Silcoates is a happy school in a beautiful setting, where children and adults work together to be the best that they can be. Our aim is to inspire individuals who, by the time they leave Silcoates; are happy, confident and articulate young men and women; effective and independent learners; possess the resilience, knowledge and skills to succeed and thrive during the next stage of their lives.

Along with many other schools, we help students achieve examination results that they can be proud of. However, celebrating the individual and equipping them for life is what makes us Silcoates. Excellent staff/student relationships help our students take ownership of their learning; with small class sizes and a wide and varied curriculum, our students leave us with outstanding communication skills and great confidence.

We believe that challenge is essential for effective learning. Our Learning Support department ensures that any pupils with specific learning needs are supported and given the confidence to succeed.

Pupils in Years 7 and 8, enjoy a flexible curriculum. They have the opportunity to do drama, through English, explore the practical applications of Maths and enjoy learning about Science through experimentation. They are encouraged to express themselves, through the creative arts, and the study of languages, humanities and Physical Education further support the development of them as an individual. These studies build the foundations for learning and separate sciences are introduced in Year 9.

At GCSE, in Year 10, pupils take on a suite of nine challenging options, including IGCSEs. Maths and English are compulsory and pupils are advised to opt for a language and at least one science subject. There is also a wide range of optional subjects; with pupils selecting six from Art, Biology, Business Studies, Chemistry, Computer Science, French, Geography, German, History, Music, PE, Physics, Product Design and Religious Studies. Latin and Further Mathematics are offered as extra GCSE subjects to some pupils.

Pupils in the Senior School belong, predominantly, to two groups; a tutor group (form) and a teaching group. We strongly believe that pupils benefit from teaching tailored to their learning needs, and that they make better progress when taught in groups where pupils’ academic needs are similar. Maths is set separately throughout Years 7 to 11, while English is taught in the teaching groups at Key Stage 3 but set from Year 10.

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Academic Departments


The Art Department is an experienced and compact department consisting of two very passionate teachers, who want all of their pupils to full fill their potential. We are very keen for all pupils to express themselves in a creative fashion and to build their confidence.

Art is currently taught from Year 7 onwards in the Senior School. Throughout KS3 we are keen for the students to experiment in a variety of techniques and develop their confidence in their artist creativity. It is important that basic skills of drawing and painting are covered in a variety of tasks throughout the KS3, effective use of shading, tone and colour are repeating themes to projects to develop skills further.

In Year 7 the main focuses are colour, painting, and colour mixing. The pupil’s projects explore the work of Van Gogh and nature in art. In Year 8 the main focuses are application of effective mark making in a variety of creative ways and three-dimensional work. The pupil’s projects explore Henry Moore’s figurative sculptures and the art movement Cubism. Our aim is to encourage pupils to be passionate about art.

In Year 9 the focus is based on exploring the Pop Art movement. Pupils are able to express themselves through bold and bright paintings. The pupils thoroughly enjoy researching and learning about the work of Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein. All pupils are challenged to work independently by creating their own work in the style of Pop Art looking to the theme food. The year ends by exploring abstract art and looking into the work of artists such as Jackson Pollack and Willem de Kooning. The style of work produced and the pattern of tasks set are linked to a GCSE coursework project; this is to ensure a smooth transition for students taking the subject at GCSE.

In Year 10 and 11 the students follow the Art Edexcel GCSE course. The coursework is worth 60% of the course and the exam component is worth 40%. In the coursework component the students create a portfolio of work showing a diverse set of skills, based on a variety of topics set by the department. For the exam component the exam board sets a theme for the students to follow and inspire their work. During a number of weeks of preparation the students plan out, practise and research potential final pieces to create during their 10 hour exam.

In the Sixth Form, the department offers Art and Photography A Level courses. These run in a similar way to each other. The course is broken down to 60% coursework and 40% examination. The students create a variety of work inspired by their strengths and interests in the subject. As a department we are very keen for students to be inspired by their strengths in the subjects and any passions they many have. We feel that this helps enable students to produce their best possible work. For A Level Art, the focus is on developing skills in drawing, painting, printing and three-dimensional work. Students also work on creating a strong theme behind their work backed up with clear research.

In A Level Photography, the focus is on learning how to take successful photographs, have an interesting theme and story behind the work and develop Photoshop skills. Both the Art and Photography A Level are supported with a research essay that links to the themes the students have been researching in the final year of the course during the coursework component. This is an important element to the course that enables our students to show their effective researching skills and thought process behind their work.

