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Our Curriculum

Our Curriculum

Senior School subjects offered by KES:

Art & Photography Art & Photography

Art and Photography provides a vital form of communication, helping pupils to express personal ideas and feelings and to explore and question the world around them.  We aim to encourage those practical and imaginative skills that result in a heightened sense of enjoyment, aesthetic appreciation and self-confidence. Our department ethos is based on the foundations of three distinct, yet interrelated areas: the exploration of a wide and varied range of techniques and processes, where pupils can experiment with different art media; the development of creative and exciting concepts and ideas, encouraging individuality and a pupil’s distinct and unique approach; and the research and investigation into the works and lives of appropriate artists, designers and photographers. Group debates and individual tuition take place during lessons.  Pupils are pushed to decipher and put in context diverse cultures, ancient, modern and contemporary.

Regular visits to museums and galleries feed our courses and we encourage pupils to learn through experimentation and the exploration of a wide a range of ideas and media. The concept of ‘make a mark, get a mark’ encourages rapid progress through playful exploration and variety rather than prolonged focus on one piece of work.


In Years 7 and 8, we focus on developing key skills and exploring a variety of different artworks, both contemporary and traditional. Pupils are encouraged to embrace a wide range of materials and techniques and experiment and explore new and exciting media. This includes drawing, painting, collage and mixed media, printmaking and 3D structures. Pupils are supported to feel confident when expressing their ideas visually.

Art and Photography in Year 9 is an exciting and stimulating experience, with the opportunity to work across a range of techniques, media and approaches. Projects usually last for half a term. Themes typically include: portrait, figure, urban architecture, man-made versus organic, animals and landscape, all supported by the use of a sketchbook.


We follow the AQA Fine Art GCSE which culminates in two assessments. Firstly, a portfolio of work showing their personal responses to either a starting point, brief, scenario, or stimulus and takes about 45 hours to complete. Then, at the end of the course, in a 10 hour supervised exam pupils provide a response to an idea set by the board. They have several months to prepare their ideas for this.


Studying Art or Photography, or even both at A Level, gives pupils the opportunity to work in a stimulating and exciting environment, where they are encouraged to develop a variety of practical skills and approaches. The course is an exciting opportunity to challenge a number of issues and perceptions on a personal level, expressing an individual perspective on these in visual form. Pupils choosing A Level Art or Photography develop as self-motivated, communicative individuals, willing to extend themselves in an imaginative and skilful manner.

We foster links with Art Schools and help to prepare pupils with their portfolios for interview at Foundation Course level, the traditional route into art courses, and increasingly we prepare pupils for direct entry at degree level in Art and Photography, Art History, Architecture and Fashion/Textiles.

Biology Biology

We have a thriving Biology department at King Edward’s. The focus of the subject is the science behind everyday life as it affects us as humans, as well as working to understand how biology affects our environment. Biology is taught by specialist teachers across the whole school curriculum.  It is followed as a separate science subject by all pupils up to the end of Year 11 and is chosen by a large number of pupils wishing to continue the subject to A Level and beyond.

Among the sciences, Biology has more descriptive content than Chemistry or Physics, which makes it accessible to pupils of all backgrounds. Pupils undertake a wide range of practical work in the subject, right from the start of their careers at King Edward’s School, backed up by technical support and an extensive range of resources. The department makes good use of local opportunities to enrich the subject, making use of the School site for fieldwork, along with visits to Bristol Zoo and We The Curious in Bristol, culminating in an A Level, residential, field course in Pembrokeshire.


In Year 7, KES pupils study their own and other cells, as well as reproduction and the skeleton. In Year 8, they focus on the body, starting with food, enzymes and digestion, progressing to learn about genes and evolution, and the way natural ecosystems function. Pupils develop investigative skills in the subject, using many practical techniques. In Year 9, pupils begin GCSE topics, learning about fundamental processes within living organisms, such as respiration and photosynthesis, and physiology including circulation, breathing and immunity to disease.


The majority of pupils follow the IGCSE specification, a traditional-style course that covers a range of biological topics such as plant and animal physiology, ecology and cell biology as well as more recent developments in genetic engineering and biotechnology. During the course, pupils explore topics in more detail, such as the working of enzymes and the regulation and control of the body, as well as DNA, genetics and biotechnology. Pupils continue to experience a wide range of practical techniques, further developing their investigative skills. Those who are not natural scientists are still taught Biology as a separate subject but take combined science GCSEs.


Biology at A Level gives pupils the opportunity to widen and extend their knowledge and understanding, covering a range of topics, starting with basic biochemistry, cells and physiology, and working towards a detailed study of the way that cells and organisms are controlled by their DNA and nervous systems. Emphasis is given to investigative work; pupils do at least twelve different investigations to gain practical endorsement. Visits to a DNA workshop at We The Curious in Bristol and a residential field course, provides the pupils with the opportunity and resources to widen and further develop investigative skills beyond the classroom.

our adventures
Chemistry Chemistry

The Chemistry department aims to provide pupils with an enjoyable, purposeful and safe experience of chemistry and to allow them to appreciate how chemistry impacts on them as individuals and the world around them. It is taught as a separate subject from Year 7 and we hope this allows each pupil to get a sense of the individual subject, rather than science in general. This also affords us the ability of having chemistry taught by subject specialists throughout the School.

The department seeks to provide the teaching, facilities and courses which support the best environment for learning, one in which pupils feel comfortable to challenge themselves intellectually and to be supported and safe when they are prepared to take risks in their learning.

Along with the other sciences, Chemistry is a renowned strength of the School, and popular amongst girls and boys. Many are inspired by the focus on practical work and gain confidence by perfecting their skills and gain a real enjoyment from experimentation. We encourage our pupils to study in areas of the subject beyond the specification, and this breadth of knowledge enables them to participate successfully in several competitions, including the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Olympiad, Young Analyst and Top of the Bench competitions and the Salters’ Festival.

Chemistry is housed in four specialist laboratories and these are resourced and supported by two experienced technicians who work from a well-run prep room.


The first two years of the course are an introduction to Chemistry, its aims, its methods and its role in society. Practical work is introduced at the outset, and by the end of the first year, pupils should be able to work safely and with a high degree of independence. In Year 7, pupils look at the practical applications of chemistry: separation of mixtures, acids and bases and indicators. In Year 8, there is a shift in emphasis as the chemical changes studied are placed in a theoretical framework based on the understanding of elements, compounds and reactivity. In Year 9, topics studied include extracting metals form ores, the reactions of acids and atomic structure.


We follow the Edexcel GCSE specification for most pupils. The course develops an increasingly sophisticated theoretical understanding of Chemistry while continuing to emphasise the practical foundations of the subject and its vital contribution to contemporary society. The key concepts of atomic structure, bonding and periodicity are introduced and then used as the basis for extending the study of the elements. Basic ideas on rates of reaction and organic chemistry are introduced and there is a more quantitative element to the course in the form of mole calculations and equilibria. As with the other sciences, a few take combined science GCSEs, but are still taught Chemistry as a separate subject.


