Academic Subjects

Art

We value creativity and imagination, and aim to provide all students with a firm basis of skills in Art on which to build projects that foster individuality and confidence. We focus on teaching drawing technique as a ‘backbone’ to provide a platform from which students can move into a working with a wide range of different media and materials. Art lessons are underpinned by strong contextual links and class debate that focuses on the work of a range of artists as inspiration for the students’ own practice. All students receive Art lessons in Years 7 and 8 and Art becomes optional from Year 9 upwards, allowing students to focus on the subject in more depth. We offer GCSE and A Level courses in Art & Design that champion individuality of approach and bring students own interests and ideas to the fore. We also offer a wide range of Art-based, extra-curricular activities and clubs that are available to everyone who wishes to be involved.

  • A Level

    Students at A Level work with autonomy in directing their own topics and developing projects that are not dictated to them but, instead, are formed through collaboratively working with their teacher to make each project completely unique. This approach is set against small group sizes that allow students to receive bespoke, one-to-one advice that enables them to play to their own strengths and achieve highly. This allows us to work with an almost limitless array of materials and techniques, and students are supported by specialist teachers with many years of experience to help to guide them in making decisions. Many Tormead A Level Art students go on to Art-based Foundation and Degree courses, and we have a strong record of ex-Tormead Sixth Form students who have achieved highly at top creative institutions such as Edinburgh College of Art, the London College of Fashion and Goldsmiths University.

  • Enrichment

    We offer a range of extra-curricular opportunities for all students in the school that focus on enabling them to be creative and developing their own interests and skills in Art. In years 7 to 9 we run the SGA (Self-Guided Art) project in which students follow a project structure, accessible to them both in and out of school, via their iPads, that operates like a ‘mini GCSE’ project where they decide on the areas and techniques on which they would like to focus. For GCSE and A Level students, we consider the course content as a ‘baseline’ on which the most able students can build, allowing them to enhance, extend and go beyond what is expected of them in their courses. Sixth Form students are also very ‘hands on’ in helping the younger students to develop their projects and ideas, and passing their expertise onto others.

Biology

When Sir David Attenborough was asked in a BBC interview about the importance of teaching Biology, his reply was simply ‘it’s never been more important, ever, in the history of the world’. This opinion is shared by all members of the Biology department, whose passion is to teach the girls to not only love our natural world, but to be inspired by it. The fascinating relationships and interactions that exist between animals, plants and microorganisms provide the basis of what we teach from Year 7 all the way through to the Upper Sixth. Biology is one of the most popular subjects studied at Tormead, with over half of all girls currently in the Sixth Form taking it at A Level. We are immensely proud of our success in helping those applying for medical-related careers obtain their first-choice university offer, supported by the very best grades.

  • A Level

    Our specialist teachers share their enthusiasm for the subject with students in small groups. Text books and online resources tailored to the current specifications are provided, and regular, relevant practical work in well-equipped laboratories supports the theory and develops skills which are essential for success at the highest level. A residential field trip to Slapton Ley field study centre underpins several aspects of scientific enquiry, including statistical analysis of real and relevant data. There are eight core areas of study. Throughout the course, students are encouraged to read widely to gain an understanding of the broader relevance of their studies and are required to apply their knowledge in unfamiliar contexts. Skills and knowledge acquired are extremely useful for Biological and Environmental Sciences, Medicine and other health and clinical professions including physiotherapy, midwifery, nursing and dietetics, for example. In addition, many skills are transferable and relevant to careers such as law, computing, accounting and teaching.

  • Enrichment

    The KYTOS Biology enrichment programme offers unparalleled opportunities to explore the subject beyond the classroom. Girls can develop their surgical skills in the Dissection Club, enhance the school environment in the Conservation Club and delve deeper into the fascinating world of forensic science and criminal investigation in the hugely popular Forensics Club. Girls can participate in monthly A-Z biology quizzes, annual photography competitions, weekly enrichment sessions looking at topical news stories, and themed trips (ranging from the Old Operating Theatre and Hunterian Museum, London, to Costa Rica). We also encourage girls to enter the ‘Rosalind Franklin Prize for Academic Writing’ which is fully endorsed by the Rosalind Franklin Society, New York, who promote essay winners in their global newsletter. Meanwhile, MED:SEM is a programme of dedicated seminars covering a range of topics for those pursuing medical-related careers. The ‘Guest Speaker’ programme has secured talks from distinguished professionals including: Lord Robert Winston, President of the Genetics Society; Professor Laurence Hurst and wildlife campaigner, Virginia McKenna. Recent additions to the programme include the KYTOS Biology Podcasts (streamed in over 70 countries) and KYTOS Genetics Society.

Chemistry

Chemistry starts with studying the world around us at a particle level, but it has a global impact in finding solutions which improve human health, preserve energy and natural resources, and help to combat climate change. Studying Chemistry is a rewarding academic pursuit and we are committed to enabling a deep understanding of the principles of the science and to showing their application in the real world. Practical sessions form a large part of our teaching at all levels and girls gain a wide range of transferable skills, from team-working to practical problem-solving. Analysis of results and information, and combining concepts from across the syllabus, are key activities and, at a higher level, these mental practices form an excellent springboard for a range of careers and further study. We encourage girls to get involved in competitions and challenges throughout their school career, but also to maintain their sense of wonder when asking questions of the world around them.

  • A Level

    A Level Chemistry is a popular and academically-satisfying course of study. We follow the AQA specification which gives a wide-ranging view of the subject and sufficient depth to enable girls to develop excellent analytical skills. A practical approach is taken wherever possible so that concepts are underscored by physical experience and observation. Organic Chemistry is studied in depth and a range of chemical families, from the amines to aromatic compounds, are considered in terms of their reaction mechanisms, detection and synthesis. Problem-solving around structure determination forges the ability to consider information in drawing conclusions. Physical Chemistry is a core part of the course and the mathematical treatment of key phenomena supports understanding of the interlinked nature of the factors which drive chemical reactions. Inorganic Chemistry become very colourful at A Level as a large practically-based topic investigates transition metal complexes, as well as developing a macroscopic view of the elements in Periodicity and delving further into the reactivity of chemical groups. Lessons are delivered in small groups where collaborative and independent learning are both supported. All teachers are passionate about their subject and regularly extend learning into areas of higher level study. Some girls choose to take the AS level at the end of the first year of study, while the majority complete the full two-year course. Girls frequently go on to study the pure and applied physical sciences as well as gaining places at medical schools.

  • Enrichment

    We participate in a range of activities and competitions throughout the year. Girls compete in the RSC Top of the Bench competition and the Salter’s Chemistry Challenge, against other local schools. Year 10 girls visit Science Live for lectures from well-known experts. In the Sixth Form, there are trips to the Bristol University Chemistry Department and we regularly send a team to compete in the RSC Young Analyst Competition. The Lower Sixth compete in the Cambridge Chemistry Challenge, a prestigious national competition awarding medals to the most talented. In the Upper Sixth, girls pit their wits against the RSC Chemistry Olympiad. Many activities happen within the school each year with practical investigations offered as Beacon Challenges and a lower school Chemistry club offered by our Sixth Form Chemistry students.

