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Academic Program to GCSE

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Westonbirt follow the iGCSE programme followed by A levels in Sixth Form and a selection of BTECs. Westonbirt aims to stay ahead of current curriculum changes so the impact on learning is minimised and opportunity maximised. Our aim is that every student who leaves after Year 13 does so as a confident, well-rounded individual prepared to tackle modern day life in a global world.

Years 7 to 9

In Year 7 all students follow a core curriculum of English, Latin, Mathematics, Science, Spanish, French, Art, Design and Technology, Drama, Geography, History, ICT and Touch Typing, Music, Physical Education (including games and swimming), Religious Education, Textiles and Food Technology. There is also a detailed programme of Skills for Life in addition to tutorial time. From Year 8 Spanish and Latin are introduced they enable students to develop valuable skills and give them the opportunity to study subjects which they may wish to pursue at GCSE. In Year 9, there is a detailed guidance programme ensuring that sensible GCSE choices are made in preparation for the start of Year 10.

Years 10 to 11

Core GCSE's are taken in English Language and Literature, Mathematics, Science as a double or triple GCSE and either Latin and/or a Modern Foreign Language. In addition, a number of optional GCSE subjects are chosen. This varies depending on the ability and aptitude of each individual. Throughout these two crucial years, all girls continue with Physical Education, ICT, and Skills for Life lessons. From Year 11, students embark on a programme preparing them for entry into the Sixth Form that includes Year 12 taster lessons and Futurewise Profiling.

English

All universities and employers will want you to have a qualification in English Language. In gaining at least a grade 4 at GCSE level you will have demonstrated that you can write competently for a variety of purposes and that you have the skills to understand both explicit and implicit meanings in a range of texts.

Both English Language and English Literature are compulsory GCSE subjects at Westonbirt. They are taught as an integrated course but lead to two qualifications. You will study in depth texts from different genres and you will acquire the ability to structure an argument quickly and clearly, both on paper and as part of an oral task.

Why study English Language and English Literature?

  • We all use language in a variety of ways every day. It is fascinating to analyse how we shade our meaning through the words we use.
  • Learning to use language to express ourselves in an appropriate manner in a range of situations is crucial to our development as mature people.
  • Literature is the supreme example of the many ways we can harness and control our language, often with spectacular effect.
  • Literature is the mirror of life. It crystallises and intensifies the depth of human experience. Often we relate to texts in a profound way.

What should you bring to the course?

  • A willingness to respond to the ideas of others
  • A determination to extend your language and communication skills
  • An enthusiasm for reading

English Language

For the English Language qualification, you will complete a paper of 2 hours and 15 minutes which will be a test of both reading and writing skills. Additionally, you will complete two written assignments as coursework, as well as completing speaking and listening exercises. There is a single tier of entry and grades awarded are 1-9. 

English Literature

For the English Literature qualification, you will complete an examination of 2 hours which will test your understanding of two texts studied in class – To Kill a Mockingbird and the Edexcel Poetry Anthology. Additionally you will complete two written coursework assignments based on your study of An Inspector Calls and Romeo and Juliet

All texts will be taught in class and you will be well supported by your teacher. Students tend to enjoy their studies in English Language and Literature and we are proud of the results they achieve. If you have any specific questions about the structure of the syllabus or you are worried about completing the course, then please speak to your English teacher.

Mr Alex Mew

Head of English

Maths

The aforementioned quotes sum up how many of us perceive mathematics. It challenges us, yet there is a beauty in its logic and it is most definitely not a subject to be feared. We are now into the fourth year of delivering the new GCSE 9-1 specification in mathematics and with two exam seasons under our belt, we are rising to the challenges of its new and more rigorous demands. Our students are being equipped with skills to decipher what the questions are looking for and then to look for ways into which to solve the problems from the building blocks and concepts taught in classes.           

At Westonbirt School, the Mathematics GCSE 9-1 is delivered over three years; with first teaching beginning in Year 9.

