“ Our Sixth Form is an inspirational setting where you'll feel challenged on a daily basis. Your mind will be stretched and you will grow in confidence academically. You will quickly discover that A Levels are very different from your earlier experiences in senior school with greater freedom and importance placed on self-study and independent research, all great preparation for the next steps in your career.”
Nick Hayward, Head of Sixth Form
The Art Department is housed in the beautiful Art School which is bathed in natural light. It was opened by Professor Sir Christopher Frayling in November 2008 and consists of four beautifully lit studios, which accommodate facilities for printmaking, sculpture, drawing and painting. We also have a dark room and Macs for film making and photography.
At A Level we follow a fine art syllabus as we feel it is the very best way in which to support a young creative mind. We strive to encourage the individual to establish their own artistic practice based on a clear understanding of the formal elements used in the making of art. A single theme is developed across the A level course. Alongside this single theme a series of two-week developmental and drawing exercises are carried out in order to support a student’s burgeoning artistic language.
There are many opportunities to work within the Art School during a student’s free time, where they will have the support of a member of the teaching staff or of a technician. There is also always studio space available for the further development of a student’s work.
We very much encourage individuality amongst our art students. We have found this the best way in which to prepare a young artistic mind for further academic study through Art School or University. Many of our students go on to some of the best universities and art schools in the country. In the past students have gone on to study at St Martins, Camberwell, Chelsea, Wimbledon (CCW), Parsons New York, Goldsmiths, Edinburgh, Glasgow School of Art, and Leeds. Most of our students will go on to study through a Foundation Course but some also go straight into a degree like Architecture or Fashion Design.
We offer a number of trips throughout each academic year. In the past, we have visited London Galleries, the Frieze Art Fair, Ashmolean, Hauser & Wirth Somerset, and Roche Court. We also run a very popular biennial Art Tour to New York which never fails to amaze, astound and inspire.
“You don't make a photograph just with a camera. You bring to the act of photography all the pictures you have seen, the books you have read, the music you have heard, the people you have loved.” - Ansel Adams
Would you like to follow in the footsteps of Henri Cartier-Bresson, Vivian Maier, Richard Avedon, Ansel Adams, Julia Margaret Cameron, Brassai, Jaques-Henri Lartigue, Saul Leiter, Dorothea Lange, Don McCullin & William Henry Fox Talbot – Then perhaps you should consider studying AS Photography.
Photography is a wonderfully exciting course, which enables those interested in Art and Design to pursue another creative course. It can be seen as an extension to other art based courses which a student may wish to study or it may be the only creative subject which a student chooses to study. Either way there is enormous scope for the development of and the appreciation of Photography through this rich and varied programme. There is always an element of drawing within such a course but one should think of more ‘storyboard’ work or planning for a photographic shoot. So a student does not have to be a fine artist in order to study Photography.
The course will support each student through their creativity and afford them the experience of both darkroom work and digital media. We are surrounded by photographic imagery through social media and the media more generally. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to develop your own style of image making…? The Photography course at the RHSB will support your individuality through creativity.
“In biology, nothing is clear, everything is too complicated, everything is a mess, and just when you think you understand something, you peel off a layer and find deeper complications beneath. Nature is anything but simple.” - Richard Preston
Our Biology Department would agree with the above but seek to use excellent teaching to help students wonder at and understand the living world.
A Level lessons take place in specialist laboratories, which are designed for group discussions and investigation in small, dedicated classes. All our laboratories are excellently resourced with modern, innovative equipment such as a gel-electrophoresis machine. We are fortunate to have constant access to our beautiful school grounds, including a well-maintained pond and newly refurbished greenhouse. These allow students to gain practical insights into biological processes
We teach the EdExcel Biology B syllabus, which dovetails very well with the EdExcel IGCSE syllabus that is followed by our younger students. The course provides a balance of diversity and challenge - it is a concept-based course, which combines the teaching of traditional elements with more modern biological ideas. In order to develop a deeper understanding of the environment and our place in it students are taken on a three-day field trip where they study a variety of environments including a rocky shore and woodlands. This residential stay is greatly enjoyed by all, and their all-round Biology education is significantly enriched.
The importance of translating theory into real-life application is vital at this stage in Biological education, and to support this aim, a great focus in placed on guest speakers such as those organised by Gene Park Cardiff. The annual visit by the Explorer Dome which enables students to experience the complexities of the cell from a unique angle. Our students are also encouraged to broaden their knowledge by reading articles from The Biological Review, BioFact sheets and the website The Conversation. Their wider biological knowledge is further enhanced by the provision of the school MedSoc, where girls interested in moving into the fields of Medicine and Veterinary Science can learn more about their intended careers, as well as a number of speakers who feature in the Science Society’s calendar of events.