We are keen that all students meet their full potential and so encourage KS3 pupils to attend a weekly Art Club to develop their creative ability. Examination groups are also encouraged to attend after school help sessions to develop their coursework projects and improve the quality of their work further.


The Biology Department consists of two Biologists and the Biology Lab technician. They have worked together for many years and are still enthusiastic about their subject, especially with all the new developments that are happening in Biology.

In Year 9, we aim to cover the parts of Biology that have not been covered in Years 7 and 8. This allows students to make an informed choice about what Sciences they wish to study at GCSE. We cover topics such as Plant Biology, Ecology, Healthy Diet and Adaptations. The Adaptations topic includes a visit to Chester Zoo where we can see first-hand the things we have been studying in class. Practical work is an integral part of the course and we develop practical skills such as microscopy, investigative work and ecological study techniques.

In Years 10 and 11 we follow the AQA GCSE specification. The course covers a wide variety of biological topics including study of most of the systems of the human body, plant biology, ecology, evolution, DNA, genetics and inheritance. Pupils are required to carry out 10 compulsory practicals which can be asked about in exams. In addition to the compulsory practicals, we carry out a wide variety of practical techniques including microscopy, dissection and a range of experimental work

A Level Biology tends to be one of the most popular subjects. It builds on the knowledge of GCSE as well as introducing brand new topics. As at GCSE, there are 12 compulsory practicals to be carried out. In addition, we aim to develop our students as good practical biologists. This involves carrying out a range of practical work such as dissection, microscopy, genetic engineering, gel electrophoresis, colourimetry, microbiology and much more. We also spend 3 days in the Yorkshire Dales Studying the flora and fauna of the region.

Business Studies and Economics

Business lessons start in Year 6, where they study various aspects of the subject, which culminates in the Fiver Challenge, where students are given a small amount of money to run their own stall for two days. This involves such skills as planning, marketing and finance, as well as being able to work in a team.

In Years 10 and 11, we prepare students for the Edexcel GCSE courses in Business. This Business course covers a wide range of topics, including entrepreneurship, finance, marketing and human resources. It is assessed by two examinations, both of 1½ hours in length. Students need to be able to apply relevant business knowledge to given situations.

In the Sixth Form, Economics is one of the most popular chosen subjects. We follow the Edexcel Economics B syllabus, which combines both business and economics content. The course content includes supply and demand, external economic influences as well as business topics such as marketing and certain aspects of finance. It is assessed by three, two-hour examinations at the end of upper sixth. The final examination is based upon a research topic, which students must learn about in depth before the examination.


We study the Activate Science course in Year 6 and continue to do so throughout Years 7 and 8 as Maths, literacy and working scientifically are embedded throughout. This course helps develop skills necessary for studying Science at a higher level and students have a wide ranging heavily kinaesthetic learning experience.

We see Year 9 as the beginning of the GCSE studies. We focus on introducing the students to the cope principles of Chemistry: Atomic Structure, appreciating the trends of the Periodic Table, and writing word and balancing symbol equations. Building upon and the refining of students practical skills gained in Years 6-8 is a key feature of the Year 9 course.

In Years 10 and 11, we prepare students for the AQA course in Chemistry. It builds upon knowledge acquired in Year 9 and illustrates, for example, that a good understanding of Atomic Structure is at the key to understanding topics such as ionic bonding, electrochemistry and organic chemistry. The AQA course is examined by two papers, each testing a mixture of topics and practical skills that pupils have encountered through their 3 years of study. Various trips enrich topics studied throughout the course.

Chemistry is a popular choice at A level as it is a challenging yet fascinating subject. We study the AQA specification which incorporates Inorganic, Organic and Physical Chemistry in equal proportions. Investigating the kinetics of mechanisms involving organic molecules, learning about the reactions of transition metal complexes and solving challenging calculations allows students to develop a logical approach to problem solving as well as an ability to understand abstract principles. Many students combine their study at this level with A levels in Biology, Maths and Physics.

A Level Chemistry is a requirement for university courses such as Medicine, Veterinary Science, Dentistry and Engineering. We aim to ensure that students seeking to pursue Chemistry, and/or courses that require Chemistry at University are well prepared for making their university applications. Our staff are experienced in preparing students for an Oxbridge interview.

