Curriculum

Academic life at St Paul’s is uniquely stimulating and the key reason that most families choose the school. We aim to instil in each girl an excitement about learning for its own sake and a love of scholarship which will serve her throughout life. While success in examinations is important, a St Paul’s education goes far beyond this and at every stage, girls are encouraged to pursue intellectual, creative and cultural interests beyond the formal curriculum.

For the first three years, all girls study a broad range of subjects including English, mathematics, history, geography, Latin, religious studies, art and design, drama, music, the sciences, two modern foreign languages and ICT. In the V and VI girls study seven subjects in the core curriculum: English, English Literature, mathematics, biology, chemistry, physics and a modern foreign language. In addition, they choose four subjects from eighteen options, providing significant breadth in curriculum choice. All subjects are then studied to GCSE or IGCSE level, or to well-established school directed courses in art, drama and music. Non-examined general studies courses encourage girls to develop their scholarly interests in the V and VI, away from the constraints of defined specifications, to explore cross-curricular connections and to engage in broader discussions about ideas.

In the Senior School, nearly all girls study four subjects for the first year, from a choice of twenty-three different options. Most girls then choose to focus their time and energy on studying three subjects in the VIII through to A level or Pre-U. This allows them the opportunity to delve independently into areas of especial interest, to read more widely around their studies and to develop the scholarly engagement with their learning that is central to our ethos.

Government reforms to A and AS levels started in 2015 and will continue to change the curriculum landscape over the next few years. We look forward to the opportunities that full linearity will bring to enrich the Senior School experience both in and out of the classroom. Nineteen of the twenty-three subjects that we offer will be linear in September 2016: a combination of linear A levels and Pre-Us. Linear A levels have no AS component, and are instead examined entirely at the end of the VIII. Girls will not take the separate, standalone AS level in these subjects in the VII. We welcome the opportunity to remove an unnecessary layer of public examination between GCSE and A level, increasing the richness and diversity of academic exploration in the VII. The Pre-U qualification provides a well-established linear alternative to A level which is widely understood and accepted by universities. From September 2016, we will follow the new linear A level specifications in ten subjects (art, biology, chemistry, drama, economics, geography, Greek, Latin, music and physics) and the Pre-U qualification in nine subjects (English literature, French, German, history, Italian, Mandarin, philosophy and theology, Russian and Spanish).

The other four subjects that we offer remain unreformed in 2016 (government and politics, history of art)mathematics and further mathematics). A levels in these subjects continue to be modular until 2017-18. Girls studying these subjects will therefore sit the AS level units, for these subjects only, at the end of the VII, and their A2 level units in the VIII. The school will continue to consider all available options to ensure that we follow the most exciting and rigorous specifications in all subjects through the reform process.

Please continue to consult the website for more detail, which we will provide as the necessary information becomes available. The full curriculum policy, which may change marginally from time to time, is available here.