Academic Curriculum
Upper School

A broad curriculum is essential for balanced intellectual development.

Perse students follow a varied and challenging curriculum, that provides an exciting mix of breadth and balance across a wide range of subjects.

Pupils study compulsory subjects up to GCSE. This includes three separate sciences and a modern foreign language.

Many pupils take advantage of additional or fast-track GCSE qualifications or other certification.

Current opportunities exist in maths, drama, computer science, music, additional modern languages, ancient history, 3D art and ICT.

All of the GCSEs studied by our pupils are Ofqual-regulated qualifications.

You can see a visual overview of curriculum subjects here.

Pupils’ intellectual curiosity and enthusiasm for learning enable them to achieve excellent GCSE exam results in response to high-quality teaching.

ISI Inspection Report 2023

Ancient History

Year 9 

Starting as an option choice in Year 9, students who take ancient history will encounter famous figures from a variety of ancient civilizations, including Persia, Greece, China, Carthage, Rome and Egypt. Following this, students will learn how the ancients organised and governed their societies and attempted to deal with socio-political inequality, a topic which is just as critical today as it was two thousand years ago. Finally, students will then look at ancient history closer to home by studying aspects of Roman imperial rule in Britain, such as how the Romans conquered Britain and how they treated the local British population. 

Years 10 and 11 

Building on the Year 9 ancient history curriculum, the GCSE ancient history curriculum continues to emphasise the importance of analysing and evaluating primary source materials from a variety of time periods and cultures. The course is divided into a Greece and Persia paper and a Roman history paper, each comprised of a period study and a depth study.  

In ‘Greece and Persia’, pupils complete a period study on the Persian Empire (559 – 465 BCE), studying the character and conquests of the Persian kings from Cyrus II to Xerxes I, as well as how they governed their lands and treated the peoples they conquered. The main narrative source for the topic is Herodotus. Comparing his very Greek view with a variety of Persian and Egyptian inscriptions and other archaeological evidence provides a wonderful counterpoint for students on the value of historical perspective. Students also complete a depth study on Alexander the Great (356 – 323 BCE), analysing the accounts of Plutarch and Arrian in an attempt to evaluate the character, relationships, and beliefs of the Macedonian conqueror.  

For ‘Rome and its neighbours’, students first encounter a period study on the early history of Rome (753 – 440 BCE), which interestingly examines the relationship between myth and history. Students read extracts from Livy’s Early History of Rome and compare these with a variety of archaeological and epigraphic sources, which often demonstrate the fabulous nature of many of Livy’s stories (as Livy himself knows well). Students then examine a depth study on Cleopatra and the relationship between Rome and Egypt (69 – 30 BCE), which allows students to see the prejudicial nature of much of the Greco-Roman source material regarding one of the most controversial and competent rulers of the age. 

The Ancient History GCSE can be taken either within the curriculum or as an extra-curricular subject outside of timetable. 


Years 7 and 8 

Pupils begin in Year 7 by looking at objects and objectivity, exploring portraiture, symbolism and representation in still life before moving on to landscape, the built environment and architectural motifs in Year 8. Exploring a range of approaches, the focus is on the formal elements of tone, line, form, pattern, and colour. They learn techniques within printmaking, painting and drawing, sculpture including ceramics and digital media. 

Year 9 

The broad theme is the body and pupils develop ideas based on identity, the figure, representation and anatomical illustration. Projects in Year 9 are designed to stimulate creativity and individuality, while building on previous foundation skills. The department collaborates with scientists at the European Protein Data Bank on a science and art project looking at visualisation techniques of molecular structures and visits the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts at the University of East Anglia each year to research ideas for their projects.

Years 10 and 11 

Pupils learn to develop their own ideas over a sustained period, experiment with a variety of media and gain a greater understanding of art through critical and contextual studies. The GCSE course begins with a breadth of experimentation with techniques and materials in the first two terms, from which students develop their specialisms into the second year. Trips are organised in both year 10 and 11 to local and national galleries for students to undertake first hand visual research in order to develop their ideas.

GCSE art is made up of two units: 

  • Portfolio (60% of the marks) – one major project representing several months of work. Moving between disciplines, outcomes are always varied and often involve a variety of media. Coursework takes place during Year 10 and the Michaelmas term of Year 11. 
  • Set task (40%) – an early release paper in January of Year 11 with a broad theme, written and visual starting points and stimuli. Students choose a starting point and develop and plan ideas prior to a 10-hour controlled assessment where they create their final piece at the very beginning of the summer term. 

