Key Stage 4


Key Stage Four covers Years 10-11 and the GCSE exams. That’s why it’s such a pivotal time in any student’s life and involves some decisions for future career routes.

As an important milestone in the school journey, GCSE choices enable students to pursue subjects which suit their particular preferences but without any significant specialisation at this time. To ensure that your daughter’s GCSE programme provides her with a broad, balanced education, consistent with the aims of the school, the National Curriculum and the requirements for university entrance, students must take:

  • an integrated English Language and Literature course (examined as two separate GCSE subjects)
  • Mathematics
  • either the Double Certificate Combined Sciences (which counts as two GCSEs) or the Triple Certificate Separate Sciences (which counts as three GCSEs)
  • at least one from Geography and History
  • at least one modern foreign language from French, German, Russian and Spanish
  • To this core curriculum, students should add further subjects from the list below, carefully selected to reflect their interests and future ambitions. We recommend that students choose to take nine GCSEs in total, and only in exceptional circumstances, ten.

We take this GCSE selection process very seriously and provide every girl with extensive support and guidance to help her shape an individual programme of study throughout Key Stage 4.

‘In line with the school’s aims, pupils develop intellectual curiosity and a love of learning as they move through the school.’

—ISI Nov 2021—

  • Why Study Art And Design?

    You will follow a dynamic and diverse course of study that will give you the opportunity to explore a broad range of skills and processes. As you become more independent and confident in developing your own ideas, you will be able to choose how you respond to thematic briefs, and which creative processes you wish to explore further. GCSE Art and Design is the first step towards an exciting career in the creative industries. The course begins with a foundation stage, which allows you to become familiar with a range of creative processes, including painting and drawing, printmaking, sculpture and three-dimensional media, textiles, fashion design and lens-based media. It encourages you to make your own judgements and develop strong critical and analytical skills.

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  • Why Study Business?

    Business is not just a theory-based subject; you learn about real-life businesses, many of which you are already familiar with. You will investigate real businesses and the global and changing world in which they operate, and learn the practicalities of running a business, and the reasons why some succeed when others fail. Business introduces you to issues concerning the setting up and operation of a business. It explores the activities of business and the reasons for success or failure. It encourages you to appreciate that businesses must operate within society and that this involves businesses engaging with a wide range of stakeholders who will hold differing perspectives. You will also study businesses as they grow and the issues that expansion raises.

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  • Why Study Computer Science?

    This is a course that has real relevance in our modern world. While you will already have some knowledge of computers and related areas, the course will give you an in-depth understanding of how computer technology works and a look at what goes on ‘behind the scenes’. As part of this, you will investigate computer programming. Through the study of computer programming, the course will help you to develop critical thinking, analysis and problem solving skills. You will hopefully find it a fun and interesting way to learn these skills which can be transferred to other subjects and even applied in day-to-day life. There are fantastic opportunities for those who wish to study and excel in Computer Science. Everyone today is a consumer of Computer Science and IT products.

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  • Why Study Dance?

    Dance GCSE offers the chance to work creatively and independently and is a challenging, exciting course. The balance between practical tasks assessed internally and final written examination gives you the best opportunity to succeed. You will learn multiple skills in performance, choreography and analysing dance performances; how to choreograph and structure your own piece by understanding choreographic devices and processes; develop and improve your technique; and gain presentation skills as well as build your confidence.

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  • Why Study Design And Technology?

    Design and Technology is a creative and practical subject. The course enables students to follow an iterative design process to give an opportunity to investigate, design and make products that satisfy real wants and needs. It suits students who enjoy a hands-on approach to learning, with opportunities to work with a range of materials and tools, enabling them to be creative and innovative with their ideas. Given its breadth and depth, Design and Technology has much to offer across a wide range of career paths in engineering, manufacturing, and the creative industries.

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  • Why Study Drama?

    Drama GCSE is an excellent choice for any student who wishes to learn more about the theatre process, to develop their own performance and/or technical and design skills and to gain more confidence as communicators. The course is divided into three components: devising, performance of texts and a written examination. GCSE Drama is, of course, a useful foundation for study of the subject at A Level, but it is also a springboard for courses in any of the Arts and Humanities. The skill-set acquired is transferable to many university courses and future careers.

