Curriculum Subjects

Please find detailed information about each of the Curriculum Subjects below:

Business

Business Studies is a popular subject at Preston School and plays an important role in the Business and Enterprise specialist schools status.  We offer two courses at key stage 4, BTEC Business and GCSE Business Studies.  The majority of students exceed or meet their target grades in both courses as well as developing those all-important life skills.  All lessons are based around the exam board specifications; however, we strive to ensure that we give the students plenty of opportunity to work with businesses and develop their enterprise skills.  During the three year course students will take part in business plan presentations, presenting to local businesses, they will participate in national events like Global Entrepreneurship Week and compete in competitions like the Student Investor Challenge, where they learn about the stock market and compete against other schools.  Students on the BTEC course will also learn about recruitment, by applying for an apprenticeship at Yarlington Homes and attending an interview.  Finally, as well as working with businesses in school, we visit Longleat Safari park to learn how they recruit and train their workforce. 

Students studying Business Studies have performed very well in national competitions, Preston School did particularly well last year, finishing 8th out of 500 schools in the semi-finals of Student Investor!!  We also have had groups of Year 9 students winning the regional finals of the Coca Cola Challenge and more recently, one of our Year 9 enterprise teams became one of the eight national finalists in the Tycoon for Schools competition. These students will be presenting to members of the Royal Family and Dragons Den’s Peter Jones at Windsor Castle in September.

ICT

“Our policy at Facebook is literally to hire as many talented software engineers as we can find. There just aren't enough people who are trained and have these skills today.”

Mark Zuckerberg

Computing is an exciting, innovative and practical subject which teaches you so much more than simply how to use a computer. Whether it is the use of Adobe Photoshop to create inspirational advertisements, or using Python, HTML or SQL to create world changing computer software, there is an area of Computing to suit everyone.

Split into three strands; ICT, Computer Science and Digital Literacy, we aim to provide students with the wide range of skills demanded by the modern workplace. Taught across two hours a fortnight in Years 7 and 8, students can opt for either an ICT or Computer Science GCSE to continue into Year 11. Both are popular option choices with Computer Science oversubscribed this year. Our ICT offering is practical, hands on and predominantly coursework based. The Computer Science offering is highly academic, sitting alongside Physics and Chemistry in the EBacc, and is assessed via written examinations. Either route provides students with the skills required to succeed in modern world, preparing them for a wide range of careers.

Maths

The ideals that characterise our teaching of Mathematics are based on enabling learners to be responsible, reflective, innovative and engaged, and so equipped for success in the modern world. The foundation of our success is to aim high ourselves and to encourage the highest aspirations in others.

Our results for Mathematics GCSE over the last three years have averaged 15% above the national pass rate (grades 4 to 9). We also enter students for Statistics GCSE, Mathematics iGCSE, ‘A’ level Additional Mathematics and Entry Level Mathematics with 100% pass rate in all these subjects in recent years.

We regularly take teams of students to county and national mathematics events and enter them for national individual competitions. Our students have been extremely successful on many of these occasions.  Some students in years 8, 9, 10 and 11 attend the Exeter Mathematics School on a regular basis and year 10 students attend their summer school.

Art

The Art course at Preston is a long established subject. In the lower school Art covers Art, Craft and Design traditionally. However, at GCSE level the subject becomes Fine Art. The Fine Art course pass rate consistently exceeds the national average. We often hear of students taking Art further and invitations to their degree exhibitions.

With new changes to the curriculum we have reacted by introducing more drawing to our teaching. This had been taken for granted in recent years as quite often contemporary art fails to exercise this skill. In lessons students learn about Art styles and trends in Art; all the time building on skills and techniques. Art is a popular choice at GCSE level.

Drama

GCSE Drama is an ever increasingly popular course at Preston School and has really flourished over the last three years. With GCSE results sitting around 78% A*-C students are able to enjoy a wide range of practical exploration with an engaging theory aspect which enables students to fully appreciate the complexities of Drama, Performance and Theatre.

Drama is not strictly maintained in the studio at Preston as we have now also presented three very successful full school productions including Guys and Dolls and Sweeney Todd. We have a very clear sense of Full School Production at Preston and lead roles have been performed by students ranging from Year 11 down to Year 8.

We also do a large amount of live performance outside of the school show including short performances by Year 10 and 11 of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ and also ‘The Ash Girl’ by Timberlake Wertenbaker. Students are also encouraged to explore the more technical elements of Theatre, ranging from lighting and sound to stage make-up and costume design.

In addition to this, we run a yearly trip to London where students visit the famous Covent Garden before taking in one of the west end shows which can be explored in the classroom and also in review.