Chemistry in the Sixth Form is very popular and, in recent years, demand for the subject has grown significantly. The course is divided traditionally into the Physical, Inorganic and Organic strands of the subject together with a healthy dose of traditional investigative chemistry with tasks that range from making their own aspirin to identifying unknown compounds. The Year 13 course is a more advanced treatment of the ideas studied in Year 12, but good mathematical skills become especially important as pupils begin to draw quantitative conclusions in their work as opposed to the more qualitative ones required in the early part of the course.

Classics Classics

Classics is a popular and highly regarded subject area at King Edward's. A knowledge of Latin and Greek can dramatically improve a pupil's range of vocabulary, the accuracy of spelling and clarity of expression. It can enhance the ability to communicate in one’s own language. Modern society owes a huge cultural debt to the civilisations of Greece and Rome and knowledge of the intellectual achievements of these societies can help us make sense of the world today.

We offer two courses at GCSE (Latin and Greek) and three at A Level (Latin, Greek and Classical Civilisation). From these, our pupils can access a range of courses on the Classics at university, as several of our pupils do each year.

The study of Classics has an intrinsic value in enabling pupils to understand a whole range of issues: political, ethical, religious and social. The combination of dedicated teaching and a vibrant programme of extra-curricular activities has led not only to consistently superb examination results, but also increased numbers of pupils studying Classics.


All pupils take Latin in Years 7 and 8, using Latin Practice Exercises by R.C. Bass. The course is designed primarily to promote a sound linguistic grounding but is also supplemented by the department’s own introduction to the history and culture of the ancient world. At the end of Year 8, pupils have the option to continue with Latin. About two-thirds of the year group will continue, with the ablest linguists also taking up Greek in a fast-track course. At the end of Year 9, pupils will again have the option to continue with Latin or the Latin and Greek combined course to GCSE level.


In Years 10 and 11, pupils embark upon the OCR GCSE course in Latin and, for some, Greek as well. They will work on syntactical constructions and unseen translations in language lessons, whilst they will also read a variety of set texts in their original language and will be questioned about their meaning, factual content and literary qualities. The Latin authors read will include such luminaries as Pliny and Virgil, whilst the Greek authors include Herodotus and Homer.

For the most able Classicists, the combined Latin and Greek course aims to secure two GCSEs in one timetable slot and requires the pupils to attend an extra lesson at lunchtime in order to provide sufficient time to teach both specifications. 


Both Latin and Greek are offered at A Level, with the focus remaining equally divided between literature and language. Language lessons aim to provide more in-depth analysis of vocabulary, word endings and sentence structure and will now include prose composition alongside grammar sentences and unseen translations. Literature lessons involve a more holistic approach, reading texts in more detail, with further awareness of the background society and the author’s own background. Prose authors will be read for both years of the A Level course, whilst we read two verse authors over the two years.

The OCR Classical Civilisation syllabus is also offered in the Sixth Form, and pupils do not need to have previous experience of the subject to take it for A Level. The options currently taught allow the pupils to access elements of Literature, Art History, Politics and Philosophy all under the umbrella of one subject. It is a unique challenge which delivers a broad range of expertise over a range of areas.

Computing Computing

With modern technology evolving rapidly and playing an ever-greater part in our lives, computing skills have become central to the way we learn, live and work. Using an array of commercial software packages, pupils gain an insight into how Digital Technology impacts on text, number, image and sound processing and they learn how to master these skills and apply new technologies effectively in a real-world setting.  

The subject also explores how science and technology interact with each other, and the course encourages critical thinking, challenging pupils to consider what recent technological advances mean for the human user and society as a whole. As pupils progress through the school, they firstly master controlling the software, before moving on to designing and creating their own programmes. 

Coding and programming are a key part of the curriculum as pupils move up through the school. Using industry-standard languages, they learn how to problem-solve and how to think logically and creatively in a way that can be applied to many scenarios. Opportunities to study Computer Science in various forms at university are widespread and several pupils each year follow this route. 




The emphasis is on finding information which will then be edited, analysed or processed to enhance the final quality of the presentation. For instance, a spreadsheet program will be used to analyse numeric information by looking for patterns and in the creation of graphs. Pupils also learn animation techniques including more advance vector and bitmapped graphics techniques. Lessons are supported by video style demonstrations of the skills which can be accessed on the school VLE, both whilst in school and at home. 

In Year 9 pupils develop further skills in using various coding systems to create software and websites. We look at HTML and CSS coding, which will enable pupils to develop and share their own websites. We also explore topics such as artificial intelligence and data representation in binary before moving on to using Javascript to make websites interactive, building simple games and drawing computer generated art. 



Studying this subject at GCSE challenges and inspires pupils, as they gain a fuller understanding of the relationships between the programming code and hardware. The course prepares pupils to make informed decisions when selecting the best strategies for creating applications. Pupils develop creative and technical skills, along with the knowledge and an understanding of programming through a range of practical and problem-solving contexts. Use of modern technologies and their impact on society is also considered. The transferrable concepts of computational thinking are also introduced.



At A Level, the course focuses even more on computational thinking, a form of reasoning used by both humans and machines. It is an important life skill, which is relevant to other subjects too. The A Level course is broadly split into two areas. The first is the fundamentals of how technology works, the hardware, software, and networks involved and the legal and ethical issues that technology can create. The second area is the fundamentals of programming using concepts of data structures, algorithms, and object-oriented programming. The course is completed with an in-depth programming project of the pupil’s own choosing. 

Design Technology Design Technology

One of our key STEM subjects, Design Technology at King Edward’s School is an independent learning environment, where pupils are encouraged to develop problem solving skills and respond to design challenges with imagination, creativity and wit. Innovation, flair and risk-taking are positively encouraged and rewarded from Year 7 up to Sixth Form level.

Our aim is to provide a wide range of opportunities which enable all pupils to have fun exploring, discovering and enjoying their innate creativity through a series of design challenges which will help to establish a firm foundation of both practical and problem-solving skills, as well as to provide a clear understanding of what constitutes good design. At the heart of what we do lies a fundamental appreciation of the simple enjoyment of designing and making things. More than this, we believe we impart to our pupils the confidence and skills require to make a difference in their chosen career after leaving King Edward’s.

"The requirement is simple. We need business people who understand creativity, who know when and how to use the specialist, and who can manage innovation: creative specialists who understand the environment in which their talents will be used and who can talk the same language as their clients and business colleagues; and the engineers and technologists who understand the design process and can talk the language of business."



In the first three years, pupils experience a range of design activities using wood, metal, textiles and plastics. We blend traditional skills with cutting edge computer-aided design (CAD)/computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) work. We use a variety of machines and equipment to design, develop and manufacture trays, trophies, toys, paperweights and bags, to name just some of the projects available.


