Plymouth College


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Last updated: 18.03.24

Senior School Subjects

Plymouth College has a long list of different subjects within the Senior Curriculum. 


At Plymouth College Art & Design is taught in a way which aims to provide a broad and humanising educational experience that nurtures intellectual and emotional development.

Through the teaching of conceptual thinking, observational skills, analytical abilities and critical understanding we foster and encourage direct personal expression, sensitivity and imagination.

Key to this is the ability to record from direct observation and personal experience. Pupils are expected not only to observe the world but also by recording, to engage with it and in responding, comment on it. To enable this, we teach the grammar of visual language as well as the technical skills of recording.

Key Stage 3

At KS3 the schemes of work are underpinned by the formal elements of visual art:

  • Line
  • Shape
  • Form
  • Tone
  • Colour
  • Pattern
  • Texture

Whilst these are not taught as discreet topics they form an essential part of the pupils’ understanding of how they create art, and through a series of thematic projects during this Key Stage, pupils will gain a basic understanding of the expressive power afforded by the properties of these elements. 


We offer two qualifications:

AQA Fine Art 8202/C/X

AQA Photography 8206/C/X

The course is divided into two units: 

1.  Portfolio (60% of GCSE)

Each pupil must select and present a portfolio representative of their course of study. The portfolio must include both:

·      A sustained project developed in response to a subject, theme, task or brief evidencing the journey from initial engagement with an idea(s) to the realisation of intentions. This will give pupils the opportunity to demonstrate, through an extended creative response, their ability to draw together different areas of knowledge, skills and/or understanding from across their course of study.

·      A selection of further work resulting from activities such as trials and experiments; skills-based workshops; mini and/or foundation projects; responses to gallery, museum or site visits; work placements; independent study and evidence of the pupil’s specific role in any group work undertaken.

  (No time limit)

2.  Externally Set Assignment (40% of GCSE)

Pupils respond to their chosen starting point from an externally set assignment paper relating to their subject title, evidencing coverage of all four assessment objectives (development of ideas, refinement of work, recording of ideas and observations and realisation of a personal response). A period of preparatory time is followed by 10 hours of supervised time, during which pupils will develop their own unaided work.

  (Supervised time: 10 hours)

Both the Portfolio unit and the Externally Set Assignment are assessed internally by departmental staff and then moderated by a visiting examiner from AQA.


We enjoy the use of three fully-equipped laboratories, each with its own networked computer, data projector and interactive white board. There are also enough high quality microscopes and apparatus so that each pupil can work individually. Class sizes are small which enables the teacher to maintain a purposeful atmosphere and give each pupil the individual attention they need. The courses also include off-site trips to Mount Edgcumbe Country Park and ecology surveys at Warleigh Point.


Years 7 and 8: We begin with an introductory course with the general themes: ‘Cells Biology’, ‘Reproduction’, ‘Adaptation and Inheritance’, 'Ecosystem Processes' and 'New Technology'. These years are intended to be fun and to engage younger pupils in our subject and are structured around Key Stage 3 of the National Curriculum, following the AQA Activate schemes of work. Pupils have three 50-minute lessons over the two-week timetable, combined with a 20-30-minute homework assignment each week.

Year 9: We begin teaching GCSE level material, starting with 'How Science Works' which provides pupils with lots of engaging practical lessons to refine their investigative techniques. Following on from this we study topics that give a basis for the GCSE specifications we use in Years 10 and 11. Teaching time is increased to four 50-minute lessons over the two-week timetable. One homework assignment is set for a duration of 20 - 30 minutes. At the end of this first year of study, there will be a comprehensive exam that helps us make preliminary decisions as to the best course for each pupil to follow over the next two years.

Year 10 and 11: All pupils begin Year 10 learning the Edexcel GCSE (9-1) Biology separate science scheme of work. Across the two-week timetable pupils will have five 50-minute lessons, however, up to two homework assignments can be set per week. The course that the pupils are entered for is decided after their end of year 10 exam, by tests taken in all three sciences. The marks of these tests are used to make our final decision as to the best course for each pupil: Those in sets 1 remain on the separate GCSE biology course as specified by Edexcel, whilst sets 2, 3 and 4 follow a similar course but the combined GCSE Double Award Science course as specified by Edexcel. 