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  • Why Study English?

    English is an essential subject for many reasons. It teaches you to communicate effectively, to widen your vocabularies, and to adapt your communication for different social situations. It also enables you to express yourself more effectively, and to organise your thoughts logically, increasing the ability of your brain to process complex information and so reach more complex conclusions. Finally, it prepares you for A Level study, and introduces you to the critical concepts that have dominated the last century of thought: feminism, Marxism, and psychoanalysis, as well as considering texts and your authors as products of the time and place that produced them. In English Language, you study for the examination a range of non-fiction texts, which also includes an unseen non-fiction text, and a section on producing writing in a non-fiction genre. For English Literature, you study a literary heritage text, a prose text, and a drama text.

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  • Why Study French?

    French is the second most widely learned foreign language after English, and the sixth most widely spoken language in the world. French is also the only language, alongside English, that is taught in every country in the world. The ability to speak French and English is an advantage in the international job market. French is the international language of cooking, fashion, theatre, the visual arts, dance, and architecture. Topics covered include Everyday Activities, Personal and Social Life, The World Around Us, The World of Work, and The International World.

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  • Why Study Geography?

    Geography is a highly relevant subject that requires students to explore the big questions about our world today. It is wide-ranging, exciting and thought-provoking. This course studies geography in a balanced framework of physical and human themes, whilst investigating the links between them and carrying out investigations at differing scales. Within the course, you will study the processes that are responsible for the creation of ever-changing landscapes. Through a balance of both physical and human geography, the complex interconnections between environments are examined alongside the varying ways in which humans interact with the environment. Topics of study include climate change, development, urbanisation, hazards, coasts, ecosystems, global shifts in economic power and the challenge of sustainable resource use. You are also encouraged to understand your role in society, by considering different viewpoints, values and attitudes.

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  • Why Study German?

    German is now the most sought-after language by employers in the UK. German is a straightforward and logical language to learn. Approximately 40% of German nouns are similar to their English counterparts, and German grammar is logical and clear. Many of the great cultural and scientific achievements of the past 600 years were first conceived in the German language. Everything from the printing press to the periodic table bears the stamp of the German language. You will always find a German to talk to, as the Germans are the best-travelled people in the world. Britain is Germany’s biggest global trade partner, so your German will also be useful in business.

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  • Why Study History?

    Studying History will give you empathy, tolerance, organisation, rigour, advanced literacy, transferable skills and links to many other disciplines. You will be able to judge an issue based on evidence and develop critical thinking skills – and gain an understanding of the contemporary world.

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  • Why Study Latin?

    GCSE Latin is an exciting course and one of the most diverse GCSEs in terms of content and skills. Highly regarded and intellectually rigorous, GCSE Latin is the only language that includes the study of literature at this level. GCSE Latin classes tend to be small, and you will have individual support whilst being part of a vibrant department which offers a stimulating range of co-curricular opportunities, ranging from overseas trips to theatre visits, to archaeological sessions. This subject is dynamic and fun. Latin is held in such high regard because it is a challenging and wide-ranging GCSE. You will learn skills of precision, logic, communication, literary criticism, source analysis, and evaluation.

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  • Why Study Mathematics?

    Through the study of Mathematics, we aim to foster rational thinking and develop an appreciation for the beauty of the natural world. We promote intellectual curiosity and equip you with the skills needed to be a critical observer and problem solver. Mathematical ability is one of the most highly prized assets for a wide variety of university courses and careers. Mathematics offers you the chance to challenge yourself and face complex problems that will require perseverance and dedication to solve, allowing you to develop the confidence to try something out even if it might not immediately lead to a fully correct solution. The chance to improve your reasoning skills should never be underestimated! The study of Mathematics will develop your problem-solving skills and provide support in the study of other GCSE subjects such as Science, Business and Geography as well as A Level subjects like Psychology. Throughout the course, you will develop knowledge and understanding of mathematical concepts and techniques, acquire the foundation of mathematical skills and further study in the subject or related areas, enjoy using and applying mathematical techniques and concepts, become confident in using mathematics to solve problems and learn to appreciate the importance of mathematics in society, employment, and study.