We follow the GCSE Design and Technology: Product Design course. By the time pupils reach their GCSE course in Year 10, they will already have a sound skills base to enable them to tackle more demanding projects with confidence. This is built upon during the first half of the course and a series of more focused project work gives the pupils further skills in 3D CAD and the systems approach to design. The exam board provides the context for the Non-Examined Assessment which the pupils start late in Year 10. Some of our pupils apply for prestigious Arkwright Scholarships each year and we have enjoyed success in this over many years.


In the Sixth Form, we offer courses in Design Engineering and in Product Design. These syllabus’ encourages pupils to think 'outside the box.' Whether the route is Design Engineering or Product Design, pupils will need to work with user groups and other potential stakeholders to develop an innovative and creative solution to a problem they have identified and defined. Risk taking and problem solving form the nucleus of the iterative design process and creating an industry ready solution that can be manufactured anywhere is the desired result. A Level groups often participate in extra-curricular competitions such as the Land Rover 4x4 Challenge, and are current national finals winners.

Drama & Theatre Studies Drama & Theatre Studies

'All the world’s a stage and all the men and women merely players’; never was this truer than in today’s ‘digital age’. Drama at King Edward’s School is so much more than just the study of texts and performing on stage; it is an exploration of life, ourselves and our relationship with the world around us and with others. It is considered to be one of the most collaborative of the arts, incorporating a range of skills and giving pupils the chance to explore their diverse interests and passions through performance, sound engineering, lighting design, set construction or costume design.

The School has a long tradition of producing exceptional theatrical work and is regarded as a ‘Centre of Excellence’ for its creative and challenging performance work at both GCSE and A Level.

The Rose, our new state-of-the art drama centre, has recently opened and incorporates two full-size studios and additional teaching spaces.  The two-storey facility provides a new hub for drama at the Senior School and is used in conjunction with the established Wroughton Theatre as a specialist teaching setting for Drama and LAMDA lessons, as well as a performance venue in its own right.

Pupils will be offered the opportunity to watch the best live theatre in some of the most prestigious theatres in the country and encouraged to use these experiences to inspire their own work. All pupils learn to approach theatre from the point of view of an actor, a designer, a director, as well as that of an audience member and a critic, and are encouraged to express their ideas and opinions in a creative and confident manner.

Our courses go beyond the classroom as much as possible. Performance in front of a live audience is an integral part of the syllabus for all year groups. However, we also offer additional performance opportunities and theatre trips for all year groups throughout the year, making this a very busy but exciting department to be a part of.


Pupils are introduced to the three areas of dramatic work: making, performing and responding. They will learn to experiment with different dramatic styles, to develop skills necessary to improvise, devise, role-play and work with scripts, and to reflect on and evaluate both their own work and the performance of others. In Year 9, pupils build on these skills but also start to create and write their own piece of theatre, as well as exploring the technical side of theatre through designing sets, lighting, AV and sound.  Pupils watch live shows, such as Billy Elliot, to develop their own craft.


This is a popular and exciting subject at GCSE, where we follow the EDUQAS specification. The course incorporates both practical and written work and develops confident, creative, articulate, passionate and well-informed drama pupils.

Pupils create their own devised work, as well as performing scripted pieces, study a set text from the point of view of an actor, director or designer and they will see several live professional shows. By the end of the course, pupils should have a well-rounded understanding of how theatre is created. Over the past five years, we have achieved excellent exam results and the course is a strong foundation for A Level.


The new EDUQAS A Level for Theatre Studies is an exploration of significant theatre companies and practitioners such as Kneehigh and Frantic Assembly, alongside the study of classical texts such as Trojan Women, giving the pupils an extremely broad range of theatrical understanding and experience.  Extensive exploration allows pupils to appreciate all aspects of theatre including performance, direction, design and critical review. Numerous trips and visiting practitioners all support the pupil’s growth into independent creative performers.  Many of our pupils go on to study Theatre Studies or Drama at University and it is a delight to see many of them working in the production and media industry.

Economics & Business Studies Economics & Business Studies

Driven by the staff's infectious enthusiasm for their subject, Economics at KES is both challenging and contemporary. We are passionate about the study of Economics and economic systems, both past and present. Our focus in the department is in the application of micro- and macro-economics to domestic and international markets. This interest all extends to the political aspects of economic policy making.

Economics is a fascinating subject which looks at the fundamental forces which affect our lives. It includes the study of how people behave and interact with each other and helps pupils to understand why and how the world functions as it does. It provides a new perspective on some of the most pressing and challenging problems facing society.

Economics is about more than wealth creation or peaks and troughs in financial markets and their effect on business performance. Economics impacts on many aspects of our lives – interest rate fluctuations, levels of taxation, unemployment, international trade and poverty to name but a few. In a world where there is increasing debate about the use of scarce resources, a knowledge of economics can equip pupils with the skills to question what is the best way to allocate these resources more effectively.

We aim to make sure that pupils from all key stages are involved in trips, talks and lectures, either in or out of school, as well as utilising ICT to enhance their work.


The department teaches to all pupils in Year 9 a one-year, standalone course called Economic and Business Understanding.  The philosophy behind the teaching of Year 9 pupils is to immerse them in a variety of economic and business scenarios as well as using the subject as a vehicle to look at personal finance, society choices regarding the consumption and production of goods and how to deal with an unravelling business crisis across numerous media platforms in real-time. Pupils also learn via the planning and production of a product or service which can then be sold at the KES Christmas Fair. 


GCSE Business Studies is a popular course, where we follow the AQA specification. The GCSE is designed to pick up themes learned in the Year 9 Economics and Business Understanding course as well as introduce pupils to new functional areas.  The philosophy behind the department’s teaching is to use real-life business examples to hang theory and models from to generate learning of the subject. Trips to small and medium sized firms, both locally and nationally, are designed to aid that learning and bring elements of the course to life.


We offer two courses at A Level: Economics and Business Studies. Economics covers the theory behind explaining what economic data is telling us and how to understand news reports about domestic and international economic decisions. In this course, pupils learn about both micro- and macro-economics, but the department recognizes that, whilst these are discrete components, Economics is still just one subject and should be treated as such. Business Studies uses real life business examples to hang theory and models from to generate learning of the subject.  To aid this we have links with a number of Bath based SMEs who are happy to share their enthusiasm for business with our sixth form pupils. The course aim is to get pupils to see business as a dynamic whole with each component function impacting upon another.

English English

To teach young people to communicate clearly and to help them respond sensitively and curiously to the words of others is at the core of what we do. At KES we aim to expose our pupils to a rich variety of texts, fiction and non-fiction, so as to allow them to see through the eyes of others and to view the world from perspective broader than their own. 

Central to the study of English is discussion. Debating the moral and ethical questions posed by texts helps young people develop their own ideas and values. Alongside inspiring our pupils to read widely and bravely and form their own responses to texts and the world around them, we aim to equip them with the confidence and linguistic tools to articulate their own thoughts and views with force, clarity and sophistication, both orally and on paper. Opportunities for extra-curricular writing come in the form of our poetry, short story and journalism competitions and our curriculum is delivered by teachers who not only teach the subject but who are passionate about the Arts and culture more broadly and who share this through their running of a range of clubs and societies from Creative Writing to Literary and Cultural Discussion Group and in the publication of our acclaimed annual Anthology, where our most accomplished and ambitious poets and fiction writers have their work published. 

