St Columba's College provides an educational environment which is caring, friendly, well-structured, positive and academically challenging to each student. It provides its students with an appropriate, balanced and broad curriculum, which allows for the development of individual talents and retains the flexibility of choice necessary for higher education and career options. It seeks to enable each student to access the curriculum to achieve his own best possible standards and is framed in the Catholic tradition and its Christian Community. The College aims to deliver the curriculum through a variety of means ranging from formal academic lessons to the wider experience offered by extended learning opportunities.
St Columba's College and the National Curriculum
The College plans its programmes of study with reference to the National Curriculum, but our approach is flexible; to follow its prescriptions in detail would in many cases impede progress and limit opportunities. We ensure that there is a challenging curriculum which prepares students for GCSE and beyond.
Forms 1, 2 and 3
Students enter the College from a variety of feeder schools at standard 11+ entry and so the academic aims of Form 1 are to consolidate previous work, develop and improve learning strategies and expose the students to a broad range of subjects. English, Mathematics, Religious Education, Science, French and Games form the core of the curriculum. Students are set by ability in Mathematics and English. In addition, all students study Art, Design Technology, History, Geography, Latin, Music and Information Technology. The teaching of French in Form 1 provides students with the essential skills required for study of modern languages. In Form 2 they will also study Spanish in addition to French to allow for firm foundations before GCSE choice. Latin also remains an option in Forms 2 and 3. Those who do not continue with Latin follow extra lessons in the foreign languages. From the start of Form 3 the sciences are presented in the curriculum in their separate entities as Biology, Chemistry and Physics, and a structured programme of Careers Education begins so that students are supported as they move towards options for GCSE.
Students take nine, ten or eleven subjects to GCSE. All study a core of English, English Literature, Mathematics, Religious Studies, a Modern Language and Sciences. Students proficient in Mathematics sit GCSE Statistics at the end of Form 4 before completing their GCSE course in Mathematics in Form 5. Additional subjects are chosen from a second Modern Language, Art and Design, Drama & Theatre Studies, Economics, Geography, History, Latin, Music, Physical Education and Design & Technology. A course of Physical Education and Games is followed by all students, although not for public examination.
A breadth of study is encouraged in the Sixth Form. The number of subjects taken is decided on an individual basis, although the norm would be to complete 4 AS Levels in Lower Sixth and then to specialize in Upper Sixth to gain three full A Levels. Exceptionally able students may follow a full four A Level course. The choice of A Levels is offered from a list of 21 AS/A2 Level courses: Art, Biology, Business Studies, Chemistry, Design Technology, Drama and Theatre Studies, Economics, English Literature, French, Geography, History, Latin, Mathematics (in which a choice of distinct courses is available), Further Mathematics, Music, Physical Education, Physics, Politics, Religious Studies, Sociology, and Spanish. The A Level course is supplemented by supervised study time and all students follow an Enrichment Programme, incorporating Religious Education, Young Enterprise, Certificate/Diploma in Financial Services, Key Skills in ICT and the Extended Project (which develops independent thinking). Games, at which there are various options, remains a compulsory component of the curriculum.
Each student is given an induction course in the use of the Library in Form 1. Reading is monitored and recommended reading lists provided. Each student has access to the Library on a rota basis to allow for research and study.
Homework is seen as integral to the learning process and is set and marked regularly in all subjects. Homework timetables are provided.