Curriculum content

The curriculum of any school is absolutely central to achieving success. If students can access courses which are suitable for them, then motivation, enjoyment and achievement are certain to improve.

COVID19 – Update

We have made it our priority to ensure we can still deliver a full curriculum for our students upon their return to school in September 2020.

Students will have access to a full, broad and balanced curriculum, with small adaptations made to ensure this can be delivered safely, particularly in practical subject areas.

Years 7 & 8 students will complete non-practical subjects in a specific area of school, but will move classrooms to access PE, Computing, Science and design subjects. This will ensure they are able to access all areas of the curriculum, to give them the best possible experience in school.

Year 9-11 students will follow their full curriculum, including all options subjects.

Students in Years 12 & 13 have designated zones within the Sixth Form and will follow the full curriculum offer, with access to specialist classroom spaces.

PE, Science, Drama, Music and Design subjects have all undertaken specific risk assessments, following the relevant regulatory body guidance, to enable to curriculum to be delivered in a safe but effective way.

Extra-curricular sport will take place from week 3, delivered within year groups on specific evenings.

Extra-curricular music and drama will be remote in the first instance but will also begin from week 3.

Our Intentions

At Harrogate Grammar School we aim to adapt the curriculum to suit the needs of each student, not the other way round. We aim to provide all of our students with exciting opportunities which build confidence, develop a range of skills and promote academic excellence and a love of learning. We offer a broad range of courses at all levels preparing students for further education and future careers.

We also value learning beyond that which is recognised within National Curriculum statements and seek to provide a broad and balanced diet, which offers our students the opportunity for enrichment and deeper learning. We aim to develop confident young people with enquiring minds and a range of attributes that prepare them to be responsible citizens throughout their lives.

The Implementation of our Curriculum

At Harrogate Grammar School there is a strong focus on the core subjects; English, Maths and Science which we believe are the pillars that support understanding, skills and success elsewhere in the curriculum.

We also continue to provide enhanced provision for language learning, believing that the study of languages is extremely important in developing our students as citizens ready for the challenges of the global economy.

The creative subjects continue to thrive at Harrogate Grammar School. Students can make genuine choices as they enter Year 10, for their GCSE programmes of study. Art, Business, computing, design, drama, food and nutrition, music and PE continue to be popular choices and are well catered for.

Whilst seeking to provide a World Class education for our students, our curriculum has at its core
the fundamental British values of democracy, rule of law, individual liberty, and mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs. In order to actively promote these values we expect all staff, students and visitors to challenge opinions or behaviours seen or heard in school that are contrary to these values and to seek all opportunities to build students’ resilience to radicalisation and enable them to effectively challenge any kind of extremist view.

The Spiritual, Moral, social and cultural curriculum

The Big Picture Vision Statement

“We aim for all Harrogate Grammar School students to be happy, healthy, confident young adults who can contribute to the world in which they live now and in the future as active, responsible citizens. This will be achieved through an innovative, engaging and purposeful whole school programme, which combines elements of PSHE, Citizenship and Careers and is outstanding in its provision”

Students in Years 7 to 11 will follow The Big Picture programme of study during their guidance lessons. This programme of personal development cover aspects such as Citizenship, Careers education, Personal, Social & Health Education and Financial Wellbeing.

Lower Secondary Subjects – Key Stage 3 – Years 7 to 9

English, Mathematics, Science, Religious Studies, Physical Education, French, Geography, German or Spanish, History, Design (Art & Design, Design Technology & Food and nutrition), Computing (Y7), music and drama (Y9). In Years 7 students have 2 guidance lessons per week, in which they follow The Big Picture programme of study. In Years 8 and 9 they have 1 guidance lesson per week.

Upper Secondary Subjects – Key Stage 4 – Years 10 & 11

GCSE Courses on offer

English, English Literature, Mathematics, Triple Science (Biology, Chemistry & Physics) or Combined Science and Religious Studies are all studied by all students as part of the core curriculum and are all examined courses. Physical Education (core PE) is not an examined course but is compulsory for all students, as we recognise its value in ensuring our students physical and mental well-being.

