At St Catherine’s, academic standards are high. Our value added figures are also exceedingly strong, demonstrating that our dedicated staff really do get the best out of every girl.

With our small classes and outstanding teaching staff, excellent preparation for A Level is a given. We offer individual attention and know the needs and abilities of each student in our care, providing support or extension as appropriate. Teachers frequently offer revision sessions outside the timetabled school day, and have an open-door policy.

Our Sixth Form curriculum includes a full range of A Level courses, encompassing the traditional subjects such as English, History, Geography, Languages, Maths and Science, as well as Economics, Politics and Psychology. We also have a wide range of creative subjects and vibrant Drama, Music and Art departments who support these interests. We endeavour to accommodate student subject choices within our timetable, ensuring that every girl can study the subjects which suit her own strengths and aspirations.

Each girl usually studies four A Level subjects during Year 12, and continues with three of these subjects in Year 13. Following this model ensures the girls to receive a broad education, and that they make informed choices when selecting their final three subjects.  In addition to their subject lessons, they also receive one General RE and one General PE lesson per week. In Year 12 they also have a Study Skills lesson. All the Sixth Form receive 2 lessons of ‘General Studies’ a week. This is an in-house programme which consists of a wide variety of relevant courses on such things as: study skills, interview techniques, university applications and careers advice as well as more practical sessions on ‘survival cookery’, presentation skills, orienteering and first aid. We also invite Elevate Education to St Catherine’s every term to run a series of seminars on study skills with our students.

In addition to A Levels, we also offer all girls the chance to study for the Extended Project Qualification (EPQ). Much valued by universities, the EPQ is worth 50% of an A level, and universities often make lower offers to students with an EPQ. The qualification provides an excellent opportunity for the girls to demonstrate their independent research skills, and to delve deeply into their passion.

All students wishing to study in the Sixth Form at St Catherine’s are expected to have achieved six GCSEs at grades 6-9, including a grade 4 in Maths and English. They generally gain a grade 7 in the subjects they wish to study at A Level; however, if a student is close to this level and shows aptitude and willingness in other ways, entry can be discussed with the Headmistress.

Art & Design

Art & Design

A Level Options for Art and Design are Fine Art, Photography, Textiles and Graphic Design

These courses will appeal to students who loved their art specialist subject at GCSE and want to take their work onto the next level. For the students who wish to follow an art course beyond A Level, there is the choice of taking more than one specialism. Fine Art is usually the core subject with a second option supporting the experience outside of traditional art.

They will become students who are imaginative and creative with an ability to work independently. They will learn techniques to solve creative problems, be confident to take risks and take their work on a personal journey.

The Curriculum

Edexcel Board: 60% Personal Investigation + Personal Study (12%) min. 1000 word essay  and 40% Externally Set Assignment with a 12 hour Examination.

In all options the coursework theme is chosen by the students. All pupils follow their theme throughout the two years, creating a series of outcomes, the number of which is up to the individual, two of which will be created in examination. They work inside and outside of the sketchbook to record their ideas, developments and experiments with a range of media. The students investigate a range of relevant artists, photographers and designers, visit galleries and exhibitions, experiment with new and interesting materials and techniques that lead to creating visually exciting individual pieces. An essay is a separate element to the course that enables the students to explore research, question, analyse and express their opinions. They will put forward an informed and considered final argument which is separately marked.

Fine Art

The GCE in Fine Art is designed to encourage an adventurous and enquiring approach to Art. They will be students who love drawing and visually recording their ideas throughout their personal journey of investigation. They are often students who wish to make a express an idea or tell a story. They will be students with a passion for painting and expressing themselves visually in a figurative or more abstract way. The students have the opportunity to work either in acrylics or oils on canvas, working on a range of sizes, with some working on a dramatically large scale.

“It is a widely accepted notion among painters that it does not matter what one paints as long as it is well painted. This is the essence of academicism. There is no such thing as good painting about nothing” Mark Rothko

Students can apply for an Art Foundation year or apply to the Universities directly to do a degree. There are many Art and Design degree options available including Fine Art Degrees.

Biology

Biology

With an ongoing shortage of people to fill STEM roles and an ever evolving job market, pursuing Science can lead to excellent employment prospects. Even if you don’t go on to study a science at university, learning to think like a scientist will equip you with excellent problem-solving skills in particular. Physicists look for the hidden laws as to why all matter and energy exists, where it comes from and its behaviour.

Science A levels are among Russell Group universities facilitating subjects because choosing then allows a wide range of options for degree study. A level Science subjects are not easy and require not only a desire to study them but a certain aptitude.

The Curriculum

All A Level Science subjects have a common set of objectives in relation to the delivery of the content and the emphasis developing a range of practical skills. Practical work brings Science to life, helping students make sense of the universe around them. That’s why it’s at the heart of our Biology, Chemistry and Physics A-levels. Practical science allows scientific theory to transform into deep knowledge and understanding – scientific thinking. Through investigation, students uncover the important links between their personal observations and scientific ideas.

