GCSE Curriculum and Learning Approach

At the centre of any good learning journey are questions, and we aim to provide an environment where students are empowered to ask bigger questions and find better answers, within a broad and balanced curriculum. 

At Monkton we believe students learn better when they learn about themselves, understanding their individual strengths, their weaknesses and how to make progress, and we strive to develop these attributes in young people which will help them to do this:

Intentional - Be deliberate and reflective in my choices

Imaginative - “Can I do it this way instead?” 

Inquisitive - Display a desire to look beyond the familiar

Persistent - Approach challenges with perseverance 

Productive - Work efficiently to make progress

Resilient - Make positive use of failure 

Resourceful - “What resources can I use to make progress?”

Symbiotic - Seek to positively influence others

Students write their own reports and are encouraged to understand what they do well and where and how they can do better, as part of a shared responsibility for monitoring and improving performance.

By gearing our pastoral provision to the individual needs of each and every pupil, no student gets lost, no student gets left behind. 

Senior Girl pupils sat outside

Discovering a new best

At Monkton, we aim to know each pupil as well as we can, and by doing so, to help them to know they are unconditionally valued. Pupils’ self-knowledge grows as a result too, and they become skilled at self-reflection and goal setting, as they work on their ‘not yets’ inside and outside the classroom. 

We are focused on providing a learning environment and structure that supports the abilities of each individual, encouraging their strengths or areas of interest and supporting them with any specific learning needs. 

We identify students with learning needs at an early stage and support them in a way that builds their confidence and self-esteem, as well as aiming to make their need for our support redundant. Pupils are nurtured through our Learning Support Department, with both one-to-one teaching and small-group learning. We develop Individual Education Plans tailored to each pupil’s needs, which could include reading and writing skills, touch typing, curriculum and coursework support, personal organisation and study skills. 

Fostering talent 

We take our commitment to the whole child seriously, encouraging children to keep trying new things on their journey to find where their passions really lie. We encourage students of all levels of ability to take part in the activities which motivate and inspire them. 

There is a common understanding across departments of the characteristics of effective learning, including being prepared to take risks, make mistakes and exercise an enquiring mind.

- Challenge Partners

Within Monkton, our Academic Societies encourage students to broaden their intellectual horizons and develop their thinking. They provide extensive opportunities to gain a deeper understanding of how the subjects they study in the classroom relate to the outside world. One such example is our Dearlove Society, named after Old Monktonian and former Head of MI6, Sir Richard Dearlove, which is the academic society for our younger scholars.

Students are afforded the time and opportunity to both discover and pursue their individual interests, supported by a diverse enrichment programme, an extensive programme of activities and events, including frequent seminars and presentations from visiting speakers. Recent standing room only lectures have included Terry Waite, Sharron Davies, Eddie ‘The Eagle’ Edwards and Jacob Rees-Mogg, MP. 

A flexible approach to timetabling supports pupils who want to commit to demanding training or practice schedules outside school, enabling them to fulfil their aspirations. In the past we have supported those with national and international sporting commitments in rowing, tennis, skeleton and modern pentathlon.

A broad and balanced curriculum

Personal Development

Personal Development (PD) is a very important part of the Monkton Curriculum and is designed specifically for Monkton by Monkton staff. The course comprises weekly lessons for all year groups, and a number of specific events aimed at various age groups to allow them to explore and understand themselves, how they fit into an ever-changing world and learn to make the right decisions with integrity. Each young person is recognised as unique, with individual characteristics and needs, living within a community of other unique individuals, and this is the basis on which we deliver the PD course.


We want to make the best use of technology to enhance learning wherever possible. All students are required to bring a Chromebook to every lesson which is supplied by the school with a termly charge. At Monkton we are keen to develop a balanced view of technology and so look to continue to discuss with students about how to use all our digital resources appropriately.

Year 9: A Firm Foundation

The Year 9 curriculum at Monkton stands out for combining both specialism and diversity, a firm foundation that ensures pupils have significant choice when selecting subjects to study at GCSE. 

Sciences (Physics, Chemistry and Biology) and subjects such as History, Geography and Theology, Philosophy and Ethics are taught separately by subject specialist teachers, to enable pupils to develop the distinctive skills acquired through a focus on each individual discipline. Separate courses in Art, Music, Drama and Design give an opportunity to discover and develop creative skills as well as ensuring a thorough grounding in the techniques needed in later study. 

We encourage all pupils to study a modern language, and alongside French, we offer Spanish, Latin or Mandarin. Students arriving from overseas may opt for English as an Additional Language

We also make time for a four-week carousel of lessons involving library and study skills, ICT and computing and an outdoor education programme with an opportunity for every new Year 9 student to try their hand at rowing.

Entering Year 9 Prospectus

Years 10 and 11: Insight and Independence

In preparation for Year 11 GCSE or IGCSE qualifications, pupils study core subjects of English, Mathematics and usually two Sciences and can choose up to six additional optional subjects from a list of 17. 

Entering Year 10 Prospectus

Getting extra help

Being a boarding school, many teachers are on site for extended periods of the day, so much informal support can be offered by arrangement. However, in addition we run ‘Voluntaries’ - drop in sessions where pupils can get some extra help. Each subject offers two a week, and pupils can either drop in for 5 minutes or stay for an hour. Voluntaries are a key part of our aim to encourage our pupils to be resourceful and proactively seek out help when required.

Learning beyond the classroom

Almost every subject organises some sort of visit, trip or field work opportunity. For instance, the History department leads a trip to Berlin, Physics to CERN, and Business to Marshfield Ice Cream. We want our pupils to look beyond the four walls of a classroom and appreciate the relevance of their studies to life and work. 

Senior pupils out on a school trip

Where next?