Academic: Durham School: independent day and boarding school in the North East of England for boys and girls
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We strive to ensure that all pupils, regardless of their ability, fulfil or exceed their academic potential.

Lower School, Years 7-8

Year 7 & 8 students at Durham School are offered a challenging, stimulating curriculum designed to stretch their capabilities. Within our school environment they will develop the time management, communication and study skills required to set them on the road to successful independent learning in the future.

The Years 7 & 8 curriculum is designed to be broad and balanced, preparing pupils for the requirements of Year 9 and beyond. All pupils study a core curriculum of: English, Mathematics, French, General Science, Geography, History, Religious Studies, Art, Design, ICT, Latin, Music, Drama, PE and PSHE. German and Spanish are introduced as a taster in Year 8. Games are timetabled on 3 days of the week. There is some setting in English, Mathematics, French and Science but all other teaching is either banded or mixed ability. Class sizes are small allowing teachers to give specific and individual attention.

Beginning in Year 7, each student is assigned to one of five houses where they will continue to build strong relationships with their peers under the watchful eyes of their tutor and housemaster or housemistress. The house staff will offer regular guidance, assisting with organisation, academic and pastoral support.

Lower School students will find opportunities for both leadership and participation in many different fields; musical activities, drama productions, sport and numerous clubs and societies are a feature of life at Durham School.

Further information about the Lower School Curriculum can be found in our Course Booklet, which is currently in production. 

Middle School, Years 9-11

The Middle School is designed to build on the core learning skills and knowledge developed in the Lower School.

The Year 9 curriculum remains broad and balanced but does introduce a small degree of optionality in order to allow pupils to make informed choices about GCSE. All subjects will introduce the skills, and some the content, of the GCSE courses.

Core subjects remain: English, Mathematics, French, Science – [now taught as Biology, Physics and Chemistry], Geography, History, Religious Studies, PE, PSHE and Games. Pupils also study a second modern foreign language; either Spanish or German, which they opt for at the end of Year 8. In addition, at the end of Year 8, pupils opt for 4 subjects from a choice of 7: Art, Design, Music, Drama, ICT, Latin and Classical Civilisation. English, Mathematics, Science and French are set across the whole year. Class sizes again are small.

Year 10 & 11 are the main GCSE years. The curriculum is designed to give breadth of choice and allow pupils to prepare for A level study. All pupils study a core curriculum of: English Language, English Literature and Mathematics. Pupils also study either separate Sciences (Biology, Chemistry, Physics) or double award Science – (Biology, Chemistry, Physics but reduced in content and equivalent to 2 GCSEs). The study of a modern foreign language (French or German or Spanish) is compulsory, except for pupils with a recognised learning difficulty. PSHE and Games are also core. Pupils choose 3 further subjects from a list of options which currently includes: Art, Classical Civilisation, Design & Technology (either Resistant Materials or Graphic Products), Drama, Geography, History, Religious Studies (Ethics) ICT, Latin, a second modern foreign language (French, German or Spanish), Music, Academic PE. English, Mathematics, Science and the core language are set. All other classes are mixed ability. Mathematics Sets 1 and 2 may also complete GCSE Statistics at the end of Year 11.

Further information about the Middle School Curriculum can be found in our GCSE Course Booklet.

The Sixth Form

Most of our students go on to study at university. The sixth form is therefore designed to allow greater specialism and further opportunities for independent study. Most pupils study 4 subjects in Year 12 (Lower Sixth). In Year 13 (Upper Sixth) pupils usually choose to continue with 3 subjects to A2 Level, though a few retain all 4. Many also take A Level General Studies.

The subjects currently available are: Art, Biology, Business Studies, Chemistry, Classical Civilisation, Design Technology, Economics, English Language & Literature, English Literature, Extended Project Qualification, French, Geography, German, History, ICT, Latin, Mathematics, Further Mathematics, Music, Photography, Physical Education, Physics, Politics, Psychology, Philosophy & Ethics, Spanish, Theatre Studies.

In addition there are plenty of opportunities for further academic enrichment and study within the sixth form. PSHE is delivered through tutor time and a lecture programme and the academic societies complement the general studies programme. Additional support for elite course applications is also organised, such as subject-specific Oxbridge tuition, Critical Thinking and the Extended Project Qualification.

Further information about the Sixth Form Curriculum can be found in our Sixth Form Course Booklet.


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