Furthermore, alongside an appreciation of all things literary, our approach to English teaching takes into account the influence of our subject on a range of other disciplines. There are few other subject areas or career avenues where the functional skills taught in the English classroom are not utilised and so we, through teaching pupils to be discerning readers, critical thinkers and confident when it comes to organising and presenting ideas, hope to prepare them to take a broad range of future paths.

YEARS 7–9 

In Years 7 to 9 we continue to nurture the love of creative writing that many pupils have acquired in their early years of formal education as well as equipping them with the skills of critical interpretation, as this forms the basis of much of what the subject will entail right up to degree level and beyond. Each year pupils study poetry and prose from the early Modern period to the Romantics, from a Shakespeare play to texts published this century. There are also dedicated writing units, such as the Gothic in Year 8, which allow pupils to deploy the techniques that they have observed in writing studied in their own pieces. The mechanics of English are consolidated through the teaching of spelling, punctuation and grammar and competitions such as The Box Factor in Year 7 are organised to help develop pupils’ speaking and listening skills as well as to encourage independent reading. 

IGCSE (English Literature) & IGCSE (English Language)

Over the two-year course, pupils study for the CIE IGCSE in English Literature, a course chosen because of the stimulating and diverse set texts on offer and as it provides the opportunity to produce coursework essays as well as writing examination responses. Alongside this, pupils prepare for the Edexcel IGCSE in English Language, in which, across two papers, they respond to nineteenth century fiction texts and twentieth and twenty-first century non-fiction texts as well as having the opportunity to write creatively in fiction and non-fiction forms. 


We offer two courses to follow on from IGCSE. The OCR English Literature course studies some of the most challenging texts by the world’s most well-known authors, from T.S. Eliot to William Faulkner and Edith Wharton to Harold Pinter. There is a great breadth to the course - we encounter texts from the seventeenth century right up to those written in the last decade, such as the poetry of Tracy K Smith, but our study also allows us to spend time really examining these texts as products of their time and through the lens of other readers as well as being works of art in their own right.  The Eduqas A Level in English Language explores such questions as how do children learn to speak? What did English look or sound like several hundred years ago? Why do men and women speak differently and why does the same person’s speech change so markedly according to whom they are speaking? This course looks at written and spoken language now as well as how English has arrived in its current form. 

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Extended Project Qualification Extended Project Qualification

The OCR Level 3 EPQ is offered as a self-led additional qualification for motivated pupils.  This course is a test of independence and self-motivation and, as such, help and guidance are given with topic choice, project management, and submission but all of the work is done off-timetable and without formal lessons.

This qualification offers pupils an opportunity to learn about project management, a vital component of ‘post school’ life and of particular relevance to Further Education, Higher Education, and the workplace. Each pupil is able to tailor their project to fit their individual needs, choices and aspirations and will be assessed on four areas:

  • Managing a project
  • Using resources
  • Developing and realising a project
  • Reviewing the project.

The outcome of the project can be a design, performance, report, dissertation or artefact. Whatever form this takes, the project must include a written component. Generic skills can also be developed and applied through the Extended Project; pupils will have the opportunity to apply and develop their personal learning and thinking skills (PLTS), the functional skills of English, Mathematics and Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and key skills.

An EPQ can greatly enhance a student’s university application, especially in areas that are not as well covered by standard A Level subjects.

Geography Geography

Geography is simply everywhere.  It is about the exciting, interconnected world in which we live and is a unique, holistic subject which requires a knowledge and understanding of both natural and human processes and, more especially, their interactions.  Throughout their time at KES, pupils will cover a curriculum that is broad, exciting, topical and stimulating, covering physical and human geography as well as environmental issues. The wide range of skills often utilised by geographers are developed, enabling students to make sense of their complex, dynamic and inter-related world and to evaluate issues at a range of scales.  

Geography is a robust academic subject and our courses extend beyond the classroom wherever possible with fieldwork being an essential part of what we do.  We ensure that all key stages are involved in fieldwork, whether it is in the School grounds, in Bath or further afield. Spatial data is incredibly important in our world and pupils become adept at collecting, presenting and analysing these as they utilise ICT and Geographical Information Systems to enhance their work and understanding of their world.

Geography is taught by a team of highly qualified teachers who are passionate about the subject and who constantly seek ways to make the subject stimulating and challenging yet accessible to all.

Geography explains the past, illuminates the present and prepares us for the future.  What could be more important than that? 

Michael Palin.


All pupils study Geography in Years 7-9 and it covers a broad range of contemporary topics that are relevant to their world.   The core theme that extends throughout these years is that of climate change and this is considered in relation to a number of units of work.  Physical geography includes understanding glaciers and their landscapes, tropical rainforests, plate tectonics, coastal landscapes and oceans and meteorology.  Human geography includes migration, the development gap and local issues such as congestion or housing in Bath. These are studied in their own right but their links to climate change are also explored.  Geographical skills are important with students given the opportunity to participate in local fieldwork and further afield.


Geography is a popular subject at GCSE, where we follow the AQA specification.  The course is a balance of physical and human geography with pupils exploring a range of case studies from low income countries, newly emerging economies to high income countries.  Topics covered include climate change, landforms and processes, natural hazards, poverty, urban change, deprivation and global shifts in economic power as well as the sustainable use of resources.  Throughout, pupils understand the interconnectedness of our world as they are encouraged to consider the influences of stakeholders, different attitudes, viewpoints and values. Human and physical fieldwork are undertaken, building and extending the skills acquired in Years 7-9.


Geography is popular at A Level where we follow the OCR specification.  The A Level is relevant to many of the issues faced by societies. Climate change is considered with a thorough understanding of the water and carbon cycles, whilst the dynamism and identity of places is investigated.  The A Level is a lovely blend of geographical theories and skills which are linked to detailed case studies such as the diffusion of diseases at different scales. the ability of countries to deliver basic human rights, the importance and implications of global migration and how the water and carbon cycles differ throughout the world and how they are changing. Systems, globalisation, interdependence and identity are at the heart of this fascinating and topical course.  

Fieldwork is essential, with a day trip to Cardiff and a residential fieldtrip to Swansea, both vital preparation for the Independent Investigation which is 20% of the A Level.  The A Level course is very successful and each year several pupils continue to read Geography at University.

History & Politics History & Politics

Studying history gives us the skills to answer the question ‘how did we get here?’ Whether we wish to apply those skills to a family dispute over Brexit, to understand the causes of Henry VIII’s Break with Rome, or to make sense of today’s conflicts over land, religion, trade and ideas, we simply must study it. 

The History department at KES believe in developing the curiosity of our pupils, pushing them to question, research and argue on diverse topics. To this end, we have developed a rich, global curriculum that is enquiry driven and designed to give a broad chronological framework, whilst building a range of skills necessary to operate in the modern world. With a rich and illustrious heritage, dating from the foundation of the School by Royal Charter in 1552, there is much in both the history of the School itself, as well as in its teaching of history, to celebrate.