Each year we are proud to see students head off to study a range of biology-related courses at top universities across the UK, including Medicine, Veterinary Science, Biological Sciences, Pharmacy, Physiotherapy, Biomedicine, Dentistry, Biochemistry and Forensic Science.
Chemistry in the Sixth Form allows students to delve into the subject in much greater depth and provides them with the skills and knowledge they need to take their understanding of Chemistry to undergraduate level.
Our Chemistry Department is made up of a team of dedicated and highly experienced teachers and a technician, who specialise in delivering a top quality education in Chemistry theory, principles and knowledge in a manner which engages and enthuses our girls.
Chemistry lessons for Sixth Form students take place in specialist labs, designed to facilitate theoretical and investigative work in small, dedicated classes. As with all our labs, these are well resourced with modern, innovative equipment, including a fume cupboard in each lab enabling the students to learn how to handle hazardous material safely.
At A Level, we follow the AQA syllabus, which combines the teaching of traditional elements with more modern chemical ideas, making it an ideal step forwards from the EdExcel IGCSE syllabus that is followed with our younger students. The study of Organic Chemistry is enhanced with applied experimentation and project work. For example, the girls are given the opportunity to use the state of the art instruments housed at The University of Bath to analyse samples of aspirin which have been synthesised and purified at school.
Their wider knowledge is further enhanced by the provision of the school MedSoc, where girls interested in moving into the fields of Medicine and Veterinary Science can learn more about their intended careers.
Each year a number of our Chemistry Students take part in the National Chemistry Olympiad and Cambridge Chemistry Challenge. These are national competitions, open to students within the Sixth Form which attract thousands of entries across the UK. We have been pleased to achieve a number of excellent results in these competitions in previous years.
The study of Chemistry underpins many undergraduate courses and many of our students have successfully gone on to study degrees including Medicine, Veterinary Medicine, Chemistry, Biochemistry, Biomedical Sciences and Chemical Engineering at a wide range of top Universities.
Classical Civilisation offers a thrilling insight into the ancient world through the study of art, architecture, literature, politics and religion - to name just a few!
Students may opt to take Classical Civilisation at A level with no prior experience of the ancient world and all texts are studied in English translation. Following the OCR examining board, students read and analyse both Greek and Roman texts as well as archaeological remains, frequently making comparisons between the two, as well as with modern ideals.
The ‘Greek Theatre’ module gives a fantastic insight into the psyche of the ancient world, whilst providing stories, and indeed theatrical spaces, that have withstood the test of time. Equally, Greek and Roman epics remain integral to European literature and the travels of Odysseus in Homer’s Odyssey as well as the trials of Aeneas in Virgil’s Aeneid have captured the imaginations of their audience for millennia. The ‘Greek Religion’ module further explores classical thought, beliefs and ideas through visual and material culture. Students analyse and evaluate primary source material such as vase paintings and archaeological sites including the Athenian acropolis and the sites of Delphi and Olympia. The invention and skill of the literary and artistic achievements from two and a half thousand years ago remain an utter inspiration today.
Developing critical thinking and analytical skills, students of Classical Civilisation are able to argue their case fluently, logically and with specific examples. Such skills will set them in good stead whatever career they may pursue.
Studying the language and literature of ancient Greece or Rome is a deeply rewarding experience in its own right, whilst developing numerous transferable skills which make students who undertake these courses highly attractive to both universities and future employers.
On the one hand, students demonstrate an analytical and logical mind, whilst on the other they come to fully appreciate the power and beauty of the written word in their study of such carefully constructed literature including speeches, poetry and history. To understand the true value and impact of such literature, one really must study these texts in their original language. It is no coincidence that many students of classical languages go on to pursue a career in law, politics, the media or business.
At A level we follow the OCR examining board; students read and analyse both verse and prose set texts, such as Cicero, Tacitus, Virgil and Ovid in Latin; and Homer, Sophocles, Plato or Thucydides in Classical Greek. Such influential authors allow for many comparisons with more modern literature, philosophy, art and cultural ideals, and so class discussions frequently demonstrate that although these texts may be ancient, their themes have resonated throughout the generations.
Students will be expected to have studied Latin or Classical Greek at GCSE, and will therefore already be aware of much of the grammar and stylistic features of their chosen ancient language. The A Level course aims to give students greater confidence in tackling longer passages of unseen Latin or Classical Greek to translate and to analyse the texts more independently.
Although the study of Latin is rewarding in its own right, students develop a range of transferable skills which are encouraged through the Diploma Programme. When tackling unseen passages of Ovid, students must be analytical and show close attention to detail. When embarking on the set texts, students appreciate the cultural context and beauty of literature written two thousand years ago. Class discussions frequently deal with some of life’s ‘big questions’ which can range from religion, politics and philosophy to individual desires and needs.