Students also have the option of studying a GCSE in endorsed titles of Photography and 3D Design (Ceramics) as part of the extra-curricular options offer. 


Years 7 and 8 

We give a wide exposure to different aspects of biology, including plenty of practical work from examining the histology of cells and making cell models to extracting DNA from peas and dissecting a teleost fish. 

In Year 7, we look at cover cells and microscope work, microbiology, plant biology, experimental design and invertebrate biology. In Year 8, we cover the vertebrate classes and build on the foundations of experimental design. 

Years 9 to 11 

The GCSE course (Edexcel) begins in Year 9 with an exploration of key biological concepts, cells and control and ecosystems and material cycles. 

In Year 10, we study health, disease and the development of medicines, plant structures and their functions and animal co-ordination, control and homeostasis. 

Year 11 sees an examination of genetics, exchange and transport in animals and natural selection and genetic modification. Two theory papers are sat at the end of Year 11. 


Years 7 and 8 

New pupils are excited by chemistry labs when they first arrive at the Upper. We build on this enthusiasm by including lots of practical work right from the start, ensuring pupils quickly become confident handling equipment. 

We focus on the chemistry of everyday life, from cooking to cosmetics, and chocolate to climate change. 

Years 9 – 11 

The GCSE course starts in Year 9 and develops students’ scientific enquiry skills through a mix of theoretical and practical studies.  

It also stimulates their ability to explain changes observed at macro and microscopic level, the capacity to interpret and critically assess others’ interpretations, as well as their dexterity in practical work. 

Two theory papers, both worth 50% of the marks, are taken at the end of Year 11

Computer Science

Years 7 and 8 

Pupils develop a thorough and systematic grounding in algorithms and programming with open-ended and easily accessible practical tasks to help students master their new skills. They also explore digital technology concepts through programming tasks, as well as theoretical concepts of data representation, computer operation and communication. 

There is plenty of practical work such as programming Python, the micro:bit (mini-computer) and HTML.  

Year 9 

Theoretical and practical skills are further developed and pupils must choose computer science as an option for Year 9 if they wish to study the subject at GCSE.  

Years 10 and 11 

Students develop their understanding of the main principles of problem-solving, applying their knowledge to develop computer-based solutions to problems in Python. 

The GCSE course also helps students appreciate current and emerging computing technologies and the benefits of their use, as well as learning to recognise the ethical issues and potential risks when using computers. GCSE marks are based on one theory paper and one on-screen practical exam. 

Design and Technology

Years 7 and 8 

We introduce pupils to a variety of tools and practices in order to design and make projects. Whether using a hammer or a solder iron, students are taught how to use a particular tool safely and get the most out of it. 

Occasional computer-based work forms part of lessons where students learn a variety of skills from research techniques to 3D drawing and electronic circuit simulation. Pupils’ projects might include an electronic dice, a phone stand, or engineering bridges. 

Year 9 

Pupils develop skills in a wide range of technical areas including graphics, resistant materials and control systems. Projects typically take four to six weeks and provide a great foundation for GCSE study. Useful or intriguing items created by students have included an audio docking station, furniture lighting and a marble maze. 

Years 10 and 11 

In Year 10, students build up their theory and practical skills by covering ergonomics components, materials, manufacture, design and market influences, as well as improving their working knowledge of mechanical prototyping and CADCAM. 

At the end of Year 10, pupils start on their individual coursework project, worth 50% of the GCSE marks. Working to a design context set by the exam board, they can choose the type of project to undertake which might match with their personal interests or preferred skillset. 

Students sit a final written exam on principles in design and technology at the end of Year 11. 

English and Drama

Years 7 – 9 

Focusing on literature and literacy, students develop their skills through classroom study, theatre trips, debates and author visits. 

Pupils study a range of set texts spanning prose, poetry and plays and exploring concepts such as identity, social structures and global perspectives. Prose study may feature works by the likes of Roald Dahl, John Boyne and Chinua Achebe and poets explored may include Tennyson, Simon Armitage and Carol Ann Duffy, while drama could cover the likes of Shakespeare, Chaucer and Mary Shelley. Reading lists exist to encourage further independent reading. 

