Subjects Studied in Senior School

"Pupils' enthusiasm for learning and their strong work ethic illustrate the high level of success the pupils are achieving in becoming independent, confident and well-prepared for their future lives." ISI Inspection Report 2017

Our aim at Bishop’s Stortford College is to prepare pupils for the next stage of their education and our commitment is to excellence, depth and breadth at every level of the curriculum. Care for the individual remains our guiding principle, with Housemasters/Housemistresses and pupils' personal Tutors on hand to provide support and direction where needed. Regular reports, Parents' Evenings and half-termly assessments ensure that parents are fully informed and involved as partners in this process.



The broad curriculum aims to encourage a diverse range of knowledge and skills.  The core subjects of English, Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Biology and Modern Foreign Languages feature strongly, while we expect pupils to expand their horizons through the Humanities, Drama, Art, Design, Music, Latin and Sport.  At GCSE and A Level, a degree of specialisation develops, yet many prefer to keep their options open and combine a variety of subjects in the Arts and Sciences.

Please use the dropdown menu below to explore further information on our curriculum subjects or read our latest GCSE Course Guide above. 


Art Centre Independent School Art

Art is a very popular examination subject, with many pupils taking GCSE and A Level Art. Excellent results are achieved, with several pupils being ranked amongst the highest achieving pupils across the country in recent years.

A large number of pupils continue to study Art and Art-related subjects after leaving the College. In recent years, we have seen students go on to the Chelsea School of Art, Central St. Martin’s College of Art and Design, Camberwell School of Art and Robinson College, Cambridge. In fact, in the past seven years we have had a 100% acceptance rate at all London and regional Art Schools. 

4th Form pumpkins ready for the kiln 4th Form pumpkins drying before firing 4th Form pumpkins drying out before kiln firing

The Art Centre is open in the evenings and at weekends for pupils to use the extensive facilities that we have to offer. 

Beyond the Classroom

The Senior School Art Department is located in a stunningly spacious Art Centre and plays a central part in the life of the College. Opened in 2009, the purpose built Art Centre has many large studios, including a sculpture studio, a workshop, a gallery space, an IT suite, a dedicated Sixth Form studio and a well resourced departmental library. This allows pupils to become involved in painting, sculpture, ceramics, printmaking, textiles, glass, graphic design, photography, fashion, animation, computer generated imagery and film making.

There are five members of staff in the department and our teaching gives pupils a thorough knowledge of the basic elements of the Visual Language which are necessary to allow the making of the creative, experimental and innovative work that we openly encourage.


We aim to give our pupils the skill and the confidence to realise their artistic potential. We want our pupils to become excited by the Visual Language, and to understand what Art is and what Art can be. 

Art students are expected to participate in the running of the Art Centre and we expect our Art Scholars to lead by example.

Trips and Tours

New York Art Installation on Sixth Form Trip 2019

Every year we have a major trip, to such destinations as Florence, New York, Washington, Rome or Paris. There are also regular visits to London, Cambridge and the Henry Moore Foundation.

Art also features in the Fourth Form (Year 9) Personal Development Programme.

This is only a brief description of what happens in our Art Department. Please do visit to talk to the pupils, see their work, and see for yourself the wide range of artistic experiences that we have to offer.


The study of living organisms, including their structure, functioning, evolution, distribution and interrelationships

Biology image of moth Biology image of lizard

The Biology Department is housed in a suite of three dedicated, fully refurbished, laboratories. We also share the use of a new purpose-built science laboratory next to the Chemistry Department. We aim to provide a stimulating working environment for all pupils and seek to engage their curiosity and enjoyment in Biology.

Our lessons use a variety of approaches including ICT, practical work, discussion, concept-mapping and group work as well as teacher-led presentations. Pupils work in a calm, working atmosphere liberally sprinkled with the good humour of the staff. It is not unknown to find members of the teaching staff performing charades, playing quizzes using buzzers with different animal noises, or dancing the “bee dance”. However, we maintain high academic standards preparing and encouraging our pupils to embark upon further studies in Biological Sciences, Conservation, Dentistry, Physiotherapy, Nursing, Veterinary Medicine and Medicine.