Post A Level opportunities:

  • Accelerator Operator
  • Applications Engineer
  • Data Analyst
  • Design Engineer
  • Laser Engineer
  • Cosmology

Biology AQA 7402

The course will appeal to students interested in Life Sciences. Students will develop their understanding and apply their knowledge of biology and evaluate data from experiments they carry out in the laboratory. They will develop a broad understanding of the functions and effects of Life Sciences on the outside world, as well as gaining an appreciation of how biology contributes to current medical advances.

Year 12

1 Biologiccal molecules

2 Cells

3 Organisms exchange substances with their environment

4 Genetic information, variation and relationships between organisms

Year 13

5 Energy transfers in and between organisms

6 Organisms respond to changes in their internal and external environment

7 Genetics, populations, evolution and ecosystems

8 The control of gene expression

Additional completion of 6 required practicals:

Research scientist.

Pharmacologist.

Biologist.

Ecologist.

Nature conservation officer.

Biotechnologist.

Forensic scientist

Chemistry

Chemistry

With an ongoing shortage of people to fill STEM roles and an ever evolving job market, pursuing Science can lead to excellent employment prospects. Even if you don’t go on to study a science at university, learning to think like a scientist will equip you with excellent problem-solving skills in particular. Physicists look for the hidden laws as to why all matter and energy exists, where it comes from and its behaviour.

Science A levels are among Russell Group universities facilitating subjects because choosing then allows a wide range of options for degree study. A level Science subjects are not easy and require not only a desire to study them but a certain aptitude.

The Curriculum

All A Level Science subjects have a common set of objectives in relation to the delivery of the content and the emphasis developing a range of practical skills. Practical work brings Science to life, helping students make sense of the universe around them. That’s why it’s at the heart of our Biology, Chemistry and Physics A-levels. Practical science allows scientific theory to transform into deep knowledge and understanding – scientific thinking. Through investigation, students uncover the important links between their personal observations and scientific ideas.

Post A Level opportunities:

  • Accelerator Operator
  • Applications Engineer
  • Data Analyst
  • Design Engineer
  • Laser Engineer
  • Cosmology

Chemistry OCR H432

This course will appeal to students with both academic and laboratory skills, those wanting to develop logical and analytical thinking, numeracy and creativity and, of course, those with a specific career in mind that requires it.

Year 12

1 Development of practical skills in chemistry

2 Foundations in chemistry

3 Periodic table and energy

4 Core organic chemistry

Additional completion of 6 required practicals

Year 13

5 Physical chemistry and transitional elements

6 Organic chemistry and analysis

Additional completion of 6 required practicals:

Analytical Chemist.

Chemical Engineer.

Chemistry Teacher.

Forensic Scientist.

Geochemist.

Hazardous Waste Chemist.

Materials Scientist.

Pharmacologist.

Computer Science

Computer Science

Computer Science is a practical subject where students can apply the academic principles learned in the classroom to real-world systems. It’s a creative subject that combines invention and excitement, and can look at the natural world through a digital prism.

You do not need to have studied GCSE Computer Science or ICT. It is much more important to be a logical thinker and to enjoy solving puzzles and problems. This subject requires good basic numeracy, and a logical and analytical approach to solving problems.

Computer Science will give you an in-depth understanding of how computer technology works and a look at what goes on “under the bonnet”. Through your programming work, you will develop your critical thinking, analysis and problem solving skills. It will be an interesting and useful way to develop these skills. These skills can be transferred to other subjects and to future employment.

The Curriculum

The department follows the syllabus of the OCR Exam Board. The course consists of 3 components: Computer Systems (40% – 2 hours 30 minutes  exam paper), Algorithms and Programming ((40% – 2 hours 30 minutes  exam paper),) and a practical project (20% – assessed internally).

In Year 12 pupils will cover Computer Systems.  This component will introduce the internal workings of the Central Processing Unit (CPU), the exchange of data and will also look at software development, data types and legal and ethical  issues. The Component consists of the following modules: processors, input, output and storage devices, software development, exchanging data (How data is exchanged between different systems), data types, data structures and algorithms and finally legal, moral, cultural and ethical issues. Throughout Year 12 pupils will practise coding skills to enhance their understanding of algorithms.

In Year 13 pupils will produce a program that will provide a solution to a user problem, including analysis of the problem, design of the solution, development of the solution and evaluation of the finished project.  Next, pupils will complete the component Algorithms and Programming where they will understand the benefits of applying computational thinking to solving  a variety of problems. Pupils will cover the following topics: the elements of computational thinking, problem solving and programming and algorithms.

Post A Level Opportunities

As well as appealing to anyone wishing to go on to study Computer Science at university, the course will give you a foundation for various computer-related university degrees including; Software Engineering, Web Design, Computer Graphics and Business.

A qualification in Computer Science provides a range of career opportunities, most notably in the fields of computer software development, network management, cybersecurity, engineering, web design, banking and education.

Drama

Drama

At A level, pupils will thrive studying Drama if they are creative and dedicated. Whilst having studied Drama at GCSE is not a requirement, the A level course follows much the same structure and it is certainly beneficial. Drama students should be diligent, willing to work in a variety of groups, and love stories and storytelling. They should also be willing to participate in extracurricular Drama, and contribute to the promotion of Drama around the school.