English

English Language and Literature are compulsory subjects at Preston School, taught with passion and vitality, providing students with skills and knowledge for academic success alongside aptitude for understanding and communicating with the world around them.  Our aim is to engage and enthuse, inspire and motivate, creating learners for life. Both our GCSE courses are challenging and rewarding, following the AQA specification accordingly, building on objectives explored during KS3 years. Throughout the courses, students will study 19th-century literature, modern drama, the work of William Shakespeare, a vast array of wonderful poetry, all whilst exploring the powerful language used in both fiction and non-fiction extracts. Recent results boast an impressive 76% 9 - 4 grades in English.

This year we have taken students to see play versions of the set texts and hope to take students to see the poets on the GCSE syllabus talk about the poems they have written. There are plans afoot for a reading challenge and more exciting things surrounding World Book Day – watch this space!

In the Preston School English Department, we pride ourselves on shaping independent learners that use initiative and reflection as tools for success. Our teachers love their subject. It is this love, this dedication to the craft that ensures every classroom is flourishing.

Music

Since joining the team in January 2016, Music has taken started to grow again even if the exam results were not as predicted. Orchestra and choir have grown and successful concerts have been held through the rest of the year. There has been a one third increase in numbers taking GCSE Music for academic year 2016 and retention rates are potentially higher according to initial student feedback. Revision guides and intervention are already in place for Year 11 and Year 10 as well as team teaching sessions for GL and LH.

Potential visits to watch live Music and schools of music have been requested and will be happening this academic year.

There are 2 extra peripatetic teachers starting at Preston this year adding vocals and ukulele to the teaching repertoire.

Physical Education

Physical Education and Sport play an integral role at Preston School. As a PE team, we aim to create an enjoyable and engaging environment where all pupils experience success through a range of sports. Our wide and varied curriculum provides the opportunity for pupils to learn and develop a range of skills, which are necessary for sport and beneficial in daily life.

​During curriculum time, our experienced and passionate staff offer a wide range of activities from the traditional to the more adventurous. Furthermore, we give students the opportunity to commence either the AQA GSCE PE course or Edexcel BTEC Sport Award, both of which we start in Year 9.

Students have extensive opportunities in our extra-curricular setting. Breaktime, lunchtime and afterschool clubs are run for students of all abilities and in a wide range of sports. These include Football, Netball, Rugby, Hockey, Basketball, Fitness, Table Tennis, Badminton, Rounders, Softball, Athletics, Cricket and Archery. Students who attend these clubs often have the opportunity to compete in district, county and regional fixtures throughout the year.

​Alongside the curriculum, students are offered the chance to become a Sport Prefect. They will assist with the running and officiating of festivals, fixtures and tournaments across the year, as well as helping with local primary tournaments.

​Preston PE strives to ensure that every student has the opportunity to stay healthy, enjoy sport and take these valuable skills with them in to their future.

Geography

"You can travel the seas, poles and deserts and see nothing. To really understand the world, you need to get under the skin of the people and places. In other words, learn about Geography. I can’t imagine a subject more relevant in schools. We’d all be lost without it."

Michael Palin  -  Actor, Writer, Comedian, TV Presenter

Geography is the study of the world around us. It involves learning about a wide variety of issues and topics ranging from climate change and cities to natural hazards and globalisation. Geography also teaches pupils important skills such as problem solving and critical thinking and allows them to gain an appreciation and understanding of the world and its processes. At Preston School, Geography is taught using a variety of contemporary methods focusing on an enquiry approach to learning. This involves the use ICT, GIS and a number of fieldwork opportunities outside the classroom.

Geography is a popular subject at Preston School. Pupils in Years 7 and 8 study a number of different topics focusing on geographical issues, such as living in extreme environments, climate change and tectonic hazards; as well as specific countries and regions, such as the UK and Brazil. In Years 9, 10 and 11, pupils study the AQA GCSE Specification. This new GCSE course focuses on many of the key issues facing the world in the 21st Century, as well as teaching pupils about their important role as global citizens. Geography is also a highly successful subject with last year’s GCSE Geography students achieving 79% A*- C.

History

Martin Luther King, Jr. once said ‘We are not makers of History. We are made by History.’ At Preston School the study of History is focused on examining the way people have lived throughout time and which key events and people have helped to shape the lives we live today. We study both the positive impact that the likes of Martin Luther King, Jr. or Edward Jenner have had, and the negative influences which have affected our modern world, for example World War One or Adolf Hitler. History is quite simply unavoidable, the world order is as it is because of our shared past.

Through the students’ study of History at KS3 they will have an in-depth knowledge of many key events, including how life changed during the Middle Ages with case studies based around the Black Death, the murder of Thomas Beckett and the story of Richard Whiting. Within Year 8 the students will examine the Nineteenth and Twentieth centuries  looking at the impact of the Industrial Revolution and investigating contrasting evidence about Jack the Ripper’s identity before moving on to the key events of the 1900s.

