Senior School Curriculum - Portsmouth High School

Senior School Curriculum

“Lessons proceed at a swift pace, with a variety of activities and tasks to stimulate both co-operative and individual learning.”
ISI Report 2015

The Senior School curriculum is academically rigorous and enables girls to develop those significant intellectual skills that go beyond each academic discipline, to ensure they can use their knowledge in new situations and see connections between and within subjects.

Such skills are fundamental if pupils are to achieve their maximum potential and develop as independent, focussed learners who are academically successful.

Years 7, 8 and 9

In Years 7 and 8 in particular, the curriculum is based largely around subject specialisms, but seeks to maintain the collaborative enquiry-based approach developed in the Prep School.


The emphasis in science is on thinking like a scientist, before learning the benefits that a more specialist disciplinary focus provides, and covers all three natural sciences. From Year 9, biology, chemistry and physics are taught separately, and IGCSE courses will commence.


Girls entering Year 7 have the choice of Spanish or French as their main language. They may continue with either Mandarin or Latin as their second language.

Cross-curricular learning

There is a cross-curricular commitment to literacy, communication and numeracy. ICT and thinking skills are taught discretely at first but are increasingly embedded across the curriculum. Computer science is taught as a distinct strand.

Sophia programme

To complement and support traditional subject study there is the Sophia programme, in which pupils are encouraged to think in a critical manner and make cross-curricular links between subjects. This commences in Year 7 and is taught on a weekly basis through to Year 11. 

Creative arts

The creative arts and sport are a vital and fundamental part of every girl’s entitlement, and throughout the school a tailored and enhanced PSHEE (personal, social, health and economic education) programme encourages girls to develop emotional resilience and mindfulness.

Years 10 and 11

Pupils build a personalised programme that ensures breadth and balance. The curriculum is built on a firm academic base, choosing IGCSEs where appropriate, to ensure stability, rigour and progression to specialist A Levels.

The standard offer is nine or ten (I)GCSE subjects, to include as a core mathematics, English language, English literature, a modern foreign language, science(s), plus three options. These include Spanish, French, Mandarin, computer science, music, drama, Latin, RS, geography, history, classics, art and PE.

Whole year lectures cover life skills and personal and professional development, which incorporates PSHEE. PE is taken by all pupils in Years 10 and 11.

Find out more about the Sport Curriculum

Find out more about the Performing Arts Curriculum