Pupils start the Edexcel IGCSE Biology course in the Fourth Form. This is a comprehensive linear course which supports our A Level course very well. Pupils sit the Biology examinations in June of the Upper Fifth year.

International GCSE teaching order outline

Fourth Form

  1. Variety of living thingsBiology image
  2. Organisms in the environment
  3. Human Impact
  4. Reproduction
  5. Nutrition

Lower Fifth Form

  1. Inheritance
  2. Genetic Techniques
  3. Movement into and out of cells
  4. Gas exchange and respiration

Upper Fifth Form

  1. Transport
  2. Coordination and Response
  3. Excretion

You can read all about the course in our subject guide above. You can also click here to visit the IGCSE website for detailed information about the course ((4B10)2018 and (4BI1)2019).

Department Members

  • Dr Stuart McPeake (Head of Science)
  • Mrs Beth Wheeler (Head of Biology)
  • Mrs Hannah Ferguson (Deputy in Biology)
  • Ms Caroline Cottee
  • Mrs Joanna Veron-Harcourt
  • Mr John Kirton
  • Mrs Cassie Kennedy


Senior School Science

Chemistry is an exciting and challenging subject that is so important in helping us understand and improve the world around us. 

At the College, two of the three laboratories have very recently been upgraded to reflect the changing needs of the pupils and the new courses and the third was upgraded in the summer of 2012.

The staff are proud of the atmosphere they engender in the Department by their knowledge of, and their enthusiasm for, their subject, their considerate and friendly approach and by a liberal use of humour in their work. 

The Chemistry Department prides itself on its teaching, the results it achieves and the encouragement it gives to pupils to develop their scientific interests and use them in their future careers.

Design & Technology

The Design & Technology Department started life as the carpentry shop in 1934. In 1969, the Charles Mellows Centre was constructed to house Technical Drawing, Pottery, Printing and Fine Art. In 1993, the Charles Edwards Centre for Physics and Technology was completed. Physics is housed on the first floor with ICT sharing a small part of the ground floor with Design & Technology. The building gave space for a technology room and stores, a design suite, CAD suite, and a large corridor suitable we use as a display area.

What is Design & Technology -  Why do we need it?

The short answer is that Design & Technology is about creative problem solving through the practical application of scientific and mathematical principles (it is no longer woodwork and metalwork or CDT as some of us might remember from our own dim and distant schooldays!). The D&T Association has produced a video that explains further.

At Bishop’s Stortford College we have chosen to offer GCSE and A Level Product Design. These courses offer the flexibility for students to carry out large scale independent projects in disciplines as varied as architecture, robotics, engineering and furniture design. Recent alumni who have studied D&T in combination with Maths and Sciences have gone on to study Engineering and Design at universities such as Imperial, Bristol, Loughborough and Cambridge where they report using their D&T skills daily whether they be in project management, technical design or in understanding the practical application of materials science.


DSC 3937 DSC 4113

Drama GCSE pupils experience a range of both practical and reading/writing activities, details of which are to be found in the GCSE Guide which can be accessed below. Public examination Drama requires pupils at some point to either perform or to offer a design skill such as lighting / sound / costume or props and to be assessed in one of these areas.

We are fortunate to have a fully equipped theatre, together with a full time technical stage manager who is able to support our work at a practical level. Exam performances have high production values; hopefully inspiring pupils to take their work seriously and achieve their full potential.

We believe in encouraging both inspiration and perspiration in the Leo Price Theatre, so exciting ideas suggested by students are nurtured and shaped into challenging pieces of theatre.

Curriculum Courses

  • Fourth Form (Year 9): Pupils have a weekly Drama session as part of their activities programme.
  • Lower Fifth and Upper Fifth Form (Years 10 and 11): GCSE Drama is offered.

We have a growing number of students successfully entering Drama School or continuing their Drama studies at Higher Education level.

Facilities and Resources

The Leo Price Theatre provides a large versatile performance venue for Senior School productions.

One member of staff is based in the Senior School Drama Department and one in the Prep School. The Technical Stage Manager oversees the development of the theatre infrastructure and the technical aspects of drama productions.

To find out about extra-curricular Drama please click here.