Empowering every pupil with the enterprise skills they need for tomorrow’s world.

At GCSE pupils are educated through real life business simulation. Whilst course content is paramount, we believe that active participation in making business decisions empowers the pupils to apply the theory to real world business in preparation for their exam. Appreciating different stakeholder perspectives give the pupils a broader view of the world in preparation for life beyond the classroom.

By choosing to study Business at GCSE you are giving yourself the skills to start your own business. These skills are vital for whichever career path you choose as it is likely you will need to understand budgets, cash-flow, new media marketing and production at some stage. The course will develop your analytical and evaluative skills which can help with essay and report writing at Sixth Form and beyond.

All pupils are offered the opportunity to run their own business and take part in national competitions. This enriches their understanding of business in the real world, empowering them with the knowledge of business fundamentals, alongside soft skills of teamwork, collaboration and presentation.

Plymouth College Business GCSE uses EDEXEL exam board. The course is taught over two years. Final assessment is two written papers, each 1.5 hours, equally weighted. Each paper follows the same pattern of questions. Paper 1 concentrates on small business, Paper 2 focuses on larger business in a global world.


The study of Chemistry can develop and enhance pupils’ respect for the natural environment, as well as their understanding of how chemistry can improve that environment, their knowledge and understanding of scientific ideas at a level appropriate to further career aspirations and their own ability, and their enjoyment of scientific work and enquiry.

Chemistry is taught as a separate science from the very first year by a team of specialist chemistry teachers. The department also has its own specialist chemistry technician to support the learning. Sufficient apparatus is available to ensure that pupils can work individually when required and practical work is carried out as much as possible.

  • Years 7 – 9: Major themes include atoms, elements compounds and mixtures; obtaining pure substances from natural resources; metals - their extraction and reactivity and the structure of matter. 
  • Years 10 – 11: We follow Edexcel GCSE Chemistry and pupils will either do separate award or double award GCSE.

Pupils studying Chemistry GCSE will sit two exam papers at the end of Year 11 which are 1hr45min each and contribute equally to their overall grade.

Pupils studying Combined Science GCSE will sit two Chemistry exam papers at the end of Year 11 which are 1hr15 min each. This is averaged with their scores in Biology and Physics to award them two GCSEs.

There is an emphasis on practical work and developing scientific skills throughout the course and all pupils are required to complete some core investigations. They will be examined on these in their written exams meaning there is no coursework requirement.

Major themes include formulae and equations, acids bases and salts, energy and fuels, atmosphere and pollution, industrial chemistry, organic chemistry, the Periodic Table, quantitative chemistry and how science works.


The Ancient World and the Classical languages reverberate through our society. A knowledge of the Classics is an invaluable aid to literary and scientific study. From the heliocentric model of the Universe to the spells of J.K. Rowling, a little bit of Classical knowledge goes a long way! In addition to what it brings to all other aspects of the curriculum, the language and culture of the Romans is a fascinating subject in its own right, and has much to tell us about our own language and society.

Classics is a core subject at Key Stage 3. All pupils in Year 7 have an exciting introduction to the broad world of the Classics, beginning with the mythology of the Greek and Roman gods and heroes. In Years 8 and 9 pupils have the opportunity to study either Classical Civilisation or Latin in greater depth; developing their linguistic skills and covering topics such as the Roman army and the Trojan War - Roman Food Day is always popular! At the end of Year 9, pupils can choose either or both Latin and Classical Civilisation as one of their GCSE options, both with the OCR exam board.

Latin is a good academic GCSE for pupils interested in studying Law and also complements the range of modern languages. Classical Civilisation is a highly enjoyable course, especially popular with pupils who are enthusiastic about History. Classical Greek is also offered at GCSE as an extra subject off-timetable.

All three subjects are taught throughout by three specialist teachers who love their subject, and are glad that Plymouth College's broad curriculum allows every pupil the opportunity to study the Classical world. Pupils are also able to experience it at first hand on a variety of trips organised by the Classics Department; every three years we travel to Rome and the Bay of Naples, visiting Pompeii and Herculaneum and climbing Mount Vesuvius.


