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Box Hill School has the following curriculum aims:

  • To create a supportive and caring learning environment that gives the pupils experience in linguistic, mathematical, scientific, technological, human and social, physical and aesthetic and creative education through the core academic and co- curricular programme.
  • To ensure that pupils acquire speaking, listening, literacy and numeracy skills.
  • To provide challenging learning experiences appropriate to the age, ability and aptitude of all pupils.
  • To enable pupils to achieve the best possible qualifications for higher education and beyond.
  • To inspire our pupils and instil in them a love of learning, inquiry and knowledge to that they question, discuss rationally and make informed decisions.
  • To enable pupils to develop the skills and attitudes that motivate them to learn and are necessary for independent learning.
  • To ensure that depth and rigour are balanced by breadth and coherence in our curriculum.
  • To teach pupils self-respect through an understanding of their own self-worth.
  • To enable pupils to respect, appreciate and acknowledge the achievements and aspirations of others.
  • To teach pupils to be positive members of a community through respect for and commitment to the ideals of the Round Square – International understanding, Democracy, Environmental awareness, Adventure, Leadership and Service to the community, coupled with the integration at all levels of the qualities that make up the IB learner profile.

The International Baccalaureate and its values underpin the curriculum both within and beyond the classroom.


The curriculum at Box Hill School is planned to ensure a breadth and balance of subjects studied throughout the 11-16 age range. We follow the intentions of the National Curriculum but broaden its scope to ensure that courses are constructed to suit the abilities and interests of our students. The subject matter is appropriate for the ages and aptitudes of pupils, including those pupils with specific learning difficulties and those who are gifted or talented (see separate Gifted and Talented policy). To enrich the curriculum and to link with the Round Square ideals all students in Years 7-9 undertake two expeditions, one in September and the other in June/July. In addition study skills courses are provided annually at Key Stage 3 and Key Stage 4 for all students in curricular time. Assessments are set half- termly and annually to test attainment and progress throughout the school. The curriculum is delivered through a Week A and Week B 10-day timetable in 55 minute lessons, to allow all subjects a variety of learning slots dispersed across the two week cycle. 


In Years 7-9 the subjects Science (in Years 7 and 8 only) History, Geography, Information Technology, CDT, Art, Drama, Music, PSHE and Physical Education are taught in class groups by subject specialists. In Year 9 Science is split and taught as the separate disciplines with students set according to ability. In year 7 there are 2 groups A and B set by ability; in Year 8 there are 3 groups also set by ability. In Year 9 there are 3 groups – 9A a top ability group and 9Bi and 9Bii, middle ability groups.

English is set during the first term into 2 (Year 7), 2 (Year 8), and 4 (Year 9 including a mainstream EAL set for those requiring this support) groups. Mathematics is set into groups during term 1 using information from entrance tests, internal assessment and CABT data.

Science is taught as Science in Years 7 and 8 and as Biology, Chemistry and Physics in Year 9.

Two languages are taught in Years 7, 8 and9, French and Spanish. Groups are set by ability in the course of term one based on internal assessment data. In Years 8 and 9, those students with special educational needs may, on recommendation from the Head of Learning Support (SENCO), study just Spanish with a combination of additional periods allocated to Spanish in lieu of French and additional literacy support provided by the learning support unit staff. For students who have advanced skills in a language the option to take GCSE early is made in year 9.  For example Mandarin, Japanese, German, French, Spanish, or Russian.


In Years 10 and 11 most students study 9 GCSEs. The compulsory core curriculum comprises English Language, English Literature, Mathematics and at least one Science and ideally a Modern Foreign Language. In English and Mathematics students are set into 4 groups. EAL students are provided with a separate ESL set leading to GCSE English.

Students choose 3 or 4 subjects from an options list and they are encouraged to take a Modern Foreign Language, a humanities subject and a creative arts option to achieve a balanced curriculum. Each subject provides a summary for students in an information booklet supported by an options process during the second term in Year 9. The optimum size of groups is 20, dictated by the size of the classrooms. In some subjects the groups can be much smaller. The option blocks in the timetable are designed to allow the maximum number to study their first choice options. Subjects available are: Art, Fashion & Textiles, Drama, Music, ICT, History, Geography, Business Studies, PE, French, Spanish, and CDT. For some students with SEND or EAL a more limited GCSE programme is provided to create extra time for lessons in Learning Support or with ESL tutors. Study support periods are staffed by teachers to help monitor students who choose to drop a subject. In addition students have PE lessons and follow a Life Skills/PHSE programme over the 2 years through the tutorial system, which includes health, personal, social, and careers education and citizenship. Within the week there is also tutorial support for the academic programme from personal tutors.