This specification is examined by means of three written papers, each of 1.5 hours, at the end of Year 11. The first paper will be an assessment without the use of a calculator; calculators will be expected for papers 2 and 3. The examinations will be taken at the end of Year 11 and, because of the coverage of broader and deeper mathematical content, it is unlikely that it will be appropriate for candidates to be entered any earlier.

The new 9-1 grading system is now being widely rolled out; 9 being the highest grade and is equivalent to the higher end of the old style A*. Students can be entered for either the Foundation tier or the Higher tier. The new Foundation tier goes up to grade 5, which is of a higher level of demand than the old grade C, and the Higher tier starts at grade 4, which is of a higher level of demand than the old grade D. Grades achievable at the Foundation tier are 1-5, grades achievable at the Higher tier are 4-9. A pass at GCSE requires a grade 4 or above to be achieved.

At Westonbirt School, we are passionate about mathematics and believe this new-style GCSE to be a demanding and challenging subject which will undoubtedly stretch the most able. Foundation tier students will, however, be able to focus on core mathematical understanding and problem-solving skills, equipping them for the world of work and non-mathematical further study.

Why study Mathematics?

  • Learning to apply rules of logic to solve problems helps you to analyse situations and to look for strategies to solve problems.
  • The efficient use of calculators and tablet computers will be valuable skills in many pursuits after you leave school.
  • Experience in handling data will be very useful for projects in other subjects.     
  • By following the course you will gain a great deal of experience towards Key Skills up to Level 2 across all six areas.   

What should you bring to the course?

  • An open mind
  • A willingness to experiment with new ideas
  • An ability to spot patterns
  • An awareness that you need to describe, in good English, your reasoning and logic
  • An ability to spot the unusual and to check for errors
  • A determination not to be beaten by a few squiggles on a piece of paper!
  • A scientific calculator and basic geometrical instruments (make sure you keep your calculator instruction booklet!)

“If I were again beginning my studies, I would follow the advice of Plato and start with mathematics.” Galileo Galilei

Mrs Louanne Gill

Head of Mathematics

Science

Levels Offered & Grades Awarded

Higher                   9,9 - 4,4

Foundation         5,5 - 1,1

Science is worth two GCSEs, and the grades are awarded together. There will be 6 examinations (2 per science subject), 1 hour and 10 minutes in length in the summer of Year 11.

Course Content

Biology

Cell structures; what happens in cells; respiration; photosynthesis; the nervous system; the endocrine system; maintaining internal environments; ecosystems; inheritance; natural selection and evolution; monitoring and maintaining the environment; feeding the human race; monitoring and maintaining health

Chemistry

The particle model; atomic structure; atoms; molecules; separating mixtures; bonding; properties of materials; chemical reactions; energy changes; types of chemical reactions; electrolysis; predicting chemical reactions; identification of products of chemical reactions; yield; atom economy; rate of reactions; equilibria; improving processes and products; organic chemistry; composition of the atmosphere.

Physics

The particle model; changes of state; pressure in gases and liquids; motion; Newton’s Laws; fields and forces causing changes; static and charge; simple circuits; electrical current, potential difference and resistance; magnets and magnetic fields; uses of magnetic fields; behaviour of mechanical and electromagnetic waves; the electromagnetic spectrum; radioactive emissions; radioactive decay.

Practical Endorsement

The course will also require students to carry out a minimum of 16 core practical activities during the duration of the two year course. Knowledge of the procedures and techniques developed in these activities will be tested in the examinations.

Why study Science?

  • Science is a compulsory part of the National Curriculum at Key Stage 4, which reflects the importance of Science in society today
  • Science gives you an understanding of the Physics, Chemistry and Biology that affects all our lives
  • This course will prepare you to take A’ levels in any or all of the Sciences
  • A qualification in Science is essential for many higher education courses and careers

What should you bring to the course?

