GCSE Subjects

GCSE Subjects

Academic study at King’s offers every student a broad curriculum, engaging lessons and personalised tuition from enthusiastic, dedicated staff.

King’s has always championed choice. We continue to maintain a wide curriculum – which includes foreign languages, the Classics and separately taught sciences – so that students can select subjects that appeal to them. As they progress in Senior School and focus on their exam options, their preferences shape the timetable.

Lessons and activities are designed to engage and encourage independent thinking. Small class sizes give our subject specialists plenty of opportunity to ensure all students can participate actively in class and build their confidence.

Every student has talents and strengths to be nurtured. Consequently, our teachers tailor their methods, providing more support or more challenge, depending on individual need.

Students also benefit from our Learning Skills programme in which specialist teachers can provide extra help to build confidence across all subject areas.

At King’s there is a long tradition of cross-curricular project work in which departments combine forces to give students a stimulating learning experience. Projects like these develop both their independent study and teamwork abilities.

Our expectations are high. We track each student’s progress by personal observation and by regular assessment using nationally recognised testing schemes. We also measure our overall academic performance through the Value-Added Formula devised at Durham University. This shows that, on average, King’s students achieve higher grades than students of comparable age and ability at other schools.

When students complete their academic education at King’s, they not only have excellent subject knowledge to ease their path into higher education or employment, they also have the tools, techniques and self-motivation that will prove invaluable wherever life takes them.

An introduction to the subjects can be found below and the GCSE Objects Booklet can be downloaded here:

2024 GCSE Options Booklet

At King's we highly value Art as a subject and ensure that it is accessible to all our pupils. Our curriculum has been tailored to take each pupil on a sequential pathway from First Form to exam level. We aim to give our pupils a wide reaching and diverse education in Art and Design.  

On opting for GCSE, pupils will be given a theme and undertake personal research alongside skills based lessons. Each pupil receives expert guidance in the form of one-to-one tutorial support throughout the two year course.

ArtSchemes of work have been designed to develop skills in fine art drawing, print making, photography, sculpture, ceramics and textiles; with a view to helping all pupils excel in at least one or more of these disciplines. Pupils will scaffold a broad range of techniques and processes and explore the work of contemporary artists and important aspects of art history. They will be required to think about and discuss the work of other artists and write critiques of their own work and the work of others.

The department is located adjacent to Gloucester Cathedral, with awe inspiring views from many of the work areas, and has the benefit of being divided into discipline specific areas.

We promote links with practising artists and are heavily involved with the wider community. We run residential visits nationwide and the Sixth Form visit European destinations. We encourage pupils to make visits to local galleries and museums as this greatly enhances independent learning.

A few photographs from the recent art trip to Venice:


A few photos from our KS4 pupils working with Steve Hart, artist in residence at the Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court Hospice. Steve engages his artistic skills as part of his wellbeing and therapy and is exhibiting work in Gloucester Cathedral in an exhibition as part of the Art and Wellbeing: Creating Community Exhibition.


Those who educate children well are more to be honoured than they who produce them; for these only gave them life, those the art of living well.


We believe that knowledge of the Romans and the Greeks helps us to understand many of the values that underpin British society today. We offer a linguistic-historical and cultural approach to learning, and pupils are quick to realise that classical civilizations account for a huge part of our language, history, culture and even our DNA.

The staff in the department are passionate and committed to opening the eyes of our pupils to the many and varied facets of a Classical education.

Classics Classes

The Classics Department has three full-time staff members and is housed in two rooms in the Senior School together with a well-stocked library. We are the only school in Gloucester who can offer every one of our students access to the Classical World.

All pupils start their Classical education in the Second Form where they will study either Latin or Classical Civilisation. We are lucky to be able to offer Latin, Classical Civilisation and even Greek, all the way through to A Level.

Alongside our work in the classroom we run regular trips to Roman sites in Britain, theatre visits to see Classical works, outings to the Cheltenham Literature Festival, and excursions abroad. Most recently we took 35 pupils to Rome and the Bay of Naples for a week.

