The Wellingborough Senior School curriculum is designed to offer a range of Year 9 and GCSE subjects. In this section, the subjects available from Years 9 to 11 are explained in detail, helping pupils to make informed choices about which GCSE subjects they choose to study. Some pupils have no difficulty with this choice; they are quite sure which subjects they wish to study to GCSE. For others, however, the choice is less obvious. We hope that this section will be helpful and that it will give pupils and parents some idea of the content of each subject’s curriculum.
We also hope this area will inform pupils ahead of their GCSE choices. Year 10 is essentially the entry point to the major public examination phase of a pupil’s education. Good working habits are even more important from this point onwards. Motivation, above all, is essential. For this reason it is very important that pupils are happy with the choices they make, and this is why we offer such a broad and balanced range of subjects at the school.
Find out more about our senior academic subjects:
The Art Department, led by Mrs Julia Hennessy, teaches Art, Design, Photography and Graphics to all Year 9 pupils, and as an option, to GCSE, Lower and Upper Sixth pupils. This is a busy thriving Department with three Art teachers and a full time technician.
The Art Department is now in a fantastic purpose built block with outstanding facilities which provide opportunities for a huge range of media, including a specialist print area, a darkroom, a suite of PC and Mac computers running state of the art software, a pottery area, two Sixth Form studios and a resource library.
The Art Department is constantly evolving, always keen to explore and discover new contemporary artists, photographers, designers, techniques and new ways of working, which we in turn introduce to pupils, through exciting and varied schemes of work. Throughout Years 9, 10 and 11, pupils are given a firm grounding in the techniques needed to experiment with a wide range of disciplines including: Painting and Drawing in a variety of media, Sculpture, Ceramics, Graphic Design, Photography, Printmaking, Stage Design and the use of ICT in Art. During this process pupils are encouraged to develop original ideas through investigation: they research critical, cultural and historical sources to inform their work, and experiment with media. The final outcomes of all this work are to be seen here, around the campus, in the School magazine and at regular exhibitions. We hope that we offer an enjoyable experience of Art to pupils with a wide range of interests and abilities, and we have the sensitivity, time and commitment to find an individual path to success for each pupil.
The Art Department has an excellent record of exam results. We expect very high standards of our pupils and as a result have in recent years had a number of notable successes, including exhibitions at well-known galleries and winning arts prizes.
The Art Department currently offers clinics after School, an Art Scholars’ club and opportunities for the whole School to enjoy Art during enrichment Art Photography and Art History sessions.
Biology continues to be a highly popular subject across the year groups. Pupils study a wide variety of topics including Plant and Animal Physiology and the rapidly developing areas of Ecology, Genetics and Biotechnology. We aim to help pupils develop a clear understanding of basic Biological principles and to make links to related topics and ideas. This is not only important in preparation for examinations, but also allows pupils to develop an understanding of the Biological issues that face society today; the ethical impact of advances in Biology is considered at all levels. Practical research is an integral part of Biology and pupils develop a range of practical skills as they move through the School and learn to analyse and thoroughly evaluate their results. We encourage pupils to work independently.
The Department, headed by Mrs Hannah Pattison, has two well-equipped laboratories with internet connection, a central office and preparation area and a small pond containing a variety of aquatic life, including frogs and newts. A greenhouse area allows a wide range of plants to be grown and cultivated for use in demonstration and for practical work. The departmental goldfish are a constant source of entertainment and a useful practical example of aquatic adaptation, but they are safe from dissection!
The use of ICT in Biology is an area which continues to develop and the Science Department ICT suite allows pupils to use interactive software and to design and display their own research on a wide range of Biological topics. Each laboratory has a computer and projector, allowing ICT to be used as an integral part of lessons.
At Wellingborough School the ethos of the Chemistry Department is to enable all pupils to achieve their full potential in Chemistry in a positive, hard-working and secure environment.
The Chemistry Department, led by Mrs Sarah Rich, is housed in the Graham Garrett Building and consists of three teaching laboratories, a resources room, and a preparation room.
Chemistry is a compulsory subject from Year 9, with nearly all pupils going on to take Separate Science GCSE. Practical work is an integral part of any Chemistry course and pupils enjoy carrying out various experiments that reinforce their knowledge and understanding of the different concepts explained in class and other industrial processes.