Classics

Tormead Classics Department aims to give all girls a broad foundation in the language, literature and culture of ancient Rome and Greece. We consider the huge influence of the Classical World on English and other languages and explore the links that still exist today in politics, government, drama, thinking, daily life and beyond. The ability to ‘read Latin’ aside, we aim to foster skills that are valuable in many spheres. It is often said that those with some Latin have learned to analyse logically and precisely, and those with Classical Civilisation knowledge are excellent at seeing the bigger picture and viewing ideas through the perspectives of others. In most years, the girls progress to study Classics-related courses at prestigious universities, including Oxbridge.

  • AS + A Level

    Latin, Classical Greek and Classical Civilisation are offered at both AS and A Level. For Latin and Greek, girls continue to study the language in more nuanced detail, with the option of composition into Latin or Greek. They study a prose author and a verse author to develop their knowledge of and personal response to the culture and mores behind the texts. Classical Civilisation (no GCSE requirement to study at A Level) involves the study of literature, art and culture, mainly of Ancient Greece. In the Lower Sixth, girls study Greek Theatre and Homer’s Odyssey: both incorporate visual and material evidence as well as close reading of texts. In the Upper Sixth, girls study Virgil’s Aeneid and Athenian Democracy.

  • Enrichment

    The Classics Department has run successful trips to a variety of Classical sites including Rome, Greece and Sicily. The Sixth Form take advantage of our proximity to London to visit the British Museum and to see dramatic productions. We have welcomed speakers such as Matthew Nicholls and Amy Smith (both from Reading University), and regularly run in-house Beacon activities and talks.

Computer Science

In a world without computers, there would be no iPads, no mobile phones. The systems on which we rely, such as banking, power or transport, could not cope. Supermarkets could not control their stock, and without robotics much of industry would grind to a halt. Computer skills have never been more important.

Computer Science combines theoretical study and practical application, which teaches the skills needed for careers across the whole spectrum of the IT industry. Information Systems Designers and Managers, Games Developers, IT Consultants, Network Engineers and Systems Developers and Analysts are just some of the professionals who will have studied Computer Science.

Computer Science allows girls to develop their interest in computing, gain confidence in computational thinking, and learn the theory and practice of how computers and networks function. The subject also gives girls the practical skills to solve problems by writing their own programs and applications, both individually and as part of a development team.

  • AS + A Level

    We offer the Cambridge International AS and A Level in Computer Science. This gives a natural progression from the IGCSE course. The subject can be studied without having the experience of the IGCSE – although such experience is, of course, hugely valuable. The specification is divided into the two strands of Theory and Problem Solving & Programming, at fundamental and advanced levels (In the Lower Sixth and Upper Sixth, respectively). Topics from the IGCSE are revisited and expanded upon, giving a far deeper understanding of the workings of computer systems. Programming is developed to a higher level, using various paradigms, and contrasts are made between programming languages.

Design & Technology

Design and Technology is about solving problems: how can we use technology and design to address needs and problems that we identify around us? Design and Technology has developed from the traditional subjects of Woodwork, Metalwork, Engineering Drawing and Graphics. It has made huge advances from these subjects, which were considered as life skills, and quite separate to the academic curriculum. The subject is now centred on the design and make process, and specifically covers the area of product design. A focus on the understanding of the design process is a crucial part of the subject and is taught from Year 7. Design and Technology develops project management and problem-solving skills alongside oral, written and graphical communication and presentation skills. The subject is particularly relevant to anyone considering a career in design, including product design, or industrial, graphic, corporate or environmental design. It also has relevance to the fields of mechanical and civil engineering, manufacturing, marketing and advertising, interior design and architecture, as well as other more specialised design and engineering careers, which several Tormead girls have gone on to study at university.

  • A Level

    Students follow the Edexcel Design and Technology Product Design course. The girls are given the opportunity to come up with their own context and design brief giving them complete control over the project. A client must be identified and consulted throughout the design process which allows the girls to work in a similar style to how they would for a product design company. The theory work at A Level looks at commercial product design and manufacture and covers a wide range of areas related to engineering, architecture and design history. Girls benefit from small class sizes which provide ample time for feedback on their work as they progress through the project, which is submitted as a manufactured product, supported by a design folder, and counts for 50% of the A Level. The other 50% is a written examination taken at the end of the Upper Sixth.

  • Enrichment

    There are several activities allowing the girls to further explore their interest in the subject. In the lower school, a weekly 3D Printing Club takes place in which girls learn how to use a CAD (Computer Aided Design) program to design and then print a range of small products. In the Upper School, girls can attend Engineering Club where they solve practical problems as a team. Previously, girls have constructed a go-kart from timber and reclaimed bike parts. Throughout the year the department also hosts practical challenges through the Beacon enrichment program.

Drama

The aims of Tormead Drama are threefold: enjoyment, innovation and self-expression. It has a unique place in the school curriculum. We aim to give every Drama student skills that are transferable and useful in the wider world, such as cooperation, self-control and, most importantly, self-confidence, through a wide and varied curricular and extra-curricular programme. A recent Russell Group survey asked the HR departments of all the FTSE 250 companies what were the most important qualities they looked for in an employee. The two most common answers were teamwork and communicationboth skills which are implicit in drama lessons. We promote a job in the Arts as a possibility to be considered and therefore encourage visits from professionals to teach workshops whenever possible. We make our girls aware of external events and opportunities, as well as offering a varied plethora of internal activities for them to be involved in, both on stage and behind the scenes.

  • AS + A Level

    The AS and A Level courses look at the totality of what makes successful theatre, from conception to realisation. Students will be provided with access to the best resources in contemporary theatre through regular theatre visits, workshops and the excellent facilities we have available in the purpose built JCS block and Performance Hall. Drama A Level at Tormead is very much a hands-on process where much time is spent thinking, creating and doing. Every component must be developed using the techniques and working methods of either an influential theatre practitioner or a recognised theatre company. We also study the Eduqas specification in the 6th Form and this helps students to build upon the practitioners studied at GCSE as well as study a wide range of new ones at A Level, such as Emma Rice, Katie Mitchell and Gecko. As at GCSE, candidates can be entered as design students with options such as make-up, costume, set design, lighting and sound available for assessment instead of performance. We aim to provide information for those that wish to continue with Drama in Higher Education and university prospectuses, information and advice are all available from the Head of Department. Information regarding Drama Clubs, courses, auditions, television agencies, events and opportunities, both in and out of school, are displayed on the TV screen and noticeboards in the JCS Foyer and are updated regularly. There is also a copy of The Stage and Television Today newspaper, which is the industry magazine and gives all manner of advice to amateurs, professionals, students and teachers alike, located in the library.

    Component 1: (60% of AS/20% of A Level) involves the creation, development and performance of a piece of theatre based on a reinterpretation of an extract from a play eg perform a scene from an existing script but devise a new ending. This is a mixture of devising and scripted work so students get the best of both worlds!

