award) is worth two IGCSEs - A two year course in which students study all three sciences – Biology, Chemistry and Physics. It is designed to provide students with a good base to study any of the three sciences at A Level. The course covers approximately two thirds of the work covered by those taking the three separate sciences option, with 12 timetabled lessons per fortnight (four for each science subject) taught by specialist subject teachers. This option suits students who are not yet certain if they wish to study any of the separate sciences post-16, or already know they want to pursue science post-16 but have many talents in other fields.
  • The Edexcel International GCSE in separate Sciences (Biology, Chemistry and Physics) is worth three IGCSEs - A two year course which suits students who are aiming for a science related career or are uncertain about future careers but enjoy studying science in greater depth. This option provides the best basis to enable students to progress to study any of the separate sciences at A Level. The course is taught by specialist subject teachers during 15 timetabled lessons per fortnight (five for each science subject).

Optional trip: Physics Trip, Year 10. Approximate cost: £7.

Each science course is taught in distinct sections

Biology course
Chemistry course
Physics course

Structure of the qualifications

Course structure