Senior School Curriculum

Senior School Curriculum

We are committed to developing a curriculum appropriate to each of our pupils. At the heart of this is the quality of learning and teaching in the classroom. Our formal curriculum, the planned programme of courses shown on a pupil’s timetable, delivers a broad and balanced experience in the first two years of Senior School. This is followed by a choice of subjects typically studied at SQA National 5 level – for third and fourth year, chosen by pupils with significant support from staff.

In the senior years, we offer our pupils the opportunity either to follow the SQA curriculum or to study the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme. The vast majority, though not all, of our pupils do choose to progress from School into Further and Higher Education. We believe that this structure of certificated subjects at the end of S4 leading to either SQA Highers and Advanced Highers or the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme supports our pupils best in securing university offers.

The Curriculum at George Watson’s College is also designed to allow us to get to know our pupils well, an important aspect of this is the Form Tutor period for pupils in S1–S5; part of our focus on education for Health and Wellbeing. Form Tutors play a key role in first-line guidance for our pupils. By February in S5, all pupils will have chosen their own Personal Tutor from the teaching staff. The Tutor’s role in S5 and S6 is to guide their tutees through the important months of examination and to talk to them and their parents about future plans.

 

S1/S2

The curriculum in S1 and S2 has been designed to allow pupils to experience key academic disciplines or curriculum experiences developing knowledge and transferable skills. These can be broken down into:
English
Languages
Spanish, French, German, Latin, and Mandarin Chinese
STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics)
Computing Science, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Technological Science, and Maths
Social Studies
History, Modern Studies, Geography, and Economics & Business Studies
Expressive Arts
Music, Art, and Drama
Core or Health and Wellbeing
Physical Education, Health and Food Technology, PSD, Form Periods and Assemblies.

In each subject, specialist teachers deliver the courses.

Pupils will study two languages in S1, choosing from Chinese, Latin, Spanish, French, and German. In S2 they will have the opportunity to either continue with a second language, be recommended to focus on one language, or to study Classics in S2. All pupils will continue with one language choice into S3 and S4.

There is an emphasis within the S1/S2 Curriculum on teachers explicitly teaching Learning Skills through their subject content. All pupils will have the opportunity to make connections through Interdisciplinary Learning and there will be opportunities for pupils to increase their International awareness and understanding.

Pupils are broadly banded into classes by ability in Mathematics and English (from S1) enabling them to progress at their own pace.

The mix of pupils in groupings, outwith the form structure, allows them to get to know a large number of their year group. In January of S2 we begin an extensive programme of subject choice advice. By providing details of courses offered, conducting individual interviews and organising parents’ information forums and parents’ evenings, we seek to ensure that at this important decision-making stage, all involved are informed and in agreement.

Subjects Studied in S1

English Maths Science Languages Social Studies Expressive Arts Health and Wellbeing
English Maths STEM Skills
Computing Science
Biology
Chemistry
Physics
Technological Science
Two languages from:
Spanish
French
German
Latin
Chinese
History Modern Studies
Geography Economics Business Studies
Music
Art
Drama
PE/Games
Religion & Philosophy
Personal Social Development
Health & Food Technology
Form Time
Assemblies

Subjects Studied in S2

English Maths Science Languages Social Studies Expressive Arts Health and Wellbeing
English Maths Computing Science
Biology
Chemistry
Physics
Technological Science
Language 1 Choice
Language 2 Choice *
from:
Spanish
French
German
Latin
Chinese
* or additional language 1 or
Classics
History Modern Studies
Geography Economics Business Studies
Music
Art
Drama
PE/Games
Religion & Philosophy
Personal Social Development
Health & Food Technology
Form Time
Assemblies

S3/S4

In S3 and S4 all pupils must study English, Mathematics and at least one Modern Language that they studied in S1 and S2. They study a total of eight subjects, and there is a wide variety of subject permutations available, thus enabling a degree of specialisation in areas of strength whilst keeping future options open. In addition, all pupils have ‘Core Time’ periods of Personal and Social Development, Physical Education and Religion and Philosophy, and a choice of other non-certificate options. 

