Senior School Curriculum

Year 7: A time of opportunity and confidence building

New students find the Old Palace Senior School community welcoming, supportive and full of exciting opportunities. Girls enjoy a bonding trip at the start of the year to ensure they get to know fellow students across the whole year group. In 2022, for example, Year 7experienced a wonderful day together at Go Ape.

Moving to a new school can sometimes be an unsettling experience, so we have established trusted strategies, such as not giving homework for the first month to ensure a smooth transition.  Students soon relish the numerous academic and co-curricular opportunities available and their confidence grows, aided by a strong framework of pastoral support.

“Making friends is easy. Everybody is really friendly and the class sizes are quite small, so you will have a chance to make friends with everyone in your form.”

We are committed to ensuring that all our students are stretched and challenged in their learning. Girls are encouraged to participate in many of the exciting clubs and activities on offer and they take part in competitions which challenge their thinking and creativity. We encourage participation in competitive and team sports such as hockey, netball, cricket and athletics. All Year 7 pupils receive a weekly swimming lesson.

Students follow a broad curriculum of subjects including: Art & Design, Computer Science (includes Codes & Cryptography), Dance, Design Technology, Drama, English, French (Beginners & Continuation), Geography, History, Latin, Mathematics, Music (includes singing), PE & Swimming, RS & Philosophy and Science (Biology, Chemistry and Physics).

Setting in Mathematics occurs following assessments during the autumn term.  Students are grouped in French according to experience and ability. Movement across sets occurs throughout the school as appropriate. Alongside, the PSHE programme, which is part of the Year 7 curriculum, underpins the human, social, spiritual, cultural, careers and academic aspects of the students’ work.

The PSHEE Futures Programme begins in the autumn term with each student studying the meaning of ‘aspiration’, in terms of their individual future career. They discuss the benefits of setting ambitious goals and the need to be open to opportunities in all aspects of life. They look at different employment sectors and learn about the skills and qualities employers’ value and then reflect on their own alongside their interests and strengths.

Girls complete a Careers quiz where they learn about their personality type and understand how others may see them. Using this information, they explore careers and jobs that may suit their personality, examining the skills the person has and what they enjoy about the job role through a selection of videos, guides and advice.

Year 8: A Year of Consolidation and Growth

In Year 8, the curriculum is the same as Year 7 but with the introduction of a second Modern Foreign Language: German, Italian or Spanish. Students continue to explore Careers as part of the PSHEE Futures programme. They develop transferable employability skills, work on their teamworking abilities and the organisational, research and presentation skills required to engage in enterprise, when they are tasked with designing a new chocolate bar.

Through participating in the ‘REAL Game’, students are given an opportunity to consider their dream future, such as what accommodation they’d like to live in, how they would travel to work and what car they would own. After being allocated a job role with the associated monthly salary, working hours and qualifications needed, they have to calculate how they can achieve their dream.

Year 9-11: Preparing for GCSEs

Year 9 continues with students studying a broad range of subjects but with an increased focus on their GCSE choices. When it comes to choosing their subjects, every student is closely supported by their form and subject tutors, together with our very experienced Head of Futures and Progression. Families will be invited to an Options Information Evening, which includes a presentation to parents to explain the Options process. Unlike many state schools, students are not limited in their choice and generally study 10 subjects. This allows our students time to further develop interests and experience through clubs, activities and service. This is important for entry to top universities, as well as ensuring a healthy work-life balance.

GCSE Subject Choices: It is important to develop a balanced programme of study containing subjects from a range of disciplines. This allows students to develop a variety of skills and interests and demonstrate they have a broad range of skills to offer. In addition, it will ensure that after GCSEs, students will have retained the possibility of studying the Arts, Sciences, Languages, the Humanities and creative and technical subjects at A Level. All students will studying the following subjects:

  • English and English Language
  • Mathematics
  • Science (either three separate sciences or Co-ordinated Science)

In exceptional circumstances, such as pupils joining the school later or where English is an additional language, a student may be advised to study English but not English Literature. PE continues and students will be offered the chance to study for the Sports or Dance Leadership awards.

The curriculum allows for students to follow up to 10 GCSEs. The core subjects are English Language, English Literature. Maths and Science (either three separate sciences or coordinated science).

GCSE courses are offered in Art, Business Studies, Ancient History, Computing, DT, Dance, Drama, French, Geography, German, History, Italian, Latin, Music, PE, Spanish and Religious Studies.  In addition, our most able classicists are able to study GCSE Classical Greek as a twilight course and our most able mathematicians can take a Level 2 Certificate in Further Mathematics. Students are also able to complete a Higher Project Qualification (HPQ).


Students are encouraged to maintain a breadth of study and are advised to study at least one subject from each of humanities, the creative and performing arts, modern foreign languages and technology subjects.

Many girls choose to study Music at GCSE but we also encourage our older students to join in with the many musical opportunities available to them. The same applies to Dance and Drama, both of which are available to study at GCSE but can also be enjoyed as part of Old Palace’s rich, cultural life.



Dance & Sports Leadership: Dance Leadership and Sports Leadership are also options for students in Year 10 and 11.  In addition, Year 10 students may embark upon the Bronze Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme with the option to progress to the Silver award in Year 11 students and Gold in the Sixth Form.

Sixth Form: click the link below to learn more about our Sixth Form.

Old Palace Sixth Form