The Curriculum

We follow the AQA syllabus. The course comprises three elements.

Component 1 is a three hour written exam which totals 40% of the final grade. Pupils answer questions on two set texts (Antigone and Our Country’s Good) and write an analysis of a piece of live theatre.

Component 2 is a devised piece totalling 30% of the final grade. Pupils research and then select a practitioner and, in groups, devise a piece exploring a subject of their choice in the style of that practitioner. They keep a Working Notebook, detailing their creative process and theatrical decisions. This is internally assessed and moderated by AQA.

Component 3 is the exploration of three extracts from different plays and totals 30% of the final grade. Pupils choose a practitioner and explore the three extracts, writing a Reflective Report detailing their explorations. Extract Three is performed to a visiting examiner from AQA.

Post A Level Opportunities

There is a huge variety of options available for those who study Drama at A level. As well as reading Drama at university or going to drama school, the skills that are developed in Drama are also hugely beneficial for a range of other subjects and careers. Any career that involves communication, creativity or collaboration would be aided by the skills that you gain from this subject. Law, business, teaching, care – the list is endless. Drama is also incredibly useful for looking at the world through different lenses, exploring thoughts and stories, and really learning about the world we live in.

Economics

Economics

Some of our A Level students will be those who have studied Economics at GCSE level and have enjoyed it.  However, the A Level course is also open to students with no prior knowledge, and all concepts will be taught from scratch.

Girls who have a curiosity about the world around them will enjoy this subject, as they will gain a deep and critical understanding of the real world.  News stories about issues such as inflation, unemployment and international trade will become clear, and girls will develop intelligent and informed opinions on these.  As the course progresses, girls will realise that solving economic issues is no simple matter, and they will gain an understanding of the compromises and conflicts inherent in economic policy.

Assessment methods are varied, and exam papers include a mixture of questions from calculations and diagrams to essays.  Girls often ask about whether an aptitude for Maths is essential.  Economics does involve the use of calculations and diagrammatic data but, at A Level, these are not very complex.

THE CURRICULUM

We follow the OCR specification and there are three modules.  In Year 12, girls will be introduced to both Microeconomics and Macroeconomics.  In Year 13, knowledge of both of these is further developed.

For the microeconomic component, theories are introduced and applied to the behaviour of economic agents in the real world, especially the theoretical workings of the free market. Exploring imperfections and market failures introduces the impact of government intervention such as specific taxes, subsidies and the minimum wage.

The macroeconomic component introduces the tools required for understanding of how the macroeconomy functions on both a domestic and global level, and the potential impacts of government policies.  For example, girls will learn about solutions to unemployment and inflation, how to help less developed countries and different approaches to international trade policy.

The third paper, Themes in Economics, is a synoptic paper drawing together the learning from both microeconomics and macroeconomics.

POST A LEVEL OPPORTUNITIES

Economics is a rigorous academic subject which is looked upon as good preparation for a wide variety of university courses.

If students wish to pursue Economics further at university, they can study a pure Economics course, or can choose Economics combined with another subject such as Geography or International Relations.  It should be noted that A Level Maths is required for virtually all pure Economics degrees at University.  Without Maths, girls can still often study Economics combined with another subject at University.

English Literature

English Literature

“A writer only begins a book. A reader finishes it.”  Samuel Johnson

The English Literature A level course will appeal to students who enjoy literature in its many forms, relish a discussion, have a keen intellectual curiosity and know that clear communication is vital in today’s world. Do you like to lose yourself in a book, but know that you can find yourself there too? English Literature is an important and engaging subject, introducing you to a world of new ideas and new ways of thinking.

THE CURRICULUM

We study the Edexcel specification which offers a range of enjoyable and stimulating texts. In Year 12 you will study two prose texts, a modern drama and one selection of modern poetry. In Year 13 we add one Shakespeare play and a further collection of poetry. You will also complete a coursework essay in which you compare an aspect of two texts of your own choosing. This is where you can follow your own interests, stretch yourself, and prepare yourself for the rigours of independent, university-level study.

POST A LEVEL OPPORTUNITIES

As well as being excellent preparation, of course, for a range of English-based studies in further education, English Literature is widely recognised as a valuable and versatile ‘facilitating’ subject at A level because of the transferable skills it develops. It can enhance an application to medical school, to law and business degrees, to other humanities subjects and languages, as well as to English, journalism, and many other degrees, courses and jobs. It is a stimulating and exciting choice.

Food Science & Nutrition

Food Science & Nutrition

THE CURRICULUM

In the Sixth Form we offer Food Science and Nutrition (Eduqas WJEC LEVEL 3). This qualification is equivalent to an A level qualification in size, depth, rigour and UCAS points. It builds on the knowledge gained at GCSE level and 3 units are completed over the 2 years.

There are 2 mandatory external assessments of 1 hour 45 minutes each and 2 mandatory internal practicals/investigations of 9 and a half hours each.

  • Unit 1 – Meeting the nutritional needs of special groups
  • Unit 2 – Ensuring food is safe to eat
  • Nuit 3 – Experimenting to solve food production problems
  • Unit 4 – Current issues in food science and nutrition

The variety within the course enables students to have in-depth knowledge of aspects from diet-related illnesses to food properties and composition, combining practical food skills and individual science experiments.