In developing this appreciation, King Edward’s pupils go far beyond the classroom. We run a range of extra-curricular clubs, societies and trips. In recent years, we have also taken groups to Berlin, Krakow, New York and Washington.

In school, we also offer a dynamic History Society, with talks by pupils and visiting speakers as diverse as David Cameron, Jung Chang, William Dalrymple and Bill Bryson. We also have an award-winning Model United Nations (MUN) team who represent the School around the country in international competitions.

We are staffed by five highly educated and inspiring full-time teachers. As a department, we are committed to sharing our enthusiasm and appreciation of the past and its role in shaping the present.


In Years 7-9, we begin our studies with the medieval and early modern periods, looking to develop an understanding of kingship and rights, warfare and religion as well as a unit on how the British Empire began. This concludes with an investigation as to the causes of the First World War. In Year 9 we study the rise of fascism, the Holocaust and the Second World War, before looking at Civil Rights in America from African-American, native American and female perspectives.   


From their GCSE studies, King Edward's pupils deepen their understanding of the troubled twentieth century. We follow CIE IGCSE which includes the collapse of peace following the First World War and then the Cold War, with focus on Soviet expansion, dollar imperialism and the Vietnam War among other topics. Our depth study is on Russia, looking at the fall of Tsarism and the communist revolution, ending with a study on Stalin’s dictatorship. 


At A Level, we offer two courses. The History A Level course covers units on Germany 1918-89, Italy 1911-46, Britain and the Empire 1763-1914. There is also a coursework unit on an aspect of twentieth century German history, delivering skills of independent learning that are invaluable at university and beyond. The department also offers a separate Government and Politics A Level. This is an academically rigorous course which pupils may study alone or alongside History, which is the most popular combination. Politics offers the opportunity to develop an understanding of current issues by assessing political theory against practice. Pupils analyse the British system by assessing the development of parties, the mechanisms of voting and ideologies as well as the roles of Parliament, Prime Minister and the Supreme Court. In Year 13, they develop an understanding of the American political system, including the Constitution, the roles of Congress, President, the nature of voter behaviour and the role of political ideologies such as socialism, conservatism and feminism. Both A Levels ask pupils to challenge their own views and those of their peers through discussion and objective thinking.

Mathematics Mathematics

Our aim is for our pupils to feel confident with their Maths and appreciate the applications and beauty of the subject. We are always looking for new initiatives to update and enhance our teaching of the syllabus, as well as trying out new ventures to generate interest and pleasure from the subject. These range from the ever-popular Inter-Form Maths Relay to talks from visiting speakers, as well as trips to Maths Inspiration lectures and also include the Pi memory competition, where the School record continues to grow and is now above the 500 digit mark!

Mathematics is going from strength to strength at King Edward’s. This can be seen not only from the department’s recent examination results, but also from the successes that we have had in regional and national competitions, such as winning the National Cipher Challenge twice and regularly qualifying for the National Finals of the Team Maths Challenges, both at Intermediate and Senior level. Particularly impressive is our pupils’ enthusiasm and dedication to the subject and, as a result, we regularly see over 50% of our pupils choosing to study Mathematics when they reach the Sixth Form, with many continuing their study of Maths, or Maths-related subjects, at university.


Years 7 and 8 receive five hours of Maths teaching per fortnight. This increases to six hours from Year 9 onwards, when pupils embark on the IGCSE course. The programme of study is intended to provide pupils with the fundamental skills of number, algebra, shape and data handling. At the same time, we aim to provide stimulating lessons that offer a variety of learning experiences. Each scheme of work includes investigations, practicals, ICT-based activities and topic-based games and puzzles to supplement their learning. We feel that it is important that pupils do not rely solely on calculators and so all Year 7 tests and exams are non-calculator. Scientific calculators are introduced in Year 8.


We follow the Edexcel IGCSE course which we start in Year 9. Pupils are taught in sets from Year 7 to 11, which allows us to differentiate and teach at the right pace for each group. Regular testing enables us to monitor progress and full resetting occurs after the end-of-year exam in Years 7, 8 and 9. Once in Year 10, pupils remain in the same set year up until their IGCSE in Year 11.

We average 62% of grades at A* before the change to the numerical system and, since the new numerical grades were introduced, we usually see around 70% of the cohort achieve an 8 or a 9.


Maths has been the most popular A Level choice for some time, with around 65 pupils per year group. Pupils work towards the Edexcel A Level for Mathematics and around 20 of these pupils also take a second A Level in Further Mathematics. With such healthy numbers, we are fortunate enough to be able to have two Further Mathematic classes, taught by a single mathematician.

We are enormously proud of the results that our pupils have achieved over recent years, with 37% of our grades at A* and 70% at A*- A.

A number of pupils each year take one of the STEP papers or the Oxford Entrance MAT exam and we often use questions from these papers to provide material for our weekly after-school extension sessions.

Modern Foreign Languages Modern Foreign Languages

Soyez les bienvenus! Willkommen! ¡Bienvenidos!

Modern Languages are an increasingly important tool in the global 21st century. Competition for jobs often means that applicants with additional skills are advantaged. Linguists are considered as possessing all-round capabilities, have confidence in communicating and have well-trained, logical minds. If someone has spent time abroad, they have a wider cultural awareness, can show proof of enquiring minds and a willingness to take on a challenge. Hence excellent opportunities exist for competent linguists, both those who have specialised in the study of languages to a high level and those who can combine them with other subjects. 

All the modern languages are taught in a lively and interesting way. We aim to combine a thorough approach to vocabulary and grammar knowledge with as many opportunities as possible to practise communication. All language teaching rooms have listening equipment and interactive SMART Boards to ensure as much exposure to authentic language as possible. Pupils are thus able to develop a good accent and strong listening skills as well as the confidence to produce their own language. In addition, we make frequent use of our language laboratories to further enhance independent study and subscribe to on-line language sites for reinforcement. 

Generally small set sizes enable much individual tailoring of our teaching to the particular needs of pupils, and support and extension sessions are offered. In all languages we have the service of dedicated foreign language assistants and our exchange programmes ensure that every pupil is given the opportunity to develop their language skills in the most effective way. 

We aim to offer a course that is both rigorous and enjoyable and which opens the eyes of every pupil to the rich diversity of European and indeed global culture.


French is known as the language of food, love, diplomacy and culture.  It has contributed more than 15,000 words to English: croissant, nuance, entrepreneur, haute couture to name but a few!  As one of the official languages of international organisations such as the UN, UNESCO and NATO, it is also one of the world's most important and influential languages. 

Pupils studying French at King Edward’s learn to use this language effectively for communication.  Proficiency is developed in the four key language skills: listening, speaking, reading and writing. As well as perfecting their ability to use modern French as a powerful communicative tool, we are keen to emphasize the accurate knowledge and use of grammar. Learning French helps to develop a keen eye for linguistic detail, focusing on widening vocabulary and the appropriate use of words and syntax. Learning a modern foreign language helps develop self-confidence as pupils show greater fluency and mastery of the new language.