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  • Why Study Music?

    Music is different, challenging and fun. As well as enhancing musical skills, it also develops self-confidence, self-discipline, presentation and team-working skills through performing solo and with others. These sorts of skills are transferable and much in demand in the world of work. In addition, studying Music encourages the understanding of the importance of continuous evaluation and refinement in any process. GCSE Music is about making and listening to music. It covers performing, composing, and listening in a wide variety of musical styles: popular music, world music, and classical music. You will learn how to write, perform, and appraise music.

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  • Why Study Religious Studies?

    Religious Studies is the fastest growing GCSE. This course offers a modern and inspiring option that will allow you to consider some of the fundamental questions about human existence through Christianity, a second religion and your own opinion. You will be challenged with questions about belief, values, meaning, purpose, and truth, enabling you to develop your own attitudes towards religious issues. You will gain an appreciation of how religion, philosophy and ethics form the basis of culture whilst developing leadership, research, analytical and critical thinking skills, and the ability to work with abstract ideas. It is a GCSE for students of all faiths, as well as for those who do not have one. GCSE Religious Studies offers you the opportunity to explore religious responses to both the perennial questions of philosophy and the issues we face in modern society and life. You will develop your knowledge and understanding of the relationship between religion and the wider world and explore the impact of beliefs, teachings, and practices.

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  • Why Study Russian?

    This is a most fascinating language and successful completion of the GCSE Russian course will facilitate the transition to higher-level study. You study the four skills of Listening, Reading, Speaking, and Writing. The prescribed themes are Identity and Culture (family, friends, daily life), Local Area, Holiday and Travel, School, Future Aspirations, and International and Global Dimension (bringing the world together, and environmental issues).

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  • Why Study Science?

    Science develops curiosity, problem solving abilities, practical competency, independent thinking, numeracy and the confidence to take academic risks. It encompasses the study of the universe, from the largest galaxies to the smallest subatomic particles, deals with the foundations of life, and makes sense of the material world; it is crucial to truly understanding the world around us. The Biology course will develop your interest in, and enjoyment of, the study of living organisms, and encourage you to enjoy scientific enquiry. You will investigate the variety of life, and the structure and functioning of living organisms. The Chemistry course offers you a lively and enjoyable progression from Key Stage Three Chemistry. It will make you more aware of the industrial, social, economic, environmental, and technological aspects of Chemistry. Theory is backed up with practical work wherever possible. The Physics course will develop your understanding of the basic ideas of Physics so that, in future life, you can take an informed interest in matters relating to Physics. It will provide a good preparation for the study of Physics to A Level and beyond.

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  • Why Study Spanish?

    Spanish is the world’s third most widely spoken language in the world, used by 500 million people, after Mandarin Chinese and English. 25 different nations speak Spanish, either as the official language or as a primary language. A large body of literary work is written in Spanish and Spanish language films continue to receive praise from the film industry and viewers. Spanish is an invaluable asset in the academic career of a student.

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  • Why Study Sport Science?

    The course allows you to play to your strengths and gain dynamic skills for further education and a healthy future. This specification teaches you to evaluate performance and suggest plans for improvement. You also cover the benefits of healthy living, alongside topics such as the role of media in sport. If you have a keen interest in sport and recreation and want to develop a well-rounded skill set and progress to further studies, this is the perfect subject for you.

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‘Pupils show an outstanding attitude to learning.’

—ISI Nov 2021—

Our specialist academic options for overseas students:

One-Year GCSE Academic – for girls aged 15 or 16, this course is designed for overseas girls whose level of English is already near-native fluency, offering a rigorous academic curriculum and a range of subject experience.

Two-Year GCSE Course (mainstream curriculum) – for girls aged 14 or 15, best suited to girls whose command of English is already of a good level but who would benefit from two years of study to ensure the best possible GCSE foundation for entry into mainstream A Level curriculum.