Abingdon has always had a sound academic tradition and in recent years a drive towards academic excellence has borne fruit. This is not the result of a narrow concentration – on the contrary, the curriculum is characterised by breadth and flexibility.
Most pupils study 10 subjects at GCSE from the wide range available and take them in their stride. This is protection against premature specialisation, and provides them with a broad basis of knowledge and skills. The large Sixth Form permits a wide choice of different subjects at A Level, and many students read a combination of arts and science subjects.
“Pupils demonstrate extensive knowledge and understanding across all subjects.”
You can find out more about the lower, middle and upper school curriculum from the curriculum pages. Department information below provides more detail about each subject.
Graeme May, Deputy Head (Academic), can be contacted for further information via [email protected].
Art and Design
The Art department is a thriving hub of creativity. The subject is part of the compulsory curriculum for the first three years of the school. In the Fourth year and beyond pupils may choose to do the subject for GCSE and on to A Level.
We start from the premise that the best art comes from an imaginative and thoughtful interpretation of first hand visual experience, informed by an understanding of historical and contemporary art practice. So we aim to offer as wide a range of approaches to making art as possible from painting to screen printing, from ceramic sculpture to digital drawing.
For our examination students we look for increasingly individual developments and ambitious imaginative work is encouraged. In order that their work should have a context, pupils are helped to relate their work to other artists through regular gallery visits and the resources of the departmental library.
The department is located in the top floor of Beech Court where the accommodation comprises of four large classrooms (including a ceramics specialism room with adjoining damp and kiln rooms), a large sixth form studio, a dark room and an outside terrace.
We run a series of Other Half clubs for different year groups, which are open to any student, not only for those doing GCSE or A Level. These include our Animation Station Club, Photo and Digital Media Club and our Comic Book Illustration Club. We celebrate students’ achievements with competitions and whole school exhibition work. Many of our boys go on to study at top universities for art, forwarding their careers in film, fine art and architecture.
Further information about the art department curriculum can be found in the curriculum documents available for download on the main curriculum page.
Latin is compulsory in Lower School and is thereafter an optional subject. All sets study some real Latin literature in advance of the GCSE set-texts and at A Level they study the literature in greater depth and breadth: as at GCSE it is fundamental to our philosophy that we read widely beyond the confines of the syllabuses. In addition, the pupils have to learn to translate Latin literature that they have not studied before. This develops remarkable skills in problem-solving as pupils have to learn to unravel the meaning of sentences of complex grammar and word order.
Greek is an optional subject from the Third Year onwards. Greek is one of the most intellectually demanding subjects on the school curriculum at GCSE and beyond: the complexities of the Greek verb offer a unique insight into the nuances of language and its development, and the literature the pupils read is unrivalled in its diversity and appeal.
Ancient History is an option subject from Third Year upwards. Developing the ability to evaluate ancient sources (all studied in English), classes consider the agendas of those who wrote them and how that affects their reliability for what they tell us. Whilst considering in detail world-changing historical moments that are compelling in their own right, the courses also strongly encourage reflection on how study of the ancient world offers insight and comment on contemporary events.
We run an extensive range of trips beyond the classroom, as we feel that live performances of ancient drama and surviving archaeological remains offer unique opportunities to access the ancient world. To this end, every October we take a big trip to a Mediterranean country such as Greece, Italy, France, Croatia, Tunisia or Turkey. We also offer a wide-ranging extension programme, tailored to individual pupils’ needs.
Further information about the classics department curriculum can be found in the curriculum documents available for download on the main curriculum page.
The growth in computing power has radically changed the way humans solve problems, and even the kinds of problems we can imagine solving. A computer scientist undertakes a creative role which connects the very fast but very rigid calculating power of a machine with a myriad of interesting human problems, from science and engineering to art. Computer scientists must be adept at modeling and analyzing problems. They must also be able to design solutions and verify that they are correct. Problem solving requires precision, creativity, and careful reasoning.
