Lifelong learning and creativity
The commitment to lifelong learning and creativity continues into our Senior department. Once again, our small class sizes and dedicated teaching staff mean that pupils have individualised learning that ensures they reach their full potential. Whether that is through learning support for pupils with recognised difficulties such as dyslexia or encouraging our most able to shine through our TOPS programme – St. Dominic’s Senior School is all about the experience of the whole child. In Years 7 to 9, pupils study a broad and balanced curriculum: English, Maths, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Geography, History, R.E., French, Spanish, Art, D.T., P.E., Music, Drama and ICT.
In Years 6 and 7 the pupils take part in a two year cycle of skills days, where they are taken off timetable and spend a day experiencing a particular skill such as problem solving. Read more about our skills days here. Alongside this runs a revision and study skills programme which begins in Year 6 and is developed right the way through to Year 13 to help pupils manage the demands of both internal and external examinations.
In Year 10 pupils begin their journey towards GCSE qualifications and the school is rightly proud of its results at this level. The core curriculum comprises: English Language, English Literature, Maths, Biology, Chemistry, Physics or Dual Award Science and a MFL (French or Spanish). Our pupils are also encouraged to opt for a Humanities subject (Geography, History or RE) as part of their core curriculum. In addition to the core curriculum, we offer our pupils the opportunity to study the following subjects at GCSE level: PE, Computing, Food Preparation & Nutrition & Drama.
Exam Reform 2016-2017
GCSEs questions which might be asked if you are a parent of a Year 9 pupil:
1. When the new GCSE reforms are implemented, how great an affect will there be for my child?
None: the only GCSEs being reformed for examination in 2017 are English Language, English Literature and Mathematics. Although the syllabuses and questions may be slightly more demanding than their predecessors, the syllabuses will be a better preparation for A Level and the questions more interesting. Ofqual have decided that the grade distribution for these exams in 2017 will be very similar to that in 2016, in order to protect the interests of your child’s year group.
2. But what about the new grades?
The current letter grades (G to A*) will be replaced by number grades (1 to 9). The lowest mark for a new grade 4 will be the equivalent of that for a C. The lowest mark for a new grade 7 will be the equivalent to that for an A. It will be harder to get a grade 9 than it is to get a grade A* at the moment because the number of grade 9s awarded will be rationed.
Remember, these new grades will only apply to English Language, English Literature and Mathematics in 2017.
3. What’s the point of these new grades?
The number of low grades has been reduced and the number of higher grades has been increased (so, A and A* has been replaced by 7, 8 and 9). This change has been made because relatively few pupils get the lower grades while large numbers get the higher grades: it is sensible to make finer distinctions at the top end and that is what universities want. Because it will not be possible to give exact equivalents to the old grades in the new number system (with the exception of C/4 and A/7 boundaries) it was essential to move to number grades to prevent any confusion.
4. So what about the unreformed GCSEs?
In 2017 most of the GCSEs will be the same as they are now, with letter grades, so your child will get a mix of letter and number grades. Universities know this and it will not be a problem.
5. What about IGCSEs?
Most or all IGCSEs will be reformed to come in line with GCSEs in terms of grading. IGCSEs are a successful preparation for A-level and will continue to be valued by universities.