We organise an annual cultural trip to Paris in the School’s Activities Week and we have a French Exchange programme with a school in Nîmes. We are based in a modern languages suite including two digital language laboratories which help to promote and practise language skills via the use of dedicated software on the School’s computers, as well as allowing access to the numerous language learning programmes on the internet.


Pupils start with interactive oral work, focusing on speaking and listening to encourage comprehension and self-expression. The focus shifts increasingly to writing and the accurate knowledge of grammar. Language is taught in meaningful contexts. Interactive whiteboards and access to the internet allow opportunities to learn enjoyable and effectively. Games, songs, pair work and group work all contribute to the liveliness of our approach and enhance accurate communication. By the end of Year 9, all pupils will have learnt to use the Perfect and Future Tenses. Regular learning and written homework allow pupils to improve their grammar and widen their vocabulary. 


KES pupils prepare for the Edexcel IGCSE in French. All major tenses are covered in this course. A valuable addition to the pupils’ classes is a weekly conversation class in small groups with an experienced native French speaker. Pupils learn greater oral fluency and greater proficiency in their written French, as well as enhancing their comprehension skills and all four skills - listening, speaking, reading and writing - are tested in their final examinations.. The IGCSE is also an important preparation for studies in the sixth form, providing a valuable foundation for more advanced work in this language. 


Sixth form pupils study the Edexcel syllabus. There are four main topics: French society and culture, Multiculturalism and the Occupation of France in WWII. Pupils also study a book and a film, chosen from a prescribed list, such as L’Étranger, Un Sac de Billes, La Haine and Au Revoir Les Enfants. Pupils learn to talk and write about all these topics, expressing their opinions in accurate, fluent French. As well as preparing them for university, this syllabus teaches pupils to communicate confidently in French, demonstrating a good knowledge of grammar and vocabulary as well as contemporary French issues.


The German department at King Edward’s is continually growing, with more and more pupils electing to take this challenging, exciting and satisfying language during their study here. There are many reasons why German is such an important language and why it is worth studying. 

German is highly sought after in the jobs market. It is the most widely spoken native language in Europe, with between 90 and 100 million native speakers, equating to roughly 16% of the entire population of Europe. Similarly, German is the third most widely taught language worldwide, edging out Mandarin Chinese, Russian, and Spanish to sit comfortably behind English and French.

German has often been considered a difficult language, but this is not necessarily the case! Some studies have found that German shares at least 60% of its vocabulary and language roots with English so, as an English speaker, you are already over half way there!

We support our classroom teaching with an annual exchange visit to Germany and with other extra-curricular trips in the year, as well as with speaking lessons with our native-speaking Language Assistant. Our aim is to encourage enjoyment in using language, at whatever level, and to give pupils a growing sense of their own ability to communicate effectively.


In Year 7, pupils will master all the basics of German, including pronunciation, the alphabet, numbers and colours. They are introduced to grammatical concepts such as gender, formation of plurals, verb conjugations and word order. By the time they are in Year 8, they will have been introduced to more complex grammar, such as the past tense. As pupils continue their study into Year 9, they are taught more complex sentence structure and tense usage. Vocabulary is learned and practised on a regular basis using our online subscriptions to numerous language-learning websites and programs. Pupils are encouraged to develop their confidence and their capability whilst enjoying their study.


German is examined using the Edexcel IGCSE, which is an approachable but rigorous course that gives equal weight to the key skills of reading, writing, listening and speaking. There is no coursework, and the speaking exam is conducted by each pupil’s usual teacher. Pupils benefit from fortnightly conversation classes with our German-speaking language assistant and are encouraged to develop their knowledge and understanding of grammar in a more formal context. Pupils are given the skills to develop their opinions regarding several interesting and engaging topics and are given the confidence and ability to express them clearly.


During the two-year A Level course, pupils develop the key topics studied at IGCSE, whilst increasing their vocabulary and revising and extending their grammatical knowledge. The emphasis is strongly on acquiring language that will help pupils to travel and/or study abroad and, therefore, be useful in a work context. In Year 13, pupils conduct an in-depth study and analysis of both a German-speaking novel and a film. At this stage, pupils are also encouraged to develop not only linguistic competence, but also the ability to discuss current affairs at a high level. A Level German pupils also benefit from a cultural visit to Berlin.


The Spanish department aims to make pupils proficient in the use of Spanish. This involves not only linguistic competence but a thorough understanding of Spanish culture. Spanish is one of the world's major languages, with over 400 million speakers globally. We pride ourselves on the excellent progress that pupils make, right from the beginning of study in Year 7.

The department believes in the importance of bringing a language to life by spending time in a country in which it is spoken.  In Year 8, pupils have the opportunity to spend a week in Barcelona as part of the School’s Activities Week. In Years 9 to 13, pupils take part in our long-established Pamplona Exchange, which serves to boost the pupils’ cultural awareness of Spain as well as their oral confidence.

Our well-resourced audio-visual and computer laboratories provide intensive practice in the key skills of listening and speaking, while weekly lessons with the Spanish native speaker assistant contribute to the achievement of excellent levels of oral competence.

In addition to the Spanish curriculum, our pupils are encouraged to take part in competitions and many cultural activities such as the annual Spanish play performed in school by a Spanish theatre company.  The department stocks an easy reader section with graded abridged versions of classic Spanish and Latin American works and Spanish translations of popular authors.

A measure of the success of language learning is the encouraging number of pupils who go on to read Spanish at university.


In Years 7-9 pupils benefit from three periods of study a fortnight in which they will learn how to read, speak, write and listen to Spanish across a range of topics. These include: introductions, describing people and talking about family and friends. In Years 8 and 9 pupils begin to work on language and grammar near to GCSE level. In Year 9 there is a greater focus on grammar, and by the end of the year the pupils are able to use a variety of verb tenses with confidence, preparing them for the possibility of successful GCSE study later on.


In Years 10 and 11 pupils prepare for the Edexcel IGCSE, which assesses the four skills (writing, listening, reading and speaking) each one worth 25% of the qualification.

During Year 10, pupils develop their grammatical skills and broaden their range of vocabulary knowledge. All pupils have a 30-minute weekly conversation lesson with the Spanish language assistant. Year 11 builds on the knowledge of the previous year's work, adding greater depth and breadth to both grammar and vocabulary knowledge.


At A Level we follow the Welsh Board course. Pupils learn about a variety of topics relating to the modern world and they also study two cultural topics linked to Spanish-speaking countries which encourage independent research and thought. Currently these topics are The House of Bernarda Alba, written by Lorca and a film by Spain's most celebrated director, Pedro Almodvar.  

Lessons are conducted largely in the target language and each week pupils meet with the Spanish language assistant to develop their oral skills in small groups so that their spoken Spanish improves greatly during the course. Pupils are also prepared thoroughly for formal examinations in Reading, Writing and Listening at the end of the year. 