POST A LEVEL OPPORTUNITIES

Food Science and Nutrition develops personal and team working skills. It is therefore sound preparation for a variety of university courses and careers.

Food is one of the world’s fastest growing industries. Over 20% of the top British companies are in food manufacturing. New developments and trends in food have an influence on us all and the subject can lead to careers in technology and food related fields, such as the leisure and tourism industry, dietetics and nutrition, marketing and consumerism, the media, education and food journalism.

Geography

Geography

Geography is the ‘must have A Level, in a world that increasingly values people who can work across the physical and social sciences, geography’s all the rage ’ (The Guardian Newspaper).

To excel at Geography you need to be flexible in your abilities, able to write coherently and passionately in essays, to analyse data and graphs and people able to express your opinions with evidence to back them up. There is a lot of material to cover so organisation is essential.  The key attribute is an interest in the world and how it is changing.

THE CURRICULUM

The A Level Geography course will cover both the physical and human environments and the complex interaction of processes that shape our world. It will also, importantly, show the applied side of the subject – how human intervention affects the environment and how people adapt and mitigate the effects of processes on their environment. This is complex and dynamic and varies from place to place depending on people’s resources, technology and culture. There is plenty of room for discussion and extended research, which will help pupils become independent thinkers and learners. By the time pupils reach their exams, they will be able to show an understanding of a range of opinions and be able to illustrate answers with case studies from local, national and international examples.

The school follows the AQA A-Level specification which builds upon the GCSE work of Year 10 and 11.

Year 12 covers some new topics in Human Geography such as the concept of ‘place’ and what makes every location unique. We also again return to Urban Issues and spend more time focusing on issues of regeneration, housing and the urban environment. In Physical Geography, we look again at Natural Hazards but look more at the differences in people’s responses to natural events such as wildfires and link these to climate change. Lastly, we introduce the framework of the ‘Systems approach’ which is a way we can understand natural and human processes.

In Year 13 we study political and economic Geography with the study of global trade and development as well as the concept of a ‘global governance’ process whereby countries work together to manage global issues such as the management of Antarctica. Finally, we look at coasts again from different perspectives.

Fieldwork is completed as a group on two trips to the coast in Sussex and the Olympic site in Stratford, East London. Students then complete independent research for two days which is then written up as coursework at the start of Year 13.

POST A LEVEL OPPORTUNITIES

Geography combines well with both arts and science subjects. Geography is highly valued by universities as an A Level choice. It is classed as a ‘facilitating subject’ by the Russell group of universities. It is possible to take Geography as a Science degree (BSc) or a humanities (BA) which indicates the level of flexibility offered by this subject.

The knowledge and transferable skills that geographers gain from their degree studies are highly relevant to the workplace; levels of geography graduate unemployment are extremely low at 7.4% (2019). You will find geographers working in every sector of the economy including finance, local businesses, not-for-profit organisations, significant research or as key decision makers in local and national government, highlighting the range of possibilities for geographers.

Graphics

Graphics

A Level Options for Art and Design are Fine Art, Photography, Textiles and Graphic Design

These courses will appeal to students who loved their art specialist subject at GCSE and want to take their work onto the next level. For the students who wish to follow an art course beyond A Level, there is the choice of taking more than one specialism. Fine Art is usually the core subject with a second option supporting the experience outside of traditional art.

They will become students who are imaginative and creative with an ability to work independently. They will learn techniques to solve creative problems, be confident to take risks and take their work on a personal journey.

THE CURRICULUM

Edexcel Board: 60% Personal Investigation + Personal Study (12%) min. 1000 word essay  and 40% Externally Set Assignment with a 12 hour Examination.

In all options the coursework theme is chosen by the students. All pupils follow their theme throughout the two years, creating a series of outcomes, the number of which is up to the individual, two of which will be created in examination. They work inside and outside of the sketchbook to record their ideas, developments and experiments with a range of media. The students investigate a range of relevant artists, photographers and designers, visit galleries and exhibitions, experiment with new and interesting materials and techniques that lead to creating visually exciting individual pieces. An essay is a separate element to the course that enables the students to explore research, question, analyse and express their opinions. They will put forward an informed and considered final argument which is separately marked.

Graphics

The GCE in Graphics Communication is designed for students who have an eye for design, an interest in graphics, packaging, advertising and illustration. They will be students who are imaginative and creative with an interest in wanting to communicate visually, but can also be with text. They will learn the need to create an impact, make an impression and the importance of either telling a story or a making a statement. For the Fine Artist this can more subtle, with the focus on illustration. For the Photographer, digital manipulation can play an important role in creating graphic design.

“Creativity involves breaking out of established patterns in order to look at things in a different way”
Edward de Bono

Students can apply for an Art Foundation year or apply to the Universities directly to do a degree. There are many Art and Design degree options available including Fine Art Degrees.

Government & Politics

Government & Politics

Politics will appeal to students who have an interest in the drama that is happening everyday in this country and around the world as we have seen in Brexit and Trump. The subject is also about people and arguments so there is always something intellectual to debate.

