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All students study four subjects in Year 12: a mix of reformed linear A levels and Pre-U. Students do not sit standalone AS levels at the end of Year 12. All subjects are examined at the end of Year 13 only.
Linear A levels
Many students undertake a Senior Scholarship at the end of Year 12, submitting this at the start of Year 13. This is a significant independent project, requiring excellent research and organisation skills. It is evaluated by specialists within the school and the quality of submissions is outstanding. The Senior Scholarship combines the beneficial elements of an EPQ qualification without the constraints and limitations of that formal structure.
The school advises most students to focus on three subjects in Year 13. We strongly encourage students to engage with subjects in greater depth than exam specifications allow, reading widely and with scholarly enthusiasm. This enriches their understanding and develops their independence, informing higher education decisions and preparing them for university-level study. A significant minority continue with four subjects, particularly those taking further mathematics A level.
The school makes A level and Pre-U predicted grades on the basis of four criteria:
We do not predict D1 grades for Pre-U subjects given the inconsistent nature with which they are awarded in some subjects and for fairness and consistency to all students.
Virtually all of our students take 11 subjects at GCSE, IGCSE or School Directed Course in Year 11. Some students take a modern language GCSE/IGCSE early if they have a background in that language. All students follow a core curriculum of seven GCSE/IGCSE subjects: English language, English literature, maths, the three separate sciences and one modern foreign language. Students then opt for four optional subjects from a choice of thirteen.
School Directed Courses in Art, History of Art, Drama and Music
Well-established school-directed courses are offered in art, history of art, drama and music (in the case of art, the course has run for over 20 years). These courses are internally assessed and externally moderated by experienced senior examiners. They are reported in a GCSE equivalent grading system for UCAS purposes. Independence from the constraints of GCSE specifications enables us to offer broader and more challenging courses in these creative subjects, which are tailored to the exceptional calibre of our students and provide better preparation for further study in those subjects. Students take a maximum of two of these creative subjects to support a balanced and broad academic curriculum.
CIE 0500 IGCSE English Language – Speaking and Listening skills
Since 2010, all students have studied the CIE First Language English IGCSE course specification 0500. Students do not have any choice over the syllabus that they follow. The accreditation criteria relating to this specification were altered in April 2014, relating to the lack of compulsory speaking and listening components (which have since been removed from assessment in reformed GCSE English language).
All of our students are articulate, fluent native speakers of English or advanced bilingual learners with the same level of fluency as a native speaker. Consequently, we feel that the curriculum and assessment time that would be spent on these speaking and listening components are better used to enable study of an IGCSE in English Literature without requiring significant extra classroom time, allowing them to hone their textual analysis, creative response and discursive evaluation skills.
The 0500 course also holds significant advantages in including a series of writing tasks in different genres such as formal letters, formal reports, newspaper reports and formal speeches. Skills of selection and concision are developed through summary tasks. These tasks offer excellent training in reading and writing skills that will be directly relevant to girls in all academic disciplines and will be essential in their future careers. We trust that you will accept this statement as supporting evidence of the excellent speaking and listening skills of all of our applicants.