Employers and universities value Classics students because the discipline demands rigour and teaches transferrable skills such as problem-solving and attention to detail. Classics training is highly-rated in many professions including law, writing and journalism, teaching and research, accountancy and finance, and business and politics.

Computer Science has the potential to influence many careers in the future, and here at King’s we recognise the importance of this.  An innovative and dynamic approach to lessons will enable pupils to develop their understanding of the subject whilst experiencing some of the most exciting advancements in technology, such as robotics and artificial intelligence, augmented reality, and virtual reality.

Computing Classes

Lessons will build pupil knowledge of computational thinking through exploring the programming language Small Basic, as well as extending their understanding and application of the Scratch programme to construct games. The curriculum structure will offer the chance for pupils to learn how to design and create 3D objects using a variety of software packages, such as SketchUp. Pupils will be introduced to the concepts related to image enhancement and image manipulation to further develop their technical skills and awareness of the powerful influence of computer programmes. They will work with Microbits, where a practical application of coding can be seen on the display.

Pupils will be encouraged to use computers and software within the wider curriculum, with the expectation that all will gain a proficiency in using basic software. All students will have their own email account, network account, and access to Frog, which is the school’s virtual learning environment (VLE)

The King’s Design and Technology department is passionate about working with pupils to develop skills that provide them with awareness, understanding and capability in an increasingly technological world.

As well as theoretical problem solving, pupils have an opportunity to realise a practical solution to the tasks presented to them. The focus of D&T is aimed at pupil enjoyment through inspirational teaching and by doing exciting and creative projects. Pupils are encouraged to work both independently and collaboratively. The pupils gain thorough knowledge and understanding of design and technology not only by theory work and practical experience, but by reflecting and evaluating their work and the work of others. They are encouraged always to produce work of quality; work that they can be proud of.

Design and Technology Classes

In the lower years of Senior School, pupils develop their key skills in this subject by completing exciting projects such as a mechatronics car, photo phone-holder or even automata. This enables them to gain knowledge and understanding of the design process; materials, tools, equipment and industrial processes. Skills which, even if they do not go further in this subject, should hopefully mean they have a knowledge they can use when they become more independent.

At GCSE level the emphasis is on further knowledge and understanding being gained through new and more sophisticated design and make activities. These are themselves based around the more traditional key areas of wood, metal and plastic but also on design responsibility, eco design and new and smart materials. We help structure project work for final examination but encourage independence, creativity and innovation.

The practical learning is supplemented by extra-curricular workshops, visits to local businesses and even the opportunity to support the teaching staff in designing and making products for the school itself. The department promotes an open- house ethos that is always lively and bustling with activity.

There is one rule for the industrialist and that is: make the best quality goods possible at the lowest cost possible, paying the highest wages possible. 
Henry Ford

Economics and Business is a huge part of everyone’s life, from childhood to adulthood, whether as an employer or as an employee. The department aims to make all of its students more informed and able to be more flexible and knowledgeable in the workplace and in general day to day scenarios. Thus, through an active and investigative approach to learning, the study of Economics and Business provides a springboard for pupils to realise their potential. It can empower individuals, enabling them to be better-informed employers, employees and citizens in a world of change.

The Department’s vision and values can be expressed with PRIDE:

People – we are one team working for a common purpose

Results – we demand the best results and celebrate success

Innovation – we continually seek new ways to improve

Delivery – we teach to the very best of our ability

Excellence – we always strive to delight our students

Economics and Business Class VisitsThe Department aims to realise the academic potential of pupils, delivering programmes that are highly demanding for the most able candidates, yet appealing and accessible to the whole ability range. The departments offers LiBF Certificate in Finance in Year 9, Edexcel GCSE Business from Y10, Edexcel A Level Business in the Sixth Form alongside OCR A Level Economics and the LiBF Diploma in Financial Awareness.
We want pupils to gain economic and business literacy and to apply the theoretical aspects of the subject to the world beyond the school gates. To do this we create opportunities for pupils to experience the application of practical business skills; enabling them to think creatively and critically about the creation of wealth in the community, the UK and globally. The department prides itself on making their courses alive and relevant and accessible to all. The department supplements its teaching with a wide variety of activities, trips and guest speakers to enhance all students’ learning, such as educational visits to New York, day trips to local business, and local businesspeople coming in to talk to students. The department has three experienced teachers who love both Economics and Business. Alongside this, the department has its own IT suite, and students have access to a range of resources, textbooks, publications, an active Twitter page and on-line subscriptions to encourage further reading and to push their learning to higher levels.

