We offer a broad range of academic ‘A’ levels, with some subjects being shared with Watford Grammar School for Boys.
In addition, we provide a wide and enriching selection of extended curricular activities, including the FORUM programme, which deals with preparation for university and job applications, life skills and wellbeing, as well as the EPQ (Extended Project Qualification), sports, art and music.
At Key Stage 5 we offer Art and Design through a range of specialisms accredited by the AQA Examination board. Within this, students have the opportunity to opt for and explore a wide range of skills, including Fine Art, Photography and Textiles. Students continue to build on the skills learnt at GCSE and develop a strong portfolio of work in preparation for further education should they wish to apply to University or College. Recent research has demonstrated that an Art A level is useful for a wide variety of degrees, including courses as diverse as law, engineering, architecture and the humanities: creative thinking and artistic skills are invaluable when applying for any University Degree.
During Year 12, students are encouraged to take risks and experiment with materials, techniques and processes in a creative and mature environment, led by experienced teachers. Confident in their refined skills, Year 13 students benefit from personalised projects developed through regular one-to-one tutorials with their teacher. In January of Year 13, students select an exam topic from the AQA paper and this accounts for 40% of their final grade (the other 60% is for their personalised project explored in Year 12 and 13). Throughout the two-year Linear A Level course, students are regularly monitored by self, peers and teacher assessment, in line with the AQA assessment objectives.
In Key Stage 5 we aim to prepare pupils for making their post-18 choices, and for becoming an independent adult. They will learn about all the options that are available to them, including higher education, jobs, gap years and apprenticeships, and will be given assistance on whichever route they choose. Students are given advice on writing personal statements, with emphasis on UCAS, apprenticeship and job applications, and they will receive a lot of support on interview preparation, leading up to a mock interview day. To help further with their transition to university and adult life, they will learn about study skills, student finance, and budgeting. We believe that developing employability skills is very important, so encourage pupils to take part in work experience.
Following the OCR specification, A Level Classical Civilisation provides students with a broad and deep study of the ancient world, with disciplines including art, philosophy, drama and literature. This allows pupils to make a wide range of cross-curricular links in addition to deepening their own understanding of the world around them, and even their own core beliefs. Students are encouraged and required to engage with scholarship and academia, fostering a love of learning and developing valuable habits of independent learning and research. The curriculum allows pupils to engage with challenging philosophical and moral issues, and prepares them well for Higher Education and careers in a wide range of areas. Classics aims to provide a forum for pupils to explore difficult and challenging issues that affect us today in the modern world, at a distance through the lens of the ancient world, all whilst developing students into reflective and critical thinkers.
At Key Stage 5 we also follow the AQA syllabus as it builds effectively upon the skills and knowledge base acquired at GCSE. The course develops the students’ proficiency in a modern coding language and equips them to apply this language to an area of computing that interests them and construct increasingly complex programmes, developing an understanding as to how they might apply their skills to real-life situations. By the end of the A Level course, they should understand how coding fits into their chosen academic and career path.
The A level syllabus at Key Stage 5 is constructed to enable students to develop an advanced understanding of micro and macro Economics. The course aims to make students critically aware, understanding the processes behind both micro and macro developments in Economics such as the reasons politicians worry when currency values change or when countries talk of going bankrupt.
Students learn about the economic forces that influence our modern lifestyle and they develop an understanding of the important financial, political and social changes that continually occur around us. Students will be well equipped to follow a variety of higher education courses and to enter the workplace having gained a sophisticated understanding of economic theory and practice.
‘A’ Level English seeks to build upon the foundation laid at Key Stage 4 and expose students to a wide range of texts, from Shakespeare to Margaret Atwood. There is a keen focus upon students’ reading skills, building fluency and increasing their capacity to access more sophisticated subtextual concerns. Central to success is the ability to write with high levels of accuracy and to reflect the conceptualised nature of students’ thinking, with a sophisticated and extensive range of critical terminology. All consideration of the literary texts is grounded in an understanding of the historical, political and philosophical contexts in which they are written and received, enabling students to reference a range of interpretations. An important component is the coursework, which allows students to put the skills they have acquired into practice and explore an aspect of literature which particularly interests them. As in all key stages, enjoyment and appreciation is paramount.
Key Stage 5 aims to develop our students’ enjoyment of Geography and deepen their knowledge of the subject through focused learning and wider research. We aim to inspire students to love our subject and become lifelong Geography enthusiasts. Students are encouraged to be independent thinkers and informed members of the local and global community. Geography aims to develop students’ analytical skills, their ability to present ideas and to set them up for future study of the subject. Key Stage 5 builds on the subject knowledge developed in years 7 to 11 and develops a range of new case studies and examples. Fieldwork is a key element of the course at Key Stage 5 and students are expected to use this experience to produce detailed pieces of coursework. Key Stage 5 Geography aims to expose our students to complex concepts, issues and processes and teach them to understand the role and importance of Geography in the modern world.
