In the first three years at St Catherine’s all girls follow a general academic program 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 U4. U5 girls also choose their 6th Form options in the Spring Term.
- Computing & Information Technology (IT)
- Creative Arts
- Grey Matters
- Life Matters (as PSHE is known at St Catherine's)
- Sciences and Maths
- Thinking Skills
- Public Examinations
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 program begins in U4 with a weekly lecture which informs and inspires the 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 careers implications.
Girls also benefit from a wide range of external speakers, specific career-focused events, and the biennial Careers Fair which offers girls the opportunity to speak to practitioners representing a wide range of professions. On occasion we host a University Fair and invite other schools to attend.
All girls study ICT and Computing from U3-L5. They prepare for the Microsoft Office Specialist Qualifications (MOS),each one of which is a Level 2 qualification to be included on UCAS applications commencing in U4, and taking both the Word and Excel modules at appropriate points 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.
There are six Creative Arts subjects: Art, DT, Drama, Food & Nutrition, Music and 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 at GCSE and A Level.
All girls study History, Geography and Religious Studies (RS) in the first three years at St Catherine’s. History and Geography are IGCSE options and RS is a GCSE option. 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.
In U3 all girls will study French, German and Spanish, opting for two of these languages at the end of the U3 year to carry forward for the next 2 years of study. This Is under review for September 2022.
All girls take at least one Modern Foreign Language at GCSE and each of the three MFL can be taken at A Level.
In addition, all girls study Latin in the first three years and there is a short Greek taster session in U4. Both languageslanguages are available as GCSE, and A Level options
A comprehensive curriculum of age appropriate personal, social and health education is taught by experienced teachers throughout the first five 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, as required by legislation we deliver an age appropriate RSE curriculum. On occasions we host speakers who deliver sessions on matters such as Healthy Nutrition, Relationships etc.
All girls study Biology, Chemistry, Maths and Physics throughout their first five years at St Catherine’s. Girls are placed in in Maths divisions (sets) from the midpoint of the U3 onwards. Movements between the divisions are possible and this normally happens at the end of an academic year. Maths and at least Double Award Science are compulsory at IGCSE. Girls selecting double award science are then able to select an additional GCSE option and broaden their GCSE profile or alternatively take three separate science IGCSE examinations. Maths and all sciences are options at A Level, irrespective of whether girls have taken Double Award Science or the separate sciences. Biology is currently available at AS level also but this is under review. Further Maths GCSE is available to girls in the Extension group/s for Maths.
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!
The breakdown of GCSE and IGCSE subjects is as follows:
- IGCSE: Biology, Chemistry, English Language, English Literature, Geography, History, Maths, Physics.
- GCSE: Art, DT, Drama, Food & Nutrition, French, German, Greek, Latin, Music, PE, Religious Studies, Spanish, Textiles.
- AS and A Level: Girls opt for four A Level subjects and have complete flexibility in their choice of nearly 30 subjects.
New subjects offered in the Sixth Form include Business, Classics, Economics, Government and Politics, History of Art, Photography and Psychology.
The flexibility to continue with four subjects to A Level or to drop one AS subject is highly valued by the girls. Unlike other qualifications (where there is less flexibility) the girls can decide whether they wish to pursue a single strand in their curriculum (e.g. all languages, three sciences, all arts) or whether they wish to mix curriculum areas (eg two sciences, one language and one humanity).
Some girls will sit one AS level only at the end of the Lower Sixth either as A Level examination experience in a new A Level subject or to gain a qualification before focusing on three A Levels in the Upper Sixth, others will drop one subject at some stage within the L6 year once they are confident in the direction in which they wish to go.
(Note that starting on 4 A level subjects is under review for September 2022)
All girls in the Sixth Form also attend SCOPE, St Catherine’s Program of Ongoing Enrichment, which includes further work on Careers, preparation for university and other Higher Education courses. They receive talks from in-house and visiting speakers on current relevant issues, such as student finance, current affairs and global perspectives.