“I know nothing in the world that has as much power as a word. Sometimes I write one, and I look at it, until it begins to shine.”

Emily Dickinson

Welcome to the English Department.  We are a highly successful, dedicated and enthusiastic team who strive constantly to ensure excellent achievement at both GCSE and A Level for pupils of all abilities.  This is not simply seen in the superb results but in the feedback that pupils give about staff at the end of their courses:

  • ‘Very good teachers who are encouraging, supportive and organised’;
  • ‘Teachers who genuinely care’;
  • ‘I have gained tremendous support from this department.  They have pushed me to levels I didn’t know I was capable of and I’m very grateful.’

At Bishop’s Stortford College, the English Department is a busy and dynamic department comprising seven teachers who each have their own specialisms and areas of interest, but who are united in their love of the subject.  The Department prides itself on ensuring that our students develop:

  • A solid foundation in the skills of close reading and accurate writing in English, going well beyond the confines of the National Curriculum.
  • The confidence to express themselves orally and on paper with clarity, precision and flair.
  • A reading habit, that will enable them to read widely in support of their other academic learning, but also to instil a love of fiction for later in life.

What Courses Do We Offer To Our Pupils?

We prepare pupils for IGCSE English Language and English Literature; at present following the Edexcel syllabuses. These examinations are taken at the end of the Upper Fifth year. Pupils opting to study English Literature for A Level also sit the Edexcel syllabus; further details of all courses taken can be found in the relevant GCSE and A Level subject guides.

Shakespeares globe theatre 4th form trip

The Department also has a very active extra-curricular programme which incorporates theatre trips, discussion forums, literary tours, reading groups and creative writing competitions, thus helping our pupils to engage with literature at an even deeper and more active level.

Ethics, Philosophy and Theology

Books displayed in EPT classroom

The study of Ethics, Philosophy and Theology seeks to deepen pupils' knowledge and understanding of the principal religious traditions represented in Great Britain. Pupils study the history and beliefs of these religions and seek to understand what these beliefs may mean living in 21st century society.

Pupils will grapple with huge philosophical issues, empathise with others through drama and reflect on their own ideas and beliefs. As pupils grow in their knowledge and understanding of religion they will learn to appreciate and empathise with views and beliefs that are different to their own.

In learning about and from religion, and in tackling some of the truly big questions in life, pupils are encouraged to explore and reflect on their own values, beliefs and experiences, and to nurture their own spiritual, moral, cultural and social development.


Why Study this Subject?

Did you know that more than 200 million people speak French on the five continents? Today an ability to speak French and English is not only an advantage on the international job market, thus making you more employable, but also a great way to make friends and explore new cultures.

The aim of our teaching in the French Department is to inspire: to stimulate curiosity and interest, and to provide pupils with a real thirst and passion for learning the language. We aim not simply to focus on exam preparation but to provide enjoyable and interesting courses. We stimulate pupils' interest through the use of challenging material, and work hard to ensure that all pupils enjoy the lessons and become independent learners.

At Bishop’s Stortford College, pupils develop the skills which will enable them to understand written and spoken French and to use the language effectively. In addition, we aim to promote an interest in the culture of countries where French is spoken and to provide enjoyment and intellectual stimulation. We truly believe, that through learning French, pupils develop a greater understanding and more open attitude to other cultures. Learning French makes us not only more analytical but also develops critical thinking.

French teachers are renowned for their dynamic, innovative approach and high expectations and this is no exception here at Bishop’s Stortford College. Since French has a reputation for excellence, pupils tend to be highly motivated and attain a high level of proficiency.  Communication is essential and we have a full time French ‘Assistante’, who works closely with all GCSE and A Level students in order to encourage a greater level of accuracy and a more spontaneous level of French.

"If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his own language, that goes to his heart" - Nelson Mandela

What Do We Learn?

Fourth Form (Year 9)  

Currently all pupils choose to study two languages in Fourth Form, building on previous knowledge gained in our Prep School and other feeder schools. In order to motivate pupils in French we offer a bespoke course which allows pupils to develop a better understanding of the French-speaking world. Additionally, pupils learn about France from a cultural perspective and also have the opportunity to study a French film. Pupils benefit from a wide range of teaching styles and have the opportunity to develop their language skills in many interesting and exciting ways. Grammar remains an important focus and students find that they are able to make the transition to GCSE seamlessly. In the summer term of the Fourth Form pupils have the opportunity to host Swiss pupils as part of our French Exchange Programme.