A quarter of the course involves independent research on any subject of the student’s choice, resulting in the creation of a ‘Research Dossier’ with a small number of well-chosen primary sources clearly annotated to show a well-structured argument. Such work helps develop critical thinking and communication skills, as well as helping students select and organise information effectively.
The study of Classical Languages and the ancient world in either programme develops such qualities which are highly prized by universities and employers alike, and helps arm students with the necessary skills to equip them for the modern world.
Computer Science is a practical subject where students can apply the academic principles learned in the classroom to real-world systems. It is an intensely creative subject that combines invention and excitement.
The aim of the A Level qualification is to provide students with an understanding and ability to apply the fundamental principles and concepts of computer science. These include: abstraction, decomposition, logic, algorithms and data representation. Students are also taught how to analyse problems in computational terms, and to use mathematical and creative skills to solve problems and identify relationships between different aspects of computer science.
We offer girls the opportunity to learn in detail about how the machines which we all use every day and take for granted work at a programming and functional level. This involves a mixture of independent programming work alongside learning the theory behind the academic discipline of Computer Science.
The skills learned through these courses can be directly applied to the increasingly digital age in which we live in a myriad of ways, giving our students a great advantage as they take the next steps in their education and careers.
In the Sixth Form, the creativity and skills of our Design Technology (DT) students are challenged and supported in every way possible, helping them to produce outstanding work and emerge as effective and independent learners.
The focus of our DT course at A Level is Product Design (3D Design). All students are encouraged to work more independently and with greater ambition at this stage, and are given a higher level of freedom over their choice of projects. This creates a wonderful atmosphere of creativity and expression, whilst a focus on tackling problems with real-world applications and solutions is maintained at all times.
In the first year of the A Level course, our students develop an understanding of a broad range of materials, with emphasis on the life cycle of products, manufacture and the final disposal. We also consider the broader issues for the environmental sustainability of products and the consumer safety. In the second year you are given the opportunity to develop further the knowledge and practical skills gained in your first year. You will continue to develop a body of coursework alongside an understanding of the processes and procedures of commercial production and manufacture.
Our classes are taught by our team of highly talented teachers who ensure personalised, individualised support, and all lessons take place in our specialist workshops. Here, the facilities available to all girls are excellent as all workshops are equipped with advanced resources such as a laser cutting machine, 4-axis routing machines and a brand new 3D printer. This printer in particular enables the girls to see the designs they create on our specialist computer aided drawing software to come to life in top quality, sophisticated models. The workshops are open most days until 6pm to allow the girls to put as much time as they like into their projects. The quality of the work produced throughout their time on this course really does speak for itself, and is greatly admired by staff, students and external visitors alike.
Girls are encouraged to create links within our community to help bring their projects to life. They are also given the chance to gain a real insight into modern manufacturing and material requirement planning through our annual trip to the Jaguar-Landover factory. Here, the theoretical becomes a reality.
As well as several of our A Level students being awarded the Arkwright Scholarship, we are proud that many girls each year go on to study engineering, product design and architecture at some of the best universities in the UK. The grounding we provide allows them to flourish in whatever their chosen path.
“Theatre can help us build our future, rather than just waiting for it; it is a rehearsal for the revolution.” - Augusto Boal
Drama in the Sixth Form inspires students to become independent and confident theatre-makers. These skills are combined with engendering strong academic nous: an ability to laterally analyse is key to forming cohesive awareness of fundamental cultural, interpersonal and social constructs, and have led to impressive university destinations for our graduates.
In the A level specification, practical creativity is emphasised alongside collaboration, analytical research and deeply-embedded theoretical understanding. Students learn through first-hand experience; by seeing and critiquing others’ live theatre and in making new theatre for themselves. In the process, they are introduced to a wide range of theatrical styles through workshops exploring numerous set texts from a wide range of social, historical and political contexts. This affords a bold explorative journey which consistently equips students with a wider awareness of resilience, flexibility, negotiation and compromise for life.
Alongside course study, there are numerous visits organised to local and London theatres, and the department offers students the chance to participate in enrichment through school productions such as: ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’; ‘Oh! What A Lovely War’; ‘The Crucible’; ‘The Tempest’, ‘A Christmas Carol’ and ‘Oliver!’. We encourage a sense of passion for drama and to gain a better understanding of life in the industry, we often enhance our teaching with visiting workshops from outside practitioners and professionals.
Economics is an ideal subject for those who may want to go on to study PPE, Politics, Accountancy, Management, International Relations, work in the City or Law, be an entrepreneur, a journalist or a civil servant.