A Level Politics mixes a strong theoretical academic challenge with a very applied real world appreciation of life. It also provides the opportunity to develop important skills, particularly communication and the ability to argue clearly and confidently.

THE CURRICULUM

We follow the awarding body Edexcel and there are three 2hr written papers in total.

Year 12

Paper 1, UK Politics – We examine the process of how we determine who the government is and what policies are important eg voting systems, holding elections, political parties, pressure groups and the media.

Paper 2, Governing the UK – We study major government processes in the UK and relations between institutions eg constitution, parliament, Prime Minister, Cabinet, judiciary and media.

Paper 1, Core political ideas. These are the main three ideologies that determine politics in the world: liberalism, conservatism, socialism.

 Year 13

Paper 2, Optional political ideas. We study nationalism eg Trump and Brexit. This has re-emerged recently and is the counter ideology to globalisation which we study in Paper 3

Paper 3, Global Politics / International Relations. Role of the UN, war in human history, human rights, rise of populism. Theories of international relations.

POST A LEVEL OPPORTUNITIES

There are many career options available for those who have studied Politics, including law; media; local or national government; journalism; the Civil Service and think tanks or lobbying organisations.

History

History

There is an emphasis on extensive independent learning in this subject as the content requires lots of wider reading for the in depth analysis required to reach a top grade. The course combines very well with other Humanities, particularly Ancient History, Economics, RS and languages, both ancient and modern. It also overlaps with the skills required for Geography and English. Past students have also combined History with Music, Drama and Art and have found that the understanding of human society that History gives adds context to these subjects.  Universities often appreciate this academic breadth.

Students benefit from developing excellent written skills and learning to communicate complex ideas clearly and fluently (orally and in their writing), including being able to construct a reasoned argument. Research skills are an integral part of the course particularly in the coursework. Critical thinking and analytical skills will also be a focus when using sources which are essential to master in preparation for an undergraduate degree in Humanities.

THE CURRICULUM

Our A-Level History course is designed to promote a breadth of study to prepare students for University and beyond. Beginning with a British History Enquiry Unit and one European or World History Period unit, comprising 40% of the A Level. (OCR Exam Board)

Year 12

The British unit – Britain 1485- 1558 : The Early Tudors, (Enquiry topic: Mid Tudor Crises 1547–1558)

The European unit – Spain 1469-1556

Year 13

In Year 13, students take one historical theme paper and one Coursework unit that allows students to research and write about a topic of their choice, which many students find beneficial in preparation for university. These comprise 60% of the A level and build on the skills taught in Year 12 with new subject content.

The Thematic unit: Russia and its Rulers 1855–1964

Coursework – A topic of the students’ own choice (with some guidance): In the Coursework unit, students write a 3000-4000 word essay on a topic of their own choice.  It can be linked to topics previously studied or it can be completely new

POST A LEVEL OPPORTUNITIES

History is highly regarded by universities and employers. It is recognised as providing excellent preparation for a wide range of courses at university. It is a very good grounding for careers that focus on the articulation of ideas, logical thinking and argument: such as law, journalism and government and politics. It is also viewed positively by employers who demand proof of a good brain, in fields such as Accountancy, Medicine and Architecture.

Mathematics

Mathematics

The main reason for studying Mathematics at A Level is most definitely that it is great fun and challenging. Mathematics students should be problem solvers and relish the feeling of satisfaction from following an intricate argument or proof through to a beautiful solution. Most of all, however, it is important that students enjoy the subject as, at times, the going gets tough and you need to be prepared to persevere.

Pupils choose to study Mathematics A level not only as a discipline in its own right but also as a support for other curriculum areas. It is a natural complement for the Sciences and Social sciences but it also provides a broader education for those interested in the Arts as it teaches you to think in a logical way, something which is vital when putting across your argument.

The Curriculum

A level Maths will give you the ability to analyse and formulate problems presented in a variety of contexts and to apply a wide range of problem-solving techniques. These techniques are fundamental thinking skills which are transferable to all other subjects and have a wide range of applications in many aspects of life in general.

Maths A level extends the work started at IGCSE and involves new ideas demanding intellectual rigour and academic discipline. We follow the Edexcel 9MA0 syllabus which comprises three modules with the examinations taken at the end of the two-year course. The modules are Pure Maths 1, Pure Maths 2 and Statistics and Mechanics.

Post A Level Opportunities

Maths A level is a highly sought-after qualification and it is frequently listed as a subject which will equip students with the skills and knowledge to undertake courses at some of the most competitive universities. The problem skills that it develops are particularly important for potential applicants to Economics, Engineering, Scientific and Computing courses.

Further Mathematics

Further Mathematics is a challenging and stimulating course aimed at the best mathematicians and can only be studied in addition to Mathematics. It is a demanding course that requires a capacity for abstract reasoning as well as very strong algebraic skills.

We follow the Edexcel 9FM0 syllabus which allows for study involving a wider range of analytical techniques leading to a much deeper understanding of fundamental principles together with the analysis of complex problems. The A level comprises four exams. There are two compulsory pure papers and two optional papers from a choice of further pure or applied modules.

