The academic curriculum at Highgate forms the very core of what the school is about. Of course, we place great value on our extra-curricular activities and we are very proud of our pastoral care, but our chief aim is to encourage each pupil to maximise his or her academic potential at every level. It is important in an increasingly competitive world to prepare our pupils for university and the work place and to ensure that they are well qualified when they leave us, and therefore examination results are important. Yet we also want to foster in our pupils an enthusiasm for learning for its own sake and to encourage them in relevant ways at each stage of their school career to use their formal learning in the classroom as a springboard for pursuing their own academic and cultural interests in their own time. We are, however, not solely interested in knowledge, and we endeavour to teach in a way that stimulates independent and logical thinking in all of our pupils; we want them to be confident in facing the challenge of new concepts and ideas.
A full explanation of the curriculum in the Senior School, Years 7 to 13, appears in the Senior School Curriculum Policy document. The following is a brief synopsis.
YEARS 7 TO 9
In Years 7 and 8, all pupils follow a common timetable which gives them experience of a wide spectrum of academic disciplines. These subjects are: Mathematics, English, French, Latin, History, Geography, Religious Studies and Philosophy, Music, Art, Drama, Design Technology and Engineering, Information Technology, Physical Education and Games, now called Sport and Exercise (further details of the SpEx curriculum for Years 7-13 are available separately from the Directors of Sport). In Year 7, pupils follow a General Science course which introduces them to scientific method and investigation; they then have lessons in the three separate sciences (Biology, Chemistry and Physics) in Year 8. Pupils in Year 8 begin a second modern language (Spanish, Russian, German or Mandarin).
In Year 9, the same broad curriculum is followed. While all pupils are encouraged to continue with Latin, some may be recommended instead to opt for the non-language based Classical Civilisation course; the best linguists are encouraged to follow a course which combines the teaching of Latin with an introduction to Classical Greek.
YEARS 10 AND 11
In Year 10, pupils embark on the two year GCSE courses. All pupils must take Mathematics, English Language, English Literature, all three sciences (Physics, Chemistry and Biology), and at least one modern foreign language (French, German, Spanish, Russian, Mandarin). In addition, pupils take three other subjects from the following: a second modern foreign language, Latin, Greek, Ancient History, Classical Civilisation, History, Geography, Religious Studies, Music, Art, Design Technology, Computer Science and Drama. Pupils thus take ten GCSEs. We offer International GCSEs (IGCSEs) in English Literature, the sciences, French, German, Spanish and History. In Year 10, pupils also take non-examined courses in Religious Education (Applied Religious Ethics), Sport, and Physical Education, as well as a carousel of classes which includes ICT, and personal, social and health education (PSHE). Year 11 pupils also have Sport. They too have a carousel of non-examined courses in politics, economics, philosophy and art history.
YEARS 12 AND 13
In the Sixth Form, all pupils take four subjects in Year 12; about a third continue with four subjects in Year 13, while the majority take three courses in Year 13. Currently 27 subjects are offered: Mathematics, Further Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, English Literature, History, Geography, Religious Studies, Philosophy, Government and Politics, Economics, Art, History of Art, Music, Design Technology, Computer Science, Theatre Studies, Latin, Greek, Classical Civilisation, Ancient History, French, German, Spanish, Mandarin and Russian. We currently offer the Cambridge Pre-U qualification in English, French, German, Mandarin and Russian; and in Music, Art, Theology (RS) and Philosophy. All courses are taught in a linear fashion, with no public examinations taken in Year 12 (even in the 'legacy syllabuses' in those few subjects which have not yet been reformed). All pupils in Year 12 follow a course in Critical Thinking and have the opportunity to do the Extended Project Qualification. Pupils in Year 13 have a weekly class for one term called Critical Independence. There are also weekly sports afternoons.
View our A Level Subject Choices booklet.
In all year groups, a programme of personal, social and health education (PSHE) is delivered through tutorial sessions by the class tutor and by specific seminars and lectures given by professionals from outside the school. The current PSHE programme is available on request. In Year 10 (see above), there is an additional fortnightly timetabled lesson in PSHE.
To complement the syllabuses taught for public examinations, we also have our own Knowledge Curriculum, which aims to fill many gaps in a pupil’s knowledge, which are inevitable, given the constraints of many syllabuses. This is currently being revamped but through it we will endeavour to provide a cultural framework and a stimulus for pupils to explore the richness of the cultural life of the city in which they live. A separate document will soon be available on the website which will outline more fully the philosophy behind this curriculum and the revised programme for each year.