Information and Communication Technology

The IGCSE (9-1) Information Communication Technology (J0983) syllabus encourages students to develop lifelong skills, which will be useful to them in their work across the curriculum and prepare them for future employment. They will develop understanding of the implications of technology in society, including social, economic and ethical uses and awareness of the ways ICT can help in home, learning and work environments.

The syllabus combines theoretical and practical studies focusing on the ability to use common software applications to solve problems, including word processors, spreadsheets, databases, interactive presentation software, web browsers and website design. Learners analyse, design, implement, test and evaluate ICT systems, ensuring that they are fit for purpose.

Assessment of the practical tests is hardware and software independent. Any hardware platform, operating system, and applications packages can be used, providing that learners have the opportunity to demonstrate the full range of skills in the syllabus.

All candidates take: One theory exam paper and two practical examinations.

Paper 1 – 1 hour 30 minutes – 40% - Theory

Paper 2 – Practical Skills assessment – 2 hours 15 minutes – 30%

Document Production, Databases and Presentations

Paper 3 – Practical Skills Assessment – 2 hours 15 minutes – 30%

Spreadsheets and Website Authoring


Drama is a flourishing subject at Plymouth College.

Drama is not just about acting and, whatever path pupils take in the outside world, the communication skills they develop and confidence they build, through their drama lessons, are tools they will carry with them throughout their adult lives. Theatre has a necessary function in the real world. It is a political, social and educational tool and an important part of a child’s cultural entitlement.

Drama lessons take place in The Michael Ball Drama Studio (a mini-theatre with lights, seating and sound). For exam work, both the Drama Studio and the Meade King Hall provide the space and technical facilities suitable for this subject.

All pupils at Plymouth College study drama in Year 7 and 8. Studying play texts, practitioners and theatrical styles. They also learn how to devise and creatively collaborate. In Year 9, pupils opt for the subject and further develop the skills required to succeed at GCSE. This includes preparation for the written element of the course.

At GCSE, we currently follow the Eduqas syllabus. The course offers a combination of written and practical work, based on the exploration of plays and practitioners. Pupils learn through seeing live theatre, studying scripts and participating in workshops. Coursework includes devising a piece of theatre from a given stimulus and bringing an extract of a published script to life from page to stage (60%). There is also a written examination (40%). Pupils are required to develop skills as an actor, a director and a designer for this exam. Pupils are encouraged and expected to see live performances throughout the course. We are so lucky to have the Theatre Royal, offering both commercial and experimental theatre, on our doorstep. Trips further afield have included Cornwall, Exeter, Torquay, London, Cheltenham and Bristol. Workshops from visiting theatre companies also provide pupils with the chance to experience the world of theatre outside the classroom.


Design and Technology is taught to all pupils at Key Stage 3 and is available as an optional subject choice both at GCSE as well as at A Level. We encourage pupils to be innovative designers while considering the wider impact of design on the environment, cultures and society.

Design Technology spans across many material areas which are covered across our three workshops and classrooms. Within pupil’s time in Design Technology we encourage 21st century thinking and design, taking a modern and sustainable approach to our teaching and projects. Our workshops are equipped with a range of tools - hand as well as electronic - along with larger, more industrial-sized machines. We have a purpose-built CAD suite where we have a variety of new technologies for pupils to experience such as laser cutting and 3D printing.  Access to ICT is central to all areas within our department and we have our own bank of 17 networked laptops equipped with up to date CAD programs. We also have a variety of computers within the department, some of which run CAM machines or are available for pupils to use.

Key Stage 3: In Years 7, 8 and 9 pupils are taught a ‘foundation’ programme, with the focus on product design and textiles based tasks.  The pupils complete a series of focused practical tasks along with learning about key topics such as materials, properties, sustainability and designing principles. CAD/CAM is a key element to the programme, as well as learning ‘traditional’ workshop skills. They have a lesson each week and spend a term with each of our three subject teachers.

Key Stage 4 – GCSE: Design and Technology is an optional subject choice for pupils in Years 10 and 11. At GCSE, we follow the AQA Specification for Design and Technology. All pupils undertake the Core Theory element, set out by the examination board, they then choose to follow a Product Design or Textiles specialism.  Class sizes are small due to the practical nature of the work being carried out, and the pupils receive 5 lessons over the two-week timetable at GCSE.