    Component 2: (40 % of A Level only) students take part in the creation, development and performance of two pieces of theatre: a devised piece and an extract from a script.

    Component 3: (40% of AS/A Level) involves the study of three great plays: Machinal by Sophie Treadwell (AS and A Level), Love and Information by Caryl Churchill (A Level only) and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, directed by Marianne Elliott (A Level only). These plays will be explored practically throughout the course to prepare candidates thoroughly for a written examination.

  • Enrichment

    We operate an inclusive ethos and stage at least two productions per year, involving girls from every year group within the Senior School. The style of each production varies to ensure we show a range of comedies, tragedies, modern and classics. Every other year, the school stages a musical. Recent productions have included Pygmalion, Mama Yankee’s Life Machine, Singing in the Rain and Guys and Dolls. Girls are encouraged not only to act but also to help in other areas of theatrical production, such as stage management, costume, make-up, lighting and sound. Theatre Technical Club runs once a week to cater for these students and is regularly led by the 6th Form Technical Theatre Mentors. There is also a weekly Drama Club and a Glee Musical Theatre Club and the work undertaken here often leads to public performances in the form of assemblies, small scale productions or as part of the annual Music and Arts Evening. A week-long Drama School, run by the Head of Department, takes place at the end of the summer term with Tormead girls and RGS boys combining to devise a play in a week. Additionally, there is a hugely popular annual House Drama competition where entries are written/devised, auditioned and directed by the Sixth Form House Captains, with a cast selected from girls in Year 8 and 9 under the supervision of a member of staff. There are at least four theatre trips organised annually as GCSE and ‘A’ Level Drama pupils are required to experience live theatre performances as part of the course. Highlights have included trips to see ‘The Woman in Black’, Frantic Assembly’s ‘The Unreturning’, Kneehigh’s ‘Flying Lovers of Vitebsk’, Florian Zeller’s ‘The Son’ and Little Bulb’s production of ‘Orpheus’. The older pupils also take part in at least one bespoke workshop by an outside practitioner each year. Most recently, we have welcomed Splendid Productions, The Paper Birds and Frantic Assembly to Tormead. We also have good links with the wider community such as the Drama Departments at Guildford School of Acting and at the Royal Grammar School in Guildford and we often undertake joint ventures, such as workshops and productions with their students and staff. The Drama department regularly enters nationwide initiatives, such as the National Theatre Connections Project, the Shakespeare Schools Festival or the Leatherhead Drama Festival in order for students to get the chance to perform on professional stages. The girls are also guided through auditions for outside companies such as the National Youth Theatre, G Live Creative Company, Monologue Slam UK and for television work with casting agencies. Pupil initiative is also encouraged – the Sixth Form Drama Captains often co-direct students from Year 7, 8 and/or 9 in an annual production. Recent productions have included a performance of The Highwayman to the whole of Year 5 and 6.  Speech & Drama is a very popular extra-curricular subject at Tormead. Two highly-experienced and qualified teachers work with small groups of students in a dedicated examination space to develop their communication and performance skills.

    Students are encouraged to work creatively and sympathetically with each other to acquire knowledge, develop technical skills and have fun in a relaxed, positive atmosphere. The ability to express themselves articulately, whilst remaining relaxed and confident, is an invaluable life skill. LAMDA examinations are held at Tormead twice a year and Grades 6, 7 and 8 earn UCAS tariff points.

Economics

Economics is for the intellectually curious – for people who look at the world and wonder how it became this way, whether these outcomes are the best that could be achieved and what options we have to influence and change things. Why is it, for instance, that some countries are rich and others are not? Why do some paintings sell for millions and why is there so much media coverage of the black markets for concert tickets or sporting events? What is the Brexit debate really about and why is climate change such a difficult issue to tackle? If parents are charged a fee each time they are late picking up from nursery, why do they do it more rather than less? The job of an Economist is to throw light on issues – to highlight what we know and what we don’t know. It involves a precise, logical and powerful skill set that can be challenging at first, but hugely exciting and rewarding when mastered. It is valued by universities and employers. Those going on to study Economics at university enjoy competitive salaries and good job prospects, while the rest have still acquired an incredible skill and understanding for life.

  • A Level

    A Level Economics balances a robust knowledge of theory with the ability to apply this knowledge to real world problems and issues. Every year, girls marvel at how even from the first lesson their understanding and appreciation of the world has improved. They find this exciting and exhilarating. At its most fundamental level, Economics is about how choices are made, the consequences of these choices and how these choices and behaviours may be influenced. All of this is set against what is called the fundamental economic problem – ensuring that resources are used as efficiently as possible. The course is split into two parts – micro and macro. Micro economics considers how consumers and producers take decisions, how prices are determined, the impact of monopolies, how labour markets work, and the distribution of income, poverty and inequality. Macro Economics considers how economies grow and how unemployment and inflation are determined. At the global level, the course focuses on trade, trade patterns and consequences. Key themes running through both parts of the syllabus are the role of governments and their policy choices and effectiveness, the role of financial markets in the stability and success of economies, the impact of technological progress and the rationality of economic agents in reaching their decisions.

  • Enrichment

    Lessons always focus on the latest real world developments. Girls throughout the school receive a weekly update of economic items in the news and the Sixth Form Economists receive specialist daily updates during exam season. Lessons feature intellectual playfulness at any opportunity, using Lego to explore concepts or building oversized models in one of the pods. Creative cartoon videos and infographics are used to explain key concepts. Girls read Economics Today, which Tormead Economics contributes to, and the wonderful range of imaginative resources from Tutor2U. Girls attend talks, have the opportunity to enter essay competitions and watch a range of TED talks over lunch. Although not specific to Economics, the Young Enterprise Company programme, the CISI professional qualifications and the ICAEW BASE competition provide invaluable experience of the financial world.

English

The aim of the English Department is to foster a love and passion for reading and writing which will endure beyond school. In English lessons, students are introduced to drama, poetry and prose from a wide range of historically, geographically and culturally diverse writers. The girls learn how to adapt their writing and speech in style and format for a variety of purposes, honing the skills they will need in almost any career they choose to pursue. English is a very highly valued subject by employers as it ensures excellent written and verbal communication skills, critical thinking skills and empathy.

  • A level

    The A Level course in English Literature is designed to develop the girls into evaluative, critical readers, who are confident expressing their own views on texts and are able to write intelligent, interesting essays. By following the Edexcel A Level programme, girls are exposed to an even wider range of writers from the 14th Century to the 21st Century. Through their studies, the girls develop their analytical skills further and begin to consider a range of alternative interpretations that can be brought to bear on texts, including introductions to literary theory, alternative critical readings and the significance that historical, cultural and literary context plays in the creation and reception of texts. There is, of course, an expectation that girls will continue to read for pleasure beyond the texts required on the course, and this reading may be of particular value in their coursework module which allows them to choose their own text to compare with a taught A Level text. The coursework is worth 20% of the A Level and is undertaken in Year 13, and the girls will write an academic, referenced 3000 word essay for this which is excellent preparation for university and beyond. Overall, the course is challenging yet extremely rewarding, and girls who sit A Level Literature go on to a vast range of impressive courses and careers given the breadth of skills the course nurtures.