During Chemistry lessons the pupils carry out various experiments that reinforce their knowledge and understanding of the different concepts explained in class, which are the basis for many industrial processes. All laboratories have overhead data-projectors which allow new interactive software to be used for teaching and learning purposes.
Design & Technology encourages pupils to think and work creatively. The teaching of the subject, under the leadership of Mr Sean Egan, seeks to inspire pupils both as individuals and team members to solve problems originally and imaginatively.
Pupils combine practical skills with an understanding of aesthetics, social and environmental issues, function and industrial practices in order to develop a range of ideas and/or to make products and systems.
Pupils learn in well-resourced workshops which are sited in Castle Street across the road from the main School. One of the most telling features of Design & Technology at Wellingborough is the small group sizes. Studying in small groups with specialist teachers, all pupils learn to work with a range of materials during Year 9 before deciding whether to follow the optional GCSE course in Year 10.
Teachers use a range of teaching styles to enthuse our pupils, including 'design and make' assignments, focussed practical tasks, and product analysis activities. Computer technology is central to the teaching and presentation of subject content, utilising a cloud based platform for delivery of subject content and the compilation of portfolio evidence. In addition to the traditional tools and equipment the Department also has a laser cutter and 3D printing equipment to facilitate the production of models and prototypes.
Drama is one of the oldest of all human activities. Drama is a performing art and in performance pupils learn to express their creativity in public. The challenge of a public performance develops the pupils’ self-esteem and confidence as they perform in front of an audience, experiencing the thrill of acting. The backstage and technical personnel play an indispensable part in this creative process, facilitating the action ‘on stage’.
As pupils work towards a performance, be it for GCSE coursework, the Junior House Drama Festival or perhaps the major School Play, they learn how to work with others, overcoming problems and difficulties through working together as a team. Drama helps pupils to become more rounded individuals, enabling them to work effectively with others; able to reflect on what it is to be human and to interact more sensitively with others because they have begun to understand what makes us wonderfully similar and different to other human beings.
The Department offers AQA GCSE in Years 9 and 10, using the facilities of the Senior School Hall, which is fully equipped with digital lighting and a sound system together with portable staging that can be used to create end on, promenade or in the round staging. There is a Drama classroom linked to the Hall with access to and from the acting area.
Trips are made to local theatres, especially The Castle Theatre, situated only half a kilometre from the School, form part of the GCSE course. Within easy reach of the School are also theatres in Northampton, Milton Keynes, Bedford and Leicester whilst Stratford is only just over an hour away.
Most pupils opt for the acting options though those with specialist knowledge in lighting and sound are also encouraged to take this option and in recent years we have had a number of pupils who, starting out with lighting House Drama and School Plays, subsequently went on to form their own sound and lighting companies. As actors, it is expected that those opting for Drama will take part in both the major School Production in November and in House Drama.
Regardless of a pupil's age or any external examination pressure, the aim of the English Department is to engender an appreciation of the many benefits of our rich literary culture and to foster an interest in reading and creative writing.
The English Department, under the leadership of Mr Andrew Gamble, has close links with the Learning Development Department and with the Library. Its work involves the study of a range of texts in different genres and from different periods, and the development of a pupil's critical skills as both writer and reader. The desire to continually broaden the scope of subject matter has led to a fresh approach to English Language teaching in the Sixth Form, for example.
There are many activities which support and enhance the classroom teaching of English such as theatre trips organised to the RSC at Stratford and the West End. In recent years, there has been resurgence in the popularity and success of both Public Speaking and Debating. Internal competitions and workshops are thriving. Pupils and staff also contribute to the School's annual magazine, 'The Wellingburian'.
The Department, with its base in the Overstone building, has all of its rooms equipped with data-projectors and internet links. The Department is a member of N.A.T.E. and the English Association, an associate member of the RSC and a subscriber to "The English Review" and "emagazine".
Geography is part of everyday life: world weather and food costs; transnational corporations and the global economy; population movements and urban change; natural disasters and the physical landscape; maps and holidays. The world in which we live is changing faster than ever before. Understanding the factors behind these changes enables pupils to tackle the big issues of the day in a sophisticated way, which is what Geography is all about. The academic strength of the subject is also reflected in its continued popularity, with over 60% of pupils studying Geography at GCSE in Years 10 and 11.