  • An interest in the world about you and how things work
  • A readiness to ask questions and think about the answers
  • A calculator to all your Science lessons - Science often uses mathematical ideas
  • A willingness to work independently to develop your own understanding of science concepts during the core practical activities

Miss Helen Rogerson

Head of Science

Religious Education

OCR new short course GCSE in Religious Studies (J125)

The short course GCSE Religious Studies will be assessed at the end of Year 10. All year nine and ten students take the short course Religious Studies GCSE.

Students will study three components:

  • Beliefs and Teachings (Christianity)
  • Beliefs and Teachings (Islam)
  • Religion, Philosophy and Ethics in the Modern World from a Religious Perspective (Christianity)

This will be assessed by one two hour examination paper.

At the end of the course you should be able to:

  • Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of different philosophical and ethical arguments relating to the areas of study
  • Analyse, evaluate and discuss the issues raised by the areas of study for Christianity and Islam; individuals, communities and societies
  • Demonstrate depth of understanding of Christianity by referring to teachings, beliefs, views, attitudes and values, supported by reference to relevant sources of wisdom and authority, including scripture and / or sacred texts
  • Consider significant common and divergent views within Christianity and Islam
  • Refer, where appropriate, to different philosophical, ethical or religious perspectives in support of explanations or arguments
  • Consider the issues raised for Christianity in Great Britain.

Why take Religious Studies GCSE?

  • To gain a greater understanding of the ideas and beliefs which are the basis for the major religions
  • To reflect on the deeper questions of life and belief
  • To broaden your knowledge of religion and ethical issues
  • To gain a highly regarded qualification
  • To gain essential, transferable skills.
  • To have the opportunity to take a GCSE early.

What should you bring to the course?

If you are interested in the study of Religion, Philosophy and Ethics, and relish discussing ‘big’ questions, you will enjoy the subject as well as gain excellent knowledge and understanding, and essential skills. Please don’t think you need to believe in God to take this course; studying religion, philosophy and ethics is not the same as believing in God.

Miss Angela Douglas

Head of Religious Studies

Geography

Why study Geography?

The subject has never been more relevant. It helps you to understand many of the questions and issues all of us need to face such as environmental responsibility, global interdependence and the poverty experienced by millions.

You will become skilled in research, data analysis and report writing - valuable skills for any career.

  • It keeps your options open into either arts or science-based A’ levels and beyond.
  • With new GCSE courses starting, it is a very exciting time to study Geography.
  • The GCSE and A’ level results in Geography achieved by Westonbirt year on year are excellent, with a good proportion of our girls going on to study Geography and Geography related studies at University.

How are you assessed?

100% Written Examination (three papers, 4 hours in total)

Compulsory fieldwork

The syllabus includes a skills element, including Ordnance Survey maps and studies of the following key areas:

Paper 1: Living with the Physical Environment

The challenge of natural hazards, physical landscapes in the UK, the living world, geographical skills.

Paper 2: Challenges in the Human Environment

Urban issues and challenges, the changing economic world, the challenge of resource management, geographical skills.

Paper 3: Geographical Applications

Issue evaluation, fieldwork, geographical skills

Exams

2 x 1½ hour examinations, 1 x 1 hour examination sat at the end of Year 11.

Fieldwork

Students need to undertake two geographical enquiries, each of which must include the use of primary data, collected as part of a fieldwork exercise. The two enquiries must be carried out in contrasting environments and show an understanding of both physical and human geography. Since fieldwork is an essential aspect of geography which ensures that students are given the opportunity to consolidate and extend their achievement by relating learning to real experiences of the world, schools and colleges must submit a written statement as evidence that the fieldwork requirement has been met. These studies will be undertaken on a local river and in the urban environment of Bristol.

What should you bring to the course?