  • Enrichment

    The English Department provides a wealth of opportunities for girls at all ages and levels to appreciate the wider benefits of the subject. We run the National Theatre’s playwriting national programme, offer a creative writing club for the Lower School, an Upper School and Sixth Form book group, a Shakespeare festival for Year 7, the ‘Poetry by Heart’ competition, RSC actor workshops and a variety of trips and visits to the theatre. The year culminates in our annual writing competition – the Toubkin Cup – which shows off the best of the girls’ writing. Every year group takes part and for the shortlisted students we hold an evening celebration and recitation of the writing, which is judged by a visiting author. Many of these clubs result in girls being entered for local and national competitions, and Tormead students have had great success in these. Through the school’s Beacon programme, there are opportunities for the girls to tailor their own learning beyond the classroom. We draw the girls’ attention to exhibitions, performances or talks we believe will be interesting and relevant, and many girls take up these opportunities, seeing the broad benefits of the subject in the process.

French

The ability to communicate in a foreign language is a life skill as well as a useful academic tool. At Tormead, we foster enjoyment of language learning and a positive approach to other cultures, promoting social interaction, intellectual stimulation and a sense of achievement. French remains a key language within school, reflecting its importance as an International language.

  • A Level

    The A Level course enables the girls to develop an advanced knowledge and understanding of the French language, the culture of France and other Francophone countries, as well as practical and valuable language and transferable study skills. We study one film and one literary text, together with authentic source materials from the French-speaking world. We focus on spontaneity and grammar, as well as independent and creative application of knowledge. The girls are encouraged to develop their ideas, use language to persuade and analyse, and give critical responses in their writing and speaking. In addition to their timetabled lessons, the girls enjoy weekly one-to-one sessions with our assistant.

    We follow the AQA specification which consists of three papers:

    Paper 1: Listening, reading and writing – 1 hour 45 minutes – 45% of AS

    Paper 2: Writing – 1 hour 30 minutes – 25% of AS

    Paper 3: Speaking – 12-14 minutes – 30% of AS

    Topics:

    Theme 1: Aspects of French-speaking society – current trends

    Theme 2: Artistic culture in the French-speaking world

    At A Level the papers are as follows:

    Paper 1: Listening, reading and writing – 2 hours 30 minutes – 50% of qualification

    Paper 2: Writing – 2 hours – 20% of qualification

    Paper 3: Speaking – 21-23 minutes – 30% of qualification

    Topics:

    Theme 1: Aspects of French-speaking society – current trends

    Theme 2: Aspects of French-speaking society – current issues

    Theme 3: Artistic culture in the French-speaking world

    Theme 4: Aspects of political life in the French-speaking world

  • Enrichment

    A highlight of the language-learning calendar is our yearly Language Week. We immerse ourselves for a week, both in and outside lesson time in activities ranging from song, dance and poetry competitions to language quizzes, French cuisine, and the opportunity to learn a completely new language. Both the Library and the IT department also join in the fun with additional challenges for the girls. The Year 9 European Marketing Challenge ‘It’s all about Chocolate’ has proved to be a popular event, with phone calls and presentations made in all three languages, and products and prizes of the edible variety.

    Speed Debating means our Sixth Formers are becoming quite adept at debating in French, enjoying the social contact with A Level students from other schools at our regular meetings, and discuss such hot topics as ‘What’s the point of getting married these days?’ and ‘Is it worth preserving French traditions?’

    Year 10 have the opportunity in June to visit Tours, in the Loire Valley, staying with a host family to practise their French, and meeting up each day for a variety of cultural visits and experiences including a cookery class, a visit to Amboise and to Futuroscope. This year we will be stopping off en route in Paris to see the sights, and then returning by Eurostar via Lille.

    The Sixth Form have a biennial residential trip to Normandy focusing on intensive language work and some amazing cultural visits including Mont St Michel.

    A recent Sixth Form conference in London provided the girls with some inspirational speakers on the films, “La Haine” and “Au revoir, les enfants” and a talk on “How to get high marks in your film essay.” The afternoon was devoted to literature and we discussed “Un sac de billes”, the fascinating true account of two little boys’ journey across France during World War Two to escape persecution, written by Joseph Joffo.

    Beacon sessions take a variety of forms and have varied from ‘Code breaking – would you make a good spy?’ which tested the participants abilities to work out messages in previously unknown languages, to ones with a cultural focus, such as Mardi Gras, to our recent focus on ‘Les Gilets Jaunes’ thanks to Dr Constance Bantman visiting speaker from the University of Surrey.

    Lower School Language Club is a celebration of each individual’s cultural background and interests. We have had many fascinating sessions this year with girls finding out about Indian weddings and learning a little Hindi, life in Sweden, South Africa, Rome and Moscow. We also play games, watch cartoons and practise language skills.

    Francofilles is an Upper School and Sixth Form club which focuses on aspects of French culture such as singer Stromae and the popularity of Verlan. Visiting speakers also always prove to be a highlight of this popular club.

Government and Politics

Part of the excitement and the challenge of studying politics is the fact that it is always changing. Domestic and world events often take us by surprise and the speed with which major political developments happen increases with new technology. Virtually every moment of your day is structured in some way by decisions made by others about the food you eat, the clothes you wear, the car or buses you ride, the television you watch, or the school you work at. Politics provides an opportunity not just to understand how societies work, but also some idea of how to make them better. A foundation in Politics would be an advantage in careers in journalism, law, lobbying, finance and civil service. However, a degree in politics does not exclude pupils from pursuing a career that is not directly related to what they have studied. Politics, allows girls to acquire a range of key skills and attributes that will be highly prized by employers in management, marketing, public relations, retail, accountancy, banking and many more.

  • A Level

    The A Level Government and Politics specification is designed to encourage students to develop their critical thinking skills and enhance their ability to interpret, evaluate and comment on the nature of politics. Students acquire knowledge of the institutions and processes within the political system of the United Kingdom and United States and are encouraged to think and debate more widely about how other political systems may differ. There is also consideration of key ideologies including Liberalism, Conservatism, Socialisms and Anarchism.

    Girls will develop a wide range of relevant skills including the ability to understand, synthesise and interpret political information. Furthermore, we will learn to identify connections, similarities and differences between the areas studied.

    • UK government, politics and ideologies includes the following topics:
    • Democracy and participation
    • Political Parties
    • Electoral Systems
    • Conservatism, Liberalism and Socialism
    • Parliament
    • Prime Minister
    • The UK Constitution
    • Anarchism
    • US Government and Politics includes the following topics
    • The President
    • Congress
    • The Supreme Court
    • Political parties
  • Enrichment

    Every year, the Department visits the Houses of Parliament and the UK Supreme Court, organised via the local MP’s office – Anne Milton MP also conducts a Question and Answer session. We also run a biennial trip to Washington DC to gain first hard knowledge of Congress, the Pentagon, the US Supreme Court and a range of highly impressive Smithsonian museums. Girls also can run Beacon sessions and enter competitions. In addition, they are regularly informed about relevant public lectures.

