Our Senior School teachers are enthusiastic and well-qualified subject specialists.
VARIETY, BREADTH AND INNOVATION
We intentionally keep the curriculum extremely broad throughout Years 7, 8 and 9, so that pupils have a chance to try every subject as a timetabled class.
Excels at instilling a deep and genuine passion for learning as well as self-confidence —Highgate Senior School parent, 2020
In our Senior School,
our teacher to pupil ratio is 1:9.
At Highgate, pupils take ten GCSEs or IGCSEs in class sizes of up to 24. In Year 9, pupils start their courses in Chemistry, Biology and Physics, and in Year 10, pupils start English Language, English Literature, Mathematics and one language from either French, German, Mandarin, Russian or Spanish.
Pupils then choose their remaining subjects from Art, Classical Civilisation, Computer Science, Design Technology and Engineering, Drama, Geography, Greek, History, Latin, a second Modern Language, Music and Religion Studies.
NON-EXAMINED COURSES IN YEARS 10 AND 11
Throughout both Year 10 and Year 11, pupils have sports afternoons, complimented by exercise lessons in Year 10; there are also lessons dedicated to PSHEE.
Pupils also have a fortnightly academic lecture on something quite intentionally off syllabus. This is a good opportunity for introductory talks in Philosophy, Economics, Politics and History of Art, which are all new subjects that pupils might be considering for Sixth Form study, but other lectures have included talks on evolution, why wood burns, and the Israel / Palestine conflict. In Year 10, pupils also have a day of Sixth Form taster lessons.
Highgate’s Art Department believes art is for everyone and that it is through creative activities that pupils learn about themselves, the world around them and gain important life-skills. Art is taught in form groups up to Year 8, you are then taught in smaller groups from Year 9 onwards.
We offer two options for our A level in Art and Design – Fine Art or Interdisciplinary Design. Many of our sixth formers apply to very competitive degree and foundation courses, ranging from fine art to architecture or fashion. We put great emphasis on supporting these sixth formers in the development of their portfolios, alongside their A level work.
Our Art Department’s state-of-the-art building provides studio and gallery space for all. We have facilities for painting, print-making, life drawing, sculpture, pottery, and film-making, as well as an IT suite for graphics and computer aided design, and a photographic darkroom. Our studios are open at lunchtimes and every evening, from 4pm-6pm, so anyone is able to do work at that time with a member of staff on duty to assist.
Classical Civilisation, Greek and Latin
Highgate’s Classics Department offers wide-ranging scholarship on the civilisations of ancient Greece and Rome, exploring these cultures through the study of literature in translation, history and art/archaeology. We are responsible for the teaching of Latin, Greek, Ancient History and Classical Civilisation in Years 7 to 13.
You all study Latin in Years 7 and 8, following the Cambridge Latin Course. From Year 9, some of our pupils, at the recommendation of our Department, then follow our own course in Classical Studies and the vast proportion continue with Latin. In Year 9, three sets of our pupils take Greek as well as Latin (‘Gratin’) as a single combined and fast-paced option, meaning we have around fifty studying Greek. We follow GCSE courses in Latin, Greek, Classical Civilisation and Ancient History.
We offer A levels in Ancient History, Classical Civilization, Greek, and Latin. Each year, several of our sixth formers go on to study a wide range of classical degrees at university, and we have sixth formers apply to read a course with a classical element at Oxford or Cambridge.
Highgate’s Computing Department offers a high quality education that equips you to use computational thinking, and be creative in solving problems.
You all have compulsory Computing lessons at KS3, with the curriculum developing your computational thinking and computer programming skills. Our Department uses a range of computer programming languages to teach computational thinking concepts. We follow the Pearson Edexcel GCSE course (the two parts of the specification are the theory of computer science, and problem solving and programming). We provide opportunities for you to work collaboratively as a team when entering national programming competitions, in which we have achieved considerable success in recent years.
Our A level is a practical and rigorous course where our sixth formers apply academic principles to real-world systems, thus becoming prepared for further study and employment as active participants in the digital world.
Highgate’s Design, Technology and Engineering Department spans throughout the curriculum from KS1-5. All the content of the DTE curriculum is linked to context, the outside world and is interdisciplinary in nature. Former Design Technology & Engineering students go on to have exciting, rewarding and innovative careers. Some go on to work for top Design Engineering firms such as Rolls Royce and Dyson, in a range of disciplines from product development and innovation, to protecting intellectual property. Others have become entrepreneurs and inventors, launching successful companies in cutting-edge fields of technology, such as Litho, an augmented reality ring.
We help students become creative problem solvers as an individual and as a member of a team, by equipping them with transferable hard and soft skills; such as empathy and the iterative design process to tackling today’s and tomorrow’s global problems. One of them being sustainability, which is a key element of the DTE curriculum.