Lower Fifth and Upper Fifth (Years 10 and 11)

Why study French at Bishop’s Stortford College? At the end of the Fourth Form pupils must choose at least one foreign language which they will pursue to GCSE. Not surprisingly, many pupils are eager to continue studying French, either as single linguists or, indeed, combined with German or Spanish.

The French GCSE is a dynamic, highly motivating course which strives to enthuse pupils and enable them to communicate effectively in the target language. At the same time the French GCSE provide all pupils with a suitable basis for further study and practical use of the language.

We follow the Eduqas exam board and use Studio as our main course book, which provides continuity with the work carried out in the Fourth Form. We aim to prepare all pupils for the GCSE (Higher Level).

Other Features of the French Department

We currently subscribe to several interactive websites which prove very beneficial to pupils both inside and outside of the classroom. This is particularly useful for pupils who wish to develop their language skills on a more independent level.

Additionally there is a language laboratory in the College where our pupils enjoy practising their conversational skills with one another, whatever the topic. This is used by every pupil learning a modern foreign language and also allows pupils to develop their listening skills.

The school library is also very well stocked and we have subscriptions to French newspapers and magazines as well as an extensive French film library.

Trips and Exchanges

L5th arrive in Switzerland on French Exchange 2019 L5th walking around town in Switzerland May 2019

At Bishop’s Stortford College we believe the best way to achieve a deep and lasting understanding of the language is to visit the country where it is spoken and immerse oneself in its culture by creating links with those for whom French is their first language. In recent years we have established an excellent link with Le Collège et Lycée Saint-Charles in Switzerland. In th Fourth Form, pupils have the opportunity to host a Swiss exchange partner and return to Switzerland in Lower Fifth, when they have made the decision to study French at GCSE. This programme has proved very rewarding.


 L5th exchange to heikendorf summer 2018 L5th pupils on german exchange heikendorf summer 18

Herzlich Willkommen!

Here at Bishop’s Stortford College, the German Department is alive with the sound of German; we work hard, play hard and we achieve. Time and time again.

Our dedicated team of Germanisten aims to provide excellent teaching, where our philosophy combines motivating pupils to attain their best, encouraging them to become enthusiastic communicators, as well as inspiring them to want to learn more about culture and traditions where German is spoken.

By the end of the Fourth Form our Germanists are achieving at GCSE Foundation Level, and the focused pace over the following two years enables access for most pupils to A - A* GCSE grades. The higher grades are targeted as a major goal in all public examinations. As part of this, Sixth Form and GCSE candidates have regular conversation lessons with our German Language Assistant.  The popular annual school exchange with the Heinrich-Heine-Gymnasium in Kiel in North Germany, now in its second decade, is open to all Upper Fifth and Lower Sixth (Years 11 and 12) Germanists (see video below).

Easter Decorations in German Classroom Frau gregory talking to pupils in german

Celebrating Traditional German Easter

So why learn German at Bishop's Stortford College?

 A cross-section of our Germanists find that an easy question to answer:

  • Going the extra mile (both in and out of the classroom) is frequently rewarded.
  • The annual German Exchange to Kiel.
  • The excitement of the Kulturklub once a term, where we watch a cultural and often funny documentary, whilst sampling some German treats.
  • Prospective Lower Sixth Germanists can look forward to a day trip to Bonn at the end of their GCSE year.
  • All upper school Germanists have regular small-group conversation lessons with our full-time German Language Assistant.
  • Lower Fifth Germanists visit the Frankfurt Christmas Market (in Birmingham) where they undertake curriculum-based project work (Christmas shopping and festive eating and drinking in German!).
  • The Lower Fifth visit to the Tate Gallery at the end of the Summer Term to discover more about German art.
  • The ubiquitous Marienkäferchen (ladybirds) accompany learners throughout their German careers – in every form.

Deutsch. Die Sprache. Das Fach.