The GCSE is broken down into one written theory examination (50%) and a Non-Exam Assessment or NEA (50%).  In the NEA pupils are encouraged to seek out a real design opportunity and work closely with a ‘client’. Research, design and development work is recorded in a digital design portfolio. The coursework consists of producing a prototype of a developed design and a supporting digital portfolio to show how the product has been investigated and developed into an end prototype.


Senior School

Language and learning are inextricably linked. Language is not only a way to demonstrate what we know, it is one of the most important means by which we learn and refine our understanding. Pupils not only need English to be able to interact successfully with their peers and teachers, they also need English to continue the process of conceptual development begun in their native language and to reach and maybe surpass the academic requirements of their studies.

KS3 - Years 7,8,9

EAL pupils in Years 7, 8 and 9 are fully engaged within the curriculum and wider life of the school. EAL pupils are expected to be able to participate and be successful in a range of other subjects where their mainstream, subject teachers will support and help them learn subject specific vocabulary and develop their literacy skills. The Head of EAL works closely with subject teachers, Heads of Year and Boarding Staff to support EAL pupils, help them develop the necessary study skills and improve their level of English.


Many of our international pupils enter the English as a Second Language IGCSE, accredited by the CIE exam board. The Cambridge English as a Second Language IGSCE is aimed at pupils whose First Language is not English and whose English is not advanced enough to study for First English, but who use English as their language of study.

The programme is taught over 2 years. It balances a thorough knowledge and understanding of a subject and helps to develop the skills learners need for their next steps in education or employment.

The combination of knowledge and skills in Cambridge IGCSE English as a Second Language gives learners a solid foundation for further study. Candidates who achieve grades A* to C or 9-4 are well prepared to follow a wide range of courses.

Topics are wide ranging and include healthy lifestyle, environmental issues, the world of work and current affairs.


Respected literary critic F.R. Leavis argued that great writers, "are significant in terms of the human awareness they promote; awareness of the possibilities of life”. Here at Plymouth College, the English department believes that an empowering English curriculum affords all pupils with the opportunity to read and understand the stories, poems and plays that best do this. Our aim is to offer a knowledge-rich and intellectually challenging curriculum that instils pupils with a love of reading and writing. We do this through a literary focus; pupils read whole, often canonical texts, and using those to access fiction and non-fiction spanning genres and eras.  We teach pupils the conceptual knowledge required to understand the literary periods they study, and also develop their ability to link these to significant national and international issues that are relevant to today’s society. By doing this, we create confident and knowledgeable pupils, regardless of their starting points.

All pupils will be prepared for CIE IGCSE in English Language (9-1). In addition, sets 1-3 will be prepared for AQA GCSE English Literature (8702) where we currently study: ‘Macbeth’, ‘A Christmas Carol’, ‘An Inspector Calls’ and the Power and Conflict poetry anthology. 


French is taught throughout Year 7, at the end of which pupils can choose to continue French to the end of Year 9 and thereafter select it for GCSE.

All course books are accompanied by an e-book and digital audio facilities, which are also accessible to pupils at home or anywhere on the globe via the school intranet. Class sizes in French are small and this enables the teacher to give individual attention and assist pupils of all abilities to progress effectively. The department is also part of an annual MFL Speaking Competition, which enables pupils of all abilities to perform on a given topic at both key stages 3 and 4. In all years, we aim to provide pupils with the necessary skills to not only succeed in French but to also give them a knowledge of the culture of the Francophone World.


Years 7, 8 and 9: In Year 7, pupils undergo a fun taster course to get a feel for the language. Thereafter, pupils follow the ‘Studio’ course, which will cover topics such as general conversation, sports, health, holidays, food and drink and celebrations.

Year 8 and 9 pupils thoroughly enjoy the Junior French Trip, which takes place annually in April to the Château de la Baudonnière - an activities centre with French immersion in Normandy. We thoroughly encourage pupils to take part in this trip as it promotes the language and enables them to see and use French in real situations, which can ignite a life-long love of the language.

Years 10 and 11: At GCSE level, pupils follow the Edexcel IGCSE specification. The IGCSE is based on the 4 skills of listening, reading, speaking and writing. Topics include Holidays, The Environment, Special Occasions, Hobbies and Sport, School, The Media and Local Area.