Computer Science

The Year 7 curriculum focuses on skills that can be transferred to other curriculum areas.

For example, using word processors, spreadsheets and database software to present, query and organise data. Pupils are also taught file management skills and e-Safety is addressed. HTML code is introduced at a higher level with pupils being able to successfully produce their own websites.

In Year 8, binary conversion, addition, subtraction and multiplication are taught along with the basics of hexadecimal conversion. Python programming language is introduced as are some of the more complex theory topics that pupils may come across during GCSE Computer Science.

In Year 9, we focus on providing a transition to GCSE by returning to the Python programming environment and delving deeper into the theory side of the subject: for example, how networks are set up and the laws that a computer user must abide by.

In Years 10 and 11, we prepare students for the OCR GCSE Computer Science course. Students undertake an extended programming project, which is completed during Year 11. 100% of the course is examined through two written papers, one covering topics such as systems architecture, security and networking, and the other assesses computational thinking, algorithms and programming.

Design Technology

The DT Department has four full-time specialist teachers providing expertise in product design, resistant materials, graphics, CAD/CAM, electronic products and food technology.

Our full-time technician, Mr Gibson, supports the teaching staff and maintains the department to a high standard.

The department is housed in five modern, purpose-built and well-resourced teaching areas. Two are open-plan and are used mainly for resistant materials. The third is a multi-purpose facility for electronics, CAD and graphics. The fourth room is dedicated to CAD/CAM and the fifth is our new Food room next to the Library.

In Years 7 and 8, we provide a course of study that builds up a resource bank of specific knowledge and skills, which encourages the pupils to question the world around them, form ideas and then thoughtfully develop these ideas into concrete proposals. ​This programme is taught through designing and making assignments that incorporate product evaluation activities and focused practical tasks. The year is divided into four blocks, two in the resistant materials workshops, one in the food room and one in the CAD/CAM room. The pupils rotate through each of these blocks spending 8 weeks on a variety of food, CAD/CAM and resistant material based projects.

In Year 9, pupils continue to rotate through projects that last eight weeks but the projects themselves become more open and context driven to prepare them for more independent work at GCSE. Moving again from teacher to teacher, they gain more specialist skills in RMT, Product Design and Food with a fourth unit that focuses solely on improving their design communication skills.

In Years 10 and 11, Design and Technology is an optional subject and pupils are entered for either OCR Design & Technology or OCR Food Preparation and Nutrition. However, several pupils do select both options. In Design & Technology, pupils spend Year 10 working through a variety of mini projects designed to equip them with the skills and knowledge to successfully tackle a context driven design problem in year 11 and an end of year exam (each worth 50%).

Visiting speakers and trips to local companies are a core ingredient to both courses.

Product Design is always a popular choice at A level. In Year 12, we focus on developing the three essential skills of investigating, sketching and modelling. Whilst doing this, students complete two independent design projects of their own choosing. The first is a re-development of an existing product, the second is to develop a completely new and innovative product of their own design. Each idea has to be presented to a panel of judges. The department makes extensive use of technology to help support and guide their teaching.


The English Department is an enthusiastic group of subject specialists who are committed to sharing their passion for language and literature. Mr Wardle runs the Debating Society and has worked as an external examiner for IGCSE and A Level.

In addition to teaching English, the Department is proud to have their own fully-equipped Drama Studio, to which English teachers regularly take their classes in order to explore classroom topics from dramatic perspectives.

Our approach to English in Years 7 and 8 is first of all to foster pupils’ enjoyment of the subject through a variety of engaging topics and books, and then, through these, to teach the wide range of writing and reading skills that will ensure success at IGCSE. Year 7 topics include gothic literature and an advertising project and Year 8 topics include crime and conflict literature, as well as ‘Shakespeare on Trial’, which brings one of Shakespeare’s plays to life by turning the classroom into a courtroom and putting one of the main characters in the dock. Library lessons, in addition to our Reading Journal homework booklets, encourage pupils to develop a love of reading widely for pleasure, and lessons focused on analysis skills enable pupils to dissect and interpret the work of a wide range of authors.

We promote pupils’ development into creative and highly-skilled writers, secure in the key areas of narrative, persuasive and descriptive writing. Speaking and Listening topics, such as a Dragons’ Den pitch for a new phone app, foster the key skills which help pupils to develop into confident and engaging speakers.