Germanists thoroughly enjoyed the Birmingham Christmas Market...


Senior School pupils conducting an experiment on a field trip Senior School geographers on field trip

What is Geography?

Geography is the study of the earth’s landscapes, peoples, places and environments. It is, quite simply, about the world in which we live. The link below provides a fuller description of the importance of Geography and the particular approach the Department takes in delivering this vital subject.

Introduction to GCSE

Geography teaching and learning at GCSE is built around a philosophy of trying to bring the latest ideas in geographical and educational research to the classroom to provide pupils with a current, relevant and exciting curriculum.

AQA Syllabus Outline

Geography field trip imageThe course aims to provide a relevant and dynamic insight into geographical processes and how they shape our world. In presenting this course the Geography Department is committed to delivering the most up-to-date content in a style that is both stimulating and challenging. In this context we expect our pupils to enjoy the scope of the material they cover in Geography, the insights it can provide into understanding the world around them and the sheer contemporary nature of the issues they will tackle.

Course Structure

  • Paper 1 Living with the physical environment: 35% of total marks
  • Paper 2 Challenges in the human environment: 35% of total marks
  • Paper 3 Geographical Applications: 30% of total marks

 Subject Content

Paper 1: Living with the physical environment

  • Natural Hazards: tectonic hazards, tropical storms, extreme weather in the UK and climate change.
  • Physical Landscapes in the UK: river landscapes in the UK and their management, glacial landscapes in the UK and their management.
  • The Living World: ecosystems, tropical rainforests and hot deserts.

Paper 2: Challenges in the human environment

  • Urban Issues and Challenges: Urban change in cities leads to a variety of social, economic and environmental opportunities and problems that need to be managed in a sustainable way.
  • The Changing Economic World: There are global, national and local variations in economic development and quality of life that have profound impacts on people and their relationships with one another.
  • The Challenge of Resource Management: The global distribution of food, water and energy resources is uneven, creating challenges, opportunities and conflicts that need to be managed.

Paper 3: Geographical Applications

  • Issue Evaluation: This section contributes a critical thinking and problem-solving element to the assessment structure. The assessment will provide pupils with the opportunity to demonstrate geographical skills and applied knowledge and understanding by looking at a particular issue(s) derived from the content of Papers 1 and 2.
  • Fieldwork: This part of the assessment will allow pupils to express their understanding of how fieldwork can be used to investigate and answer important geographical questions. Pupils will complete two fieldwork days as part of the GCSE course.

In summary, Geography GCSE provides an exciting opportunity to engage with some of the most challenging issues facing society, whilst also highlighting the awe and wonder of the planet we all share.


Welcome to the History Department at Bishop's Stortford College. This is a large and dynamic department with a long tradition of success at GCSE and A Level. At a time of national concern about the health of History in schools, we are proud that History at the College is consistently very popular: a large majority of pupils study History at GCSE and up to one third of Sixth Formers study it at A Level. We have five teaching groups in the Fourth Form (Year 9) and four GCSE groups in each of the Lower Fifth (Year 10) and Upper Fifth (Year 11). We also have four A Level teaching groups in both the Lower Sixth (Year 12) and the Upper Sixth (Year 13). College pupils perform outstandingly well in History examinations and far above national averages.

Aims, Activities and Outcomes

Our overall aim in the History Department is to create a stimulating and supportive learning environment, to help all pupils realise their full potential in the subject. We are fortunate to have a building specially dedicated to History; this adds to the feeling that the Department forms a community within the wider community of the College. History staff like to get to know pupils well, encouraging them to visit the Department frequently not only for lessons, but for individual contact time with teachers, Film Nights, or to take advantage of the excellent History Library. As this suggests, we are keen to promote an ongoing dialogue with our Historians: we want them to feel they can approach us at any time with queries, concerns, or suggestions. We also offer additional revision sessions as public examinations near, both in term time and in the school holidays; these are very well attended and have become a distinctive feature of the Department's work.