We also help developing confidence through individual curiosity, experimentation and having fun. Design Technology & Engineering means different things to different people, but the common thread is that it is their home and they often find their passion. All of this is amplified by the excellent and dynamic teaching in the department, utilising state of the art workshops / robotic equipment as well as the enrichment outside of the classroom, including exclusive industry visits and encouraging both girls and boys to compete in international STEM competitions.
At GCSE we follow the OCR specification called Design Technology which allows for students to explore a variety of topics, from user centred design to robotics and work with materials and process, such as 3D printing, textiles and welding. From this great foundation at GCSE we then offer two A-levels, Design Engineering and Product Design, again both from the exam board OCR, please click here to see the specifications of both the courses.
Our extra curriculum offering is very extensive and we enter 8 different national STEM competitions, ranging from Vex robotics to electric racing cars via the Greenpower charity. We have been lucky enough to attend the world vex robotics championships in the USA, 3 times and had students win various design innovation awards, from TDI to triumph. We also enter students into the Arkwright Engineering Scholarship programme, where we have had over 18 scholars over the past 7 years.
Highgate’s Drama and Theatre Studies Department lets you become part of a creative, reflective community, where you develop confidence, communication, team building, listening and analytical skills. In Years 7 to 9 pupils have a Drama lesson once a week and it is then a popular GCSE option in Year 10. Sixth formers who successfully complete our A Level build a thorough understanding of drama and theatre, learn to think critically and analytically, and develop their imagination, equipping them with important transferable skills for life after school. Trips to the theatre are a regular occurrence, as are workshops and talks delivered by industry members.
Our Drama Studio has black-out blinds and a well-resourced lighting and AV system. A separate drama studio provides additional rehearsal and performance space.
Pupils also have the chance to take part in school productions, both on and off stage, and past productions have performed on the main stage at RADA and the Arts Depot and, for several years, we have taken a Sixth Form play to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. In addition, our annual House Drama Competition is a well established feature in the school year, where pupils can participate in a production, entirely free from staff intervention.
Highgate Economics Department offers a pacey, exciting and scholarly A level that exposes our sixth formers as soon as possible to the subject’s core technical models. It remains one of Highgate’s most popular A level subjects and we achieve excellent results, supporting a good number of Oxbridge applicants each year. A comprehensive programme of extension classes gives students a broader lens on the subject, including History of Economic Thought, Quantitative Economics and a deeper exploration of contemporary applied case-studies. Through lectures, competitions, blogs and book clubs, Highgate economists have the opportunity to explore the subject well beyond the syllabus.
Highgate’s English Department aims to develop an enduring engagement with, and enthusiasm for, English literature and language amongst all our pupils. Our School has a long and distinguished literary tradition: the poets Nicholas Rowe (Laureate 1715-18) and Gerard Manley Hopkins were educated at Highgate, and John Betjeman was taught by T.S. Eliot in 1915.
You all study English Language and English Literature in the core curriculum up to Year 11, where we follow GSCE English Language and IGCSE English Literature. Within our Sixth Form, we offer the Eduqas A level in English Literature. Standards are high and a considerable number of our sixth formers study English at universities in the UK and in North America.
Our English Department offers new and innovative ways to study. For example, in 2018 we introduced Highgate 21, a list of five challenging and rewarding books, per year, that are outside the curriculum. The aim is that everyone reads at least three texts during each Senior School year. We place a strong focus on creative writing, with an annual writer-in-residence, and we oversee our annual Lyttelton Competition for the declamation of poetry, which attracts diverse offerings from all age groups. We also publish The Windhover, an annual pupil-led creative writing and arts magazine.
Highgate’s Geography Department focuses on twenty-first century global challenges in order to prepare you to be an active citizen’s role in a changing world.
Geography is taught to all our pupils from Years 7 to 9. We follow the IGCSE, offering a popular option with high standards achieved. Fieldwork is an important part of our curriculum and we undertake cross-curricular Key Stage Three trips and GCSE residential data-collection fieldwork courses. Our Department collaborates with Russell Group universities on fieldwork projects and undertakes international fieldtrips in locations like Iceland and Morocco.
In addition, we offer a popular A level with high standards achieved and many sixth formers choosing to continue the subject at undergraduate level.
Highgate’s History Department introduces you to the rich historical debates at the heart of our chosen topics, and teaches that history is an ongoing debate about what really happened and what really mattered in the past. We make the experience of learning history exciting and challenging through a stimulating curriculum, different approaches, and a range of resources. The Sir Martin Gilbert Library, named after Highgate’s most famous historian, has a wonderful range of printed and digital resources, to which pupils are taken for lessons across their academic careers.