Geography

Geography is one of the broadest and most enticing subjects on the curriculum. From geopolitics to geology, there is something to interest everyone. In this rapidly changing world, it is more important than ever before that people have geographical knowledge to take through their lives. This knowledge will create politicians, scientists, and economists with a better understanding of the interactions of humans and the planet, and therefore a fairer and more prosperous society of tomorrow. Current geographical issues such as Brexit and the climate crisis, highlight the relevance of Geography, and education on these matters should be at the forefront of our priorities. The subject presents many opportunities – Geography degrees are highly respected and over 90% of Geography graduates are employed within six months of finishing University courses. Careers in business and finance, journalism, politics, town planning, environmentalism and many more can be accessed through a Geography degree. After all, there’s far more to Geography than just rocks and map reading.

  • A Level

    We study the OCR course, synthesising the Human and Physical aspects of Geography to provide a more holistic view of the world. Topics include Global Migration, Power and Borders, Coasts, Disease, Water and Carbon Cycles, Space and Place (Settlements), and Tectonics. We examine these topics by exploring up to date case studies and develop a deeper understanding on two residential field trips throughout the two-year course. The Independent Investigation (contributing 20% to the overall assessment for the A Level) is undertaken at the end of the L6 year and the girls are given the opportunity to design and carry out their own fieldwork investigation, related to some aspect of the course. This is a highlight of the course each year, as the girls produce work of a very high standard. All girls are expected to experience four days’ mandatory fieldwork in addition to that required for their Independent Investigation.

  • Enrichment

    In the Lower School, the girls complete a river study on the Tillingbourne and have a chance to navigate in the countryside around Shere putting their map skills to the test. GCSE fieldwork is designed and timed to complement the topics being taught whilst enabling the girls to experience a range of data collection techniques. In the Sixth Form, there are residential visits to Dorset, Birmingham and Bristol where course content can be exemplified, and fieldwork skills are developed further. This allows the girls to gain confidence with the skills required for their own Independent Investigation. We hold regular Beacon sessions and there is a lunch-time Geography Club which is run by the Geography Mentor and open to all year groups in the Senior School. Current issues are presented and then fervently debated. The Sixth Form are members of the local Geographical Association and attend a range of lectures throughout the year related to aspects of the course. Each year, we invite a speaker to talk about a Geographical issue. This may be related to our ECO Schools accreditation to raise awareness of ECO themes of water, waste, energy, biodiversity and transport, or related to another current geographical issue.

German

The German Department prides itself on being engaging, supportive and successful. Our lessons have a pupil-centred approach, incorporating creative and interactive activities to build the girls’ competence in the four key skills. We have a very strong academic record. As a department, we are fully aware of the increasing importance of studying German in an ever-changing job market. Indeed, The Sunday Times recently reported that job advertisements specifying German language skills rose by 11.6% in the past three years, making German the most sought-after language by employers. However, apart from the obvious employment benefits, German is the most widely spoken native language in Europe, Germany is the fourth-largest economy worldwide, and home to some of the biggest and most influential science and technology companies. Our lessons include a number of opportunities to build the girls’ creativity, critical and logical thinking, as well as teamwork and resilience.

  • AS + A Level

    We follow the AQA A Level in German. This new course is highly engaging, focusing entirely on the society and culture of the German-speaking world. The girls study a range of interesting topics: the digital world, youth culture, Immigration and racism, cultural life past and present in Berlin, as well as the history of Germany before, during, and after the Cold War. The course also requires the study of German literature and cinema. We currently study Good Bye, Lenin! and Der Vorleser, which are both very popular with our students, thanks to the support we give to begin studying works in another language. The girls develop a number of other transferable key skills throughout this course: they are regularly tasked with researching and presenting their findings on the subject matter of the different topics, they are encouraged to think critically about these issues and the works they study and develop an advanced grasp of German grammar. In addition to their timetabled lessons, each girl attends an individual weekly conversation class with our German assistant. This proves invaluable in the preparation for the A Level oral examination.

    At AS this consists of three papers:

    Paper 1: Listening, reading and writing – 1 hour 45 minutes – 45% of AS

    Paper 2: Writing – 1 hour 30 minutes – 25% of AS

    Paper 3: Speaking – 12-14 minutes – 30% of AS

    Topics:

    Theme 1: Aspects of German-speaking society

    Theme 2: Artistic culture in the German-speaking world

    At A Level the papers are as follows:

    Paper 1: Listening, reading and writing – 2 hours 30 minutes – 50% of qualification

    Paper 2: Writing – 2 hours – 20% of qualification

    Paper 3: Speaking – 21-23 minutes – 30% of qualification

    Topics:

    Theme 1: Aspects of German-speaking society

    Theme 2: Multiculturalism in German-speaking society

    Theme 3: Artistic culture in the German-speaking world

    Theme 4: Aspects of political life in the German-speaking world

  • Enrichment

    The German Department fully understands the importance of enrichment when learning a language, not only to boost linguistic competence, but also to broaden the girls’ horizons to the cultural and social landscape in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. At Key Stage 3, all girls can attend the weekly Modern Languages Club where they can have fun practising their German with games and quizzes. These sessions are often led by our Sixth Form language mentors. At IGCSE level, all girls have the opportunity to take part in a home-stay programme to improve their German in an immersive environment. We have visited Munich, Berlin and Dresden in recent years, taking part in language workshops, as well as enjoying cultural trips to local landmarks. At A Level, we run regular visits to London where we take part in A Level workshops on our selected novel and film. We also enjoy building links with local schools, where we attend debating evenings and A Level conference days run by local universities. We are actively involved in the Guildford-Freiburg twinning association, where we enjoy taking part in the lectures and events provided for students following the A Level German course. All girls are encouraged to read the many magazines on offer in the library.

History

Studying History enables us to understand the world around us and equips us with a range of skills to engage with society in a critical and discerning manner. Our Department strives to bring the past to life, exploring the little flashes in the past that have defined our future. Girls are inspired to investigate and create their own interpretation of British, European and Global history. Our classrooms are not the realms of antiquated tales of years gone by, but the realms of kings, queens, love, money, power, and war, reanimated with historical research and our own imaginations. History is not merely what happened; it is an understanding of the how the past has been interpreted and the development of our own evaluation of the past. To achieve this, we must bring History to life.

  • A Level

    We aim to offer an interesting and varied A Level which enables pupils to progress to university study with confidence. We believe that a combination of modern and early modern history provides a broad and engaging course and gives students the opportunity to work with a range of historical sources. In the Upper Sixth, students complete a coursework unit on ‘Gender History’ which enables them to develop the research and independent learning skills that they will use in Higher Education. Throughout the A Level, students will learn about the burgeoning Tudor dynasty and the many political, economic and social challenges, from home and abroad, that Tudor rulers faced. Our Russia unit examines the monumental changes Russia underwent with the removal of the Romanov dynasty and its replacement, initially by the provisional government but then by the world’s first communist regime. Girls in Upper Sixth undertake a thematic study of the British Empire and the history of colonialism.