Computer Science is compulsory from First to Third Year. In Second and Third Years we run innovative “Engineering” courses in conjunction with the Physics department. These use the BBC Microbit and the Arduino Microcontroller and are taught by physics and computer science teachers. The GCSE course introduces students to the elements of the discipline of Computer Science and perhaps consider it as a career. The A Level takes the study of the elements of the academic discipline further, for example looking more formally at algorithms and data structures, and learning object oriented and functional programming. Computer Science is taught in two bespoke classrooms located in the recently opened Faringdon Lodge building.
Many opportunities exist outside the classroom as part of the Other Half to develop additional skills such as building hardware or robots or learning new languages. Students can monitor how fast you can overclock a watercooled computer or how VR enables us to experience digitally created worlds.
Further information about the Computer Science department curriculum can be found in the curriculum documents available for download on the main curriculum page.
Design and Technology
The Design & Technology department is a well-equipped, busy and exciting environment. It has three manufacturing spaces supported by two dedicated ICT suites. The department also has a dedicated sixth form product design studio with rapid prototyping facilities. In addition to the more traditional manufacturing methods the department also houses laser cutters and numerous CNC machines including routers, milling machines and centre lathes. Additive manufacturing is a rapidly growing field of engineering and design and the department has extensive 3d printers, Stereolithography and digital scanners to allow pupils to quickly realise their design concepts in 3d.
The lower school and third year curriculum (where D&T is compulsory) is designed to cover all of the materials and manufacturing opportunities that are available, alongside introducing students to communicating their design ideas effectively and creatively through a variety of media.
At GCSE, pupils undertake a practical design project, interpreting a context provided by the exam board, whereas at A Level, the route that they follow is chosen by their own analysis of a context.
The department runs many Other Half activities including 3d printing clubs, young designers, digital product development and the facility is open every afternoon for pupils to pursue their own work. We encourage our students to enter national competitions and have had success in several, including ‘Landrover 4×4’ and the ‘Triumph Design Awards’.
We also actively encourage and support pupils with an interest in engineering to work towards gaining an Arkwright Engineering Scholarship and we have a large number of successful scholars in the Sixth Form.
Further information about the design & technology department curriculum can be found in the curriculum documents available for download on the main curriculum page or up to date news and features can be found by following the department on Twitter @abingdondesign.
Drama has developed rapidly in recent years at Abingdon and there continues to be a strong demand for drama both as a curriculum subject, and as one of the School’s most popular extra-curricular activities.
The overall aim of the department is to promote lasting enjoyment of drama.
Drama is taught throughout the School. All pupils in first and second year receive one period of drama each week, and are given grounding in key principles of drama and theatre such as physical theatre, improvisation and significant genres such as melodrama – the aim being to give them a wide-ranging theatrical experience which also encompasses transferable skills such as collaboration and creative thinking. In the Third Year, students may choose to study the subject in more depth as a preparation for the two-year GCSE course, and will undertake longer-term devising projects around practitioners such as Stanislavski and Brecht, as well as rehearsing scripted texts for performance. A Level Drama and Theatre Studies is a popular option in the Sixth Form which offers pupils experience of co-education through the involvement of girls from the neighbouring independent girls’ school (St Helen and St Katharine). The Sixth Form teaching is shared between the drama staff at both schools, so pupils will have lessons on both sites, and there is a strong tradition of collaborative partnership at this level. We follow the Edexcel exam syllabus for both GCSE and A Level.
Drama is taught in the Arts Centre with two dedicated drama studios and classrooms, and we enjoy the benefit of a full-time technical team to help enhance practical work.
Further information about the drama department curriculum can be found in the curriculum documents available for download on the main curriculum page.
Economics and Business
Economics and Business are two separate subjects taught in the Sixth Form only (i.e. there are no GCSE options). Economics is a joint subject taught with the girls from St Helen and St Katharine School on the Abingdon campus and by our teachers. Though pupils can choose to study both Economics and Business in the Lower Sixth, it is our recommendation that only one can be pursued to full A Level as, owing to some overlapping content, many universities will not accept both of them in a three A Level profile. Both subjects follow the Edexcel specification and are assessed solely by written examination with a major emphasis on data-response questions.