The financial crash, Globalisation, BREXIT and concerns about inequality have lead to an explosion of interest in this subject. Added to this the rise of China and of AI means that changes in the economy will directly affect the opportunities and career choices of our students. Understanding these changes will help students make the best choices for themselves and enable them to contribute to the great debates currently taking place in society. Those who are most suited to Economics are able to communicate their ideas in words and numbers, so you need to be literate and reasonably numerate as well as having a keen interest in current affairs, both in the UK and overseas.
At A level we offer EDEXCEL Economics A, it's a more traditional course that has recently been updated to take account of recent changes in the subject such as nudge theory. More focus is now placed on the importance of the banking system as well as dealing with the classic economics issues that examine how firms, markets and the international economy operate. Through this course students develop knowledge and understanding of how a modern economy works and the options available to the government when trying to improve its performance. How can we increase growth, reduce unemployment, prevent inflation, provide an efficient healthcare service and tackle traffic congestion? These are some of the problems that are examined in this fascinating and challenging subject. We visit the Jaguar assembly plant in Birmingham as part of the course to see how economic issues impact on the life of major UK firms. Students also visit the Bristol Festival Ideas and work with our partner at the GDST Head Office to develop their exam skills.
A writer once said, ‘We find in fiction the plurality of lives we need.’ We believe passionately in the power and value of great writing to enrich our lives.
A writer once said, ‘We find in fiction the plurality of lives we need.’ We believe passionately in the power and value of great writing to enrich our lives.
Whether you are immersing yourself in the worlds of ‘Tess’ or ‘The Bell Jar’, in ‘A Thousand Splendid Suns’ or ‘Hamlet’, there are insights to be gained, dilemmas to be analysed and ideas to be explored.
We follow the two-year Edexcel A Level in English Literature, welcoming the breadth and clarity it offers as a scheme of assessment. Each year we vary the choice of texts we teach to keep things fresh and exciting. We will study modern fiction, looking at the agonies of Afghanistan in Hosseini’s ‘A Thousand Splendid Suns’ or Margaret Atwood’s disturbing vision of a dystopian future in ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’. Later in the course we study ‘Hamlet’, Marlowe’s ‘Faustus’ and Chaucer’s ‘Wife of Bath’s Prologue and Tale’, matching the last with a fabulous collection of modern poetry, ‘Poems of the Decade’, a collection of poems that have won the Forward Prize for poetry since 2000. The focus on modern poetry is delightful and refreshing, and if you haven’t read Patience Agbabi’s ‘Eat Me’ – well, you have a treat in store
When it comes to coursework, girls have the option to compare two texts of their own choosing, but we can also make suggestions and help guide them through the process; such as ‘The Go-Between’ and perhaps ‘Spies’ by Michael Frayn or Jeanette Winterson’s ‘Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit’.
Outside of lessons, we have a wide range of extra-curricular activities to enrich our students’ literary intelligence. ‘Lit Lunches’ run every Friday where girls can read and discuss writers who they might not otherwise encounter. It’s totally eclectic and we might move from Boccaccio to Victorian sensation novels to ‘The Lie Tree’, which recently won the Costa Prize. (Warning: cake is eaten on these occasions.) There are also plenty of theatre trips to the Tobacco Factory and the Bristol Old Vic, public speaking competitions, debates with local schools, and the ESU Mace competition.
‘Bienvenue dans le département de français’ – the home of the language of culture and love!
French is an ever-current and ever-important language. It is spoken by more than 200 million people worldwide, is the language of the international job market, and is the language used for travel in many French-speaking countries – Tahiti, Monaco, Switzerland, the Seychelles and many more.
By choosing to study French at A Level with our team of vibrant, experienced and enthusiastic French specialists, our students make an investment in their future by preparing themselves for our increasingly global society. Our teachers are Mme Daguenet, Mme Destribats and Mme White.
The A Level course takes the learning of this beautiful language to a whole new level. As well as working on extending their vocabulary, enhancing their fluency and improving their knowledge of the use of language in different settings, the girls focus a great deal on key issues within French culture. Discussions and debates are held on topics ranging from heritage to new technology in Year 12 and from crime to immigration in Year 13. Conversation skills are developed via regular classes with our native speaking French specialists, and girls also get the opportunity to delve into the world of classic French literature and cinema.
Just as our younger students, our Sixth Form students benefit from the chance to partake in a study trip to Nice, during which they stay with host families and enjoy many fun activities, leisure excursions and also lessons in the morning are taught by French specialist teachers. One student who took part in the trip said: “I enjoyed the host family and the conversations we had with her. The cinema was my favourite activity but I also really enjoyed the trip to Eze. The school was also good and our teacher was really friendly” (Molly, Year 13 student)
Drop-in sessions are run weekly to support our A level students if they wish to consolidate their language skills. Each year, several of our students are successfully accepted at top universities across the UK.