  • Enrichment

    We revel in launching societies and competitions to nurture a passion for History throughout the year. In Past Times Club, Lower School students have been known to write, direct and film their own Horrible Histories episode, including Henry VIII speed dating, as a weekly venture. Our Tormead Sixth Form History Society regular attend local lectures at the Historical Association, enter the Historical Association’s Great Debate competition and meet each half term to discuss a ‘big’ question in History: Do Historians need to be empathetic? Does History require imagination? What makes a great leader? Can we learn from past mistakes? The History Department also holds regular trips to Hampton Court, the Battlefields of Ypres and Somme and Berlin.

Mathematics

The discipline of mathematics teaches pupils to be accurate, to communicate clearly and to construct rigorous logical arguments. It enables them to think independently and to apply these skills to mathematical problem solving. Many of the topics the girls study have applications in real life, as well as direct links to other subjects and topics. Pupils are encouraged to enjoy and appreciate the intellectual challenge of mathematics and to be motivated by the techniques and methods taught. Starting on entry to the school in Year 7, students are taught in tiered groups set on ability based on thorough assessments. Student setting continues to be reviewed each half term during the Lower School. Investigative and exploratory work is encouraged in the learning of mathematics together with a strong emphasis on the essential algebraic, numeric and geometric skills. In any year, a mixture of learning activities is used, including teacher-led discussions and tasks, small group investigations, the use of ICT, practical projects and textbook practice. To assist in our teaching, every classroom has an interactive whiteboard. Our aim is to make mathematics as accessible and enjoyable as possible for all our students through a variety of teaching methods to accommodate different learning styles.

  • A Level

    Tormead mathematicians follow the Edexcel course. It is made up of two-thirds pure mathematics and one-third applied mathematics. The introductory applied modules for statistics and mechanics are studied.

    Course units – description and assessment

    Papers 1 and 2 Pure Mathematics (67% of A Level) Students study proof, algebra and function, coordinate geometry, sequences and series. trigonometry, exponentials and logarithms, numerical methods, differentiation, integration and vectors. Assessed by written exams.

    Statistics and Mechanics (33% of A Level) Students study applied mathematical topics covering both statistics and mechanics. In statistics they study sampling, data presentation and interpretation, correlation, regression, probability, statistical distributions and hypothesis testing. In mechanics, students study kinematics, forces and Newton’s Laws.

    What can you do after the course?

    Students with an A Level Mathematics are well equipped to go into almost any career. Many students go on to study mathematics, science or engineering-related degree courses, though business, computing and financial courses are also commonly chosen.

    FURTHER MATHEMATICS A LEVEL

    Examination Board Edexcel Course outline

    This course expects students to use complex mathematical skills and knowledge to solve problems. It is delivered at Reed’s as a fourth A Level complementing the choice of Mathematics A Level which underpins this qualification.

    Course units – description and assessment

    The course has two compulsory components with students selecting two further options to be examined on.

    Paper 1: Core Pure Mathematics 1 (25% of A Level)

    Paper 2: Core Pure Mathematics 2 (25% of A Level)

    In these units students study proof, complex numbers, matrices, further algebra and functions, further calculus, further vectors, polar coordinates, hyperbolic functions, and differential equations. Assessed by written exam.

    Paper 3: Further Mathematics Option 1 (25% of A Level)

    Students take one of the following four options:

    A: Further Pure Mathematics 1

    B: Further Statistics 1

    C: Further Mechanics 1

    D: Decision Mathematics 1

    Assessed by written exam.

    Paper 4: Further Mathematics Option 2 (25% of A Level)

    Students take one of the following seven options:

    A: Further Pure Mathematics 2

    B: Further Statistics 1

    C: Further Mechanics 1

    D: Decision Mathematics 1

    E: Further Statistics 2

    F: Further Mechanics 2

    G: Decision Mathematics 2

    Assessed by written exam.

     

    Further Mathematics A Level is designed for students who find A Level Mathematics highly accessible and who wish to devote over half their A Level study time to mathematics. It is a highly specialist and demanding qualification.

    What can girls do after the course?

    An A Level in Further Mathematics is targeted at students wishing to study Mathematics, Physics or Engineering courses at selective universities. It is advisable to offer Further Mathematics A Level in an application to Imperial College, Oxford or Cambridge to read subjects such as economics, mathematics, physics or engineering and for many Russell Group universities in applications to read mathematics.

    Level 3 Mathematical Studies

    The Level 3 Mathematical Studies course, often referred to as “Core Maths”, provides students with an opportunity to extend their understanding of Mathematics in L6, without studying A level Mathematics. The course is studied in addition to three full A levels during L6. It is a one year course that builds on the GCSE and helps to develop students’ mathematical skills, especially statistical analysis and finance. It supports many A levels such as Psychology, Sciences, Geography and Economics as well as any future degrees courses, or other technical and vocational qualifications. The Level 3 Mathematical Studies course is worth the same amount of UCAS points as an AS level qualification. Mathematical studies is a highly valued qualification, by both employers and universities. It is worth the same amount of UCAS points as an AS Level and works well in partnership with other courses for students who do not wish to take A level Mathematics.

  • Enrichment

    Puzzle Club for Year 7, 8, 9 run is run by the mathematics department along with weekly competitions to promote problem solving skills. Annually, some students are selected to participate in the Kangaroo Maths Challenge (a national maths competition). The top performers in the school are awarded Gold, Silver or Bronze certificates, depending on how they performed in relation to their peers across the country. There is usually a Prep Maths Challenge in the Summer Term (Year 7 and 8) and an Intermediate Maths Challenge (Year 9, 10 and 11) in the Spring Term and a Senior Maths Challenge (Year 12 and 13) in the Autumn term.

Music

Music thrives at Tormead, both in and out of the classroom and plays a major part in the wider life of the school. Music is centred in the JCS Building, with two main teaching classrooms. One contains a suite of Macs running Sibelius & Logic and there are seven individual teaching practice rooms for music lessons. Around 150 girls take part in musical performances during the year. The Music Department has excellent relationships with a wide variety of venues and professional musical groups and we are always looking to build on these still further. In recent times, members of the Chamber Choir and the Symphony Orchestra have participated in professional recordings in a studio in Islington. Girls are encouraged to sing in one of four choirs and to learn to play at least one musical instrument. Symphony Orchestra, Concert Band and Jazz Band are just some of the ensembles available to girls. The Jazz Band undertakes a biennial tour to Europe during the summer holiday. Approximately 40 percent of girls in the Senior School have individual music lessons, many of them entering for ABRSM, Trinity and LCM examinations. The ethos the Music Department is that all girls should have the opportunity to perform in public at whatever level they have attained.