The study of Economics and Business allows pupils to explore issues of global, historic and contemporary relevance, and it is important to us that they leave school with the ability to understand concepts that were previously foreign to them. However, we want pupils to go beyond a passive acceptance or understanding of ‘the facts’. It is vital that they grapple with the subtleties, complexities and value judgments implicit in Economics and Business, so we seek to foster a spirit of inquiry that gives pupils the capacity to make critical judgments.
We encourage students to explore Economics and Business beyond the confines of the syllabus running trips to places such as the MINI plant in Oxford and encouraging pupils to enter national competitions such as the Royal Economic Society’s essay competition. There are also activities within the Other Half such as the Economics Society and the Investment and Trading Club.
Further information about the economics department curriculum can be found in the curriculum documents available for download on the main curriculum page.
At the heart of the school curriculum, English is a compulsory subject in Lower and Middle School, with all students completing IGCSEs in English Language and English Literature by the end of Fifth Year. A Level English Literature is offered in the Sixth Form.
In the First and Second Years we aim to foster a love of literature while developing reading and writing skills through drama, poetry and prose fiction and non-fiction texts. Third Year opens with the study of a classic novel, which is used to develop pupils’ critical thinking skills while offering a stimulus for writing tasks, followed by a range of units designed to embed the core skills required at IGCSE. In the Fourth and Fifth Years we follow the Edexcel IGCSE courses in English Language and Literature, with papers in Non-fiction Texts & Imaginative Writing and Poetry & Prose Texts & Imaginative Writing for Language, and Poetry & Modern Prose and Modern Drama & Literary Heritage Texts for Literature. Students who choose the English Literature A Level (OCR) study Renaissance drama and poetry and American literature for their exams, while pursuing coursework tasks on a selection of post-1900 works. We are proud of the rigour and challenge of our curriculum, with students experiencing the greatest works written in the English language – including Shakespeare every year – while developing excellent communication skills through a variety of engaging activities.
The English department offers a wealth of Other Half opportunities, such as our creative writing clubs Inklings, Scribble and The Postmen, satirical magazine Words and That, the award-winning school newspaper The Martlet, the Joint Literary Society with St Helen’s, and a standalone creative writing course for sixth formers, as well as the usual theatre trips, screenings and outside speakers. Every year students opt to read English Literature at university, including at Oxbridge.
Further information about the English department curriculum can be found in the curriculum documents available for download on the main curriculum page.
The English Department produces a Pocket Guide to Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling, bringing together a simple guide to the rules of English grammar and punctuation together with some of the most commonly misspelled words, and plenty of examples to help clarify their use.
Geography is a compulsory subject up to the end of Third Year, when it becomes optional for GCSE and for A Level. The study of geography provides an excellent basis for a contemporary education. A subject with elements of the sciences and humanities, classed as a social science, it complements a wide combination of subjects at GCSE and A Level. It is a discipline that widens career opportunities because of the research, analysis, interpretation and communication skills which are integral to the subject.
We encourage our pupils, at whatever level in the school, to be curious about the world; we want to instil a spirit of enquiry and we aim to help them with their ability to think analytically and critically. The department has a long history of commitment to both human and physical geography but this artificial divide really appears ever more redundant as students grapple with the current global issues.
We are one of the first departments in the country to have a dedicated GIS suite (geographic information system) at the heart of the department. We also have a dedicated GIS Teaching Support Coordinator to help deliver our ambitious programme. This facility has transformed the way in which we teach geography at Abingdon.
Regular field excursions are seen as an integral part of the curriculum. In recent years the department has organised overseas trips for the Sixth Form and Middle School to Iceland, India, the Azores, Spain and Finland. There is a yearly Lower Sixth field excursion to north Wales for preparation for the A Level Independent Investigation and the Middle school carry out fieldwork in the local area.