We also organise visits to conferences and the cinema to enhance the experience of French speaking culture.
A wonderful highlight of the year is a special meal we hold to say goodbye to our Year 13 students, held in a local French restaurant, celebrating two years of impressive skill development and memories.
Our Geography department has enormous success in the Sixth Form. At A-Level our students do exceptionally well and over the last few years around 40% of our students gained an A* grade at A2 level.
We have specialist, award-winning teachers delivering the course. Raphael Heath, our Head of Geography was presented with a Pearson Teaching award in October 2016 and the Ordnance Survey Award for Excellence in Secondary Education by the Royal Geographical Society in June 2015. We are recognised as a Centre of Excellence in GIS (computer mapping) Education and are a Geographical Association Centre of Excellence for our teaching. Our staff have published educational resources hosted on the Geographical Association and Royal Geographical Society websites and have had articles published about our excellent work in teaching in leading magazines and journals. They have spoken at national and international education conferences and run training for other teachers around the country.
Our A Level course is the Eduqas specification. This offers a vibrant range of interesting topics which are relevant to the modern world. These include understanding the complexities of population changes and migration issues, the mechanisms of the carbon and water cycle, investigating changes to the human landscape, and an exploration of physical geography processes including tectonic hazards and climatic processes. The course involves 4 days of fieldwork to give students hands-on, practical experience of conducting research. Recently these trips have included studying flood risk mapping, using sophisticated GIS mapping techniques to process our field data. We also have looked at urban regeneration projects in order to examine their success. Students are supported in producing their own individual investigation as part of the A Level course.
For both A Level and IB, it helps that we are specialists in the use of digital technology to enhance student’s learning. Students routinely use laptops in lessons so they can access stimulating and complex information to develop their understanding. Our learning materials are all hosted online allowing students and parents to return to the topics at any time to help with their revision.
We have run numerous foreign field trips to Iceland and Morocco over the past few years. These are fantastic experiences for our students to study some unusual geography up close, and to experience new cultures and landscapes which are very different to those in the UK. In October 2016 we are taking a group to Rome and the Bay of Naples in combination with the Classics department.
We also run a sixth form Geography Society where students can explore geographical issues beyond the curriculum. We prepare students for applications to university and for Oxbridge interviews and give students the opportunity to enter national competitions. We have great success in these - in the last two years our students have won the Trinity College Cambridge essay prize, the Royal Geographical Society Young Geography of the Year, The Geographical Association Post 16 competition, a bronze medal at the International Geographical Olympiad, and the GDST Geography competition.
More people speak German as their native language than any other language in Europe, since Germany's 82 million inhabitants make it the most populous European nation.
It's an official language of Austria, Switzerland, Luxembourg, and Liechtenstein, making it the most widely spoken language in Europe. German is interesting, fun, intellectually challenging, and a strong knowledge of this language can help an individual to stand out from the crowd.
At A Level, our students are challenged to study the language and German culture in more depth. Focusing on current topics, the girls learn more advanced language skills and gain experience in forming and expressing arguments in a clear, articulate manner. In lessons, they give presentations on different topics, study German literature and films, and also benefit from weekly conversation lessons with one of our native language teachers.
In Year 12 our girls once again get the opportunity to participate in an exchange to Münster, Germany. At this stage, the girls immerse themselves in German life with their host family. Many of our students keep in touch with their exchange partners for years.
The opportunity to teach others is always a wonderful way to develop language skills, and by helping to lead various clubs and activities and taking part in the Foreign Language Leaders programme, our students gain valuable experience which helps to hone their capabilities even further.
We are proud that several students have recently gone on to study German at some of the top universities across the UK, taking with them a wealth of knowledge and skills.
History at A level is a highly respected academic subject. It provides invaluable transferable skills which act as a bedrock for success in many professions and is highly respected by university admissions tutors.
We teach History as a living discipline, open to debate and interpretation and we are keen to engender this attitude in our students. We have selected units from OCR’s courses which revolve around the theme of Revolution. This allows us to explore ideas of liberty and equality, the nature of rule and protest, and the interconnections between American, British and Russian histories. Specially we study From Pitt to Peel 1783-1853 (Y110); The American Revolution 1740-1796 (Y212) and Russia and its Rulers 1855-1964 (Y318).
As a department are always keen to encourage our students to make connections with their other studies, with current affairs and with literature. We encourage wider reading around our courses and we benefit from an extremely well-stocked library and subscription to History Today. We encourage girls to engage in real scholarship and academic research, especially with the coursework unit (worth 20% of the A level). We usually take students the Chalke Valley History Festival and other external conferences. Finally, we run a thriving History Film club which allows us to explore the ways that past events have been depicted, gain a sense of a variety of periods, and discuss any inaccuracies.