The Drama curriculum includes theatre trips to the Globe, West End, RSC and regional theatres. 

Years 10 and 11 

The GCSE English Language and English Literature courses cover a wide range of skills including creative and persuasive writing, close analysis of texts and an appreciation of literary genres. Exams are sat at the end of Year 11. 

Students can also choose to take the Trinity College, London drama grades Drama Grades & Certificates | Trinity College London in Year 10. This course complements the wide range of drama activities available at the school, covering acting and technical aspects of theatre, including lighting, sound and effects, as well as an introduction to other theatre skills, such as production, direction, stage management, costume and make-up, and masks. 


Years 7 and 8 

Pupils are assigned to a teaching group based on their ability in French, but follow the same course, specially designed to extend each student so they reach their full potential. 

In Year 7, the main focus is developing language skills. Oral and aural work form the basis of most lessons, with French phonics and listening skills taught from day one so pupils become confident communicators. We also put a strong emphasis on grammar, different verb forms and French expressions. Pupils explore school life and sporting events in Francophone countries and learn to describe their family, school, hobbies and more. 

Year 8 sees pupils further extend their language skills and learn to recognise and use a wide range of high-level structures confidently, including the three main tenses. New topics introduced include holidays and travel, Francophone celebrations, food, local area and environment. 

Years 9 – 11 

The GCSE course starts in Year 9 and gives students the opportunity to develop their ability to understand and apply a range of vocabulary and structures, apply effective language learning and communication skills, understand and respond to different types of spoken and written language and communicate effectively in speech and writing for a variety of purposes. 

We have a range of subscriptions to interactive language learning websites allowing students to develop key skills further. In Years 10 and 11, pupils also have a small-group lesson with a French native speaker once a week to help them develop their spoken French. Exams are taken at the end of Year 11. 


Years 7 and 8 

We seek to capture and nurture the enthusiasm of our new students with a range of contemporary topics and the chance to experience places and environments first-hand through field trips. 

Year 7 pupils explore the UK’s dynamic coastline, which includes a trip to the north Norfolk coast to investigate coastal erosion and deposition, the challenges of the rainforest biome and global population. 

In Year 8 we start the year by exploring ‘wicked’ geographical problems and the megatrends that will define the 21st century including shifts in global economic power, ageing and growing populations, accelerating urbanisation, increasing affluence and consumption, and climate change and resource consumption. This sets the scene for the year’s exploration of the (over) consumption of resources. Students do units on energy, plastics, water and food. A key cornerstone of this teaching is examining solutions to addressing these issues. In addition, students engage with ‘Geography in the News’ – investigating related geographical news stories which interest them.. 

Years 9 – 11 

Students start Year 9 with tectonic hazards, examining why in a globalising world we should be worried about such hazards, even if they do not happen on our doorstep. We use digital maps to monitor glacial outpouring events in Iceland, explore disaster scenarios and grapple with the interconnected nature of complicated decision-making exercises to solve complex geographical issues. 

The GCSE course starts in the January of Year 9 and has human, physical and environmental geography elements. GCSE topics include ‘Landscapes of the UK’, ‘People of the UK’, ‘Ecosystems of the Planet’, ‘People of the Planet’ and ‘Environmental Threats to our Planet’. 

GCSE geographers conduct local fieldwork in Cambridge (Year 9), visit Epping Forest (Year 10) and take part in a three-day residential field trip at the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site (Year 11), where they visit Lulworth Cove, Durdle Door and Old Harry as well as designing, collecting and analysing fieldwork data in both human and physical contexts. 

Three exams are sat in Year 11 focusing on ‘Living in the UK Today’, ‘The World Around Us’ and ‘Geographical Skills’. 


Year 8  

Pupils can choose to study German as a Year 8 elective, alongside their French and Spanish studies. Students focus on learning the basic vocabulary and structures that enable them to speak and write simply about their family and friends, school life, free time, their home and their country. They will also cover some grammar points on word order, gender and case systems, and the present and perfect tenses. This puts students in excellent position to continue with German into Year 9 and beyond.

Years 9 – 11 

The GCSE course has four components – listening, speaking, reading and writing – and in Year 9 we introduce the topic of future plans, including going on our well-established exchange to Hamburg.  

In Year 10, we continue to develop a wide range of vocabulary, expressions and grammatical structures. In Year 11, in addition to focusing on exam technique and practice papers, we aim to go beyond the course requirements to provide a sounder footing for those wishing to continue at A level. Exams take place at the end of Year 11. 