  • A Level

    A Level Music is aimed at those pupils who wish to pursue academic music to a higher level. It is not necessary to have studied GCSE Music to opt for the subject, though that is helpful. 60% of the examination comprises composition and performance coursework. Two compositions must be submitted by the May deadline, and these are marked externally. A candidate must submit a recorded performance of their playing one or more pieces, uninterrupted. Performance recordings take place under the supervision of the Director of Music who will normally provide the accompanying role. No ensembles are required at A Level. Minimum lengths for composition and performing coursework apply and girls are sent a comprehensive policy document when they start the course. The department is justly proud of the standards of coursework, and recordings of the girls’ performances are regularly broadcast at Tormead opening mornings. A written paper taken at the end of Year 12 or 13 comprises analysis questions on music from the following areas of study: Vocal Music, Instrumental, Music for Film, Popular Music & Jazz, Fusions, and New Directions. Pupils who study music at A Level progress to a variety of further education destinations. Some choose to pursue non-musical subjects, including Psychology, Economics and Modern Languages. Nevertheless, they continue to perform music to a high level as part of their extracurricular studies. Some pupils also take a more vocational route, pursuing Music at University or Conservatoire level. In recent years, Tormead Musicians have gained places to study Music Technology, Performance at the Royal College of Music and Music at Clare College, Cambridge (with an organ Scholarship).

  • Enrichment

    The strength of the Music Department lies in its extensive extra-curricular programme. Numerous opportunities are available to the girls to perform at all levels. Concert performances are available to both the virtuoso musician, as well as those who have less experience of playing a musical instrument. There are opportunities to perform in informal concerts such as those given in year groups during the school day and more formal concerts given at Tormead and other performing venues. In recent years these have included G Live, Holy Trinity Church, St Mary’s Church, Esher Parish Church, The Guildford Institute, Cranleigh Arts Centre and Guildford Cathedral. Tormead choirs also regularly sing Choral Evensong at cathedrals including Southwark, Chichester, Blackburn and Christ Church, Oxford. Tormead Choir travels to Manchester each year and broadcasts live on BBC Radio 4 as part of the long running ‘Daily Service’. Tormead Jazz band gives numerous performances in the local area and tours every two years. Recent tour destinations have included the Italian Lakes, Germany and the Netherlands. In recent years, members of the choir have performed in a professional recording of a song broadcast for the BAFTA video games awards ceremony, while the Choir and Orchestra performed in a chart-busting song which reached number 2 in the Classical iTunes chart. Other musicians have played in the Pit Band for the musical Singing in the Rain. Collaborations with professional musicians beyond school feature regularly in the program of events, and these include performing with the composer Will Todd, Vivace Choral Society, Southern Pro Music, Guildford Choral Society and Mosaic Chamber Choir. A typical year in the Musical calendar involves some twenty concert or public performances, in and out of school.

Physical Education

Many are surprised by the breadth of content involved with academic Physical Education. It is a challenging but very rewarding subject to study. The variety of topics examined in the theory aspects of the course make it appealing to a wide range of pupils. The practical aspects allow pupils the opportunity to apply the knowledge from these topics and develop their overall performance level in an array of sporting disciplines. To study Academic PE, it is important that candidates are interested in the world of sport and that they enjoy the process of applying theory to practical examples within the physical activity setting. At both GCSE and A Level, pupils achieve a proportion of their marks through demonstrating their ability to perform effectively in the practical setting. Regular participation in physical activity is therefore vital for success in this aspect of the course.

  • A Level

    We study different modules in a number of different disciplines within the field of sports science. The course provides an excellent stepping stone for pupils wishing to go on to further study in any branch of the subject. The course is a mixture of theory and practical and pupils are encouraged to apply the theoretical knowledge that they acquire to the improvement of performance.

    Pupils will develop knowledge, skills and understanding in the following theoretical areas:

    • Applied anatomy and physiology
    • Skill acquisition
    • Sport and society
    • Exercise physiology and biomechanics
    • Sports psychology
    • Technology in sport

    Performance and the written analysis of performance make up the coursework section of the qualification

  • Enrichment

    Previous enrichment opportunities have included visiting speakers and excursions to sports science labs and the Wimbledon museum.

Physics

Physics is the fundamental science which studies how objects in the physical world behave and interact – encompassing everything from sub-atomic particles to the largest structures in the universe. The subject’s amazing analytical and predictive power underpins almost all the technologies which enable our modern way of life. As well as being a rigorous and intellectually satisfying subject in its own right, Physics is a gateway to a wide range of technology–based university courses and careers. Students who enjoy the theoretical aspects of physics may wish to study it, or a related field, such as astrophysics or materials science at university. Many Tormead girls who have taken A Level Physics have gone on to study engineering and related subjects at university, which can lead to a wide range of professional careers in industry, management, business and project delivery. Others have gone on to study unrelated fields such music, archaeology, animation or medicine. People who have studied Physics at higher level are valued by universities and employers because they have demonstrated academic rigour and developed robust analytical, problem-solving and mathematical modelling skills.

  • A Level

    Girls develop the higher-order analysis, thinking and mathematical modelling skills necessary to frame and solve physical problems. They gain an appreciation of how scientific theories need to explain the available evidence and are revised in the light of new evidence. A wide range of practical experimental techniques are learned as well as how to quantify the errors and uncertainties inherent in them. Girls also develop their ability to write clear concise coherent and logical answers to questions. The course contains the following topics:

    • Uncertainties in measurement
    • Particle and subatomic physics
    • Quantum physics
    • Forces and momentum
    • Materials
    • Motion and projectiles
    • Wave properties and optics
    • DC and AC electricity
    • Gravitational and fields
    • Electric and magnetic fields
    • Circular motion
    • Oscillating systems (vibrations)
    • Electromagnetism
    • Thermodynamics
    • Nuclear physics
    • Astrophysics & Cosmology

    Some of the above topics, such as particle physics, quantum physics, materials and projectiles are studied for the first time at A Level. Other topics which have been introduced at IGCSE, such as forces, DC electricity and nuclear physics, are explored in a wider variety of contexts and applications, as well as being treated in a more quantitative way.

  • Enrichment

    The Physics Department leads a number of visits each year including: Year 10 “Science Live” lectures by eminent scientists (run jointly with other Science Departments); Year 10 Thorpe Park trip with “Physics of Theme Parks” talk; Year 11 Astrophysics, Engineering and college tour at Cambridge University; Year 12 “Inspirational Physics” afternoon of lectures at the University of Surrey Physics Department; Year 13 Particle Physics Masterclass at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, Oxfordshire; and Year 12 & 13 Visit to JET Nuclear Fusion Research facility at Culham.

    Older girls are encouraged to attend public evening physics lectures at Surrey University & Royal Holloway (University of London)

    All girls are encouraged to learn how to use the Tormead Observatory and to join observing sessions after school in the winter months. Sixth Form students are also able to take GCSE Astronomy as an enrichment subject alongside their A levels.

    The Physics Department encourages girls to compete in the British Physics Olympiad competitions in Years 10,11,12 & 13. We also welcome Tormead Old Girls back to talk to current pupils about their university course and subsequent careers in physics, science engineering and related fields. In addition, girls are encouraged to consider applying for Smallpeice Trust & Headstart STEM subject short taster courses at universities. Finally, girls considering engineering as a career and/or as a university course are encouraged to apply for a national Arkwright Sixth Form Engineering Scholarship scheme in Year 11.