We have also run a very successful and enjoyable biennial exchange-link with a French lycée in Brest, Brittany.


The aims of the Geography Department are to develop local, national and global perspectives of our world, allowing our pupils to become educated and well-informed young people. Studying geography will enrich knowledge and develop the application and contextualization of global issues. Geography is much more than a map. Pupils are on a journey focusing on social, environmental, economic and political concepts, seeing how our world is entirely interconnected. Geography pupils develop awareness and appreciation of the ethnic, cultural, economic and political diversity of human society and its geographical expression, as well as intellectual and social skills, including the ability to observe, interpret, analyse and communicate.

Geography is taught from Year 7 through to Year 9 and then if opted for as a GCSE and A level, by geography specialists. Pupils participate in fieldwork and will develop skills required for independent research units in GCSE and A level. Teaching in geography goes beyond the classroom. We have debates, role play, guest speakers and visits to university lectures to name but a few.

Year 7 – 8 pupils have four 50-minute lessons over the course of the fortnight using geographical skills to explore countries such as Russia and India, or topical matters such as tectonic events, weather extremes, urban change and development, fantastic places, Dartmoor, rivers and coastal environments

Year 9 pupils have four 50-minute lessons over the course of the fortnight whereby the curriculum is a step up to GCSE. Topics cover contemporary issues such as climate change, resources, our violent world and ecosystems. Here we introduce skills and statistical analysis and the interconnectivity of our world.

Year 10 – 11 pupils follow the Edexcel IGCSE course, having six 50-minute lessons over the duration of a fortnight. Pupils have to attend 2 contrasting fieldwork locations, one topic from each of the examination’s papers. Pupils study coastal environments for paper 1 and Urban landscapes for paper 2. Pupils will be examined on the skills learnt during their fieldwork meaning there is no coursework element to this IGCSE.

Paper 1 is the physical paper worth 40% of the overall grade - one examination of 1hour 10minutes. Paper 2 is worth 60% of the overall grade - one examination of 1hour and 45 minutes. The timing equates to a mark a minute. Major themes for paper 1 are Hazardous and Coastal Environments, while in paper 2 they are Urban and Rural Environments and Globalisation and Migration.


The Department’s ethos is one of inclusion, where all pupils are encouraged to reach their linguistic potential.

Our pupils hear the language used between teachers and see it as a language worth learning for real purposes.

The Department has successfully run trips to the German-speaking world, most recently Vienna and Berlin. These trips are essential for the pupils to truly experience another culture – an essential aspect of both departmental and school-wide educational aims.

In Year 7, pupils begin learning the key sounds of German and lay the groundwork for further German study as they progress through the school. Pupils engage in the language through interactive activities with a focus on spoken German as well as building on the similarities with English to present German as a realistic language for them to learn. 

Moving into Years 8 and 9, we introduce the content for the IGCSE, Edexcel course. This broadly fits into the topic areas of home and abroad; free time activities; school and employment; family life; the modern world and the environment. Pupils are regularly assessed in each skill (Listening, Speaking, Reading and Writing) as well as an end of year examination. At the end of Year 9, pupils decide if they wish to continue with German as their Modern Foreign Language.

In Years 10 and 11, all pupils begin the IGCSE, Edexcel qualification. The topic areas studied continue from Years 8 and 9, with further detail and complexity in terms of both vocabulary and grammar. The topic areas are home and abroad; free time activities; school and employment; family life; the modern world and the environment. All assessment is at the end of Year 11, with all the four skills worth 25% each. The assessment objectives of the qualification revolve around realistic language skills.


At Plymouth College, we encourage all pupils to share a passion for the past.

Through a study of History pupils gain not only an understanding of the past but also the skills they need to explore and develop their own ideas. They learn to question, challenge, research, discuss, explore, criticise, analyse, evaluate, argue, understand, explain and to pass exams. That is why historians are in such high demand in the job market. 