The department is also a member of the local branch of The Geographical Association, an impressive lecture programme organised each year which takes place in Oxford.
Further information about the geography department curriculum can be found in the curriculum documents available for download on the main curriculum page.
Government and Politics
This is a joint A Level subject with St Helen’s, taught on the St Helen’s site by their teachers. There is no GCSE option.
In the Politics A Level course, students will acquire an in depth knowledge of the political systems of the UK and the USA: for example, the nature and sources of the Constitution, and debates around the power of the state and the rights of the individual. They will be required to identify parallels, connections, similarities and differences between aspects of politics, developing a critical awareness of the changing nature of politics and the relationships between political ideas, political institutions and political processes.
The political ideas of Conservatism, Socialism and Liberalism have relevance to both of the systems of government and politics, and will enhance the students’ knowledge and understanding of politics, political debate and political issues in both the UK and the USA.
Students are taught in a seminar style based on informed discussion. They will learn to apply the political knowledge and concepts studied across all areas of the syllabus. To encourage this kind of synoptic thinking, the teaching will be focused on a comparative approach from the start. The political ideas section of the course will be taught in discrete topics interleaved amongst the government and politics modules.
Outside of the classroom, we offer a range of opportunities to engage with politics beyond the curriculum for example, seminar sessions with current PPE students from Oxford, politics conferences in London with prominent political speakers, a Senior Politics Society and an extension society that focuses on the reading and discussion of political texts as well as techniques of intellectual enquiry.
Further information about the course can be found in the curriculum documents available for download from the curriculum page.
History is a compulsory subject up to the end of Third Year, when it becomes optional for GCSE and for A Level. We have excellent uptake in student numbers at GCSE and A Level; on average more than fifteen pupils go on to read History at university.
The department aims to challenge pupils with the academic discipline of history and develop the skills of critical analysis in order to enable them to engage with the complex, diverse and rich tapestry of the past. We have a dynamic, exciting and forward-thinking team of teachers who see it as their mission to deliver rigorous and thought-provoking lessons. We choose topics that are intellectually demanding and excellent teacher subject knowledge is at the core of our teaching practice. We deliver a range of diverse histories, covering 1400 years of the past, in order to prepare our pupils for pluralistic, modern twenty first century Britain.
History is housed in its own suite of classrooms at the heart of the school in the recently refurbished accommodation of Greening Court, comprising spacious classrooms, break out spaces, a departmental resource area and a joint seminar room with Classics.
We offer a range of additional opportunities outside the curriculum including Lower School History Club, a Middle School History & Politics Society and all pupils can attend the Timeline History Magazine writing sessions. We publish magazines for these clubs. We traditionally run overseas trips to Belgium, France and Germany. We always have a number of visiting lecturers and speakers throughout the year, covering a range of topics including Chinese history, Germany, Russia and the USSR, historical denial and seminar style sessions with academic historians from the University of Oxford.
Further information about the history department curriculum can be found in the curriculum documents available for download on the main curriculum page.
Maths is a compulsory subject in Lower and Middle School, with all students completing an iGCSE in Maths by the end of Fifth Year. Top sets in Fifth Year also complete the FSMQ Additional Maths qualification. A Level Maths and Further Maths are offered in the Sixth Form.
1st year pupils are taught in tutor groups and in all other years there is some setting to allow pupils to work at a pace which suits them. Support is given to students in their preparations for university entrance examinations, some for Maths courses at top universities and others to support their applications for subjects such as Physics, Engineering, Economics and Computing.
Mathematics is recognised as requiring a logical and rational approach as well as demanding dedication and determination to be successful. The department aims that pupils should become aware that mathematics is an interesting and enjoyable field in its own right; and also that it continues to be central to many diverse and important branches of endeavour in the modern world, whether scientific, financial or computational.