In the Sixth Form students study the International Baccalaureate or the A level programme. They have 8 lessons of 55 minutes per cycle for HL subjects and for each SL subject 5 lessons of 55 minutes per cycle in the IB, whilst in A levels each is allocated 8 lessons per fortnight in Year 13 and 9 per fortnight in Year 12. We aim for group sizes of 10-15 students, but this varies considerably. If the numbers opting for a subject fall below four, subjects are asked to teach in either a reduced number of lessons or to have joint lessons. IB students undertake TOK in 3 x 55 minutes per fortnight and 150 CAS hours over the 5 term programme. IB students undertake the extended essay and A level students are encouraged to do so.

The details of the A level and International Baccalaureate curriculum are on the website, in specific booklets. The curriculum is constantly under review and the school reserves the right to make changes during the school year, as well as year by year.

Departments are encouraged to look at the five terms in the Sixth Form as a whole and to ration courses and conferences to enrich the curriculum so that teaching time is not put at risk. It is suggested that one course per subject is appropriate. Before booking an academic event to support the curriculum a proposal must come through Directors who try to monitor and balance out the timing of events and the loss of time to other departmental areas.

Visits to University Open Days are encouraged but monitored and again students are advised to restrict as many of these as possible to holidays and weekends.


Learning Support Department

The Learning Support Department operates to support the special needs of all students in all areas of their school lives. At Box Hill, the Department sees mostly pupils with Dyslexia although there are also those who have an Attention Deficit Disorder, Dysgraphia, Dyscalculia and Dyspraxia; the school occasionally admits pupils on the autistic spectrum.

The Department consists of a full-time Head of Learning Support (SENCO), a Deputy Head of Learning Support (4 days a week) and an Assistant to the Head of Learning Support (2 days plus peripatetic hours), 3 Learning Support Assistants and 7 part-time peripatetic Specialist Teachers. In addition, an independent Speech and Language Therapist visits the Department to work with particular students. Whilst not a separate Unit, the Department is housed in a self-contained building with rooms for one-to-one teaching.

Children are withdrawn on a rotation basis in Years 7, 8 and 9 but in the higher years, children are not usually taken from any academic classes. There is also provision for some in-class support. Where a pupil has a statement, appropriate provision is made to ensure that its requirements are met. Lessons are of one hour’s duration and the number of lessons which a child receives is dependent upon his or her needs.

The Learning Support lessons are specific to the individual. The focus may be either literacy or Maths and some children receive lessons in both. Lessons also aim to develop study skills, revision techniques and organisational ability. It is the aim of the Department to help each girl or boy to realise his or her potential by developing strategies for successful independent learning which can be applied across the curriculum.

At the start of the school year, all new pupils are screened using a range of standardised tests to provide evidence on Spelling, Single Word Reading, Reading Comprehension and Writing. This information is used to identify any further students who would benefit from additional support and to inform teaching of those who will be having learning support lessons. Further screening for access arrangements is carried out at the start of Year 9.  The Department will implement the recommendations contained in any Educational Psychologist’s or Specialist Assessor’s reports provided, where the necessary expertise exists within the Department.

Once a student has been allocated a learning support teacher, the Department will prepare a ‘Profile’ summarising that student’s strengths, areas of difficulty, recommended classroom strategies and any examination access arrangements. Profiles are made available to all staff. Individual Education Plans (IEPs) are also written and sent to parents with an invitation to come in or call at a convenient time to discuss the targets if desired. IEPs are reviewed and new ones prepared in February. At this point parents of students in the upper school are invited in for a review meeting. Parents of students in the lower school are invited to attend an annual review meeting at the end of the Summer Term where targets for the following year will be agreed. In addition, the Department holds an informal tea at the beginning of the year in order for parents to meet the members of the Department.

The Department publishes a Whole School SEND Tracker which all staff can access and use to inform their teaching. It contains basic SEND information, access arrangements and the name of the member/s of the Department working with that student. There is close liaison with all other members of staff and feedback from them is used when setting targets. Pupils causing concern to teachers are referred to the Department which investigates the possibility of an undetected learning difficulty.  The Department also runs INSET for staff.

Please note that a separate and more detailed policy entitled “Special Educational Needs Policy and Procedures” is available for further details.

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