Years 7-9

 In Year 7 we consider Tudor and Stuart history with a focus on the War of the Roses, the key events of the Tudor dynasty, the English Civil War, and a key event in local history, the sailing of Mayflower for America in 1620. In Year 8 pupils will consider key events in nineteenth and twentieth century history beginning with an investigation into the campaign for votes for women, before culminating in an in-depth study of the First and Second World Wars. Year 9 historians take a thematic approach to history looking at the impact of colonisation, followed by researching and comparing a series of twentieth century dictators and finally completing a study on the development of rights and freedoms in South Africa and America.  

At its heart, history is a story and the teaching is active and fun. We use debates, drama, pupil presentations, IT research, research projects, role-play and teacher-led discussions to explore the past.

Years 10-11: History IGCSE

Subject overview

History is one of the most popular GCSE options at Plymouth College. The course allows pupils to study some of the most fascinating events in twentieth century international history and in doing so gain a better understanding of 21st century events such as the ongoing tension between America and North Korea, or the rise of political extremism. Historians learn to develop intellectual skills which are excellent preparation for A Level and university study, such as the ability to develop substantiated arguments and communicate clearly. Moreover, in an era of ‘fake news’ History helps pupils to develop the skills to distinguish between fact and fiction. Most important of all, History is all about people. Studying History allows us to understand our own society and the fast-changing world in which we live.

Small class sizes allow plenty of scope for small group discussion and teacher attention. We run regular revision sessions to help pupils prepare for their IGCSE exams. 

As part of the course, Year 10 have the opportunity to visit the battlefields of the First World War to gain a deeper understanding of soldiers’ everyday life and how the war was fought.

Course content and assessment - 

We study the Cambridge CIE IGCSE course. The course focuses on major events in twentieth century history from Nazi Germany to the Cold War and is composed of the following three key elements:

  • A depth study on Weimar and Nazi Germany 1918-1945
  • Core content (20th century history)
  • Were the peace treaties fair 1919-1923?
  • To what extent was the League of Nations a success?
  • Why had international peace collapsed by 1939?
  • Who was to blame for the Cold War 1945-1949?
  • How effectively did the USA contain the spread of communism 1945-1975?

History IGCSE is assessed in three separate ways:

  • Paper 1- exam sat at the end of Year 11. This paper focuses on short answer knowledge and accounts for 40% of the final GCSE mark.
  • Paper 2 – exam sat at the end of Year 11. This paper focuses on source analysis skills and accounts for 33% of the final GCSE mark. 
  • Coursework – 2,000 written assignment on an aspect of the First World War 1914-1918 which is completed in the autumn term of Year 11 and accounts for 27% of the final GCSE mark. 


The study of Mathematics should help all children develop problem-solving skills and encourage analytical thinking. 

Key Stage 3

From the first term in Year 7 we are looking to develop an understanding of algebra and to build on concepts learned at primary school. We are effectively preparing all pupils for GCSE as soon as they arrive at Plymouth College as all the work covered in later years requires a good understanding of prerequisite ideas. More important than a natural affinity for the subject is the motivation to improve and we try hard to develop a supportive atmosphere so that pupils are open and honest about any misconceptions and encourage plenty of communication with the teacher. We have been using online homework for the last few years that provides bespoke tasks and regularly reminds pupils of previous concepts. It remains essential for thorough written workings to be produced in order to develop a thorough understanding.

Key Stage 4

Mathematics is compulsory at this age and it provides the gateway to further study through A Levels in Maths and Further Maths. For some the aim is to achieve a grade 4 in order to focus on other subjects post-16 and to qualify for certain careers. We are committed to helping all to gain the best grade and helping pupils exceed their potential.

All pupils follow Edexcel’s International GCSE and the vast majority study the subject at Higher Level but the Foundation Level paper is also available to one of our sets. Small class sizes enable flexibility in our approach and all will sit the exam at the end of Year 11 by completing two 2 hour papers where calculators are allowed in both.

We believe that pupils learn about the subject largely through practice so it is important that work is pitched at the appropriate level. Time is spent building pupils' confidence in order to develop the necessary resilience to persevere when faced with a challenge.

Pupils should expect approximately 1 hour of homework per week and are given more than one night to complete set tasks to allow for time management. Most homework will involve the reinforcement and revision of concepts covered in class. Formal assessment occurs six times per year and is used in setting and to inform teaching. Plymouth College actively participates in UKMT Individual and Team Challenges and links with Plymouth University to cater for the more gifted pupils.