  • Energy and enthusiasm
  • An interest in the wider world                                                                                             

Mrs Nicola Gill

Head of Geography

History

Levels Offered & Grades Awarded

Single Tier marking:         1-9

During their study of History, students will look at the following units under the Cambridge IGCSE specification:

Core Content

International Relations since 1919 (specifically looking at the events after WWI, the collapse of peace, the Cold War and events in the Gulf).

Depth Study

Germany 1918-45.

How are you assessed?

73% Written Examination (2 Papers)

27% Coursework

Coursework

To be devised by Mr Ahmed.

Why study History?

‘History gives answers only to those who know how to ask questions’- Hajo Holborn.

Other subjects teach you the answers, History teaches you to ask the questions. The study of History enables you to learn lessons from the past so that we can understand the present and improve the future.

In a practical sense you will develop skills such as analysing information, forming substantiated judgements, evaluating sources of information and assessing the significance of specific events or individuals. These skills are highly valued beyond school life and is why History is specifically highlighted by the Russell Group Universities as one of a handful of subjects that ‘open a wide range of options’. As such, the analytical and critical reasoning that studying History helps you develop can help open doors to careers such as law, forensic medicine, journalism or a career in politics.

What should you bring to the course?

  • An inquisitive mind
  • A passion for History
  • A willingness to work hard
  • An interest in discussion, debate and research

Mr Imran Ahmed

Head of History

ICT & Computing

The increasing importance of information technologies means there will be a growing demand for professionals who are qualified in this area. Students who’ve taken an iGCSE in Computer Science and who then progress to study the subject at an Applied General or A’ level direction or University will have an advantage over their colleagues who are picking up the subject at these levels. The course will develop critical thinking, analysis and problem-solving skills through the study of computer programming decomposition and abstraction, giving you a fun and interesting way to develop these skills, which can be transferred to other STEM based subjects and even applied in day-to-day life problem solving.

Aims and outcomes

  • Understand and apply the fundamental principles and concepts of Computer Science, including abstraction, decomposition, logic, algorithms, and data representation
  • Analyse problems in computational terms through practical experience of solving such problems, including designing, writing and debugging programs
  • Think creatively, innovatively, analytically, logically and critically
  • Understand the components that make up digital systems, and how they communicate with one another and with other systems
  • Understand the impacts of digital technology to the individual and to wider society
  • Apply mathematical skills relevant to Computer Science

Assessment

There are three assessed components in this course.

 

Details

Assessment

Weighting

Component 01

Theory of Computer Science

  • Data Representation
    • Binary, Denary and Hexadecimal
  • Communication and Internet technologies:
    • Data transmission
    • Internet principles and protocols
    • HTML principles and their uses
  • Logic Gates
  • Systems architecture
  • Memory
  • Storage
  • Operating Systems
  • System security
  • Systems software
  • Moral, legal, cultural and environmental concerns

Examination

1h45

60% of the total iGCSE

Component 02

Practical problem-solving and programming

  • Algorithms design and problem-solving
    • Pseudocode
    • Flowcharts
  • Programming techniques
  • Producing robust programs
  • Computational logic
  • Databases

Examination

1h45

40% of the total iGCSE

Mr Byron Calderwood

Computer Sciences

Latin

Course Content

You will continue to study the Latin language using Galore Park Book II, and you will be introduced to passages of prose and verse from actual Latin authors. You will learn vocabulary from a defined list and will cover specified grammar and syntax.

The examination comprises two papers of equal weighting:

Language Paper

In this paper you are required to answer a variety of comprehension questions in English, including questions about the derivations of English words from Latin and to translate short sentences of unseen Latin into English, based on Roman mythology, history and domestic life.

Literature Paper

You will study extracts from a selection of poetry and prose by Roman writers such as Caesar, Tacitus, Virgil and Horace. You will be required to translate passages and comment on literary features of the texts.

Why study Latin?