The cultural focus of Year 13 offers pupils an insight into more complex topics. The opinions that they form, whilst guided, are encouraged to be their own and are displayed in animated dialogues and essays. Study of Spanish complements many other subjects at both A Level and at university because of the broad range of skills demonstrated by competent linguists. As well as going on to language degrees, pupils have combined Spanish with International Relations, History, Politics or Medicine.

Music Music

The Music department’s aims are to develop confident, polished and above all, independent musicians capable of interacting with almost any style of music. We strive to engage all KES pupils with relevant, fun and inspiring music from any style that highlights the subject’s importance within the cultural ethos of both the School and the wider world. This is aided significantly by our professional partnerships with Bath Philharmonia (Instrumental) and Bath Abbey (Vocal). 

Emphasis is placed on practical music making at all levels and singing and playing a range of classroom pitched and un-pitched instruments are key ingredients to music lessons at KES. Activities such as whole class string instrument tuition, class band, Steel Pans, African Drumming, Samba music all help develop a deep passion and intellectual curiosity, as well as the ability to relate to our multi-cultural surroundings.

The Music department has benefited from some first-rate investment over the past few years, both in classroom instruments and in the latest Apple MAC computes with Sibelius Ultimate and Logic Pro X software.

Our GCSE and A Level musicians are predominantly awarded 7-9 / A and A* grades for their inspired performance, compositional and analytical skills. Recent KES GCSE and A Level compositions have been performed to public audiences by our own instrumental and vocal musicians to great acclaim. Beyond the classroom we have a huge range of instrumental music lessons supported by over 20 specialist music teachers and a wide range of instrumental ensembles and choral groups.


Set firmly in our ethos is the drive to deliver practical and compositional class activities that engage and stretch all levels of musical ability through differentiated tasks. Pupils who are starting their musical journeys work alongside pupils who have special musical gifts and talents which builds group confidence and a great sense of personal achievement.

All musicians up to Year 8 explore the interaction and handling of the musical elements within exciting and energetically delivered topics that range from Salsa music, through Pop and Classical styles that are above all, relevant to their later life and careers.

Around 30%-50% of pupils take Music as an option in Year 9, where further popular styles of Blues, Rock ‘n’ Roll, Music Theatre, Hip-Hop, Rapping, Beat-boxing, as well as Electronic Dance music are explored in depth.


This academic and creative course is highly regarded by both employers and top universities alike. The presentation skills, analysis, logical reasoning, creativity, rigour and discipline required of musicians are key skills in the work place.

This diverse and, above all, enjoyable course allows pupils to further develop their creative skills through the practical exploration and academic study of the main elements of composing, performing, listening and appraising. Pupils develop an increased sense of confidence and understanding of their own musicality through challenging aural analysis of well-known pieces.


This highly fulfilling course provides the essential stepping stone for many of our able musicians to continue onto their chosen journeys into top universities and jobs. It is true that you can still study Medicine with a Music A Level, and you don’t need to be considering life as a performer to be able to utilise the skills learnt in the course and access the £94 billion UK creative arts industry!

Creativity, discipline, organisation, aural awareness, presentation skills, critical analysis, essay writing skills and logical reasoning are all key elements that are tested in the EDUQAS Music A Level course. 

Composition and the application of traditional harmony is led by our very own and widely recognised composer in residence, Mr Mark Boden, and over the past few years, pupils have had their compositions realised by KES ensembles in public concerts in exciting venues in Bath!

Physical Education Physical Education

Academic Physical Education is currently taught at GCSE and A Level. It is a challenging subject which examines the physiological, psychological, sociological and technological issues that affect sport and physical activity in a wide range of settings.

Both courses are popular and offer the pupils the opportunity to apply their knowledge into the practical setting through their written coursework and practical performances. 

Pupils learn how the body responds and adapts physically to exercise. Analysis of the respiratory, cardiovascular, dietary, skeletal and muscular systems gives pupils a real insight into how our body is stressed during exercise and what can be done to improve the efficient functioning of each of these systems.

Psychological aspects of sports performance are also studied, with topics such as confidence, arousal, aggression, anxiety and motivation analysed so that pupils can see the significant impact that these can have on sporting performance. 

The final aspect of the course looks at the more social and technological aspects that affect participation. This enables pupils to look at current issues such as equality and discrimination, the effect of drugs in sport, the impact of the media and sponsorship and how technological advances are changing the sporting world.

Our GCSE pupils are given the opportunity to experience an ‘Elite Training Day’ at the world class facilities at the University of Bath and our A Level pupils will undertake fitness testing in a laboratory setting, undertake a video analysis session at Cardiff University followed by a two hour track cycling experience at the Welsh National Velodrome.


We follow the AQA specification which divides the course between theory (60% of the overall course) and Non-Examined Assessment (practical and written coursework), covering the final 40%. The theory element examines the human body and movement in physical activity and sport, as well as socio-cultural influences and well-being in physical activity and sport. For the Non-Examined Assessment, pupils are assessed on their performance in the competitive version of three sports (one individual, one team, plus one other) and also produce written analysis and evaluation on how they could bring about improvement in one activity. 


We again follow the AQA specification which has a similar structure to GCSE, but with even more emphasis on the academic aspects of sport. Theory covers 70% of the course, examining factors affecting participation in physical activity and sport and factors affecting optimal performance in physical activity and sport. The Non-Examined Assessment has only one sport as its focus.

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Physics Physics

The Physics department aims to encourage and stimulate pupil curiosity, interest and enjoyment of Physics at all levels of the School. It is taught by specialist staff, as a separate science subject, providing pupils with the opportunity to have their interesting questions answered from an early age. Through a mixture of experimental and theoretical work we endeavour to not only expand pupils’ knowledge and understanding of Physics principles, but develop their practical, investigative and problem-solving skills. Learning to appreciate the physical world around us, develop these key transferable skills and be confident scientists is as much our aim as it is to give pupils the grounding they need to do well in public examinations. 

The department encourages pupils to be involved in Physics outside the classroom. We have run trips to the Rutherford Laboratories and hosted virtual events. Pupils also take part in the annual national Physics Olympiad competitions and members of the department are involved in running various clubs, including Lego Robotics. 

This wider interest in the physical world is reflected in the additional course of Electronics offered in the Sixth Form and of the numbers of pupils pursuing Physics and related subjects at university. We see Physics as a key STEM subject and support pupils every year in pursuing careers in engineering. 

Physics and Electronics are taught in four specialist, newly refurbished laboratories, resourced and supported by our experienced technician. 


The first three years of the course introduces pupils to fundamental physics concepts through a mixture of practical work and everyday examples. The Year 7 course begins with a variety of measurement experiments before exploring Forces, Energy Stores and Transfers, Static Electricity, Electric Circuits and the Solar System for the first time. The Year 8 course builds on these concepts and becomes more mathematical, introducing simple density calculations before studying Magnetism and Electromagnetism, Energy Resources and Generation, and aspects and applications of Light and Sound. In Year 9 we begin to look at some of the topics explored at GCSE such as Pressure and Thermal Physics, including looking at energy efficiencies in the home. Through detailed investigative work the pupils are introduced to resistance and Ohm’s law before moving onto techniques for modelling movement using formulae and graphs in the Motion topic. The year concludes with a look at the Life of Stars. 