Mathematics is a very popular subject and the department is a lively place to study. All students are challenged by the Puzzle of the Fortnight and many take part in the UKMT Maths Challenges throughout the year. A coding club takes place to encourage pupils taking part in the National Cipher Challenge, a popular competition and one in which Abingdon has enjoyed much success. There are enrichment clubs throughout the school where pupils meet together to do some Mathematics, play games, solve new problems and participate in various competitions including Ritangle, Maths Bombe and Princeton Maths Challenge, a week-long competition which requires the production of proofs for some rather fiendish problems.
Further information about the mathematics department curriculum can be found in the curriculum documents available for download on the main curriculum page.
All students study French and German in the First Year and can opt to continue with either language into the Second Year. In the Third Year, pupils continue with French or German and have the option to add Spanish and/or Mandarin to their language portfolio. German or French starter sets are also offered in Third Year when numbers are sufficiently high. All students are required to take at least one modern European language to GCSE and the timetable allows them to take two or even three. In the Sixth Form, we offer the A Level syllabuses in French, German and Spanish. Depending on demand and time, we also offer Russian, Italian, Spanish and German express GCSE courses in the Sixth Form.
We make it our priority to promote language learning for its own sake but also for the benefit of the transferable skills acquired. We strongly encourage our students to become independent, ambitious and reflective learners who are supportive of one another.
We offer a wide range of essay and debating competitions to all as well as specific Oxbridge extension classes to our most able sixth form students. We also offer a range of language-based Other Half activities, such as the Lower School Animation Club, the Middle School Language Leader programme, in which students prepare and teach an MFL lesson in a local primary school, and our acclaimed student-led publication The Polyglot. The department prides itself in offering a wide range of day trips such as a German film study day, Chinese cooking, a Spanish theatre visit, a visit to Bath University for prospective university students and our annual MFL joint sixth form society dinner with St Helen and St Katharine’s.
Further information about the modern languages department curriculum can be found in the curriculum documents available for download on the main curriculum page.
Music is studied by all pupils in the Lower School, becoming optional in the Third Year. The Lower School curriculum has singing at its core whilst encouraging pupils to take up musical instruments, and to experience a wide range of listening. The third year course exposes the pupils to the study of some core music set works and to the essentials of musical composition using the latest Sibelius music software. From the Fourth Year, the GCSE course gives 30% equal weighting to performing and composing and 40% to listening and set works with similar weightings at A Level.
Sixth form musicians are encouraged to attend extension classes, particularly for those aiming to challenge themselves with an application to read music at a university such as Oxford or Cambridge. The sessions in advanced harmony and analysis will support the process leading to written work submission and interview. In recent years successful applications for choral and organ awards have represented a well-trodden path for Abingdon pupils.
Academic endeavour in music embraces many different components including aural skills, musicology, analysis, set works study, performing and composing. The department seeks to support all these areas with a wide range of composition and performing opportunities throughout the year, including concerts, workshops, masterclasses and international tours.
Further information about the music department curriculum can be found in the curriculum documents available for download on the main curriculum page.
Philosophy and Theology
Philosophy and Theology is a compulsory subject through First to Third Year, after which it becomes optional for GCSE, where pupils study for an RS qualification. In the Sixth Form students can select to study either Religious Studies or Philosophy.
During the First and Second Years our aim is to give pupils a good initial grounding in the major world faiths and also the basics of Philosophy. Third Year sees us switch tack slightly and look at interesting philosophical and ethical quandaries, ranging from ‘finding and losing God’ to a study of the ethics of war and crime and punishment.
Those who select the subject for GCSE will focus on Religion and Ethics through Christianity and Religion, Peace and Conflict through either Islam or Judaism, depending on their teacher. At A Level, Religious Studies focuses on philosophy of religion, ethics and development in Christian thought. Philosophy looks at epistemology, moral philosophy, philosophy of mind and metaphysics of God.