- Years U3-L4 (Years 7-8 )
- Year U4 (Year 9 ) (including Australian Exchange)
- Senior School (GCSE/KS4)
- Sixth Form (A Level)
- Activities Week
Art, Biology, Careers, Chemistry, ICT AND Computing, Design Technology (DT), Drama, English, French, Geography, German, History, Home Economics (HE), Latin, Life Matters, Mathematics, Music, Physical Education (PE), Physics, Religious Studies (RS), Spanish, Textiles.
ALL U4 girls study Music and Drama, and select two from Art, DT, Home Economics and Textiles, which will be studied throughout the year.
The Australian Exchange is offered to girls in the U4 year only. The successful girls from our school will spend the Spring term at St Catherine's School in Melbourne. In the Summer term, their host sister joins their exchange family in the UK. Each half of the exchange is approximately 12 weeks. A member of staff accompanies our girls to Australia to ensure that they are well settled with their host families.
Mrs Nancy Moore is the Australian Exchange Co-ordinator at our school.
IGCSE - Core Subjects:
Double Award Science, English Language, English Literature, Mathematics.
GCSE - Core Subjects:
One Modern Foreign Language (French, German, Spanish).
PE, Life Matters
‘SHORT COURSE’ GCSE 1-YEAR COURSE (Year 10 - L5)
RS (equivalent to 1/2 GSCE)
Art, Biology (IGCSE), Chemistry (IGCSE), Computer Science, DT, Drama, Food Preparation and Nutrition, French, Geography (IGCSE), German, Greek, History (IGCSE), Latin, Music (IGCSE), PE, Physics (IGCSE), RS, Spanish, Textiles
All girls choose 3 A Levels and a subsidiary subject from a portfolio of options. There is an exception made for girls who wish to study Further Maths as a 4th A Level.
|Art & Design||History|
|Biology||History of Art|
|Government and Politics|
NON-EXAMINED SUBJECTS: Scope
In the last full week of the Summer Term, the normal timetable is suspended and all girls take part in a programme of activities for a week, the theme being that of challenge.
This enables all girls to widen their experiences in a variety of areas and to develop transferable / key skills beyond the usual curriculum and the formal classroom or laboratory.
The current programme for Activities Week is as follows, is covered by school fees, and all girls take part.
U3: The theme for U3 is celebration of their first year at St. Catherine’s and the beautiful part of the country we live in. The U3 spend part of the week based in school participating in activities such as ‘live action role play’ with the Drama Department, a day of creativity with the Art Department and a day of ‘STEM’ inspired practical challenges. Alongside this there are typically excursions from School, and may include a residential visit.
L4: The theme for L4 is 'Challenge', in particular personal and group challenge in an outdoor activity programme, including a residential element. During the week the girls will participate in lots of team-building and co-operative activities. They will also consider challenges facing the country and the world and look at sustainability.
U4: The U4 head off into the Surrey Hills to learn some camp craft and camp cooking as well as learning useful navigation skills and how to pack a hiking rucksack efficiently! The U4 expedition provides a valuable grounding for all sorts of adventures later on, in terms of practical skills gained and a little self-reliance and self-knowledge gained along the way. Further elements of the programme are based in and around Bramley.
L5: The L5 have in previous years spent the week in France, Spain or Germany, focusing on the GCSE language skills. We had begun a review of the programme in 2019 shortly before the Covid impact in Europe. The programme for 2022 and beyond is being radically revised. For 2021 and 2022 most of the girls have made use of an opportunity to undertake one of their Silver D of E expeditions.
U5: The Upper 5 will have spent the week before Activities Week in school enjoying an introduction into Sixth Form life. In Activities Week, a good number embark on the assessed expedition for the Silver Award within the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme. The others take part in voluntary service in the local area. Previous projects have ranged from helping in infant schools or senior citizens’ day centres to reclaiming the Wey and Arun canal bank.
L6: The L6 are based in school on a very important pre-university week. They have the opportunity to visit some universities, as well as learning about UCAS applications, interviews and completing the first drafts of their personal statements.