In Year 9, we focus on providing an effective transition to IGCSE by introducing more challenging topics, books and assessments. To prepare for the rigours of the IGCSE English Literature course, pupils study an anthology of short stories from the past 200 years as well as an IGCSE-level drama text such as A View from the Bridge by Arthur Miller. To continue to develop the skills for the IGCSE English Language qualification, pupils consolidate their skills of narrative, persuasive and descriptive writing, and they also undertake a detailed project about a controversial current affairs topic.

In Years 10 and 11, we prepare students for the Cambridge IGCSE courses in English Language and English Literature. The English Language qualification includes coursework that requires students to produce a range of high-quality written pieces, often based on key descriptive, narrative and persuasive skills. We prepare students for the exam by teaching a range of reading skills including summary and language analysis. For the IGCSE English Literature course, students study a variety of texts, some for coursework and some for exams. Through texts such as The History Boys by Alan Bennett and The Crucible by Arthur Miller, we foster students’ skills of analysis, interpretation and personal response.

English Literature is a popular choice at A level. We study the AQA Specification B course, which focuses on genres such as comedy and political protest writing. Students enjoy the wide range of texts on offer, such as The Kite Runner, The Handmaid’s Tale and The Importance of Being Earnest. An introductory series of lessons, ‘Literary History’, gives students a fascinating overview of the whole of English Literature, and a Wider Reading project inspires students to read beyond the curriculum in order to develop the breadth of their subject knowledge.

The English Department offers a wide range of extra-curricular opportunities. English teachers are often closely involved with school drama productions, and theatre trips foster pupils’ understanding and enjoyment of literary texts. The Paired Reading scheme sees Sixth Formers paired with selected Middle School pupils to work one-to-one on key reading skills, and a weekly ‘English Help’ drop-in session gives the opportunity for all pupils to receive extra support.


The Geography Department comprises of two subject specialists, who are both passionate Geographers and experienced teachers. Both are experts in all types of Geography.

Starting in Year 7, and continuing throughout Year 8, we follow a broad curriculum looking at a wide range of topics including Africa, Rivers and Urbanisation. Lessons are designed to be interactive and bring the complexity of the world into the classroom through innovative learning strategies. Field trips are essential to understanding geography and trips are organised to explore our region including Yorkshire’s east coast and the Yorkshire Dales.

In Year 9, we continue the preparations for GCSE study and assessments are designed to prepare students for the demands of GCSE style questions. We study topics that will be included in the GCSE including Hazards such as volcanoes and earthquakes and Development giving students a taste of what they will be studying in Years 10 and 11 should they choose Geography.

We study the AQA GCSE course. Students are expected to study a wide range of topics as well as demonstrate their geographical skills and decision making. There are three exams taken at the end of the course all of which we spend time preparing for with topic tests and mock exams.

The order of topics is flexible but though the two years students will study the following:

Paper 1 (35%) 1 hour 30 minutes: Living with the physical environment.

  •     The challenge of natural hazards – tectonic and weather hazards
  •     The living world – Rainforests and deserts
  •     Physical landscapes in the UK – Rivers and Coasts

Paper 2 (35%) 1 hour 30 minutes: Challenges in the human environment.

  • Urban issues and challenges – Leeds and Rio De Janeiro
  • The changing economic world
  • Resource management – Food, water and energy

Paper 3 (30%) 1 hour 15 minutes – Geographical Applications

We carry out a field trip to the River Tees to learn the skills that will be assessed in this exam. There is also a pre released booklet about an issue which students receive 12 weeks before the exam to enable them to prepare.

For A level, we study the AQA specification, which has two exams, one physical and one human. There is also an independent investigation worth 20% of the final A level which the students plan and carry out themselves. Six key topics are studied through the course; Hazards, Glaciation, Water and Carbon Cycles, Changing Places, Urbanisation and Globalisation. Field trips are offered and, currently in Year 12, students get the opportunity to visit and study Amsterdam. Teaching continues to use innovative learning strategies and group work at A level to ensure that students don’t just learn but also understand the content of the course.

Government and Politics

The Government and Politics Department is led by Mr Verinder. The prerequisite for studying Government and Politics is that students have a passionate interest in current affairs and enjoy thinking about and discussing politics and politicians.