Psychology

Confucius said that: ‘a common man marvels at uncommon things. A wise man marvels at the commonplace.’ A good psychologist should understand what he meant. If we stop to really think about the phenomenal capabilities that human beings reveal every day in their typical lives, we start to appreciate how incredible our brains are. The most powerful computing technology is nowhere near replicating the colossally complex and miraculous processes that underlie our daily functioning, and yet most of us are blind to them and take them for granted. Psychology (‘the scientific study of the human mind and behaviour’) is a fascinating exploration into what it means to be human. It is a multifaceted academic discipline which looks at the human condition, by adopting evolutionary, biological, cognitive, social and cultural lenses to understand what constitutes a human being. By studying Psychology, girls learn how to analyse theories and explanations for thinking and behaviour. Not only do they learn interesting things about themselves (and why people like to do so is an interesting psychological question in itself), but it allows pupils to develop their academic, evidence-based arguing skills too, which are applicable to many other areas of life and work.

  • A Level

    We follow the AQA A Level psychology specification. In the first year of AS study, we look at: human memory, child attachment, social psychology, psychopathology (OCD, phobias and depression), approaches and perspectives and research methods with human participants. For students continuing with the full A Level, we progress to study the following topics additionally: biopsychology, issues and debates in psychology, gender, aggression and schizophrenia. Within each topic, there are several subsections, and students are introduced to current (and sometimes competing) theories and explanations. We then evaluate these explanations by considering their strengths and limitations.

  • Enrichment

    Although the department consists of one sole specialist, Mr Wilkinson is a prominent figure in Beacon activities, talks and lectures. Recent talks include: ‘The Oedipus Complex: Did Freud really fancy his own mother?’, ‘The girl with half a brain: The miracle inside your head’, and ‘The illusion of free-will and its implications’. The School Beacon website contains many other interesting psychology links and extra-curricular activities. For lower school members, the Psychology Mentor Georgina H.C. runs a psychology club aimed specifically at those with a budding interest in the subject.

Religious Studies

Through this subject, we seek to introduce pupils to the richness and diversity of religion and the range of issues it raises. Religious Studies encourages students to recognise the central questions of life with which religion engages and enables them to respond thoughtfully to these. The subject challenges students to look at their own assumptions, beliefs and values in the light of those studied and to consider both with a critical eye. Thinking clearly and critically is essential when engaged in such a study, and the Department strives to teach those skills. In addition, the RS department tries to instill in the pupils’ recognition of the importance of reflective stillness, believing that from inner quiet comes a keener understanding of the world. By naming the subject Religious Studies (as opposed to Religious Education), we recognise that the subject aims to foster independent study skills and develop students’ research into, learning about and critical evaluation of religions and religious or moral issues.

  • A Level

    The Religious studies A Level allows for a deep exploration of three components, each with clear and well-defined content and strong supporting materials. We rigorously investigate a range of topics under the banner “Philosophy of Religion”. Girls debate, evaluate and analyse concepts from the ancient philosophers such as Plato and Aristotle through medieval thinkers such as Aquinas and Augustine, to the Enlightenment with luminaries such as Kant and Hume, even up to modern scholars involved with issues surrounding epistemology and the philosophy of language. The debate is not limited to this stream of content however; there is a plethora of discussion to be had in the “Ethics” side of the course, from inquiring about normative ethical theories to the application of those theories to issues such as business, even sexual ethics and the influence on ethical thought of developments in religious beliefs. We complete our A Level deliberations with a serious consideration into the “Development of Christian Thought”, wherein we have the opportunity to undertake a systematic study of key concepts within the development of Christian thought. Girls explore religious beliefs, values and teachings, their interconnections, how they have developed historically and how they are presently discussed. Overall, this is a thought-provoking programme of study which also acts as a rigorous course of scholarship for progression to Higher Education.

  • Enrichment

    In the lower school, we have the opportunity to visit a functioning Thai Buddhist monastery in the heart of Wimbledon. Experiencing both the beauty of the architecture and symbolic interior decorations but also having the privilege to discover the life and work of Buddhist monks. The Sixth Form have the opportunity to go with the Religious Studies department on a trip to Krakow to visit the Auschwitz and Birkenau concentration camps; a moving and valuable experience. Sixth Formers also have the option of attending conferences which deal with hotly debated topics surrounding ethical, epistemological and ontological issues in a formal academic setting held in London. The department also engages with the Beacon sessions throughout the year offering debates on economic justice, the origins of Christmas and contentious issues surrounding the ownership of the Holy sites in Jerusalem.

Spanish

In today’s multicultural world it has never been more vital to be able to speak another language. Spanish opens the doors to so many countries and – with over 400 million speakers – it is the world’s second most spoken language. Studying Spanish allows girls to open their minds to other cultures and to understand their own better. Students opting for Spanish find that it complements many other A Levels and universities are keen to take on those who have a language or who wish to continue studying a language course. In lessons, we believe in supporting our students to make language connections, build their confidence, and develop a love of learning.

  • A Level

    The A Level course is designed to delve deeper into the culture and history of Spain. We cover topics such as changes to family structure, Hispanic festivals, gender equality and the Spanish Civil War and move to democracy. The examination tests the topics across the four same skills. Class activities are varied, and pupils develop new skills such as translation and film and literature analysis. Girls also benefit from a one-to-one weekly meeting with our Spanish assistant to help them prepare for the oral examination.

    At AS this consists of three papers:

    Paper 1: Listening, reading and writing – 1 hour 45 minutes – 45% of AS

    Paper 2: Writing – 1 hour 30 minutes – 25% of AS

    Paper 3: Speaking – 12-14 minutes – 30% of AS

    Topics:

    Theme 1: Aspects of Hispanic society

    Theme 2: Artistic culture in the Hispanic world

    At A Level the papers are as follows:

    Paper 1: Listening, reading and writing – 2 hours 30 minutes – 50% of qualification

    Paper 2: Writing – 2 hours – 20% of qualification

    Paper 3: Speaking – 21-23 minutes – 30% of qualification

    Topics:

    Theme 1: Aspects of Hispanic society

    Theme 2: Multiculturalism in Hispanic society

    Theme 3: Artistic culture in the Hispanic world

    Theme 4: Aspects of political life in the Hispanic world

  • Enrichment

    In Lower School, the Modern Foreign Languages club includes delving into the culture of the many Spanish speaking countries, make a piñata or watch some Spanish films. Beacon sessions are another way to satisfy curiosity about how citizens of Hispanic countries live their lives. In Senior School, there’s the chance to visit Spain and stay with a host family (because there is no better way to get to know a country than to spend time there interacting with its people). During the A Level course, girls can attend film and literature conferences and visit the British Film Institute in London. We also organise opportunities to interview experts in their field such as Immigration workers via Skype. Speed debating with local schools is also a popular event where girls get to socialise with other A Level Spanish students. Most years, we are able to secure a pen-pal for every girl studying Spanish and during the year you will exchange letters. We also welcome Spanish students to Tormead and girls in Years 7 and 8 are invited to ‘buddy’ with them during their stay with us.

Where next?

Sixth Form

Academic Enrichment

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