Please be aware that Greek is not studied as a single option choice in Years 9-11 but as part of our Gratin provision. 

We introduce students to the ancient world through a curriculum that includes Latin in Years 7 and 8, followed by Latin, Gratin (Latin and Greek combined) and ancient history in Year 9 to 11.  If students wish to pursue Greek and Latin to GCSE then they will need to opt for Gratin, where they will achieve two separate GCSEs in Greek and Latin at the end of year 11.  Please contact the Head of Classics for further details, particularly if you have studied Greek at your previous school so that we can cater to your needs. 

Year 8 

The top Latin sets receive an introduction to classical Greek as part of their regular Latin lessons, while pupils in other sets have a taster session during the year. 

Year 9 

Students choosing to study Greek will do so via our Gratin provision, learning the Greek language, in conjunction with Latin, in one option block. It is expected Greek will be studied from a beginners’ level, though if students have studied the subject previously, their needs can be catered for. This is a fast-paced option and serves as an important foundational year for both GCSEs should any students wish to continue with this dual option in Year 10 and Year 11. Those students in top sets for Latin usually thrive in this option. 

Within Gratin, pupils will study the language and the civilisation of both the Greeks and the Romans. We aim to meet all needs through a programme of differentiated study, ensuring all students have reached the same level by the end of the year.  

Pupils must choose Gratin as an option for Year 9 if they wish to study Greek and Latin (via Gratin) at GCSE.  

Years 10 and 11 

Pupils electing to study Gratin for GCSE will receive two separate GCSEs in Greek and Latin at the end of Year 11.  

During Year 10, students study the remaining language features required for both Latin and Greek before beginning to study their prose and verse set texts in Latin. The former may feature works by the likes of Caesar, Cicero, Pliny the Younger or Tacitus whilst the latter is usually selected from Virgil’s Aeneid. 

In Year 11, pupils embark on their Greek prose text, which can be taken from authors such as Herodotus, Lucian or Plato. Once complete, students will explore the verse set texts, which could be an extract from a Homeric epic poem or an excerpt from a Euripides play. Students also consolidate their knowledge of grammar and vocabulary in both languages and will gain regular practice in the translation and analysis of ‘unseen’ passages.  

Pupils sit one language paper and two literature papers at the end of Year 11 in both Greek and Latin. 


Years 7 – 9

Year 7 – Seeing differently – Could rulers be challenged? We examine case studies ranging from the Peasants’ Revolt to the French Revolution to establish how authority was both maintained and questioned.

Year 8 – Believing differently – How and why did beliefs change in the 16th and 17th centuries?  We examine case studies ranging from the ideas of Martin Luther going viral to the role of religion in the Mughal Empire.

Year 9 – Exploring differently – What long shadows were cast by the First World War? We examine case studies ranging from the experiences of soldiers from the British Empire during both World Wars to the rise of the Nazis.

Years 10 and 11

Understanding differently

We follow the OCR SHP B GCSE course with exams taken at the end of Year 11.

The following topics are studied over two years, offering a dynamic and resonant view of history.

  • World Depth study: Life in Nazi Germany 1933-1945 – This topic deals with all aspects of the impact of the Nazi regime, on those living in Germany after the Nazis come to power in 1933 and on those directly impacted by the Nazi occupation of Europe during World War II. It also, crucially, allows pupils to study the Holocaust.
  • British Depth study: The Norman Conquest 1065-1087 – This topic examines the end of the Anglo-Saxon era. It then looks at the invasion of England by the Normans and the impact of that invasion.
  • History Around Us: This is an exciting part of the GCSE course that gives pupils the opportunity to examine the centre of Cambridge and trace its development over time.
  • Period study: The Making of America, 1789-1900 – This topic follows the unfolding narrative of the making of America from 1789 to the end of the 19th Century as the USA became the world’s leading economic and political power. It includes a particular study of the impact of westward expansion on the lives of Native Americans.
  • Thematic study: People’s Health c. 1250 to the present – This topic examines the development of public health in Britain from the Middle Ages to the modern age. It also looks at how authorities responded to several epidemics from the Black Death to the Spanish Flu.