In Year 12, students study British Government and Politics. We begin by looking at the health or otherwise of democracy in the UK. We move on to political parties, using up-to-date manifestos to study divisions within and between them. Students examine voting behaviour in the UK and debate whether we should change the voting system. ‘Politics Review’ magazine is a helpful tool to keep on top of current events. Students then move on to study UK Government. Parliament, prime ministerial power, the constitution and the judiciary are key areas of study.

In Year 13, we begin with a study of political ideologies, such as socialism, conservatism, liberalism, feminism and anarchism. We then compare and contrast the UK and US systems. Are presidents more powerful than prime ministers? How does Congress differ from the UK Parliament? How does a Federal system differ from a Unitary system? It is important that students become aware of ‘The Washington Post’ and MSNBC, amongst others, to help with an understanding of the US system.

Government and Politics encourages students to evaluate the key political debates and make judgements.


The History Department at Silcoates School is convinced of the value of studying History for all students. We strive to stimulate their interests through engaging lessons, develop their skills through constructive and comprehensive assessment and enable them experience History outside the classroom with a programme of enrichment activities across all year groups. We are an experienced and dynamic staff who specialise in a wide range of subject areas within the discipline.

In Year 7, pupils begin by studying Medieval British history from 1066 to 1485. In Year 8, our study of British history continues with the Tudors, the English Civil War, the rule of Oliver Cromwell and the Restoration. During these two years, pupils are encouraged to use an increasing variety of source material and to think about events from multiple viewpoints, considering the political, social and economic factors involved. We also incorporate the study of non-British history when we look at the Atlantic Slave Trade and the French Revolution.

In Year 9, we focus on equipping our students for GCSE through consolidating their historical skill set and exploring some of the key issues that faced the world in the 20th century. We particularly focus on higher order thinking skills such as analysis and evaluation in relation to source material and conflicting interpretations. Our key topic areas are the Western Front, the changing nature of warfare in WWII and the Holocaust.

In Years 10 and 11, we follow the Edexcel IGCSE course, looking at issues of racism, conflict and dictatorship. It is a Twentieth Century-based course that explores some of the “ifs” and “buts” which makes the study of History what it is. It is examined through 2 papers. Paper 1 comprises of two depth studies; Germany, 1918-1945 and Civil Rights in the USA 1945-74. Paper 2 comprises of an investigation into the origins and course of the First World War and a breadth study of the Middle East 1917-2012.

It is a very worthwhile and enjoyable course in which students further develop skills of critical analysis, oral and written argument and many more.  A key highlight is the WWI Battlefields Trip to France and Belgium which allows many students to engage in their own family history and learn about the Old Silcoatians who also served their country.

A Level History at Silcoates aims to offer a broad historical education which will challenge students intellectually and further develop their historical skills. We follow the AQA specification and the overall theme of our course is revolution, conflict and change. Students will explore notions of monarchy, authority, dictatorship, enlightenment and political, social, economic and foreign relations across a variety of time periods and countries. This enables students to gain a mature, analytical understanding of the discipline of History as well as consider the thematic and conceptual links that are present in, and relevant to, so many areas of historical study.

The course comprises of two exam based units (a breath study and a depth study) and a 3,500 word historical investigation.  The breath study explores the Tudors, 1485 to 1603 and the depth study explores France in Revolution, 1774 to 1815. The historical investigation in based on around the topic of ‘Russia from the Tsars to dictatorship, 1855 to 1953’ and within that students have a free choice of question.

Our classroom-based learning at A Level is further enhanced through two study trips to Paris and London.


The Mathematics Department comprises a close-knit group of five subject specialists, who are committed to sharing their own enthusiasm for the subject, to students of all ages.

Starting in Year 6, and continuing throughout Years 7 and 8, we focus on consolidating and building upon key mathematical skills and techniques, as well as promoting problem solving skills through the implementation of levelled extension tasks. The daily lunchtime maths help sessions are central to help support and reinforce our pupils’ learning, when they have struggled to grasp a particular topic at the first time of trying. We try to develop our pupils’ interest in the subject through the UKMT Mathematics challenges for our top set pupils and a visit to Doncaster Racecourse in Year 7 for other pupils to see some real life applications of Mathematics.

In Year 9, we see this as the beginning of pupils’ IGCSE studies, with new more advanced topics being introduced and a focus on providing a transition to IGCSE by incorporating exam style questions, including those focussing on Quality of Written Communication.