Music is a truly universal language and the best way of bringing people together, be it a significant national event, a family party or singing in the crowd at a national sporting event.

The music curriculum continues on from that at the Prep school with a focus on Performing, Composing, and Listening.

At KS3, all pupils are given the opportunity to work in a variety of styles and genres. The pupils undertake performance, listening, composition, and recording work as part of the curriculum. In this work, the pupils have access to both traditional instruments as well as using a range of World instruments. Singing plays an important role in the life of Plymouth College and this also forms the core of the work in Year 7 along with work on the elements of music, rhythm work, and writing music for film clips. In Year 8, pupils develop their keyboard skills through solo and ensemble work including work on Blues and Rock and Roll. Performance and listening work also includes an extended piece of work based on 1980’s Synth Pop and how that is linked to music from the 1600s. Composition work is developed by using Sibelius software for writing music for cartoon clips. Pupils choose music as an option in Year 9, some with a view to taking the subject for GCSE in KS4. This course bridges the gap between KS3 and GCSE by covering topics related to the GCSE Areas of Study so that when pupils move up to Year 10 they have a broad overview of the GCSE course.

The GCSE music course follows the Edexcel Syllabus (Edexcel Music 9-11). This course gives the pupils the chance to study a broad range of music from Bach to Queen, including music from Star Wars. Composition and Performing account for 60% of the course with the remaining 40% based on the Set works which are examined in the listening exam at the end of the course. If you are a pupil who is grade 3 or above on an instrument and who enjoys listening to and discussing music then this is the course for you. For the performance aspect, you are required to record one solo and one ensemble piece in Year 11. For composition, you will be given one free choice and will have to select the second from a list of briefs issued in the first month of Year 11. Both composition and performance are marked internally. The work on the set works is spread evenly throughout the two years and is examined externally.


In Years 7 - 10 the pupils follow the major GAMES programme of the term, along with opportunities being provided in lessons for swimming, outdoor adventure (orienteering, climbing, kayaking and mountain biking, etc), basketball, badminton and athletics.  All pupils are encouraged to attend extra-curricular clubs in their favourite sports.

In year 10 we also offer the CIE Physical Education IGCSE over two years.  This IGCSE is an ideal course for pupils who have a high level of practical ability in Physical Education and Games.  Pupils need to be competent in four different sports.

The IGCSE Physical Education comprises of 50% theory and 50% practical.

In the first year, pupils study the whole of the theory content culminating in an internal end of year exam. The units covered are:


In the second year, attention turns to the practical elements of the course. There are a host of practical options for pupils to be assessed in, including team games, water sports, racket sports, outdoor adventurous activities, fitness activities and more.

Pupils need four practical activities from two different categories:

CategorySports available
Games activitiesAssociation football, Badminton, [Baseball, Rounders or Softball], Basketball, Cricket, Golf, Handball, Hockey, Lacrosse, Netball, [Rugby League or Rugby Union], Squash, Table tennis, Tennis, Volleyball
Gymnastic activities[Artistic Gymnastics (Floor and Vault) or Rhythmic Gymnastics], Individual Figure Skating, Trampolining,
Dance activitiesDance
Athletic activitiesCross Country Running, Cycling, Rowing and Sculling, Track and Field Athletics, Weight Training for Fitness,
Outdoor and Adventurous activitiesCanoeing, [Hill walking or Orienteering], Horse Riding, Mountain Biking, Rock Climbing, Sailing, [Skiing or Snowboarding], Windsurfing
Swimming activitiesCompetitive Swimming, [Lifesaving or Personal Survival], Waterpolo
Combat activitiesJudo or Taekwondo

Pupils can be assessed as either a participant, or a coach. Within lesson time, pupils will undertake a variety of sports to enable a base score in four different sports.  Any sport that a pupil participates in outside of the curriculum will be assessed either in person or via video evidence; thereby, allowing pupils to submit their four strongest sports. Once the practical grades are submitted in March, attention then reverts back to revision of the theory content in preparation for the IGCSE exam in the summer.


