The Senior Curriculum
The Senior Curriculum
The Senior Curriculum
The Senior Curriculum
The Senior Curriculum
Plymouth College


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Plymouth College Open Days - Senior Years 10 - Upper Sixth - Thursday 21st March, Preparatory School - Friday 22nd March 1.30pm - 3.30pm To book a place please contact our friendly admissions team on 01752 505120 or at [email protected] or Click here to register your interest. read more

Last updated: 18.03.24

The Senior Curriculum

Plymouth College has an outstanding track record of achieving excellent academic and other outcomes for all our pupils. We educate, enrich and empower our pupils to develop into personable, confident and articulate young adults, to develop an inquisitive nature and appreciate the value of learning and to be able to take their place as full, well-informed members of society.

We achieve this by providing a broad-based, dynamic and stimulating curriculum which is applied as flexibly as possible to suit the needs and priorities of the individual. The academic subjects are complemented by a wide range of curriculum-enhancing and academic enrichment opportunities including trips to the theatre, the Eden Project, ancient castles, day trips to France and London, overseas residential trips to Ireland and Greece, and field trips to South Devon beaches and Dartmoor. Learning Support lessons and study skills lessons for all year groups are available.

KEY STAGE 3 (YEARS 7, 8 & 9)

There is no setting or streaming in the Autumn Term of Year 7. This gives all pupils the opportunity to settle into the school academically and socially. Gentle streaming by ability is introduced in January of Year 7 after this first crucial term. In Years 8 and 9 there is broad setting in Mathematics, Science, English and the Humanities. This is to help all pupils to progress at a pace suited to their abilities in these subjects. Class sizes are small to enable all pupils to benefit from frequent, focused interactions with their teachers.

In Years 7, 8 and 9 pupils can study:

  • English and Mathematics
  • Biology, Chemistry and Physics
  • History, Geography and Religious Studies
  • Modern Foreign Languages (French, Spanish and German)
  • Design Technology and Computer Science
  • Art, Drama and Music
  • PE
  • Classical Civilisation and Latin

In Year 7 pupils study the full range of these subjects. In Year 8 most pupils choose to specialise in two modern languages, and also have the opportunity to study Latin. For pupils who are not suited to studying two languages, in both Years 8 and 9 there is the option to receive extra support in English and Mathematics instead. This is under the direction of our Head of Learning Support.

In Year 9 there is also the opportunity for pupils to select further options choices from a range of arts subjects. This enables pupils to start to focus on areas of the curriculum that suit their skills and interests while still providing them with a range of subjects to choose from when they select their GCSE options.

KEY STAGE 4 (YEARS 10 & 11)

Subject choices for GCSE and IGCSE begin in Year 10 and are continued into Year 11. Inevitably, studies become more directed towards preparing for their important examinations, but there are still frequent opportunities for stimulating activities such as dramatic performances, practical investigations, creative design work and numerous curriculum enhancing excursions. Class sizes are kept small, enabling all pupils to receive individualised support.

All pupils study:  

  • English Language and Literature (two subjects)
  • Mathematics
  • Biology, Chemistry and Physics (taken either as three separate GCSEs or a combined science award worth two GCSEs)

A choice of four optional subjects chosen from the list below. Pupils are encouraged to follow at least one humanities subject (Geography, History or Religious Studies) and at least one Modern Foreign Language.

The optional subjects are:

  • Art (Fine Art or Photography)
  • Business 
  • Classical Civilisation
  • Computer Science
  • Design and Technology
  • Drama
  • French
  • Geography
  • German
  • History
  • Latin
  • Music
  • Physical Education
  • Religious Studies
  • Spanish

In Years 10 and 11 setting by ability is employed in the core subjects of English, Mathematics and the Sciences. The GCSE and IGCSE examinations in most subjects are taken at the end of Year 11, although there are occasional opportunities for pupils to take exams early in Year 10.

A one year pre-Sixth Form course is available for Year 11 international pupils to prepare to start A Levels or the Sport Baccalaureate one year later. They study alongside the other Year 11 pupils in subjects such as Mathematics, English and the Sciences. There are also other bespoke lessons provided in the humanities and foreign languages. This programme enables the pupils to take a range of GCSE qualifications after just one year. This course can be tailored to the individual needs of each pupil, with extra support lessons available, if required.

The options systems in Years 10 and 11 are re-designed each year to accommodate all pupils' preferred choices as far as is possible. Pupils are asked to select their choice of subjects by February in each year and advice to help them make their choices is carefully planned. The option blocks are then constructed from these choices.