In Years 10 and 11, we prepare students for the Edexcel IGCSE course in Mathematics. This course is examined through two calculator papers, each testing a mixture of topics and skills that pupils have encountered through their 5 years of study. Bottom sets are expected to be entered for the Foundation tier, with all other pupils being entered for the Higher tier.

Mathematics is a popular choice at A level. We study the OCR specification, which requires our students to study topics covering the Pure, Statistics and Mechanics branches of Mathematics. Many students combine their study at this level with A levels in Chemistry, Physics, Biology and Geography.

Further Mathematics is also available to those students with a real passion for maths, where students will further develop their understanding of Pure Mathematics and can either choose to study Statistics and Mechanics to a higher level or broaden their mathematical knowledge with Discrete Mathematics.

Modern Foreign Languages

The MFL Department comprises very experienced subject specialists, who take pleasure in passing on their love of languages to pupils of all ages.

Acquisition of a modern foreign language at Silcoates School begins with delivery by subject specialists in Year 3 right through to Year 13. Currently, pupils begin their language learning journey with the introduction of French. The emphasis in the lower years is on learning through song, role-play and language games.

Languages are brought to life within the classroom and beyond through lively, engaging and challenging activities, involving cooperative learning and opportunities to apply this learning in real life situations. Learning languages at Silcoates enables pupils to develop their listening, speaking, reading and writing skills and to express themselves with increasing confidence, independence and creativity. They enjoy gaining an insight into other countries, cultures and communities, which in turn gives them a different perspective and deeper insight into their own language, culture and society. The department is resource rich with both written and electronic materials. All learners have access to on-line subscriptions.

In Year 7, the second language, German, is introduced and runs concurrently with French. In both languages, the foundations of grammar are introduced and reinforced. The majority of pupils study both French and German throughout Years 7 and 8, gaining the enthusiasm, skills and knowledge, which will provide a solid foundation for future study to GCSE and A Level. By the end of Year 9, pupils are well prepared for the start of GCSE.

In Years 10 and 11, students embark on the AQA GCSE specification. Silcoates students are privileged to benefit from regular one to one and small group contact with native speakers. The department’s objective is to enable students to develop their language skills to their full potential, equipping them with the knowledge to communicate in a variety of contexts with confidence. The skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing all carry equal weighting in the final examination, covering the three main themes of identity and culture, local, national, international and global areas of interest, and current and future study and employment.

A MFL A Level is a well-regarded qualification within both the world of work and with higher education establishments. AQA is the chosen specification for A Level languages and allows a seamless transition from GCSE. The stimulating content enables students to develop their linguistic skills alongside their understanding of the culture and society of target language countries. Students’ oral competence and confidence is greatly enhanced due to their weekly contact with a foreign language assistant. The overarching themes are social issues and trends and political and artistic culture. One film and one set text are studied during the course and these, together with the independent research project, are assessed in the terminal examinations. Listening, reading, writing and speaking are the four skills assessed.

The European Day of Languages is always a big event throughout the school. Junior school students enjoy a “drop-down” day where a wide range of cross-curricular events take place based on a particular European country. The Senior School students are greeted by their teachers in a wide range of different languages, a European themed menu is served in the dining room with quizzes and a European-themed assembly. Students regularly participate in various food-tasting activities, watch French and German Society film screenings, as well as playing lunchtime pétanque during the summer term.


The Music Department comprises a small group of curriculum specialists and a large team of instrumental/vocal teachers. Children in the Junior School are taught by primary music specialists Ms Jones (Years 1 & 2), Mr Wears (Years 3 & 4) and Mr Trotter (Years 5 & 6).

VMTs prepare children for graded music examinations for all boards, including ABRSM, Trinity, LCM and Trinity Rock & Pop.
Examinations are usually held in the familiar setting of the Music School. After school theory tuition is also available for students aspiring to complete ABRSM theory exams.

Music lessons for Junior School children are practical, with an emphasis on singing, performing and composing. Children learn to recognise and work with the Elements of Music, starting with pulse in Reception and building awareness of Pitch, Tempo, Dynamics and other elements over time. Children develop skills by working in small groups and through whole class performances, and there are many opportunities to showcase their work in assemblies and concerts. All children have the opportunity to experience learning at least one musical instrument, often in small groups or pairs.