History is studied by all in Years 7 to 9. In Year 7, we examine Medieval Europe, considering the political, social, religious and cultural features of England, and the continent, over approximately four hundred years. In Year 8, we study the Reformation and the Tudor and Stuart dynasties, looking specifically at the various crises in church and government that punctuate the period. In Year 9, we study the French Revolution, the Haitian Revolution, the British Empire and various aspects of the First World War. A high proportion of our pupils take IGCSE History.
Within our Sixth Form, we offer different A Level options covering a range of topics in Medieval, Early Modern, and Modern History.
History of art is offered as a non-examined course in Year 11 and as an A level course in Year’s 12 and 13.
Highgate’s History of Art Department examines many works of art and architecture first hand during lesson time, as well as during visits to museums and galleries in and around London.
With our seminar-style learning, our Department successfully prepares our sixth formers for future study at Cambridge, Oxford and top American art schools. Around half of our art historian sixth formers go on to read history of art at university.
Highgate’s large and successful Mathematics Department strives to ensure every one of our pupils becomes the best mathematician that they can be. Standards across our School are high and, yet, we are equally proud of our record in helping pupils who find it difficult to develop confidence in the subject or to achieve strong examination results.
You all study Mathematics in the core curriculum up to Year 11, where we follow the GCSE course. Over 200 pupils enter each of the UK Mathematics Challenges and we have received a good number of Gold and Silver awards, with around 20 pupils qualifying for follow-on rounds. In recent years, we have also had our pupils placed in the top 50 nationally for both the Intermediate and Senior Olympiads.
Our A level in Mathematics remains Highgate’s most popular A level choice, with over half of our Sixth Form choosing it. Around a third also study A level Further Mathematicians. Standards are high and, each year, we usually have a number of successful Oxbridge applicants.
French, German, Mandarin, Russian and Spanish
Highgate’s Modern Languages Department covers French, German, Mandarin, Russian, and Spanish. We ensure language learning is fun and interactive, and provides lifelong skills.
You learn French and Latin from Year 7 and have a full choice from German, Mandarin, Russian and Spanish in Year 8. A language is compulsory in Year 10, but many take two. We follow the IGCSE and GCSE, with class sizes of around 10-24 pupils. In our Sixth Form, we follow the Cambridge Pre-U qualification and an increasing numbers of our sixth formers read modern languages at university, including Oxford and Cambridge.
We undertake 13 language trips a year, including annual exchanges with schools in China, France, Germany, Russia and Spain. We find those who undertake such trips and exchanges show improved fluency upon their return to Highgate. Our Modern Languages Society offers co-curricular cultural opportunities such as poetry declamations, debating competitions with other schools, and film and theatre visits in London.
Highgate’s Music Department ensures you develop knowledge of the musical language through the study, creation and performance of music across a range of styles and genres. Each week, we have over 35 musical ensemble rehearsals and over 450 individual music lessons taking place.
We teach all from Year 7 to 9, and follow GCSE Music. Our Music Department includes state-of-the-art performance spaces for orchestral and chamber music, with computerised recording facilities. Individual music lessons are also available with specialist visiting teachers in all the main instruments and in singing. Within our Sixth Form, we follow the Cambridge Pre-U qualifications. Class sizes are small and standards are high. For the last three years, we have sent at least one sixth former each year to university with a choral scholarship.
We host regular concerts, plus masterclasses, workshops and an annual house music competition. Further popular activities include our Young Musician of the Year award, our annual JS Bach Day and our annual Composition Competition.
We offer an examined course in Year 10 and Year 11 in Religion and Philosophy.
Highgate’s Religion and Philosophy department aims to help young people engage creatively with the depth and breadth of reality. Within our Sixth Form, we offer two A levels for pupils to opt for; either Theology or Philosophy. Our sixth formers attend talks by high profile speakers, such as Professor Laurie Zoloth of University of Chicago and Professor David Ford from University of Cambridge.
Our Politics Department encourages interest and engagement in the fast changing and unpredictable world of politics. We offer an A level with excellent results. A large number of our sixth formers apply to read politics or politics-related subjects at university, and we run a weekly programme of extension classes (in collaboration with our Economics Department) to introduce elements outside the scope of the A level curriculum.
Biology, Chemistry and Physics
Our three sciences – biology, chemistry and physics – are taught as part of a general science course in form groups up to Year 7. You have separate lessons from Year 8 onwards and we follow the IGCSE.
Within our Sixth Form, our A level Biology, A Level Chemistry and A Level Physics are popular choices and standards of achievement are high. Every year, several sixth formers apply to Cambridge and Oxford to read these subjects, and a significant number also go on to study medicine, dentistry or veterinary medicine.
Our science departments have well-resourced and modern laboratories, and we value a practical approach to the teaching of science, highlighting the importance of actively engaging with the subject. We also co-ordinate and take a leading role in activities for events such as STEM Week.