Pupils typically study toward National 5 qualifications  in S3 and S4. 

The National 5 qualification is assessed externally and pupils will receive a grade A–D for this. The majority of our pupils will progress directly onto National 5 in their S3/S4 subjects; although for some the National 4 qualification is a more appropriate stepping stone on the way to National 5 due to the nature of the National 4 assessment, where the qualification is assessed internally by the subject department and moderated by the SQA, as this will allow them to develop their confidence and skills in a supportive environment.

Certain departments may group pupils dependent upon their ability, so that the pace and content are appropriate to the individual’s level. Such setting allows inclusion of some Higher Grade topics or concepts in S4 for pupils with particular ability in a subject. Early in S4, pupils start to consider their future choices by participating in the ISCO Futurewise tests for interest, ability and aptitude, and they are given interviews following these tests.

A programme of information and discussion meetings takes place in the Spring Term, to allow the pupils to make an informed choice of courses for S5 and S6. This involves parents and pupils, Departments, Year Heads and our Careers Team. Pupils progress successfully from to both Highers and the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP) from SQA National qualifications.

S5/S6 

Pupils are encouraged to regard S5 and S6 as a coherent programme of academic study and progression. They are able to choose between SQA Highers and Advanced Highers or the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP).

SQA Examinations in S5 and S6

Pupils study five main subjects in S5, normally including English and Mathematics. It is possible to take up certain new subjects at an appropriate level. Currently, we offer a range of 28 different Highers to pupils in S5 and S6, in a wide variety of combinations. We also offer many subjects at levels below Higher and we do not regard these as less important, as they offer a coherent progression from achievement in S4.

After the S5 prelim exams, and with the help of tutors, the Careers Advisory Team and the Guidance staff, pupils begin to make provisional S6 subject choices. These can be from the unrivalled range of Advanced Highers on offer or include Higher or National courses. These are reviewed in light of the SQA results obtained. There is also a variety of non-certificate modular and short courses available to S6, intended to encourage intellectual exploration and to broaden interests.

International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme

We offer the highly-regarded and well-structured IB Diploma Programme qualification with courses that are current, relevant and outward looking. The Diploma Programme complements our existing SQA provision providing all of our pupils with a choice of curriculum to meet their needs. The programme aims to develop active learners with enquiring minds who maintain a breadth of subject knowledge and develop as young people both inside and outside the classroom. The curriculum and teaching of the Diploma Programme focus on international perspectives of learning and teaching while requiring pupils to explore their home culture and language.

IB programmes are recognised and sought after by universities and employers around the world, ensuring increased adaptability and mobility for pupils. Pupils study six subjects throughout both S5 and S6, three at ‘Standard’ Level and three at ‘Higher’ Level; each of these subjects having a coursework component. In addition to their subjects, all pupils must undertake a course in critical thinking, a research paper on a topic of personal interest, as well as a coherent and fulfilling programme of extracurricular undertakings demonstrating creativity, physical activity, and service to others.

The combination of breadth and academic rigour offered by the IB Diploma Programme ensures that pupils will enjoy a varied and challenging S5 and S6 that will undoubtedly prepare them for life at university and beyond.

*http://www.ibo.org/about-the-ib/facts-and-figures/

Learn More about the IB Programme at Watson's

Our S6 Programme

We aim to encourage self-reliance among S6 pupils in many ways. Overall, S6 pupils are accountable for approximately 75% of their time in School, including four periods of study in the S6 library, and are given freedom to plan their further study time beyond this. The more advanced the level of study, the more autonomy they are given. Unallocated periods help S6 pupils learn to manage their time in advance of going on to future study or the world of work. Much advice and guidance is given on how to use time, how to plan ahead, and how to anticipate events rather than react to them.

Most of our S6 pupils take up an opportunity to do some form of service, either in the local Edinburgh community or in the School itself. The latter can include helping in the Junior School or with the Support for Learning Department, as Office Bearers, or in particular teaching departments. We have a wide variety of interest subjects available to S6 pupils to enrich their experiences and all pupils follow courses in money management and healthy cooking to prepare them for life beyond Watson's.