Physics is one of the key subjects that drives our technology-rich society. It is front and centre in finding solutions to some of the biggest issues our global society faces. It is also the only subject that can claim to have some authority on all scales, from subatomic particles right up to the entire Universe itself! At Plymouth College we aim to educate and enrich our pupils in these and other ideas by taking them through a broad range of topics and showing them how it all fits together. We also aim to instil and develop a sense of intellectual curiosity: finding the spark that sets a pupil off on their own journey of discovery.

On the day-to-day teaching level, we have an energetic department of specialists who teach Physics across all years. We have dedicated Physics laboratories which hold a large amount of apparatus for the important experimental side of the subject. Each of the laboratories is equipped with interactive whiteboards, which are utilised effectively across all age groups. We employ a variety of teaching methods, including a lot of experimental work to complement the theory. Engaging activities and discussions result in a lively feel to lessons and enhance pupil enjoyment of the subject. 

Small class sizes result in a more individual learning experience which improves the outcomes for each pupil. 

We also run an assortment of academic enrichment activities, ranging from a high-profile trip to the CERN research facility in Geneva, Switzerland, to the Physics Olympiad competitions, STEM clubs, cross-curricular projects, masterclasses etc.

In Years 7 and 8 a broad range of physics topics are taught in order to give the pupils an excellent grounding in the various branches of the subject that will be needed for GCSE later on.

In Year 7, we start by studying the core topics of energy, sound, electricity and Forces . The Year 8 topics include light, space, thermal energy and particles.

We start teaching GCSE skills and topics in Year 9. The pupils are gently introduced to GCSE level work and beginning early allows time to cover the GCSE material. In addition to the actual GCSE content, we also explicitly teach scientific skills, which will be needed for the practical work which forms a core part of the GCSE examinations.

We offer two different routes at GCSE. Some of our pupils are entered for the Edexcel GCSE in Separate Physics, and others for Edexcel GCSE in Combined Science, a dual award that is completed in conjunction with our colleagues in other parts of the Science Faculty. The course that each individual follows depends on their ability. The results from the Year 9 exams particularly, are used to inform us of the course of study that will enable each child to progress to the best of their ability and gain the best GCSE grades possible. Grade 9 is accessible in all our GCSE courses.


Whether we are debating the ideas of Plato and Aristotle, or discussing the merits and drawbacks of euthanasia from a case in today’s newspaper or even reflecting upon the origins of our universe, the questions we ask have resonated with humans down the ages.

In any pupil’s future, at both degree level and beyond, the ability to analyse and evaluate arguments, challenge assumptions and think creatively are vital skills for the world we live in.

Those who opt to study Philosophy at GCSE level will follow the Edexcel Pearson iGCSE course specification entitled ‘Religious Studies.’

This course involves the study of two key topics: ‘Beliefs and Values’ and ‘The Religious Community.


Spanish – the second most spoken language in the world!

Spanish is taught to all pupils in Year 7 and they can then choose to continue Spanish until the end of Year 9 or GCSE. All course books are accompanied by an e-book and digital audio facilities, also accessible to pupils at home or anywhere in the globe via the school intranet. Class sizes in Spanish are small and this enables individual attention and the teacher is able to assist pupils of all abilities to progress effectively. This can be clearly seen by our outstanding results. The department is also part of an annual MFL Speaking Competition, which enables pupils of all abilities to perform on a given topic at both key stages 3 and 4. In all years we aim to provide pupils with the necessary skills to not only succeed in Spanish but to also give them a knowledge of the culture of Spain and the Hispanic World.

Course Content:

Years 7, 8 and 9:

In Year 7 pupils undergo a fun taster course to get a feel for the language. Thereafter pupils follow the Mira Express course, which will cover topics such as general conversation, family, leisure, region, holidays, clothing and food/drink.

Years 10 and 11:

At GCSE pupils follow the CIE IGCSE specification, which is based around the 4 skills of listening, reading, speaking and writing. Topics covered include Holidays and Tourism, Local Area, Health and Fitness, School and the Environment. In the oral exam pupils learn the material and technique for role play scenarios, which set them up for real situations when visiting a Spanish-speaking country. GCSE results have continually been outstanding.

We encourage pupils to take part in a trip to Spain as in addition to the fun that pupils have there, this promotes the language and enables them to see and use Spanish in real situations, which can ignite a life-long love of the language.