Our expectations of pupils are very high. We expect them to be conscientious and to participate fully in the life of the Department. Above all, we want pupils to be enthusiastic and ambitious in their approach to History. To this end, we encourage our pupils to consider GCSE and A Level History as much more than examinations; we challenge them to read and think well beyond syllabus requirements, promoting this by means such as: the use in our teaching of recent university research, emphasis on cross-curricular links (for example with English Literature, Art, Geography and Biology), Film Nights and trips. The latter include our Fourth Form (Year 9) visit to the First World War battlefields and our distinctive Lower Sixth (Year 12) tour of Andalusia, related to an AS unit on early modern Spain.

Pupils looking at graves on Battlefields Trip 2019 4th Form visit trenches on Battlefields Trip 2019

We take great pleasure in the fact that in recent years more College pupils have applied for History-related university courses than for any other traditional academic subject. We collaborate closely with such pupils to help them successfully complete their applications. We also provide additional support to 'Oxbridge' candidates, helping them identify advanced reading to develop their historical interests, as well as offering intensive interview practice.

History Courses

The Department pursues a common curriculum: all pupils in each year group study the same topics, regardless of their teacher(s). The guiding assumption behind our choice of History topics is that pupils want a varied programme - one that provides fresh challenges and perspectives at every stage. We also consider it important to expose pupils to as many different types of History as possible. 

As this summary shows, College pupils study a wide range of historical periods, as well as a wide range of places - from Britain and continental Europe to the USA and Asia. Moreover, our curriculum introduces pupils to many kinds of historical topic: they examine not only political and diplomatic aspects of the past, but social, economic and cultural aspects, too. This varied programme provides an engaging learning experience that is also a strong foundation for pupils who choose to study History at university.


4th Form Latin Presentations

The Latin Department aims to foster and feed curiosity for language, communication and cultural identity, encouraging pupils to investigate the familiar and unfamiliar worlds of the ancient Romans.

The Latin course in the Fourth Form is designed to give pupils a taste of what is studied at GCSE: at the same time as establishing a firm linguistic foundation for the language component to the GCSE, pupils create research projects exploring diverse aspects of Roman culture, such as gladiatorial games, dining, the gods and mythology.

Latin GCSE broadly encompasses the study of Roman daily life through primary sources, an exploration of some original Latin literature (currently Virgil’s famous story of the doomed lovers Dido and Aeneas), and of course a rigorous understanding of the Latin language itself, which forms the root of so many modern European languages.

We run a trip to Pompeii and the Bay of Naples allowing pupils the unique experience of exploring the Mediterranean archaeological remains we study in class, visiting amphitheatres and temples, as well as climbing Mount Vesuvius.


At Bishop's Stortford College we aim to communicate the usefulness of learning mathematics as well as an appreciation for the beauty and creativity of the subject.

Every pupil is an individual with many different and varied mental strategies for learning mathematics. Our relatively small classes enable us to get to know each person and encourage her or him to learn in a way best suited to their abilities.


Pupils should:

  • Develop an understanding of mathematics in a way that promotes confidence and fosters enjoyment
  • Develop abilities to reason logically and recognise incorrect reasoning, to generalise and construct mathematical proofs
  • Learn a range of mathematical skills and techniques and use them in solving problems
  • Develop an awareness of the relevance of mathematics to everyday life, society, the world of work and other disciplines
  • Use mathematics as an effective means of communication
  • Gain the skills necessary to use technology such as calculators and computers effectively, while recognising their limitations
  • Take increasing responsibility for their own learning and the evaluation of their own mathematical progress


  • The mathematics curriculum spirals throughout the school
  • Active learning and problem solving is encouraged at all levels
  • Differentiated work throughout the school
  • Focus on problem solving and developing fluent number work in the Prep School leads on to more formal methods in the Senior School

Maths results at the College are always excellent.


DSC 7383 College Choir perform Messiah

Music occupies a full place in the curriculum; all pupils in Fourth Form (Year 9) attend music classes and, thereafter, the subject is available for both GCSE and A Level.

Fourth Form (Year 9)

The Fourth Form serves as an introduction to the style of study pupils will meet if they choose this subject as a GCSE. Using our own curriculum, pupils have three areas of study:

  • Theory - pupils develop further their understanding of musical theory in a range of practical and theoretical tasks;
  • Listening and Appraising - pupils improve their critical and analytical skills so they can comment in an informed way about music they are listening to;
  • Composing - pupils are taught to use 'Sibelius' and learn how to compose.

