In the first three years at St Catherine’s all girls follow a general academic programme that is designed to give each girl experience of a broad curriculum in advance of selecting her I/GCSE options in U4 (Year 9). I/GCSE Options are chosen in the Spring Term of the U4. U5 year girls also choose their Sixth Form options in the Spring Term.
A comprehensive package of Careers advice and guidance is available to the girls both within the curriculum and also outside normal lessons. The formal careers programme begins in U4 with a weekly lecture which informs and inspires girls as they consider their career potential. U4 girls are supported in making their GCSE option choices through a combination of talks and personal discussions with heads of academic departments and tutors. In the Fifth Form girls attend Careers lessons and complete the Morrisby profile, which is designed to assist them in making A level choices based on their academic ability, natural aptitudes and career interests. During the Sixth Form the focus shifts to consider university applications and higher education courses together with career implications.
Girls also benefit from a wide range of external speakers, career-focused events, and the biennial Careers Convention which offers girls the opportunity to speak to practitioners representing a wide range of professions. On occasions we host a University Fair and invite other schools to attend.
There are six Creative Arts subjects: Art, DT, Drama, Food & Nutrition, Music, Textiles, which are taught on a rotation basis in the first two years. There are three 10 week rotations, with four of the Creative Arts subjects taught in each. Each girl will have two rotations of each of the Creative Arts subjects in years U3 to L4 inclusive. In U4 all girls take Music and Drama and opt for two from Art, DT, Food & Nutrition and Textiles. There is no requirement to study a particular Creative Arts subject in U4 if a girl is considering it for GCSE, but it is worth bearing possible future option choices in mind in order to embed appropriate skills. All Creative Arts subjects are available as single GCSE, AS and A Level options.
All girls study English throughout their first five years at St Catherine’s. At IGCSE level two separate examinations are taken in English Language and English Literature. In the Sixth form English (Literature only) is available at AS and A Level.
During the U3 a short course is given entitled Grey Matters. This course looks at Thinking Skills and learning styles, how the brain works and supports all work carried out throughout the curriculum, helping the girls to become independent thinkers and learners.
All girls study History, Geography and Religious Studies (RS) in the first three years at St Catherine’s. RS, History and Geography are IGCSE options. Girls are required to choose either the short course RS, taken in L5, or the full course RS (2 years) as part of their GCSE options.
Information Technology (IT)
All girls study ICT and Computing from U3-U5. They prepare for the Microsoft Office Specialist qualification (MOS), commencing in U4, and taking the various modules at appropriate points in their progress by the end of L5. MOS certification is the most recognised computing qualification globally for accrediting an individual's skills and abilities in Microsoft Office applications which are university and workplace staples.
Girls can also opt for Computer Science at GCSE and are well prepared for this, having already completed a number of Computing modules in U3-U4.
In U3 all girls will study French, German and Spanish, opting for two of these languages at the end of the U3 to carry forward for the next 2 years of study.
In addition all girls study Latin in the first three years and there is a short taster session in the U4 of Greek. All these languages are available as GCSE, AS and A Level options and each girl is required to select at least one modern foreign language at GCSE level taken from French, German and Spanish.
All girls take part in PE lessons throughout their time at St Catherine’s. In addition, the curriculum option of GCSE,AS and A Level PE exists for those who wish to pursue PE as an examined subject.
(as PSHE is known at St Catherine's)
A comprehensive curriculum of age-appropriate personal, social and health education is taught by experienced teachers throughout the first 5 years. These lessons embrace a very wide range of issues and are designed to help promote an awareness and understanding of social, moral, cultural and ethical dimensions. In addition, we host speakers who deliver sessions on matters such as Healthy Nutrition, Relationships etc.
Sciences and Maths
All girls study Biology, Chemistry, Maths and Physics throughout their first five years at St Catherine’s. Girls are placed in science divisions (sets) from the U4 onwards and in Maths divisions from the midpoint of the U3 onwards. Movements between the divisions is possible and this normally happens at the end of an academic year. Maths and Science are compulsory at IGCSE and options at AS or A Level. The option exists at IGCSE level for either double award or triple award science, a marked difference to many other schools and any capacity for streaming in IGCSE sciences depends on the timetable and on the combinations of other options. Girls selecting double award science are then able to select an additional GCSE option and broaden their GCSE profile. Any girl who selects a double award science is not precluded from taking sciences at A level, nor is it a 'lesser' qualification. It allows a very bright girl a broader portfolio of GCSEs. Further Maths GCSE is available to girls on the advice of the Mathematics department.
St Catherine’s is accredited as a De Bono Thinking School. Thinking Skills, incorporating the six De Bono thinking hats and Cognitive Research Trust (CoRT) skills underpin all we do in the curriculum. Girls are encouraged at all stages to think and learn independently, think creatively and take risks. Getting the ‘wrong’ answer is regarded as a positive step forwards and helps to raise the bar still higher!