Languages – other

Year 8 Elective MFL

In Year 8, students are able to choose an additional language to study alongside French and Spanish. They can choose between Italian, Mandarin Chinese and German. This allows students to try out a brand new language as a beginner, and can give the confidence needed to continue with a less familiar MFL option in Year 9 and beyond. Typically they learn basic vocabulary and structures in the new language so that they can understand and speak about basic topics, all the while developing cultural understanding.

In addition to our main curriculum, we offer three extra-curricular courses with the aim of leading to a GCSE in the following languages: 

  • Italian (two-year beginners’ course) 
  • Japanese (three-year beginners’ course starting when students are in Year 8) 
  • Mandarin (two-year intermediate* course) 

Lessons take place typically over one lunchtime and one after-school session per week. Following a free three-week trial period at the start of the academic year, a modest annual fee is payable to subsidise the cost of running these additional classes. 

Students wishing to undertake extra-curricular GCSEs usually do so from Year 8/9 onwards. We provide a brief introduction to Italian and Mandarin in Year 8, along with German, via our languages carousel. There are also Year 7 and 8 clubs enabling students to start exploring the languages ahead of the GCSE course. 

*Mandarin is offered to beginners as part of the main curriculum from Year 9 to GCSE. 

World of Languages, Languages of the World

This weekly class is an opportunity for students to consider the nature of language and to be introduced to some elementary concepts in linguistics. Pupils study languages, above all English, in their historical and social contexts, as well as the ways in which they emerge from, and relate to, other languages.

Students are able to develop their appreciation of the existence of different languages in the school as well as the wider local and national community, all the while developing problem solving skills and the ability to spot patterns in languages in various scripts.


We introduce all students to the ancient world through a curriculum that introduces Latin in Years 7 and 8, followed by the option to take Latin in Year 9 to 11. 

Students will explore the culture of the Romans, through various popular myths and societal beliefs, while developing the ability to translate Latin into English. This skill grants students access to some of the great works of Western literature – works which often addressed concerns that remain firmly on the modern agenda. Knowledge of the vocabulary and grammar of Latin provides a solid basis for understanding the way in which languages work more generally and, in turn, the study of Latin helps to develop logical thinking skills. Investigation of the world in which Latin was written and spoken allows students to see the origins of many aspects of our own world as well as many fascinating ways in which the Roman world was unique. 

Years 7 and 8 

Our Year 7 course caters for those who have not studied Latin before as well as those who have some experience of Latin from their previous school. Students learn about the way Latin works as a language, as well as exploring the major myths and beliefs of the Romans by following the de Romanis Book 1 textbook. 

In Year 8, pupils progress to language in the second half of the textbook. In the process pupils will explore how Roman religion and entertainment worked, whilst gaining a sound knowledge of foundational GCSE grammar and vocabulary. Students will also become aware of the links between Latin and English (and other languages) and learn about the similarities and differences between the Roman world and our own.  

Top sets in Year 8 receive an introduction to classical Greek as part of their Latin lessons. 

Year 9 

Students translate increasingly complex Latin with accuracy, encountering grammar and vocabulary that is integral to the GCSE course. Pupils may also begin to look at original Latin literature (in translation or in Latin), becoming familiar with literary critical techniques.  

Pupils also have the option to study Greek alongside Latin through our Gratin provision, where they study both ancient languages in one option block. This is a fast-paced option and serves as an important foundational year for both GCSEs should any students wish to continue with this dual option in Year 10 and Year 11. Those students in top sets for Latin in Year 8, usually thrive in this option. If any pupil has interest in studying Gratin, it is advised they get in touch with the Head of Classics. 

Pupils must choose Latin as an option for Year 9 if they wish to study the subject at GCSE. Similarly, it is essential a student chooses Gratin as an option in Year 9 if they wish to study both Latin and Greek at GCSE. 

Years 10 and 11 

In Year 10, students meet the remaining language features required for GCSE and further develop their appreciation of Latin literature, studying one or more pieces of prose in the original Latin, including their prose set text, which may feature works by the likes of Caesar, Cicero, Pliny the Younger or Tacitus. 

Pupils study the verse set text in Year 11, which is likely to be a part of Virgil’s Aeneid. Alongside study and revision of the set literature, students will consolidate their knowledge of grammar and vocabulary and gain regular practice in the translation and analysis of ‘unseen’ Latin passages.  

Students sit one language paper and two literature papers at the end of Year 11. 