As a Department under the leadership of Mr Peter Lowe, we aim to take a positive pro-active approach to the teaching of Geography, which engenders a real desire to learn. Balancing the obvious need to achieve high academic and examination standards with a genuine love of the subject for all abilities is a challenge to which the Department rises. Pupils are encouraged to show an awareness of the world about them and concern for the environment. Finally, we strive to strengthen and advance the standard of academic provision and examination results by encouraging and assisting all pupils to fulfil their potential.
The Department is based in the Overstone building. Two of the Department’s three classrooms are equipped with a networked PC, data projector, iPads and Wi-Fi access. The third room is a dedicated dual-purpose teaching and IT suite, containing 24-networked PCs, an interactive whiteboard and an automatic weather station. This arrangement allows pupils to move seamlessly from working on-line, or on a PC, to a more traditional form of working.
Enrichment and fieldwork opportunities form a key feature of the Department’s work. A UK-based residential fieldtrip is compulsory for both Year 10 and Lower Sixth pupils, while overseas trips take place in alternate years, the most recent trips being to Iceland and China.
This thriving and energetic Department, under the headship of Ms S Kielty, is housed at the very top of the Garne's building in an historical world of its own. Modern technology has been embraced, with the Department being one of the school's leading lights in its use of IT for both research and presentation purposes. Many pupils, captivated by their history learning, take up the opportunity to study Politics at A Level.
Beyond the classroom, the History Department offers various events which stimulate and enthuse throughout the year. Year 9 pupils visit the battlefields and cemeteries of the Ypres salient and the Somme in October of each year. The three day tour includes visits to Ypres Hill 62; Essex Farm cemetery; Vimy Ridge; Newfoundland park; the Thiepval Memorial and the Menin Gate; the German cemetery at Langemarck and the British and Commonwealth cemetery at Tyne Cot. A special Wellingborough School Memorial Service takes place each year at one of the locations to honour the war dead, including the 177 individuals listed in the School’s Roll of Honour for the First World War.
Year 10 and Year 11 pupils are given the opportunity to visit Berlin to underpin their GCSE studies on 20th century Germany and the Cold War. This tour again lasts for three days. Pupils visit the Brandenburg Gate, the Reichstag, Checkpoint Charlie, the TV Tower, the Kaiser Wilhelm Gedaechtniskirche, KaDeWe, the Kurfuerstendamm, the Olympic Stadium, Wannsee, the former concentration camp at Sachsenhausen and the Holocaust Memorial Centre.
In conclusion, to paraphrase Churchill, our aim as a department is this:
"It is to wage war in thought, in word and in deed, with all our might and with all the strength that God can give us; to wage war against a monstrous ignorance, never surpassed in the dark and lamentable catalogue of human crime. That is our policy!"
The Nature of the Course
Latin is taught at Wellingborough from Year 7 to A-Level and Oxbridge entry. In Years 7, 8 & 9 the study of the Latin Language is accompanied by opportunities to look at classical Mythology and History as well as an appreciation of how much English and other European languages have developed from Latin.
Latin is a popular GCSE and A-Level choice. Both courses involve the study of Roman Literature in Latin by a variety of authors as well as the Language and thus involve the student in the literature, history and culture of the classical world as well as in the Language. The study of Latin grammar is of huge help to understanding and using the English language as well as French and Spanish, Italian and Romanian. Latin itself is also a wonderful and logical language and has produced some of the finest poetry, and political and historical writings, as well as wonderful mythology.
In addition to following the OCR exam syllabus we offer the following:
- A trip to Rome and the Bay of Naples (Pompeii, Herculaneum and Vesuvius)
- An annual set text study day with local schools in the East Midlands
- A theatre trip to RSC Stratford as this year they are staging the Cicero novels of Robert Harris
- An opportunity to study for a GCSE in Classical Greek at lunchtime
Skills Demanded and Developed
Latin is regarded as one of the hardest subjects and it has a reputation for academic rigour. Its study develops the following:
- Ability to translate passages of original Latin into accurate English
- Literacy and verbal skills
- Logical application of knowledge
- Wide vocabulary and understanding of linguistics
- Improvements to memory
- Knowledge of a culture, language and history that has shaped the western world
- Skills involved in literary criticism
- Appreciation of different genres of writing
- Knowledge of a beautiful language
- Ability to translate historical sources in Latin
Careers and Higher Education Implications
Latin is one of the most highly regarded A-Levels in testing able students. It regularly tops lists for the “hardest A-levels”, and so top universities appreciate students who have studied Latin. It indicates true intellectual interests and ability. In the last 15 years, nearly all of our successful Oxbridge candidates have studied Latin to at least GCSE, and usually beyond.