The curriculum aims to provide plenty of variety and to whet the appetite for those considering further study at GCSE level. GCSE music is an enjoyable and interesting course in its own right and it may lead to further study at A Level and beyond.

Pupils Study:

  • Shared Music, focusing on Baroque and Classical Music, Romantic Song, Pop, Ballad, Great Choral Classics and World Music;
  • Dance Music, focusing on Disco, Club, Bhangra, Line Dancing, Waltz and Tango;
  • Descriptive Music including Film Music;
  • How to compose melodies;
  • How to compose for, and perform on, your chosen instrument.

They Learn:

  • Composing
  • Performing
  • Appraising

There are Four Aspects to the Assessment.

  • Integrated Tasks: A performance, a composition and a commentary, all related to Area of Study 1: My Music
  • Practical Portfolio: A portfolio containing a group performance, a composition relating to Shared Music or Dance Music and a log and commentary.
  • Creative Task: A practical examination in which candidates compose a short piece based on a stimulus.
  • Listening and Appraisal: A written paper, with CD, assessing knowledge and understanding of Shared Music, Dance Music and Descriptive Music.

Physical Education

Rugby match at the College 2018 Pre-season hockey training for Senior School girls hockey squads

Joe H for 1st XI in Cricket Match v MCC 30 April 2019 Netball

Sport is a highly valued component of the curriculum at the College. In addition to four games afternoons, pupils also benefit from timetabled Physical Education and swimming lessons delivered by a highly qualified team of seven specialist teachers.

The Physical Education curriculum has recently been refined to ensure progression and to facilitate pupil tracking. The programme can be viewed below.

Through this programme we aim to develop pupils’ competence and confidence in a range of physical activities which include team games, athletics activities and the more creative aspects of dance and gymnastics. We also aim to promote a life long enjoyment of physical activity and an appreciation of the benefits of an active lifestyle, whilst providing opportunities for personal and social development through individual, group and team work and taking on roles of responsibility. 

We have excellent facilities for the delivery of the Physical Education curriculum.

  • Swimming features strongly in the programme for all year groups, taking every advantage of our lovely pool, and we pride ourselves on the standard of swimming achieved by our pupils. In addition to improving their strokes, pupils also enjoy water polo, personal survival and aqua aerobics.
  • Basketball is taught in the Sports Hall which offers a full size basketball court or two mini courts with baskets.
  • Fitness work takes place in the gym area which offers treadmills, bikes, rowing machines and cross trainers in addition to a multi-gym and free weights.
  • In the Summer term we have sixteen courts available for tennis. 
  • For athletics we are fortunate to have a well maintained grass track, dedicated throwing areas, a long jump pit and high jump landing mats with cover.

DSC 0852a

Physical Education and swimming lessons are taught in single sex and ability groups of approximately 20 pupils. In the Autumn and Spring terms, four groups rotate between basketball, fitness, water polo/aqua aerobics and personal survival. In the Summer term, they cover tennis and athletics. 

A Physical Education Department that spans all three sections of the College ensures consistency and continuity in the content and delivery of this subject.

  Autumn / Spring Summer
Fourth Form, Yr 9 (KS3) Basketball / Fitness / Swimming Tennis / Athletics
Lower Fifth Form, Yr 10 (KS4) Basketball / Fitness / Swimming Tennis / Athletics
Upper Fifth Form, Yr 11 (KS4) Basketball / Fitness / Swimming Tennis / Athletic


U5th physics lesson flemings left hand rule

Upper Fifth Physicists demonstrate Fleming's Left-Hand Rule

The Physics Department at the College is housed in the Charles Edwards Centre. This well-resourced suite of three laboratories provides a facility for the study of Physical Science that is second to none with three full-time and one part-time teacher supported by two excellent technicians.

Considerable investment in new apparatus has taken place in recent years, and all laboratories are furnished and equipped to the highest standards. Sixth Form students have access to a range of elaborate equipment that gives them the opportunity to undertake more advanced experimental work.