The majority of pupils in Year 10 and 11 study Physics as a separate IGCSE, following the Edexcel IGCSE course.  This has eight major topics covering areas such as Forces and Motion, Electricity, Waves, Energy Resources and Energy Transfer, Radioactivity and Astrophysics. There is no formal assessment of practical skills, although plenty of practical work is still carried out. Two exams are taken at the end of the course. 

A small number of pupils follow the Edexcel Combined Science qualification. For these, Physics is still taught as a separate science and leads to two GCSEs when combined with examinations in the other two sciences. 


The OCR Physics A specification is followed.  This consists of six taught modules including, Foundations of Physics, Forces and Motion, Quantum Physics, Newtonian world and Astrophysics, and Particles and Medical Physics.  In addition, pupils undertake a wide range of practical experiments for which they need to demonstrate competency in practical skills as part of the practical endorsement, although their performance on the practical work does not affect their A Level grade.  The course is an ideal preparation for further study at university, whether students are seeking to pursue courses and careers in physics, science, engineering, medicine or computer science or just interested in developing transferable problem-solving skills and a keen interest in popular science. 

The department also offers an AS Level in Electronics. This is very much a practically based course and follows the EDUQAS specification. The three main topic areas studied are: digital electronics, analogue electronics and microprocessors, including programming. This is a popular choice with pupils studying Computing and/or Physics.  


We have bold and ambitious aims with our Personal, Social and Health Education (PSHE) programme. The subject aims to help pupils develop good character, make wise choices, and foster the skills and attributes they will need for a successful life beyond school. Devised and coordinated by the Head of PSHE and delivered by form tutors as part of the academic curriculum, the fortnightly one-hour lesson also makes use of expert visiting speakers and is reinforced in form time and assemblies.  

An essential part of a KES education, it is a pupil-led approach that continuously evolves in response to pupil needs. Each year group may well have what appears to be a ‘standalone’ lesson, but every session develops on previous teaching. This enables a spiral programme which starts in Year 7 and continues throughout a pupil’s time at KES. 

Sessions cover a broad range of topics, including digital citizenship, period poverty, TikTok’s privacy settings, how to vote, the science of drugs, controlling relationships, the difference between debit and credit cards and so on. By providing our pupils with a programme that reflects their needs in this modern world, we aspire to investigate and strengthen pupils’ own feelings of well-being and self-worth and to motivate them to discover and create informed opinions about the world around them. 

Religious Studies & Philosophy Religious Studies & Philosophy

The curriculum is planned so that pupils engage with the basic key principles and tenets of each religion in a reflective and evaluative way, analyzing each from an academic perspective. At the same time, all personal faith positions are respected and a tolerant attitude towards those of different faith positions or none is a precondition of study.

Pupils at all levels are introduced to core philosophical principles and arguments, particularly those relating to religion.  This again is handled in an evaluative and analytical way, pupils being encouraged to scrutinize arguments and formulate fresh principle and ideas where possible.

In addition to the classroom-based activities outlined above, pupils are offered a wide variety of enrichment activities. These include field trip and conference activities, as well as a departmental debating society, Socrates Club.

Recent trips and conferences have included:

  • Shri Swarminaryan Mandir, London
  • Chithurst Buddhist Monastery, Sussex
  • Dr Peter Vardy lectures, Exeter
  • Prof. David Catchpole New Testament lectures at Sarum College, Salisbury
  • Cambridge Union Ethics Conference with Dr Rowan Williams


We introduce the main religions of the world, examining the timeline of religions and when they came into existence. We also endeavor to encourage pupils to consider these questions:

  • Why do people believe in gods/God?
  • What means do people employ to express the inexpressible? 
  • What are Holy Books, Worship, Visions and Conversions?
  • Is religion a positive social force?

By the end of study, pupils will have considered the questions above in relation to Judaistic, Hindu, Sikh, Islamic, Christian and non-religious perspectives.


Over the last 20 years our subject has changed almost beyond recognition. The modern study of religious and ethical issues is a demanding and objective logical analysis of the reasons behind what people believe, and how their beliefs determine the way they behave. Courses at this level are designed to provide an enquiring and critical approach to important life questions and moral issues in today’s world. Linguistic and historical skills are developed, alongside a growing understanding of philosophical and theological concepts. Pupils are not required to hold any particular personal religious beliefs, but they should have a serious academic commitment and an open mind.


The Department is privileged to offer two distinct courses:  A Level Religious Studies (including New Testament Theology) and A Level Philosophy.

A Level Religious Studies deals with the most difficult and significant questions human beings ask such as ‘Is there a God?’, ‘What happens when we die?’ and ‘How can anyone take religion seriously when there is so much suffering in the world?’ The study of the New Testament is a challenging analysis of a text which forms the basis for all credal statements within the Church. Typical areas of study include considering who Jesus was and why he was crucified. The study of Religious Ethics incorporates the study of ethical theories, the application of ethical theories to issues of importance, ethical language, deontology, and virtue ethics. During the course, pupils will engage with issues such as medical ethics and issues of life and death.

The A Level Philosophy course is designed to develop a range of transferable skills which can be applied far beyond the study of Philosophy. It gives pupils a thorough grounding in key philosophical concepts, themes, texts and techniques as well as enabling them to develop the ability to reason, form their own judgements, express themselves coherently and contribute to the process of debate. These skills are developed by focusing on the major philosophical areas of Epistemology, Philosophy of Religion, Ethics and Moral Philosophy, and Philosophy of Mind.

Psychology Psychology

Have you ever wondered what turns someone into a Psychopath? Why men reputedly don’t listen, and women allegedly can’t read maps? How much sleep your body really needs? Or why some people hear voices? Or why eyewitnesses can be unreliable?  Have you ever considered how early life experiences affect future relationships or wondered how to decide if someone is suffering from a mental illness? 

These and many other questions are explored during an A Level Psychology course. Not only will you gain insights into the human mind, but you will also learn practical strategies that will help you in all areas of your life. In addition, the Psychology A Level course equips you with a number of important transferable academic skills such as the ability to write a scientific report, the ability to produce a clearly structured argument substantiated with evidence, the ability to evaluate methodology and weigh up the strengths and weaknesses of different types of explanation.


Pupils study a variety of psychology topics, many linked to current affairs and mental health. Analytical and evaluation skills are developed throughout the course. Topics include: investigating classic research in Psychology, such as that of Milgram & Zimbardo; exploring cognitive neuroscience; biopsychology and understanding and using research methods. The study of the major issues and debates in Psychology, Schizophrenia, gender and forensic Psychology are studied in the second year of the course. During the course pupils will carry out a range of small-scale investigations which enable them to apply ethical guidelines and develop an understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of different research methodologies.

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