Whilst not an essential requirement, Further Mathematics is recommended for students who want to study for a degree in Mathematics or a related subject such as Physics and Engineering.

Modern Foreign Languages

Modern Foreign Languages

An A Level in a Modern Foreign Language should appeal to good communicators, to students interested in foreign literature, history, culture and thought, to students who are able to identify logical patterns and apply them to new situations and to students who wish to keep a wide range of university pathways open and would like access to a wide variety of possible careers.

THE CURRICULUM

At A level, students are required to use increasingly complex linguistic structures and will be able to engage in spontaneous exchanges over a range of topics. There is a greater emphasis on the ability to translate texts both from the Target Language into English and vice versa. In addition, students will develop the ability to summarise written and spoken passages in their own words.

Aside from language skills, A Level students must demonstrate a good understanding of their Target Language cultures and societies. To this end, they frequently use genuine news and literary sources and offer a critical analysis. Themes include Current Trends (Cyber-Society, Charity, Gender Roles), Artistic Culture (Heritage, Music, Cinema), Current Issues (Multiculturalism, Marginalisation, Criminality) and Political Life (Youth Engagement with Politics, Protests and Strikes, Immigration Policy). They also have the opportunity to pursue their personal interests in their chosen Target Language culture with an Independent Research Project.

Finally, students will study one literary text and one film in the Target Language. They are expected to be able to give a detailed critical analysis of each.

POST A LEVEL OPPORTUNITIES

Modern Foreign Languages are regarded as “facilitator” subjects by British universities, which means that they tend to be highly regarded by university admissions staff and can be used to access a wide range of university courses. An additional language can give you a competitive edge in both your education and your career. Aside from a purely language degree, a language can fit with absolutely any other subject to form a joint degree. An additional language will prove essential for a career in language teaching, translating and interpreting. Other career paths where languages would be an asset are: finance, law, sales and marketing, transport, tourism and leisure, public sector, international organisations including the UN.

Research shows that UK graduates in modern languages have one of the lowest unemployment rates and, given that over 60% of British trade is with non English speaking countries, they have a head start on other potential employees, particularly for any company that carries out international business.

Music

Music

The typical A level student will be regularly taking part in music making both in and outside of school, they will enjoy creating music and refining their ideas and are interested in listening and analysing music in depth. Students will attend concerts and recitals throughout the course. The performance standard at this level is grade 6 on an instrument or voice and students can work towards that throughout the course.

THE CURRICULUM

At A level there are 2 areas of study: Western Classical Music and a choice from popular music or musical theatre depending on the interests of the group. Students can choose to specialise in performance or in composition. It is a well-rounded course for girls that are passionate about music making.

We study music at A level with the Eduqas board. It is a broad course which focuses on areas of study that are prescribed and that we select. The course is 60% practical and all A level students will perform and compose during the course. Students can choose whether to specialise in performance and give a longer recital or composition and present 3 compositions as opposed to 2 during the 2 years of study.

The written element of the course is 40% and the compulsory area of study is Western Classical Music and the history of the Symphony. We then select one following areas:  Pop and rock music, Musical Theatre or Jazz. We select this through discussion with the cohort that are studying the course.

POST A LEVEL OPPORTUNITIES

A number of our students have gone on to read Music at university and are now pursuing professional music careers.

 

Philosophy & Ethics

Philosophy & Ethics

Philosophy is one of the most interesting and thought provoking subjects that you can study at A Level, investigating the enquiring minds of Plato, Aristotle and some of the great Philosophers to have ever existed. One important reason for studying Philosophy is that it is the foundation of everything. Everyone engages in philosophy daily without realising what they are doing. It deals with fundamental questions about the meaning of our existence. At some point in our lives most of us have asked ourselves some philosophical questions. For example, are our lives real or is it a dream?  What makes something right or wrong?

Philosophy also sharpens our ability to think, to analyse arguments and come to a conclusion. These are important and essential skills which can be transferred and be used in jobs like Journalism, Law, Maths, Science and Medicine and many more. Many people who study philosophy go on to study these subject areas at university. It also helps us engage in discussions on ethical dilemmas and recognise that people have different value systems and that we should be more open-minded to differences in beliefs and other ways of life.

The Curriculum

Students study a challenging and evoking course following the AQA Specification Religious Studies. The course is split evenly over three areas of Philosophy, Ethics and Christian Theology and is assessed in two 3 hour exams at the end of Year 13. The Philosophy course at St Catherine’s is ideal for students who enjoy discussing and debating some of life’s big questions on the existence of God and the problem of evil, who enjoy sharing their personal view and have a love of reading about historical great leaders of Faith and Philosophy.

St Catherine’s also offers a Core RE course for all students in Year 12 and 13 where students focus on leadership in faith. They study a range of topics from Service to Religious Ethics. The girls are also encouraged to put their faith into action in the local area in a variety of ways, leading charity school events and volunteering in the local community and in residential care homes.

Post A Level Opportunities

Philosophy sharpens our ability to think, to analyse arguments and come to a conclusion. The analytical skills developed through the study of Philosophy can lead to a variety of professions. These are important and essential skills which can be transferred and be used in careers like Journalism, Law, Maths, Science and Medicine and many more. Many students also choose to study Philosophy at degree level and move into teaching or public sector roles including counselling and psychotherapy. Studying Philosophy helps us engage in discussions on ethical dilemmas and recognise that people have different value systems and that we should be more open-minded to differences in beliefs and other ways of life.