Italian A level is offered to those who have already taken IGCSE Italian or who have previous knowledge of the subject. It may be offered as a full A Level or alternatively as an AS (over 2 years) as part of our enrichment courses.
The A Level course focuses on language acquisition and knowledge of Italian culture, in order to develop an interest in language learning and to communicate with confidence and effectively in the target language. You will develop an understanding of contemporary society in Italy with its cultural background and heritage. Girls are assessed on all four skills: speaking, writing, listening and reading.
As part of the course you have to carry out a research-based project in Italian linked to an area of your interest and related to the culture and society of an Italian-language country or community. This must relate to one of the following: geographical area, historical study, aspects of modern society, or literature and the arts.
You will have the opportunity to practice your spoken skills in weekly special conversation lessons and during the Italian lessons.
Learning Chinese, a language which is entirely different to all European languages, will provide one of the most exciting, challenging and rewarding experiences of your life.
By looking at media, books and film, you will develop the knowledge and skills to enable you to understand the unique values, struggles, sensibility, joys and sorrows of the Chinese people.
Learning Chinese (Mandarin) for GCSE is a matter of taking your first steps to learn basic Chinese words, phrases and sentence structures that leave real conversations still beyond your reach. It is in the Sixth Form that you will deepen your grammatical competence and broaden your vocabulary so that you can converse about, and debate, real-world issues and immerse yourself into the culture, literature and arts of the Chinese country.
Our AS Level Chinese is offered as an enrichment course which provides the advanced learners the opportunity to study Chinese up to AS level within two years. The enrichment course syllabus is based on contemporary topics which you will find useful for work, higher education and for personal use. It will give you a solid grounding in the language skills and knowledge of contemporary society. The course covers two core themes which include Changes of Contemporary Chinese Society and Chinese Culture. In the first year, four major topic areas are taught for Theme 1 Contemporary Chinese Society: family structures and generation gap, family plan and aging problems, school life, job opportunity and balance between work and life. In the second year, another four topics will be introduced for Theme 2 Chinese Culture: festivals, customs, films and TV, music and books. At the end of the two years’ study, students will sit EDEXCEL Level 3 Advanced Subsidiary GCE in Chinese, the AS level exam.
For all our Mandarin students we offer many extra-curricular activities including: after school club; Chinese New Celebration; an annual China trip to Beijing, Shanghai, Suzhou and Xi’an; regular conversation lessons with a native Chinese speaker; a visit to East Asian Museum; a visit to a Chinese restaurant; and taking part in the annual speaking competition
The ultimate goal is to help students use Chinese in real-life situations and cultivate lifelong Chinese language learning, and to help students appreciate their own cultures and Chinese culture.
'Mathematics, rightly viewed, possesses not only truth, but supreme beauty’ – Bertrand Russell
Mathematics and Further Mathematics are versatile qualifications, well-respected by employers and are both “facilitating” subjects for entry to higher education. There are a range of levels of Mathematical study available in the Sixth Form on both the A level and IB diploma programme; we are confident that there is something for everyone!
In the study of Mathematics at any level we will enable you to become better at thinking logically and analytically. Through solving problems, you will develop resilience and develop your ability to think creatively and strategically. The writing of structured solutions, proof and justification of results will help you to formulate reasoned arguments. Importantly, you will develop excellent numeracy skills and the ability to process and interpret data. These skills are of great benefit in other subjects such as Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Computing, Geography, Psychology, Economics and Business Studies. It is no wonder that Mathematics is one of the most popular Sixth Form choices at the Royal High School.
At A Level, this is an interesting and challenging course, which extends the methods you learned at GCSE and includes much more Statistics and Mechanics. A Level Further Maths is necessary if you would like to do Mathematics or Engineering at University. It broadens your Mathematical skills and promotes deeper thinking, exploring interesting new areas of Pure Mathematics such as Complex Numbers as well as applications in Decision making.
The standard level course syllabus focuses on important mathematical topics that are interconnected. The syllabus is organised and structured with the following principles in mind: placing more emphasis on student understanding of fundamental concepts than on symbolic manipulation and complex manipulative skills; giving greater emphasis to developing students’ mathematical reasoning rather than performing routine operations; solving mathematical problems embedded in a wide range of contexts; and using the calculator effectively.
Each student completes a project, based on their own research; this is guided and supervised by the teacher. The project provides an opportunity for students to take sole responsibility to carry out a mathematical study of their choice using their own experience, knowledge and skills acquired during the course. Students most likely to select this course are those whose main interests lie outside the field of mathematics, and for many students this course will be their final experience of being taught formal mathematics.