Latin can also be studied via our Gratin provision, where pupils study Latin and Greek in tandem, resulting in a GCSE in both ancient languages at the end of Year 11. See ‘Greek’ for more details. 


Year 8

Pupils can choose to study beginners’ Mandarin Chinese as a Year 8 elective, alongside their French and Spanish studies. Students focus on learning about tones, Pinyin, stroke order, radicals and character composition. They also get the opportunity to learn how to express themselves on topics such as family and hobbies, all the while developing their understanding of Chinese customs and festivals.  

Years 9 – 11

The GCSE course starts in Year 9 with the first half term focusing on pronunciation, intonation and character composition. Students develop their communication skills through paired dialogues, supported translations and reading aloud activities. They build up a foundation of vocabulary to allow them to subsequently apply these in high-level grammatical structures in both speech and writing. During the first year, they will develop skills to understand and respond to different types of spoken and written language and communicate effectively for a variety of purposes.

From Year 9, students have a fortnightly one-to-one session with a native Chinese speaker to help them develop their spoken Mandarin. Students are also provided with subscriptions to interactive language learning websites allowing them to develop key skills further. Exams are taken at the end of Year 11.

Cultural awareness is a quality that we wish to instil into our students. We encourage this by teaching students about Chinese-speaking communities and Chinese customs and traditions. Students are given the opportunity to learn about China’s rich history and culture through the topics that we deliver as part of the AQA 9-1 GCSE course.

*** For students with prior knowledge of Mandarin, with a certain level of competency in the written as well as spoken form, there are fast-track extracurricular courses. For more information, please refer to the ‘other languages’ section. Students should express interest in the extracurricular Mandarin pathway and following a proficiency test will be advised on the most suitable pathway for them. ***


Years 7 – 9 

We focus on breadth of exploration, covering ground in many topics so students can make connections between seemingly unconnected branches of mathematics. We feel this variety also helps maintain interest. Ideas from earlier topics are embedded in later topics so the students can develop real fluency with the ideas. We use lots of unstructured and open-ended problems to help pupils develop resilience in the face of challenges and to promote enquiry as a helpful trait of a successful mathematician.   

In Year 7, we explore algebraic manipulation and equation solving alongside geometric reasoning and some introduction to statistical processes. Number and arithmetic skills from primary school are revisited and we add the topic of bases too. 

Years 10 and 11 

In Year 10 students start the GCSE course in earnest. Many of the ideas in the GCSE build on the learning from years 9 and 10 but the implications of the mathematics are explored at a higher level. There is a real emphasis on problem-solving in lessons as we feel it is important for pupils to develop confidence in tackling questions that look different to those they have attempted before.  

We aim to help students develop their algebraic fluency by looking at challenging expressions and formula, formalise their understanding of proportional reasoning to model real scenarios and build a sophisticated catalogue of approaches to deal with difficult geometric problems.  

Some students will also study for the Level 2 Certificate in Further Mathematics. This course provides a challenge for those pupils who would be easily capable of securing high grades in their GCSE mathematics.  

Exams for both the GSCE and Level 2 Further Maths course are sat at the end of Year 11. 


Years 7 and 8 

There is an emphasis on practical music-making in Years 7 and 8, often in pairs or in small groups. Pupils have the chance to develop their appreciation and theoretical skills through composition, performance and listening. We also encourage pupils to bring in their own instruments for this purpose. Topics include Music from West Africa, The Blues, The Renaissance Pavan and Galliard, Latin-American Rhythms and Disco Music. 

Year 9 

The Year 9 course is designed to build a strong platform for the GCSE course with a wide variety of topics which include The Irish Jig and Reel, The Classical Minuet and Reggae. Activities are largely practical, focusing on composition and performance. We aim for students to work independently on composition and further their skills and experience in using computer software such as Sibelius and Soundtrap. 

Years 10 and 11 

The GCSE course integrates the three components: performing, composing and appraising. Pupils present a small portfolio of compositions and performances at the end of the GCSE course, followed by a listening exam. The areas of study are: The Concerto Through Time, Rhythms of the World, Film Music and Conventions of Pop. 

We offer two routes to the exam for our GCSE students: 

  • The regular curriculum route in Years 10 and 11, with the exam taken and coursework presented at the end of Year 11. 
  • The extra-curricular one-year course, which is currently taught on Wednesdays after school. Students are also expected to make use of the lunchtime composition surgeries. This route is normally for Year 10 pupils who have the ability and musical experience to tackle an extra GCSE quickly. It is not recommended for anyone considering Sixth Form music study. 