The improved teaching at KS3 has not just helped prepare students for their study at History GCSE, but has also made History the most popular option subject with nearly 70% of the current Year 8 pupils looking to continue their study of the subject. This is further aided with a rigorous and interesting GCSE course which looks at a wide variety of Historical periods including: America 1920 – 1973, Conflict and Tension 1894 – 1914, Health and the People c1000AD – Present Day and Norman England c1066 – 1100. To help bring the GCSE to life there is also a joint History and MFL trip to the WWI Battlefields which is offered to the year 9 and 10 students.

The study of History is such an important one. Quite simply, we cannot have a future unless we learn from the past and at Preston we look to bring History to life for our students.

Languages

Modern Foreign Languages at Preston School encompass French, Italian and Spanish. Whichever language you study you will have high quality and engaging teaching, using up-to-date and authentic resources and materials, including ICT and software / websites designed specifically for language learning. In the MFL department here at Preston School our aim is to develop competent and confident linguists who understand the wider benefits of language study, whether for career opportunities, communication skills development, or for personal growth and developing a more open and curious mind. Our students are very successful in their studies with 85 % (on average) achieving A* - C in their GCSE in 2017. Furthermore, 43% of all MFL grades achieved at GCSE in 2017 were A* or A.

During the course students will study a variety of topics learning how to share opinions on wide range of issues from family life, to school and future plans for study and work, from social issues to environmental debates. The course is designed to include as much cultural input as possible, students will explore music and film in their chosen language as well as some literature and poetry. Of course this is all combined with the fundamentals of the grammar and structure of the language studied.

The department has just returned from a very successful French and History trip for year 9/10 students and a visit to Venice and Verona for year 7 / 8 Italian students. Both trips develop students’ knowledge and understanding in their chose language and allow a unique opportunity to use the language they are learning and interact with native speakers. With European Day of Languages in September and several link events with our local primary schools in the months ahead it’s an exciting time to get involved in languages!

Life Studies

This subject is fundamental to developing the whole student in school. We study belief systems from all over the world and look at their response to a variety of moral and ethical dilemmas. We challenge the students to investigate their own views on the world and make sure they are comfortable with how they view the world. This year we have been redesigning the course for the year 10 and 11 students who have not chosen to do a GCSE course to make the subject more relevant and accessible.

We have recently gained 75% A* - C for the option group this is on the back of other years of comparable successes for the whole year group. We have visited Bristol Cathedral and the Dechen Buddhist Centre in Bristol in the past year and will be visiting Jam Yang Buddhist centre in Kennington in the new year as part of the GCSE Philosophy and ethics course.

Design & Technology

Design Technology is an inspiring, rigorous and practical subject. Using creativity and imagination, pupils design and make products that solve real and relevant problems within a variety of contexts, considering their own and others’ needs, wants and values. They acquire a broad range of subject knowledge and draw on disciplines such as mathematics, science, engineering, computing and art. Pupils learn how to take risks, becoming resourceful, innovative, enterprising and capable citizens. Through the evaluation of past and present design and technology, they develop a critical understanding of its impact on daily life and the wider world. High-quality design and technology education makes an essential contribution to the creativity, culture, wealth and well-being of the nation’. (National Curriculum)

The DT department at Preston fully supports this and offers pupils a fantastic mix of disciplines where they have the opportunity to work with a wide range of materials at KS3.  It is always a busy and purposeful department and an area of the curriculum that pupils enjoy being part of where they learn through theory and practical activities.

We offer a wide range of very popular and successful courses at KS4 including Electronics, Materials Technology, Child Development, Food, Fashion and Textiles and Child Development, all of which regularly achieve above the national average in the results our pupils achieve.

All of the KS4 courses consist of controlled assessment and a final exam and within the controlled assessment a large number of marks are made up of practical work.

Science

Marie Curie (a physicist and chemist who conducted pioneering research on radioactivity) once said: “Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.”

In science lessons at Preston School, we aim to help students to develop into scientists with independent thinking, problem solving and practical skills that they can apply to understand and explain the world around them.

Science is a compulsory subject, within which students study a range of Chemistry, Physics and Biology topics from Year 7 onwards. The culmination in year 11 is to gain two GCSEs in AQA Combined Science (Trilogy) or three GCSEs through examination in each individual subject.

Study of the curriculum is further enhanced by students’ involvement in national challenges such as the Royal Society of Biology – Biology Challenge; STEM workshops through EDF Inspire; and National competitions offered by Shell and GSK. Students also have many opportunities to apply their learning to real-world contexts through trips. Some of the trips that we offer include visiting places such as @Bristol, Bristol Zoo and The Living Rainforest.



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