Students who have studied Latin in recent years are now employed as:
Doctors, Lawyers, Management Consultants, Bankers, Academics, Top Teachers, Engineers, Civil Servants and Vets.
Universities attended include:
Oxford, Cambridge, Durham, London, Bristol, Nottingham, Exeter, Birmingham, York, Leeds and Lancaster.
Strong A-Level Combinations
- R S
- Possible Further Study and Degree Courses
- English Literature
- Vet medicine
The Mathematics Department is made up of five well qualified and enthusiastic teachers, who endeavour to instil into our students, not only a desire to achieve well, but also to enjoy their Mathematics.
Mathematics is a popular subject taken beyond GCSE. It is recognised as being a particularly useful subject to support other areas of the curriculum.
Whilst the subject lends itself to be taught in modules covering particular areas of Mathematics, we aim to give students a feel for the ‘big picture’, linking together all the different strands and topic ideas.
Opportunities for extension and enrichment should never be overlooked and we provide regular activities, such as Sixth Form clinics, GCSE clinics and preparation for post A-Level examinations, such as STEP.
We also engage in other activities, such as:
- National Maths Challenges, run by UKMT. Our best pupils progress onto the ‘Kangaroo’ and ‘Olympiad’ challenges.
- UKMT Team Maths Challenges, in competition with other local schools.
- The House Maths Team challenge, which has become an annual event enjoyed by pupils from all years
The Modern Foreign Languages Department, headed by Mrs Carole Stroud, is composed of expert linguists, three of whom are native speakers of French and/or Spanish. Its mission is to ensure pupils quickly become confident speakers and build a platform from which they can achieve excellent results and widen their knowledge of different cultures.
Every pupil studies French, Spanish or both languages up to iGCSE. Pupils who want to continue to full fluency are also encouraged to take French and/or Spanish at A level.
The curriculum is structured in relation to everyday activities such as personal and social life. In addition, we place a great emphasis on the teaching and learning of grammar, as well as developing independent learning skills. Classroom activities include speaking, listening, reading and writing. Modern Language teachers at Wellingborough School pride themselves on the production of a wide range of tailor-made resources to enhance the learning of every pupil.
Modern Foreign Language modules are lively and interactive, as we offer a great variety of activities ranging from presentations, to role-plays and interactive exercises. Language learning is also enhanced by a series of highly successful European trips to France and Spain. The Department also operates an open door policy to ensure that students can consult their teacher freely outside of the timetable.
The Russell Group of universities recognises that some advanced level subjects are more frequently required for entry to degree courses than others. A modern language such as French or Spanish is considered as a facilitating subject, which leads to a wide range of options at university level. Studying a foreign language is an intellectual challenge that not only gives Wellingborough pupils access to another culture and way of life, but also enhances their future job prospects. We have taught linguists who have continued with their studies at some of the most prestigious universities, including Oxford, Cambridge and UCL.
GCSE Music is for you if you enjoy playing your instrument or singing, and you want to extend your musical skills and understanding. At Wellingborough, most pupils who study Music in Year 10 are of about Grade 4 standard or higher when they start the course, but there is no requirement to have taken the examination.
As a GCSE Music student you will study and listen to a wide range of music. You will learn how to compose for your own instrument, and for two or more instruments playing together. You will perform as a soloist and in groups. A typical lesson will be a mixture of at least two of these activities.
GCSE Music is a helpful grounding for A-Level, but it is not essential. It is essential that you are an enthusiastic instrumentalist or singer. Most students at Wellingborough have passed Grade 5 or higher by the time they start the A-Level course; other candidates with a strong interest will be considered on their merits. Our main focus is on Western classical music of the last 450 years. You will learn about composers whose music you may already have played or who may be little more than names to you at the moment. You might also study film music, world music or jazz and popular music. You will do composition exercises in the styles of important composers, in order to understand them better, and you will compose pieces of your own, probably for your main instrument.
Music combines well with both arts and science subjects and leads to all sorts of careers. In the last fourteen years, Music students at Wellingborough have gone on to read a variety of subjects at the best universities, including Oxford (Maths, Medicine) and Cambridge (Music, Physics).