The Higher level course is demanding and requires students to study a broad range of mathematical topics through a number of different approaches and to varying degrees of depth. It focuses on developing important mathematical concepts in a comprehensible, coherent and rigorous way. This is achieved by means of a carefully balanced approach. Students are encouraged to apply their mathematical knowledge to solve problems set in a variety of meaningful contexts. Students embarking on this course should expect to develop insight into mathematical form and structure, and should be intellectually equipped to appreciate the links between concepts in different topic areas. They should also be encouraged to develop the skills needed to continue their mathematical growth in other learning environments.
Careers with good mathematics skills and qualifications are not only well paid, but they are also often interesting and rewarding, and we are proud to have alumnae of our maths classes excelling at top universities each year.
Many of our students choose to continue their academic study of music in the Sixth Form, as it is enjoyable, challenging and fun.
At A Level many pupils enjoy furthering their knowledge through more detailed analysis of set works from many genres, compositions to a specific brief, and practical performances in any style. Many of our past students have continued their musical education at prestigious conservatoires and universities such as the RWCMD.
A Level Music relies on students completing tasks from three areas: performance, composition, and listening. It is taught by the Director of Music. However, a great deal of support is available from a team of over 20 visiting instrumental teachers who offer tuition in most instruments including harp, guitar, percussion, and singing.
These teachers help students to develop their skills as solo performers and also enable them to take part in the many musical activities run in the school, from the Celidh Band to Swing Band and our many choirs.
Involvement in music groups not only adds gloss to a UCAS form but can also be used as an accredited skill for Duke of Edinburgh awards. Sixth Form students also benefit greatly from the help offered by our own full-time, highly qualified Performing Arts Technician.
Why not make sense of your enthusiasm and passion for music and all that practice over the years and gain a very useful and highly-regarded qualification?
“I hated every minute of training, but I said don't quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.” - Muhammad Ali
A Level PE is a fantastic subject that offers insight into the development of Sport and PE and how it comes to be what it is today, as well as what modern-day elite performers need to know and do to maintain a competitive edge. It develops analytical skills as well as teamwork and communication, enabling students to hone workplace skills that are vital for post-18 study and work.
The subject itself has both a practical component (30%) and a theoretical component (70%).
The theory is split into 3 key areas and each area is normally taught by a separate member of staff – those areas being Psychology, Historical and Contemporary Studies, and Exercise Physiology.
Previous years have seen trips to The University of Bath to use their Physiology labs, as well as trips to the Real Tennis Centre in Bristol.
We are privileged to have high-level athletes on the coaching staff, and their personal experiences provide a fascinating insight into the life of an elite athlete, and how sport is funded and grown in the UK today.
“The important thing is to not stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existence. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvellous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery each day.” - Albert Einstein
Our Physics Department take Einstein’s words seriously and, through delivering lessons that encourage our sixth formers to reflect on the wonder of the universe, deliver an excellent all-round girl-centred Physics education.
A Level lessons take place in two specialist labs. As with all our labs, these are excellently resourced with modern, innovative equipment to support the practical requirements of the A-level syllabus. We teach the AQA A-level Physics syllabus, which follows on very well from the Edexcel IGCSE syllabus that is studied by our younger students. It provides a great balance of diversity and challenge, being a course which combines the teaching of traditional elements with more modern Physics ideas. It enables us to nurture a passion for Physics in our students, and to lay the groundwork for future study in science or engineering.
The importance of translating theory into real-life application is vital at this stage in a Physics education, and to support this aim we undertake a biannual visit to CERN in Geneva. The trip enhances our students’ understanding of the Particle Physics topic, and enables them to see cutting edge science being undertaken by a collaboration of over 7,000 scientists from around the world. We also invite guest speakers to talk to our students about their careers and work, examples of whom have been Dr. Sarah Kendrew, a former Research Fellow at Oxford University and Dr. Victoria Scowcroft, a Prize Fellow from the University of Bath. Our students’ wider Physics knowledge is further enhanced by participation in the British Physics Olympiad competition, and the HiSPARC Club, where our students undertake real time research into high energy cosmic rays in conjunction with Bristol University.
Students who are interesting in pursuing a career in engineering can also participate in the Engineering Education Scheme (EES). This is a 6-month programme during which the students carry out a real, scientific or engineering project for a local company. A recent EES project undertaken by our students was to redesign a chemical dosage point to improve the distribution of ferric sulphate into effluent for Wessex Water.
Each year we are proud to see several students head off to study a range of Physics and Physics-related courses at top universities across the UK such as Physics, Physics with Philosophy and Mathematics with Physics, and also a variety of engineering courses including Aerospace, Chemical, Civil and Mechanical Engineering.