Edexcel iGCSE (Code 4PH0)

All our pupils study for the Edexcel iGCSE qualification. The International GCSE in Physics aims to impart a systematic body of scientific knowledge and skills as well as fostering an appreciation of the practical nature of physics. Pupils will develop experimental and investigative skills based on safe, correct laboratory techniques, and learn about scientific methods and how to form hypotheses and design experiments to test them. The emphasis of the course is much more focussed on how things work, rather than the global and environmental issues that surround them. At the end of the Upper Fifth, the pupils will take two papers – a two hour paper assessing all the key skills, and an extension paper that examines the subject in more depth. There is no coursework element at iGCSE.

Extra Curricular

A Physics Clinic runs at least once a week and staff are available by appointment at any other time. This is aimed at any pupil who is struggling with any aspect of Physics - our door is open for them to come along and receive help and support from members of the Physics Department.



Senior School Spanish Lesson

The Spanish Department at Bishop’s Stortford College is committed to delivering outstanding teaching to all year groups. The Department values creativity, individuality and commitment, and encourages the use of a wide range of authentic materials, including literature, film, music, and online resources to capture the imagination of pupils.

By the end of Fourth Form our pupils are confident in conversational Spanish and have a solid foundation in verbal conjugations, reverse construction verbs, adjectival agreement, and use of interrogatives. This foundation supports them throughout their career within the Spanish Department, as well as allowing them to understand their own language more fully. Going into GCSE and then on to A Level, pupils are encouraged to pursue their own interests through the language and to build an understanding of Hispanic Cultures.

Teachers in the Spanish Department ensure they are up-to-date with current affairs, theatre, literature, and music and take every opportunity to share this with their pupils, be it in lesson time, through whole-school competition or on trips. Quizlet, Duolingo and are used as part of a wider ICT strategy and the element of competition is always present.

Pupils are assessed on a continual basis in all four skills - speaking, listening, reading and writing. Feedback is provided regularly through an on-going dialogue where pupils are in charge of their own targets and manage their learning effectively under teachers’ guidance.

Being fortunate to have a team of native speakers, the Department fosters sensitivity, understanding and awareness of other countries, their people and their culture. Target language is used consistently and pupils are expected to fully participate in a range of language experiences with high quality teaching and learning, with a focus on high expectations. Prep is shared with pupils via the Resource Link on the school website and there is an expectation for pupils to complete extension activities that deepen their understanding of the Hispanic culture and strengthen their independent research skills.

In Spanish we follow the AQA syllabus, which covers the following 12 topics. More information can be found in the AQA website and Firefly (Senior School Resources/Spanish).

Theme 1: Identity and culture

Topic 1: Me, my family and friends

  • Relationships with family and friends
  • Marriage/partnership

Topic 2: Technology in everyday life

  • Social media
  • Mobile technology

Topic 3: Free-time activities

  • Music
  • Cinema and TV
  • Food and eating out
  • Sport

Topic 4: Customs and festivals in Spanish-speaking countries/communities

Theme 2: Local, national, international and global areas of interest

Topic 1: Home, town, neighbourhood and region

Topic 2: Social issues

  • Charity/voluntary work
  • Healthy/unhealthy living

Topic 3: Global issues

  • The environment
  • Poverty/homelessness

Topic 4: Travel and tourism

Theme 3: Current and future study and employment

Topic 1: My studies

Topic 2: Life at school/college

Topic 3: Education post-16

Topic 4: Jobs, career choices and ambitions

International Links

Valladolid in Spain

In the Spanish Department, we think it is of utmost importance that pupils have the opportunity to use the Spanish language as much as possible within authentic and natural contexts. In the forthcoming academic year, we will collaborate with a school in Valladolid to work on projects to allow the pupils to develop their writing, speaking, and listening skills whilst at the same time learning about Spanish culture through interactions with pupils of their own age.

Understanding that the best way to learn a language is to use it, the Spanish Department also has links with other schools in Spain. Pupils are encouraged to join us on the exchange to the beautiful region of Castilla y León where they spend their mornings exploring the charms of Castilian architecture, historical buildings and all things tapas, and their free time improving their language skills with the host families, feeling what it like to live in a modern, vibrant, Spanish city.