Photography

Photography

A Level Options for Art and Design are Fine Art, Photography, Textiles and Graphic Design

These courses will appeal to students who loved their art specialist subject at GCSE and want to take their work onto the next level. For the students who wish to follow an art course beyond A Level, there is the choice of taking more than one specialism. Fine Art is usually the core subject with a second option supporting the experience outside of traditional art.

They will become students who are imaginative and creative with an ability to work independently. They will learn techniques to solve creative problems, be confident to take risks and take their work on a personal journey.

The Curriculum

Edexcel Board: 60% Personal Investigation + Personal Study (12%) min. 1000 word essay  and 40% Externally Set Assignment with a 12 hour Examination.

In all options the coursework theme is chosen by the students. All pupils follow their theme throughout the two years, creating a series of outcomes, the number of which is up to the individual, two of which will be created in examination. They work inside and outside of the sketchbook to record their ideas, developments and experiments with a range of media. The students investigate a range of relevant artists, photographers and designers, visit galleries and exhibitions, experiment with new and interesting materials and techniques that lead to creating visually exciting individual pieces. An essay is a separate element to the course that enables the students to explore research, question, analyse and express their opinions. They will put forward an informed and considered final argument which is separately marked.

Photography

The GCE in Photography is designed to encourage an exciting and explorative approach to the subject. This enables the students to choose to be unconventional and individual. The students will develop their work throughout the course from a starting point of their choice that they take on a personal journey alongside research and contextual investigation. They will be students who have an eye for the world and the camera to record it. They will be encouraged to be imaginative and learn how to express this through the opportunities of photographic digital manipulation.

“…looking at, studying and absorbing good photography serves the same purpose for a beginning photographer. That is because learning the components of a good image- composition, lighting, gesture,- and seeing those elements used differently over and over by masters, makes it easier for a person to achieve the same end on his or her own over time. And there is no alternative to this, no shortcut.” Frank Van Riper

Students can apply for an Art Foundation year or apply to the Universities directly to do a degree. There are many Art and Design degree options available including Fine Art Degrees.

Physics

Physics

With an ongoing shortage of people to fill STEM roles and an ever evolving job market, pursuing Science can lead to excellent employment prospects. Even if you don’t go on to study a science at university, learning to think like a scientist will equip you with excellent problem-solving skills in particular. Physicists look for the hidden laws as to why all matter and energy exists, where it comes from and its behaviour.

Science A levels are among Russell Group universities facilitating subjects because choosing then allows a wide range of options for degree study. A level Science subjects are not easy and require not only a desire to study them but a certain aptitude.

The Curriculum

All A Level Science subjects have a common set of objectives in relation to the delivery of the content and the emphasis developing a range of practical skills. Practical work brings Science to life, helping students make sense of the universe around them. That’s why it’s at the heart of our Biology, Chemistry and Physics A-levels. Practical science allows scientific theory to transform into deep knowledge and understanding – scientific thinking. Through investigation, students uncover the important links between their personal observations and scientific ideas.

Post A Level opportunities:

  • Accelerator Operator
  • Applications Engineer
  • Data Analyst
  • Design Engineer
  • Laser Engineer
  • Cosmology

Physics AQA 7408

This course will appeal to students who want to develop their interest in, and enthusiasm for Physics, including developing an interest in further study and careers in Physics. A Level Physics students develop and demonstrate a deeper appreciation of the skills, knowledge and understanding of ‘How Science Works’. They also develop essential knowledge and understanding of different areas of physics and how they relate to each other. Students must enjoy Mathematics and problem solving. Physics trains your brain to think beyond boundaries, it opens up the mind to amazing concepts like time dilation as studied alongside Einsteins’ Theory of Special Relativity. The subject combines practical skills with theoretical ideas. Analytical, mathematical and problem – solving skills become highly developed through Physics A-Level.

 

Year 12

1 Measurements and their errors

2 Particles and Radiation

3 Waves

4 Mechanics and Materials

5 electricity

Additional completion of 6 required practicals

 

Year 13

6 Further Mechanics and thermal Physics

7 Fields and their Consequences

8 Nuclear Physics

9 Turning Points in Physics

Additional completion of 6 required practicals

Physical Education

Physical Education

Students may opt for A Level PE, as an extension to the GCSE PE course, play to their strengths and gain dynamic theoretical and practical skills for further education or work. Students who are likely to excel in this subject are those who already train and compete outside of school in one sport and are eager to build upon their GCSE PE theoretical studies. If you love playing sports, have bundles of energy and enjoying learning about movement then studying PE A-level and beyond could be a good career move for you.

The Curriculum

AQA A Level PE

Paper One: 2 hours written exam: 35% of A-level. Year 12

Section A: Applied anatomy and physiology

Section B: Skill acquisition

Section C: Sport and society

Paper Two: Factors affecting optimal performance in physical activity and sport. Written exam: 2 hours. 35% of A-level. Year 13.