  • Studying the literature, language and history of the Classical World can be a fascinating and enjoyable experience.
  • Latin is an impressive academic qualification, which will recommend you to any course of Higher Education in both Arts and Science.
  • It is an excellent support to other subjects, especially English, History, and Modern Languages.
  • It provides you with the opportunity to develop key skills such as problem-solving, clarity of thought and expression, which are essential to successful employment and underpin independent learning.

What requirements do you need for the course?

  • You need to have reached the end of Book 1 of the Galore Park Latin text book, or to have the equivalent level of knowledge.
  • You need to be willing to learn vocabulary – this is true for all languages.
  • You should be prepared to be challenged, but be willing to persevere. Latin requires considerable precision, which makes it one of the more academic subjects at GCSE.

Mr Paul Holland

Classics

French

Course Content

25%        Listening Examination - Foundation or Higher Tier            

25%        Speaking examination - Foundation or Higher Tier                                           

25%        Reading Examination - Foundation or Higher Tier                             

25%        Writing examination - Foundation or Higher Tier               

This qualification is linear so students sit their exams at the end of the course. French is the key to our relationship with Europe. Our aim is to develop your ability to communicate confidently and accurately in French: to speak, to listen, to read and to write.  In this way, we prepare you for the GCSE examination and also give you an opportunity to live, work and travel in French-speaking countries more easily in the future. The core content of the specification is arranged in the three separate contexts of the National Curriculum, thus giving you a broad base of linguistic experience:

  • Theme 1: Identity and culture
  • Theme 2: Local, national, international and global areas of interest
  • Theme 3: Current and future study and employment

The assessments are weighted equally in all the skills: Listening, Speaking, Reading and Writing.

Paper 1: Listening:          Assesses how you understand and respond to different types of spoken language

Paper 2: Speaking:          Assesses how effectively you communicate and interact in speech for a variety of purposes

Paper 3: Reading:            Assesses how you understand and respond to different types of written language

Paper 4: Writing:             Assesses how effectively you communicate in writing for a variety of purposes

To help you develop your knowledge and understanding of the French language, it is a requirement you have your own bilingual dictionary: you will be able to use it at home or in school, though not in the examination room. For all the skills students are entered either at Foundation or Higher level. Generally, a broad range of different types of test gives you a chance to work to your highest potential and in all the tests there will be a variety of questions either in French or in English. Lessons will generally be in French, and students will be expected to respond and participate fully in the foreign language. For this reason we strongly advise a stay in France during the GCSE course. Students should take advantage of any study visits organised by the school.

Why study a language?

Knowing a modern language is an enormous advantage in the expanding European Union. There is a shortage of people with language knowledge in the UK, so your skills will be extremely attractive to future employers.  A combination of a language with another course at university is very desirable. It shows that you have a wider range of skills while opening up job opportunities. 

What should you bring to the course?

  • A positive attitude
  • Willingness to communicate verbally as well as through the written word
  • Enthusiasm for the language
  • A desire to find out more about the culture via trips abroad or exchanges as there is no better way to learn a language

Choose French and:

  • Learn the most popular romance language in the world
  • Experience first-hand the delights of our nearest neighbour such as haute cuisine, arts, literature, and a stunning beautiful country
  • Enjoy the rewards learning a skill for life will bring you

Mme Charlotte Rock

Head of Modern Foreign Languages

Spanish

Course Content

25%        Listening Examination - Foundation or Higher Tier            

25%        Speaking examination - Foundation or Higher Tier                                           

25%        Reading Examination - Foundation or Higher Tier                             

25%        Writing examination - Foundation or Higher Tier               

This qualification is linear which means the students will sit their exams at the end of the course. The core content of the specification is arranged in the three separate contexts of the National Curriculum, thus giving you a broad base of linguistic experience:

  • Theme 1: Identity and culture
  • Theme 2: Local, national, international and global areas of interest
  • Theme 3: Current and future study and employment

The assessments are weighted equally in all the skills: Listening, Speaking, Reading and Writing.