Philosophy, Ethics and Religion

Years 7 – 9 

In Year 7, students begin by investigating the philosophical debates surrounding morality. They then study beliefs and practices associated with Buddhism before being introduced to philosophy, starting with Plato, moving on to the thoughts of JS Mill and eventually investigating the life and teachings of Martin Luther King.  

Year 8 students begin by trying to dispel the myths, misnomers and misunderstandings about Islam and Judaism which pervade western media and culture. We move on to an introduction to epistemology, where questions posed include whether they can be sure they are not in The Matrix and whether they can trust their senses. The year is rounded off by investigating arguments for the existence of God and the philosophy of David Hume, followed by key ethical questions involving justice and the value of life.  

In Year 9, students investigate the beliefs of Hinduism and Sikhism, including explorations of life after death and service to others. The focus moves on to social justice and human rights, including inter-faith relations and equal opportunities before we look at ‘Philosophy at the Movies’, delving into the themes of evil and redemption in Harry Potter, vigilantism and anarchy in Batman and feminism and Marxism in The Hunger Games.  

Years 10 and 11 

The GCSE course looks at the role and influence of religious and non-religious beliefs, values and traditions.  

Students study four areas of ethical debate in depth. These include ‘Relationships and Families’ (gender, sexuality, divorce), ‘Religion and Life’ (origins of life, abortion, euthanasia), ‘Peace and Conflict’ (justice, forgiveness, reconciliation, pacifism, just war, holy war) and ‘Human Rights and Society’ (prejudice and discrimination, social justice, wealth and poverty). In addition, they study two religions in depth, with exams taken at the end of Year 11. 


Years 7 and 8 

We lay a foundation of fundamental physical concepts with the focus on forces and materials in Year 7 and energy, electricity and space in Year 8. Our course is structured to develop basic skills in scientific investigation and encourage a questioning frame of mind. 

Years 9 – 11 

Pupils begin the GCSE course in Year 9, laying the foundations with waves, forces, energy and concepts in electricity. 

Year 10 introduces kinetic theory, thermal physics and electromagnetism, and has a greater focus on mathematical formulation in mechanics and electricity. A trip to the Physics at Work exhibition at the Cavendish Laboratory gives the pupils an appreciation of the relevance of physics and of possible career options. 

The course rounds off in Year 11 by exploring radioactivity and nuclear physics, electromagnetic induction and astronomy and cosmology. Pupils sit two higher tier papers at the end of Year 11. 


Years 7 and 8 

Year 8 builds on the foundations established in Year 7 for correct spelling, pronunciation and grammar, and the pupils learn vocabulary relating to key aspects of daily life. In addition, students begin are introduced to oral lessons in pairs. All students have the opportunity to participate in the Spelling and Translation Bee challenges, in addition to liaising with our partner school in Madrid as pen pals.

Year 9 

Our course focuses more closely on oral, grammar and cultural immersion; pupils start to explore GCSE vocabulary topics, such as Hispanic festivals and traditions, the arts, gastronomy and the environment, and students begin dedicated one-to-one oral lessons. Moreover, they can begin to delve further into translation and poetry and compete in national competitions. At the end of Year 9, pupils sit a GCSE-style paper at a level accessible to them, including an oral test. 

Years 10 and 11 

The GCSE course has four components – listening, speaking, reading and writing. From Year 10 onwards, there is a greater emphasis on the spoken language with a continuation of specific oral lessons with our language assistant on a weekly basis. During Year 10, pupils will start preparing for their oral exam and will be expected to have completed most of this preparation by the end of the Michaelmas term of Year 11.  

At the end of Year 10, they sit a full GCSE written paper, covering the themes of ‘Identity and Culture’, ‘Local and International Areas of Interest’ and ‘Current and Future Study and Employment’. Year 10 pupils also have the opportunity to take part in a Spanish cultural trip to Madrid which includes a visit to a school in Toledo. 

With the bulk of the syllabus complete ahead of the January mocks in Y11, from the Lent term they will spend time on consolidation, exam practice and extension work prior to the final exams. More able pupils will be encouraged to work at a post-GCSE level. 


Find out more about our curricular and extra-curricular sport.


Take a look at some example timetables for the Upper School.

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