Section A: Exercise physiology and biomechanics

Section B: Sport psychology

Section C: Sport and society and technology in sport

Non-exam assessment: Practical performance in physical activity and sport. Year 12&13.

Students are assessed as a performer or coach in the full sided version of one activity. Plus: written/verbal analysis of performance. Internal assessment, external moderation. 30% of A-level.

Post A Level Opportunities

If you want to specialise in coaching or teaching a specific sport, then there’s a chance that you’ll need to have a degree in Physical Education. If you plan to study Sports Science, Rehabilitation, or Occupational Therapy, then A-level PE will certainly come in useful when applying to university. Many aspects of PE involve working in teams towards a common goal. Through playing team sports and problem solving with others, you’ll develop clear communication skills that will help you in the workplace. Every employer looks for candidates who are able to communicate well verbally and in writing.

Examples of Opportunities:

Sports scientist

PE teacher

Physiotherapist

Professional sportsperson

Psychology

Psychology

This course will appeal to students who are interested in the study of people’s behaviour, performance, and mental operations. Psychology also refers to the application of the knowledge which can be used to understand events, treat mental health issues, and improve education, employment, and relationships.

The Curriculum

Students learn how to predict, understand, explain, and control behaviour.

AS (Year 12)

• Knowledge, skills and understanding

• Topic 1: Social psychology

• Topic 2: Cognitive psychology

• Topic 3: Biological psychology

• Topic 4: Learning theories

A2 (A Level) (Year 13)

• Topic 5: Clinical psychology

• Topic 6: Criminological psychology

• Topic 7: Child psychology

• Topic 8: Health psychology

• Topic 9: Psychological skills

Post A Level Opportunities

If you choose to study psychology at university, there are many different areas which you can choose to focus on. These include health, clinical, educational, research and teaching, occupational, counselling, neuro, sport and exercise, and forensic. Careers based on the study of psychology are wide ranging and include chartered psychologist, psychotherapist, social worker and counsellor. Careers for psychology graduates interested in the education sector can take a number of different paths. They can work within social services to help support learning in the community at all ages, or within the prison sector to provide support for young offenders.

“If you plan on being anything less than you are capable of being, you will probably be unhappy all the days of your life”

Abraham Maslow

Sociology

Sociology

Studying Sociology offers insights into social and cultural issues. It helps you develop a multi-perspective and critical approach to understanding issues around culture, identity, religion, crime, families and social power. More than once during the course you’re bound to ask yourself the question, “why has society developed like this? With poverty, ignorance, crime and injustice.”

The Curriculum

Year 12 core :
Education and methods in context
Research methods
You’ll also study one of the following optional topics: culture and identity, families and households, health, work, poverty and welfare.

Year 13 core:
Crime and deviance
Theory and methods

You’ll also study one of the following optional topics: beliefs in society, global development, the media, stratification and differentiation.

How you will be assessed:

Three two-hour exams each worth ⅓ of the final grade and 80 marks each. Exams are a mixture of shorter and extended essays.

Post A Level Opportunities

Sociology is a great choice of subject for people who want a career in social work, nursing or medicine. But the subject is also useful in a number of other careers, like marketing, advertising, PR, journalism, law or teaching.

Textiles

Textiles

A Level Options for Art and Design are Fine Art, Photography, Textiles and Graphic Design

These courses will appeal to students who loved their art specialist subject at GCSE and want to take their work onto the next level. For the students who wish to follow an art course beyond A Level, there is the choice of taking more than one specialism. Fine Art is usually the core subject with a second option supporting the experience outside of traditional art.

They will become students who are imaginative and creative with an ability to work independently. They will learn techniques to solve creative problems, be confident to take risks and take their work on a personal journey.

The Curriculum

Edexcel Board: 60% Personal Investigation + Personal Study (12%) min. 1000 word essay  and 40% Externally Set Assignment with a 12 hour Examination.

In all options the coursework theme is chosen by the students. All pupils follow their theme throughout the two years, creating a series of outcomes, the number of which is up to the individual, two of which will be created in examination. They work inside and outside of the sketchbook to record their ideas, developments and experiments with a range of media. The students investigate a range of relevant artists, photographers and designers, visit galleries and exhibitions, experiment with new and interesting materials and techniques that lead to creating visually exciting individual pieces. An essay is a separate element to the course that enables the students to explore research, question, analyse and express their opinions. They will put forward an informed and considered final argument which is separately marked.

Textiles

The GCE in Textiles is designed for students who have a love for clothes, design, colour, pattern and texture. They will be students who approach to Textiles. They will be students embracing a range of ideas and processes. The course covers a wide range of techniques and approaches to interior, fashion, dyed, printed and constructed Textiles. The students will develop their work throughout the course from a personal starting point.

“We built our fashion around three fundamental concepts: Sicily, tailoring, and tradition. Our dream is to create a style which is timeless, and to create clothes with such a strong personality that whoever sees them can instantly say without a shadow of a doubt: this is a Dolce & Gabbana” Dolce & Gabbana

Students can apply for an Art Foundation year or apply to the Universities directly to do a degree. There are many Art and Design degree options available including Fine Art Degrees.