The aim of the GCSE P.E. course is to provide pupils with opportunities to lead a healthy and active lifestyle by choosing from a variety of roles and activities in which to participate.
It will also improve their understanding of sports through studying theoretical content and develop skills of planning, performing and evaluating physical activity. Topics included in the course are: applied anatomy and physiology, movement analysis, physical training, use of data, sports psychology, socio-cultural influences, health, fitness and well-being.
The course also offers pupils opportunities in a wide range of sports, including girls’ and boys’ cricket, netball, rugby, golf, athletics, cross country, tennis and more.
It provides a foundation for A-Level courses in Physical Education and Sport.
Physics is the most basic and fundamental of all the sciences. Physicists want to really understand how things work, in every detail and at the deepest level. This includes everything from elementary particles, to nuclei, atoms, molecules, solids, liquids, gases, plasmas, the human brain, supercomputers, the atmosphere, planets, stars, galaxies, and the universe itself!
Physics is a particularly useful subject to study for anyone hoping to proceed to a career in engineering, technology or medicine.
The Physics Department, headed by Mrs Rebecca Hill, is housed in the Graham Garrett Building and consists of two teaching laboratories, a resources room, and a preparation room.
Physics students greatly benefit from a vibrant extra-curricular programme. The Department works closely in collaboration with four other schools in Wellingborough, the Open University and the Ogden Trust to provide a wide range of extra-curricular activities. Recent highlights include a trip to the Large Hadron Collider at CERN in Geneva, a Conference on Planetary Exploration, a Physics Careers Workshop and a Year 9 Conference on Medical Physics.
The Department also runs the Crest Bronze and Silver Awards scheme for pupils at lunchtimes and takes Year 11 pupils each year to the Physics at Work Exhibition at Cambridge University.
Religious Studies is taught in the Senior School by the School Chaplain, Reverend Martin Walker and other Senior School staff as required, to all pupils in Year 9 and also as one of the GCSE option subjects. A-Level is offered in the Sixth Form.
The subject gives pupils an opportunity to learn more about the beliefs, practices and response of world faiths – both Christianity and others - to important ethical and social issues; this is both interesting in itself and also develops the ability to “stand in another’s shoes” and see important issues from more than one point of view. Consequently Religious Studies is a good qualification for a wide range of jobs and university and college courses, especially if the end result will be a career working with people as clients and end-users as well as colleagues.
It is not a pre-requisite to be a convinced believer and a regular worshipper; rather, pupils are encouraged to respect the value of religious experience and as a result to assess their own attitudes towards a whole range of experiences. The aim at all levels is to avoid prejudice and xenophobia, and to encourage positive, sympathetic awareness of the attitudes which underlie the wide range of religious and ethical beliefs which make up the 21st-century moral landscape.
Wellingborough School has a well-established Learning Development team, led by Mrs Samantha Bell and Mrs Sharon Lawson. We are based in excellent accommodation at the heart of the School, operating across the Family of Schools from Nursery to the Upper Sixth.
We recognise that every pupil at Wellingborough School is a unique individual and are dedicated to ensuring that every pupil is both successful and happy. Therefore, our aim is to support pupils who experience difficulties in any aspect of their learning and to help build their confidence and self-esteem, and through appropriate support, enable them to realise their full potential.
We are qualified to assess ability, attainment and learning skills, and to identify any specific learning difficulties (SpLD), which may be a barrier to learning, and to use these results to inform pupils, teachers and parents regarding appropriate support strategies to adopt at school and at home. We work closely with parents and encourage communication and the sharing of ideas through meetings in School, email and telephone contact. All pupils take part in literacy baseline testing in Years 7 and 9. Following this testing, if further assessment is needed, we contact parents and, with agreement, are able to offer further assessment to consider, as appropriate, reasonable adjustments in examinations, including extra time and use of a word-processor for assessments and public examinations.
Learning Development in the Senior School
Our specialist teaching enables support to be tailored to the individual pupil and care is taken to assess both strengths and weaknesses; any additional support is then personalised and focused. One to one sessions complement attendance at curriculum clinics and when in place, regular half-termly contact is maintained between the specialist teacher, the relevant teaching staff and the parents, to ensure that all parties can offer cohesive support. In the Senior School, as far as possible, all support sessions take place before or after-school, or during lunchtimes, to ensure that the learning alongside peers is not compromised.