Psychology is the scientific study of the mind, brain and behaviour. Students who are naturally curious about their own and other people’s behaviour will find psychology fascinating.
Through studying the wide diversity of human behaviour students will understand the need for tolerance and sensitivity in dealing with others, which ultimately will improve communication skills. Although students will not have studied psychology previously they will be able to relate to the topics we examine. For instance, we examine explanations for conformity and the influence a group can have on an individual’s behaviour.
Psychology is taught in a dedicated classroom within the Sixth Form and it delivered by two highly experienced and enthusiastic teachers. One teacher has been an examiner for the AQA board, which is the examination board we follow.
Psychology lessons are interactive and thought-provoking as the research we examine often stimulates discussions and debates. For example, students will question whether we should obey an authority figure without questioning their motives. Real world examples of obedience such as the Mai Lai massacre in Vietnam will be used. Where possible experiments are re-enacted within the classroom to ensure a better understanding of the methodology used and to enable students to critically evaluate the research. At A Level students will examine Forensic psychology and in particular offender profiling. The students will be given an opportunity to act as profiler by examining the details of a case.
Students will also explore the behavioural approach and in particular Operant and Classical conditioning. They will be given the opportunity to listen to a consultant Behavioural Analyst who lectures at Bangor University. She will discuss the behaviourist principles and how she utilises them with young people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Each year several of our students go on to study Psychology, Criminology and Social Sciences. We fully support the students in their university applicants from the selection process to the writing of their personal statements.
Religion and Philosophy
Studying Religion and Philosophy at A Level requires depth of thinking and critical analysis. Girls ask questions and test out arguments.
Is there a God? What is God? What is reality? What is mind? Do souls exist? Do miracles happen? Can we know anything beyond the physical world? Is there life after death? Why is there suffering in the world? What are religious experiences? What makes something right or wrong? What is right and wrong in abortion, euthanasia, genetic engineering, reproduction and embryo research? What is right and wrong in environmental ethics, sex, relationships, war, peace and justice? Are humans free? Are we responsible for our actions? What is conscience?
The course raises questions from the Philosophy of Religion that cut to the heart of what it is to exist as a human being, whilst the study of Ethics questions how we should live a good life. The material is often topical, and deeply relevant to us as individuals. The final component of Development in Religious Thought offers an opportunity to look at one religion in depth. Not only in terms of its key beliefs and practices, but also in terms of how it has shaped history, society and the individual’s sense of identity.
In lessons we discuss and debate with each other as well as learning analytical and critical thinking skills. Classes usually have a diversity of beliefs and opinions, so there is plenty of practice to be had. We work as a whole group, or in pairs to explore and map the topics, and then use a variety of ways to argue and evaluate
In the autumn term most of the A Level and IB Philosophy students attend an evening seminar course run by the Royal Institute of Philosophy at the Bath Literary and Scientific Institution. This gives them an opportunity to encounter material that is not directly related to their courses of study, to meet and discuss with Sixth Formers from other schools, and to get a taste of Philosophy at University.
This is a fascinating course, which offers challenge, insight and great deal of critical thought development, which supports the ongoing study of so many areas of further education.
Spanish is a world language with over 350 million speakers – not only is it an exciting language to learn, it will open doors whatever your chosen career.
Studying Spanish with our team of experienced specialists will not only provide an excellent command of the language, it will also give an in-depth understanding of Hispanic culture. Our teachers, Miss Jo Cossey, Sra Susana Martínez Gran and Sr Roca inspire the students to explore the rich culture of the Spanish-speaking world and to hone their language skills. Our conversation teacher, Sra Knight, develops oral skills so that by the end of the course students are able to converse fluently and with spontaneity.
In taking A Level Spanish, as well as exploring the culture of Spain and South America through literature and film, you will learn about contemporary issues in the Spanish-speaking world such as tourism and technology. You will also gain an understanding of how Spain’s past has shaped its present. Students have the opportunity to carry out their own research project on an area of Hispanic culture that interests them.
We organise visits to the theatre, tapas evenings and cinema trips. Every opportunity is taken to give the students the opportunity to explore and experience Spanish and South American culture. Our Peruvian conversation assistant, Sra Knight, regularly hosts fiestas inviting students to share in her rich cultural heritage. Many of our students in the Sixth Form undertake independent travel or work-experience in Spanish-speaking countries during their A Level course.
Many of our sixth formers go on to study Spanish either as their main subject at degree level or as a module as part of their degree course. We encourage these students to come back and share their experiences as languages undergraduates with our current pupils; always an inspiring and motivational event. In the past four years, we have had three students go on to study Spanish at Oxbridge.
The Spanish department is vibrant, exciting and high-achieving – ¡ven a estudiar con nosotros!