- Government & Politics
Students who take Government & Politics are taught to think independently, critically and rationally about political issues, an essential skill to succeed in modern society. Students are encouraged to become active and informed citizens, evaluating political information and arguments on their own merits. They will develop a deep knowledge of the workings of the UK political system and past/current debates surrounding it. We aim to develop a life-long interest in politics while teaching the traditional academic skills of critical thought, analysis, evaluation and essay writing prized by universities. Students are encouraged to keep up-to-date with current affairs in all topics, helping them to draw upon information from a wide range of media outlets and political perspectives to continually update their knowledge and understanding.
Students in A Level History are prepared for academic study at university and beyond. We strive to develop A Level students who are critical, independent thinkers and are able to make discerning use of a range of precise evidence to sustain complex arguments. At A-Level we provide a stimulating and diverse academic study of History, following the AQA History syllabus. All students will be assessed by two exam papers at the end of a two-year course, in addition to a substantial piece of independent investigation primarily in Year 13, which prepares them well for the demands of a university degree in any subject. Students are able to evaluate contemporary sources and historiographical interpretations, drawing upon their detailed contextual knowledge and understanding of the periods studied. Students will also be able to plan and communicate extended analytical responses, examining complex concepts and perspectives.
Latin A level follows the OCR specification, and builds on pupils’ prior learning as they encounter increasingly complex syntactical structures and attempt passages of real Latin by authors such as Ovid and Livy for translation. Pupils continue to practice and develop their skills in translation, comprehension and composition. In addition, pupils study two set texts of Latin literature, analysing the stylistic choices of the author and developing their own moral and ethical opinions on the messages within. Pupils are encouraged to become independent learners, researching and engaging with the cultural, social and political background of each of the texts they study, and allowing this to inform any judgements they make. Through the study of Latin at the highest level, pupils become critical and logical thinkers who are well prepared for Higher Education in a wide range of subjects, and develop transferrable skills valued in any number of careers.
The Key Stage 5 mathematics curriculum provides students with skills that are highly sought after by many employers and academic institutions. Through the further study of the subject, students will build on the firm grounding they received at Key Stage 3 and 4. The students are able to appreciate the importance of academic rigour and will meet abstract concepts as part of the Key Stage 5 curriculum. At this level, we emphasise the layout of work, disciplined working habits and develop further students’ abilities to solve problems. Technology is used to support our work in a way that enhances understanding and develops skills to be used beyond the classroom. Many students leave Watford Grammar School for Girls to study mathematics or mathematics-based subjects at degree level and go on to have interesting, dynamic and diverse careers.
- Modern Languages
Students build upon their experiences in Key Stages 3 and 4. However, at A Level, the topics covered go into much greater depth and analytical skills are developed. There is an increase in the cultural content of the course and a greater focus on developing independent learning and research skills in preparation for the requirements of university and work.
The A Level curriculum, also following Edexcel, is similar to GCSE: developing musical knowledge, understanding and skills in performing, composing and appraising. We analyse set works in detail, and explore a wide range of related wider listening, which enables students to identify key features in the music and explain them in terms of their musical and historical contexts. Composing skills are developed through a series of mini projects, culminating in a final four-minute piece and two technical exercises (Bach chorales). Independent, analytical and creative thinking are also encouraged throughout the course. Performing skills are developed through participating in our extensive Music Live curriculum, with many orchestras, choirs and ensembles to stretch and develop students in preparation for their final performance. Many of our A Level musicians have gone on to study at prestigious universities and conservatoires.
Since Psychology is the study of the science of the mind and behaviour psychologists aim to explain, understand, predict and manage behaviour. The Key Stage 5 Psychology curriculum provides students with an understanding of the different schools of Psychology and enables students to grasp the way that Psychology operates in real world situations.
Students will finish the course with a highly-developed and in-depth appreciation of how criminality, mental illness and stress-related issues are multi-factorial. The flaws of the discipline are also explored so students should feel inspired to find ways to apply their knowledge of Psychology to the next step in their lives.
- Religious Studies
We run a very well subscribed A Level subject following the Eduqas Religious Studies specification. We cover three disciplines: Philosophy of Religion, Ethics and Hinduism. The aims of the course are to build a theological and philosophical foundation, alongside developing transferable skills for future progression into a wide variety of Higher Education degree disciplines. The course builds on skills learnt at GCSE in analysis and evaluation and allows students to delve deeper into discussions about theological, philosophical and ethical issues.
The Key Stage 5 Science curriculum provides students with a unique and valued set of transferable skills, including problem solving, high levels of numeracy and literacy and a range of sought-after skills associated with scientific enquiry.
We teach rigorous academic courses, frequently going beyond the scope of the syllabus so that our students gain a deeper understanding of concepts, their application and inspiration for the next stage of our students’ lives beyond school. We are immensely proud of the large number of young women who go on to study Science-based subjects each year leading to a wide range of diverse, fulfilling careers which contribute positively to society.
Sociology A-Level is designed to promote excellent powers of interpretation and analysis. Reading around topics, applying sociological theory and staying abreast of current affairs helps students excel in this subject. Students at Key Stage 5 develop a deep understanding of the social forces that shape human behaviour.
Sociology is an essay-based subject that equips students with transferable skills and for a variety of higher education options. Its study fosters the production of cogent written work about a range of topics such as education, the world of work, the impact of poverty, crime and deviance and how different beliefs shape the structures of the society we live in.