Paper 1: Listening:          Assesses how you understand and respond to different types of spoken language

Paper 2: Speaking:          Assesses how effectively you communicate and interact in speech for a variety of purposes

Paper 3: Reading:            Assesses how you understand and respond to different types of written language

Paper 4: Writing:             Assesses how effectively you communicate in writing for a variety of purposes

To help you develop your knowledge and understanding of the Spanish language, it is a requirement you have your own bilingual dictionary: you will be able to use it at home or in school, though not in the examination room. For all the skills students are entered either at Foundation or Higher level. Generally, a broad range of different types of test gives you a chance to work to your highest potential and in all the tests there will be a variety of questions either in Spanish or in English. Lessons will generally be in Spanish, and students will be expected to respond and participate fully in the foreign language. For this reason we strongly advise a stay in Spain during the GCSE course. Students should take advantage of any study visits organised by the school.

Why choose Spanish?

Learn the world’s second most used language in international communication and understand the language behind the popular trend of salsa. Enjoy the rich and diverse commercial, cultural and historical heritage from Latin America to the Balearics.

  • A key to communication

Spanish is the official language in 21 countries and the 3rd most widely spoken language in the world after English and Mandarin. More than 400 million people speak Spanish worldwide with experts predicting that by 2050 there will be 530 million Spanish speakers of which 100 million will be living in the United States.

  • A key to travel

Millions of tourists visit Spain every year to enjoy not only the beaches and the sunshine but also the rich variety of many aspects of Spain: its geography, culture, climate and way of life.

What should you bring to the course?

  • You must have enthusiasm and application, because it’s an intensive course.
  • You need to be willing to take advantage of foreign trips when available –

there is no better way to learn a foreign language!

Note:  For students whose first language is not English, there is also the option of taking a GCSE in their native language and treating English as their Modern Language GCSE.

Mme Charlotte Rock

Head of Modern Foreign Languages

BTEC- Level 1/Level 2 First Award in Children’s Play, Learning and Development

Who is the qualification for?

This qualification is a Technical Award equivalent in size to one GCSE. It is designed for pre-16 students working at level 2 who want to include a study of children’s development in their broader Key Stage 4 curriculum. It provides an introduction to some of the key themes within the early years sector, enabling students to develop and apply their knowledge while also developing a range of relevant practical, communication and technical skills. The content enables students to apply their knowledge in new and practical industry-related contexts.

What does this qualification cover?

This qualification is based on recent thinking and research in the sector and provides an engaging and relevant introduction to the world of early years. It incorporates aspects of child development from birth to age 8, exploring play as a route of children’s learning, forming the basis of early years frameworks, such as the Early Years Foundation Stage (England), and includes a study of inclusive practice and empowering children.

This qualification consists of three mandatory units:

· Unit 1: ‘Patterns of Child Development’ is externally assessed through a written exam paper featuring mini case studies. Students will learn about children’s growth and development: physical, cognitive, communication and language, emotional and social and how these areas are linked.

· Unit 2: ‘Promoting Children’s Development through Play’ is internally assessed through assignments. Students will explore how play promotes children’s development in early years settings, gaining an understanding of how play is structured.

· Unit 3: ‘The Principles of Early Years Practice’ is internally assessed through assignments. Students will explore the key principles that are reflected in best practice in early years.

What knowledge and skills will the student develop as part of this qualification and how might these be of use and value in further studies?

The assignment-based approach to assessment will support the development of communication skills such as extended writing and drafting, critical skills of analysis, team working, planning, working from a prescribed brief, working to deadlines, presenting information effectively, accurately completing tasks and processes and study skills such as research and time management. All these will support study at level 3 in any course chosen.

By developing the sector knowledge and skills outlined above, students will be well prepared for progression to A’ level 3 academic, applied general or technical level qualification in early years or a related area such as psychology. Students might also consider an apprenticeship.

Mrs Jo Edwards

Head of Vocational Studies 

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