Academic Update

Academic Update

GCSE exam boards and course handbooks

A number of parents have been asking which exam boards we use for our GCSE courses. These may differ from year-to-year within subjects because of all the recent curriculum changes, so the easiest way to access this information is to refer back to your son / daughter’s options handbook by clicking on the link below:

The relevant exam boards for each subject and each year group are accessible through this page on our website, and the information on each course will also provide you with links to the specification. Further support and information is also now available in our GCSE course handbooks, which are publicly available on the website through this link:

We hope that all of this information will help you to support your child with their learning.


The extended curriculum

There are already over 300 students taking part in extended curriculum activities before and after school. Please see our full range of activities by clicking on the link below:

We would ideally like all students to get involved with the extended curriculum, so please do look through what is on offer and encourage your son / daughter to get involved either with something they know they enjoy or something they have never tried before.


Managing the jump from GCSE to A Level

This term, for the first time in three years, I am teaching Year 12, having specialised in Year 13 French for the past two years. Working with my class has really reminded me what a big gap there is between GCSE and A Level not only in terms of academic content and skills, but also in terms of the expectations of students. At first, for some students, it may feel like there is an impossibly steep mountain to climb, but by following some basic principles, I am confident that my students, as well as students in all of the other subject areas can and will achieve:

  1. At A Level, there is a huge emphasis on independent study. Completing Independent Learning tasks set in a calm, work-friendly environment where students can give their work their full attention is of paramount importance. The minimum expectation is that students are completing 5 hours per week of IL in order to embed and development their knowledge. This is arguably the biggest area of change from GCSE level and it can come as a big culture shock, but students have to adapt quickly.
  2. The importance of students’ resilience in Year 12 cannot be underestimated. Many of them are flying high following excellent GCSE results, but can come back down to earth with a bump. Especially when the first sets of assessment results are published, they may think they don’t know anything anymore, but it is not true! At this stage, they should adopt a positive mindset and think about how much more they know now than in September. They will already have made massive progress in their subjects even if it is not showing yet in their raw grades. At A Level, students have to be prepared to fail multiple times before they succeed.  
  3. A vital part of succeeding at A Level is taking the initiative. Seeking advice from teachers on a regular basis either in person or via email is a must, and using all resources available to research and problem-solve plays a pivotal role in enabling students to progress. Students should remember that taking the initiative is not just about finding out the answers, it is also about working out which questions you need to ask.
  4. When students are reflective, they make great strides forwards. By constantly evaluating then re-evaluating what their areas of strength and weakness are, as well as acting on feedback from their teachers, they will progress.
  5. Finally, students should try to find extended curriculum opportunities relating to their chosen subjects. These might be competitions, events, trips or work experience placements. Certainly the work experience programme my Year 13 students undertook in France last year had a huge impact on their general confidence, motivation and consequently achievement.

We wish Year 12 the best of luck in their journey to success this year.


Some fantastic news

As you will no doubt have picked up by now, we are very pleased with our summer results at both GCSE and A level. However, once all of the reviews of marking had been returned by the exam boards and we had completed our final analysis of the results, it became apparent that the Most Able and Talented students had performed exceptionally well at GCSE level.

This group of Year 11 students was identified as Most Able and Talented through our in-house identification processes, then over time, they have had tailored curriculum, classroom and out-of-classroom experiences to help maximise their potential. The results are as follows:

  • The group’s Progress 8 score was a phenomenal +0.93, meaning that on average, students achieved nearly one grade per subject higher than expected.
  • Their Attainment 8 score was a massive 78, meaning that they averaged nearly the equivalent of a grade 8 across their subjects. This level of attainment puts the group on a par with some of the higher performing selective state schools in the country.
  • One of the Most Able and Talented students was in the group of only 2000 students around the country to achieve three grade 9s in the new Maths and English GCSE courses.

Well done to all of those students and their teachers for such an outstanding performance.


Exam weeks

We would like to remind you that the assessment fortnight for Years 7-10 and 12-13 will run from Monday 4th to Thursday 14th December, during which time Year 11 will also have their full mock exams. Assessments will be based around the contents of the whole term’s work, so it is worth students beginning their revision well in advance. Revision materials will be provided for all students by their teachers in advance of these key assessments.

As ever, is you have any curriculum-related questions, please do not hesitate to contact me at

Tom Cragg


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