Students are then able to choose from the optional GCSE subjects including; Art, Business Studies, Computing, Drama, Food & Nutrition, French, Geography, German, History, Music, Photography, Physical Education, Product Design and Spanish. They may also choose to study for a Cambridge National in I-Media.

Alternative Curriculum in Key Stage 4

From September 2020, we will offer a Level 2 BTEC course: Skills and activities for sport and active leisure (Outdoor Education). This will be offered to an identified group of students in order to meet differing needs. This is a 2-year course. Students will undertake GCSEs in English Language, Maths, Combined Science and one further option subject in addition to the BTEC course. The course involves classroom learning one afternoon per week and one full day per week, doing active learning, often out of school. The course develops various life skills such as finance, first aid, risk assessment, time management and public speaking. Alongside the expedition experiences, the activities include sailing and archery for the students involved in this course.

Sixth Form Subjects

A Level Courses on offer

Art, Fine Art, Biology, Business studies, Chemistry, Computer science, Drama, Economics, English Language, English Literature, Food & Nutrition, French, Further Mathematics, Geography, German, Graphic Design, History, Italian, Mathematics, Music, Photography, Physical Education, Politics, Product Design, Psychology, Religious Studies, Sociology & Spanish

BTEC Courses

Performing Arts, Music, Sport

Cambridge National

Level 3 – Digital I-Media

Students can also study Core Mathematics and have the opportunity to complete the Extended Project Qualification (EPQ)

Provision is made for students who need to re-sit GCSE English or maths.

All students also have study lessons on their timetable in order to encourage good, independent study habits and time management.

The 2020-21 Curriculum

Year 7 and 8

All Lower Secondary subjects are offered. French is compulsory for all and students are allocated to a second language. A small group of students will be identified for whom 2 languages may not be the best option and they will join a ‘Core Plus’ group benefitting from additional support in literacy and numeracy. This group is identified during the first half term of school by the English and maths faculties following diagnostic assessment. From half term onwards, this group do French only and in the second language time have extra numeracy and literacy support and, in some cases, access to wider intervention programmes.

Year 9

All Lower Secondary subjects continue apart from computing.

All students begin the GCSE Religious Studies course in Year 9 for completion in Year 11.

Students have drama introduced to their curriculum.

Year 10

Compulsory subjects which are examined at GCSE level are; Mathematics, English (Language and Literature), Religious Studies and either Triple or Combined Science.

Physical Education (core) and The Big Picture are also compulsory but are not examined courses.

When making option choices in Y9, students are given personalised recommendations including the following;

Triple sciences or Combined Science

Compulsory minimum 1 language or Optional modern language

Recommendation to study either Geography or History to complete the Ebacc suite of subjects

On average 75-80% of the cohort each year would be expected to follow and Ebacc suite of subjects

Students then have a free choice of two more option subjects, allowing them to maintain a broad and balanced curriculum, which includes subjects in the arts, design, performing arts and sports domains.

Most students undertake 4 chosen option subjects, but some students may require an alternative curriculum and so will follow fewer option subjects depending on their individual needs.

Alternative Provision

For some students a higher level of personalisation may be needed and alternative provision will be sought. In such cases we may offer vocational experiences with recognised organisations and NYBEP registered providers, with local colleges and training services. This would include work shadowing and training and the opportunity to gain certification in various aspects of this work, such as Basic Health & Safety, level 1 or 2 courses in design and construction and functional skills in both English and Maths. Students involved in this provision, would have a reduced number of option subjects to enable participation.

Sixth Form

All students begin on 4 courses. 3 main A level choices plus an additional choice, from a range of options such as; Core maths, AS maths or an EPQ. A variety of Packages are also on offer such as a Medical, Education, Law, Business and Management Packages, which offer links for applied learning within these various sectors.

All students are allocated private study sessions.


The HGS timetable runs over a fortnightly cycle for 6 periods per day. The allocation of lessons for each subject in each year can be seen in the accompanying document, Curriculum Diagram 2020-21.

If you have any further questions with regards to the subject choices in Key Stage 4 or 5, please refer to the Option materials in the relevant sections of the website.