Throughout their life at Abingdon we encourage students to follow their own ideas and interests in Philosophy and Theology. We aid this with an annual trip to Bhaktivedanta Manor in the Lower School, a Hari Krishna Temple founded by George Harrison, interactive days on crime and punishment and through visits to the school by magistrates. In the Sixth Form we travel to the JS Mill Library in Oxford as well as attend conferences and invite philosophers in to speak to the pupils through our Edmund Society.
Philosophy and Theology helps students attempt to answer the big questions, learn about themselves and others and most importantly, develop critical thinking skills pertinent to doing well in life.
Further information about the religious studies department curriculum can be found in the curriculum documents available for download on the main curriculum page.
- Fitness: To instil the importance of a healthy body and mind, by promoting physical activity as a means to a healthy lifestyle.
- Social and Moral: Through small-sided games and group activities, we encourage students to mix and co-operate. Through competition, we aim to instil the correct attitudes towards winning and losing and develop the pupils’ self-discipline and positive sporting behaviour. Pupils are encouraged to develop a sense of purpose, confidence, politeness, perseverance, initiative and independence, whilst accepting that each individual is different.
- Cognitive: To instil knowledge and understanding of the rules, skills, tactics and aims of the various activities. Encouraging them to apply these concepts appropriately in the different activities and critically evaluate their performance so that each pupil can strive to be the best that they can be.
- Leisure: By providing access to a wide variety of sports, we hope to promote, stimulate and encourage pupils to continue their participation in physical activity way beyond their school years.
- Aesthetic: To encourage pupils to appreciate and evaluate form and movement as well as giving them the opportunity to express their creative ability.
There are seven full-time Physical Education specialists in the Department, who are well supported by a Head of Athletic Development and various sports professionals. Compulsory PE lessons are integrated within the academic timetable in the lower and middle school, giving individual pupils, especially the less able, access to specialist teaching. Within PE lessons a wide and balanced range of activities is offered, including, amongst others, net/wall sports, gymnastic and athletic activities, health related fitness / strength & conditioning, swimming and lifesaving. Details on individual sports may be found under the Other Half.
Further information about the PE department curriculum can be found in the curriculum documents available for download on the main curriculum page.
Psychology is relevant to all areas of life and is a thriving Sixth Form subject. Essentially it is the scientific study of the human mind and behaviour, encompassing the key elements such as hypothesis testing but also allows a deeper level of philosophical debate, such as questioning whether humans ever actually have free will! Diversity is fundamental, including investigations of social interactions, unconscious forces in psychoanalysis, through to the inner workings of the brain.
Psychology is an accessible and inherently interesting subject which is challenging and promotes discussions within the course such as ‘is deceit ever justifiable?’ or ‘how reliable is the diagnosis of mental illness?’
The transferable skills gained from studying psychology are excellent preparation for university and work as the topics encourage topical debate; for example the effect of psychology on the economy, ethical considerations of research and real life application to the treatment of mental health.
A benefit of Psychology A Level is that it works alongside any other subjects, those more science focused have an opportunity to develop their critical writing skills, whereas those with a more arts based focus can still gain a scientific qualification but explore their flexibility of thinking through analysis of psychological concepts.
For more information on the specific topics studied within the A Level course, please visit St Helen’s website (this subject is taught jointly).
Abingdon justifiably enjoys a very strong reputation for science. The science department has been able to provide the stimulating and effective teaching in science sought by parents who themselves are scientists or applied scientists working in one of the many science or technology based organisations which has grown up in the School’s catchment area. Because of the strong parental interest in science, Abingdon is an excellent centre in which to teach science and the school has been most fortunate in attracting a well-qualified and enthusiastic team of physics, chemistry and biology teachers and support staff.
Abingdon School’s Yang Science Centre has brought enormous enhancements to the teaching facilities. The new facility, which opened in October 2015, has improved the learning experience of all the boys from the First Year through to the Sixth Form. The Science Centre is an open and interactive space designed to encourage boys to pursue their scientific interests through extra-curricular clubs and projects as well as during lesson times. Our impressive Science results reflect this.