Currently all Year 3 pupils receive half a term of violin lessons, and Year 4 pupils have the opportunity to learn a woodwind or brass instrument as well as the keyboard. Children showing promise on any of these instruments are encouraged to take individual lessons. On Thursday afternoons the whole Junior School participates in an extra music session, with children organised in mixed year groups experiencing activities such as drumming, singing songs from the West End, playing boomwhackers or tuned percussion, or moving to the beat.

In the Middle School, the music curriculum is mostly practical, focusing on the key elements of Performing, Composing and Listening and Appraising. Pupils who learn musical instruments are encouraged to play these in group and whole class activities, and all students receive basic instruction in keyboard skills.

At A Level, we study the Edexcel specification, which follows a similar model to GCSE. Students are required to present a recital on their instrument/voice, which may include solo and/or ensemble pieces (30%), and submit 2 compositions demonstrating technical skill and creativity (30%). A collection of 18 set works forms the basis for developing knowledge and understanding of music history, genres and traditions, though students are expected to listen to a wide range of other pieces. The listening and appraising exam (40%) features extracts from set works and unfamiliar pieces as well as aural dictation questions. Students taking A Level Music are expected to have instrumental or vocal lessons in or out of school and should have reached grade 7 standard by Year 13.

Physical education

The PE Department comprises of five subject specialists, who are committed to sharing their own enthusiasm for the subject, to students of all ages.

The PE Department delivers PE and Games lessons to Year 3 upwards. The main emphasis is on developing competence and confidence in a range of physical activities. Children have PE lessons in the morning and games lessons in the afternoon. PE lessons comprise of activities such as swimming, gymnastics, fundamental motor skills, small sided games, short tennis and athletics. The major team games of hockey, rugby, netball, cricket and rounders are covered in games lessons. It is during these games lessons that the bulk of the competitive sports fixture take place.

From Year 7, the PE/Games organisation is similar to that in the Junior School where PE lessons take place in the mornings and Games lessons are in the afternoon. The main difference with sports fixtures is that these now take place on Saturday mornings in the main although there are some mid-week fixtures for some sports. From Year 7 to Year 9, pupils build on the skills they have learnt previously. The aim is to refine and adapt these skills, develop a greater range of skills and develop greater precision, control and fluency of these skills. Greater tactical knowledge is developed as well as an awareness of how to practise to improve performance.

A knowledge of how to exercise both for general health as well as increased physical performance is also addressed as well as an ability to analyse their own and other student’s performance. PE lessons cover the following: swimming, gymnastics, basketball, badminton, weight training, circuit training and athletics. Hockey, rugby, netball, cricket, tennis and rounders are the main activities in Games lessons.

PE is a popular choice at GCSE and pupils embarking on this course should already have a strong track record in practical performance. We study the OCR specification which comprises of 60% theory and 40% practical. The theory has two components each of which are examined in two written papers: Paper 1 covers the Anatomy and physiology and Physical training whereas Sports Psychology, Socio-cultural influences and Health, fitness and well-being are covered in Paper 2.

For the practical, performance of three activities are taken from two approved lists (individual, team and the third from either list). Students also produce a written coursework task on performance analysis in their main sport. It is highly desirable that students are active members of school teams or are involved in their chosen physical activities on a regular basis outside school.

We also study the OCR specification at A Level. Theory (70%) has three components each examined in three written papers. Paper 1 covers Anatomy and Physiology, Exercise Physiology and Biomechanics; Paper 2 covers Skill Acquisition and Sports Psychology; Paper 2 covers Sport and Society and Contemporary Issues. For the practical (30%), students are assessed in one activity from the approved list and also take part in an oral exam in which they analyse performance in a chosen physical activity. As with the GCSE, students should already have achieved high level of performance in their chosen practical activity and would be expected to be actively involved in this activity on a regular basis. Many students combine their study at this level with A levels in Biology and Psychology.

The PE Department offers many opportunities for students to pursue physical activities outside the classroom. Sports tours for the senior age groups compliment the busy fixture programme and give the younger students something to aspire towards.


The Physics department has two Physics specialists, Mr Hutson and Mrs Redfearn, both of whom are passionate about enthusing students about Physics.

In Years 6, 7 and 8, pupils are taught a combined Science course, comprising elements from all three Sciences. There is a strong focus on using practical work and investigative approaches to help reinforce learning. In Years 7 and 8, pupils study the ‘Activate Science’ scheme of work.

Pupils are always fascinated to learn about space and a highlight of Year 7 for many students is the trip to the National Space Centre in Leicester.

In Year 9, students are split into separate sciences and are taught by a subject specialist from each science. The Year 9 Physics course is designed to give students a sound foundation for GCSE Physics and to give them a good appreciation of what studying GCSE Physics entails. This ensures that students are well prepared and able to make an informed decision about which sciences to study at GCSE. Physics in Year 9 has a higher mathematical content than in previous years.

In Years 10 and 11, we prepare students for the AQA GCSE Physics exams. The course involves a mixture of practical work and theory, with all assessment being done by examination. The course includes the classical Physics topics such as forces, energy and waves, as well as more modern topics such as space and nuclear physics. Students need to understand key concepts and apply them to unfamiliar situations. We are keen to ensure that students appreciate the relevance of their studies and can apply their learning to the world around them. We expect students to start to take greater responsibility for their own work at this level, and in addition to text books and homework books, we provide revision guides and work books for independent study. Students are expected to seek help at regular lunch-time help sessions.

At A Level, we follow the OCR Physics A specification. Teaching is split between the two Physics teachers, with each focussing on their specific areas of expertise. Practical work forms a significant part of the course and is interwoven throughout. Assessment of the Practical Endorsement is by teachers throughout the course. All other assessment is via examination at the end of the two-year course. A Level Physics is a fascinating subject requiring good numeracy and the ability to be able to visualise abstract concepts. The course covers a wide variety of Physics topics including forces, motion, materials, electricity, waves, quantum physics, particle physics, cosmology, nuclear physics and medical physics.

We believe strongly in the value of external trips and visits to allow students to contextualise their studies. We organise trips for most year groups although the highlight for A-level students is our biannual visit to the Large Hadron Collider at CERN in Geneva.


A Level Psychology is one of the most popular choices at Silcoates, with approximately a third of all students opting for Psychology over the past ten years.

The department takes significant steps to help the students with their organisational skills and their files are set up on the first day, with everything they need for the two year course. All their work is written in pre-prepared booklets, with activities, book references and ideas for independent research. Psychology requires students to draw upon their own experiences and beliefs about behaviour and as a result, there is a great deal of discussion opportunities on the course. Students are also encouraged to conduct practical psychology studies themselves to appreciate the research process. The A Level is assessed with three examinations at the end of Year 13.

The department also offers enrichment activities with guest speakers from the prison service and clinical Psychology visiting the school annually to discuss applied psychology.

Religious studies

The Religious Studies Department consists of two subject specialists who are committed to enabling students to discuss and think about some of the most complex questions that have faced humanity throughout the ages.

Throughout years 7 and 8 our students examine the major world faiths in depth which allows them to gain an understanding of the key beliefs and practices that underpin each religion, which prepares our students for the diverse world in which they live. They also explore key philosophical and ethical issues and discuss their own views and opinions.

In Year 9, the students encapsulate the wider issues within RS taught from the perspective of the media within the themes of Social Justice and Power. This enables our students to see how relevant Religious Studies is to their own lives. Students investigate topics such as why there is conflict in our world, whether the media have contributed to Islamophobia, whether social injustices exist in religion, sport and society? and how religious belief can lead to extremist ideas.

In Years 10 and 11, students are prepared for the AQA GCSE course, focusing on Christianity and Islam to explore four different themes – Conflict, Relationships, Crime and Punishment and Religion and Life. The course is examined by three papers that are examined at the end of the course, which asks students to show their knowledge and understanding of the different topics as well as analysing different answers to the issues raised within the themes. The course is taught by two experienced GCSE examiners who offer their expertise to the students.

At A Level, students follow the Eduqas specification, furthering their knowledge of Christianity, Philosophy and Ethics. They examine some of the greatest thinkers of all time, critiquing and discussing their views in depth and apply ethical theories to the issues of using nuclear weapons for mass destruction, homosexuality, polyamorous relationships, abortion, euthanasia, capital punishment and immigration. The course is examined by three papers: Christianity, Philosophy and Ethics.

The Religious Studies Department at Silcoates School is a popular and successful department. Our well qualified and experienced team are passionate about the delivery of the subject and firmly believe that studying Religious Studies equips our students for the world in which they live as it gives them an understanding of the diversity around them and the current issues within their world whilst providing them with a variety of opportunities to explore their personal beliefs through an engaging and inclusive curriculum. Our teachers are experienced examiners in both A level and GCSE and our expertise are shared with the students regularly.

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