Abingdon fosters scientific interest not just teaches to pass exams. Many students go on to study science-related subjects at university and the majority to Russell Group universities.
Employers look very favourably on science A Levels. They show an aptitude for logical thinking, analysis and problem solving and it is acknowledged that a scientific approach is an excellent discipline for the workplace. Science A Levels are well respected whether you are looking for a job in the City or your interest lies with research.
Biology is a compulsory subject through to GCSE level, where pupils can choose between the Separate Science or Double Award routes. It becomes an optional subject for A Level. The Lower School and Third Year courses aim to give an introduction to various topics and key concepts that will ultimately be covered in more detail in the GCSE course as well as trying to develop some of the core skills needed for the subject. Topics range all the way from biological molecules up to ecological/environmental topics. There is a fair bit of factual knowledge that has to be covered in these courses but a good biologist will also be able to apply their knowledge in unfamiliar situations as well as having a good understanding of a range of practical/experimental skills.
The Biology department can be found on the ground floor of the Yang Science Centre. As well as the six teaching laboratories and prep room we also have a greenhouse, rill and “wildlife” garden at our disposal.
There is plenty happening outside normal lessons. Academically we offer subject clinics, sixth form extension classes and sessions for aspiring medics. We try to run a large overseas expedition every three years as well as trips to attend lectures and our upper sixth field trip to Pembrokeshire. There are also various other clubs that are available to different year groups including Biology Volunteers, Wildlife Club and Entomology Society.
All our students study Chemistry as a separate subject in the First to Third Years, during which we aim to secure a firm appreciation of the fundamentals of chemical structure, methodology and reactivity with a strong emphasis on inspiring boys through practical chemistry and critical thought that continues throughout their school career. In the fourth and fifth years, students opt for either Chemistry as a separate subject or the Dual Award Science with both routes following the EdExcel iGCSE specification. Pupils who choose to take the subject at A Level follow the EdExcel A Level course.
Abingdon’s highly successful Chemistry department has nine specialist teachers supported by two full time technicians across seven state-of-the-art teaching laboratories on the top floor of the school’s Yang Science Centre.
The department also looks to take students beyond the confines of exam specifications so that they can confidently take their study of the subject to the next level and appreciate the broader applications that the subject has within in modern life. Middle School pupils compete annually in the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Top of the Bench and Chemistry Challenge competitions and sixth formers take part in the C3L6 Chemistry Challenge and the Chemistry Olympiad. Within our Other Half activities, students can pursue their own independent research projects and the department runs an extension programme that offers a glimpse of the subject beyond school level. There is also an extensive lecture programme that regularly features chemists from universities and from industry.
All students in the Lower and Middle School learn Physics with the course focused around the topics of forces, waves, electricity, radiation and space. At GCSE we follow the Edexcel iGCSE Physics syllabus. The department also offers the option of GCSE Electronics (WJEC course). This gives students the opportunity to develop further their investigative skills with a very hands on practical based course. Studying Electronics also significantly benefits the large cohort who go on to choose Physics at A Level.
The department’s aims are to encourage students to think critically, develop problem solving skills and to promote experimental and investigative work. The department is proud of the fact that we deliver an academically rigorous course whilst ensuring that lessons are innovative and interactive. Interesting recent developments in the fields of Physics and Engineering, such as gravitational waves, are interwoven with more traditional topics to ensure that students are aware of the future of Physics as well as the cornerstone discoveries of the past. Located on the central floor of the Yang Science Centre, we have seven large physics labs, two of which have extra computers for teaching Electronics.
The department offers a range of different visits for all year groups including the annual L6th trip to Geneva to visit scientific facilities such as CERN and the Swiss Plasma Centre. There is also a varied Other Half offering with Electronics Club, engineering competitions, extension and support sessions.
Science curriculum documents are available for download on the main curriculum page.
See the Career Guidance page.