We teach the enabling power of the English language through literature - great literature is an inspiring and enjoyable way of appreciating the human condition.

It helps us work out what matters and gives us a means of developing both self-awareness and empathy for others.

In a materialistic culture that too often confuses productivity and creativity; we believe the study of English is more important than ever. Words empower us and can be one of the greatest expressions of the creative imagination with all its life-enriching potential.

English is also an extremely practical discipline. Being fluent helps us make sense of ourselves and the world; being precise helps us to differentiate carefully in that world; and being analytical makes us constructively critical.

English and Drama Classes

Our fundamental aim is to share our passion for one of the finest literary inheritances in the world and this is central to all our teaching and extra-curricular work. More specifically we aim to:

  • Open our pupils’ hearts and minds to the human condition by enabling pupils to respond to a variety of literary and non-literary texts, in class, in drama productions and independently
  • Help them understand and appreciate themselves and others, and be analytical about the world around them
  • Make them aware of how English literature embodies many key British values, such as tolerance and respect for others
  • Give them the skills to be fluent, articulate and accurate in their written and spoken communication
  • Encourage them to reach for their best; to find, in the words of Willy Russell, a ‘better song to sing’ that will enrich their experience of art and life

Above all, we aim to inspire our pupils; help them enjoy language and literature; challenge them to think about things deeply; wake up their talents and stir their imaginations, feelings and thoughts; and enable them to be critical, but articulate and creative citizens of the twenty-first century.

Our classroom methods blend traditional didactic ‘talk and instruction’ with well-supported student-centred approaches. We encourage pupils to contribute actively to lessons and they have plenty of opportunities to go beyond what is required for exams through project work and independent research. We track their progress through regular marking and feedback, individual target setting, half-termly assessment and end of year examinations.

We expect pupils to complete at least one substantial piece of written work per two week cycle. For us, creative writing is crucial and we encourage it by regular competitions. We issue reading lists and have a weekly independent reading session in the library for every group up to the Fifth Form. At the same time we do proactive grammar, spelling and vocabulary-building work.

King's is proud to be an OCR ambassador school for English Literature. We are delivering more inclusive texts at GCSE and A Level, alongside the existing set texts and providing feedback to OCR to help shape future qualifications.



Our drama programme immerses pupils in a wealth of dramatic experience – from the classics of the great works to the best in contemporary theatre and new writing.

With the recent appointment of a new Director of Drama and an exceptional range of performing arts facilities, including our new Black Box Theatre, the Ivor Gurney Hall and the outdoor amphitheatre, the thriving drama department at King’s offers many opportunities for students to participate in productions, both on stage and behind the scenes.

As part of the GCSE course, students will study different texts, styles and theatre makers through practical exploration that is underpinned by theoretical learning. The course provides students with the opportunity to develop key transferable skills, honing their ability to lead, work in a group, present to an audience and experiment with new ideas.

“Geography is the subject that holds the key to our future.”
Michael Palin, President of the Royal Geographical Society

So many of the issues at the forefront of our lives are explored through the study of Geography: migration, international development, natural disasters, climate change, globalisation and sustainability are just some examples. We address all these major topics, and many others, in our wide-ranging Geography programme.

We want to encourage our pupils to be curious about the world; nurturing in them a spirit of enquiry and equipping them with the ability to think critically. We expect them to progressively increase their understanding of human and physical processes on local, national and global scales. In short, Geographers at King’s are informed, considerate, inquisitive and analytical. Above all they are concerned about issues that affect not just their local area but communities and environments in other parts of the world.

Geography is a compulsory subject for those in First to Third Form. It then becomes one of their GCSE options. Fourth Form pupils embark on the Cambridge IGCSE course, while Sixth Form students follow the AQA specification.

Geography Classes

Field work helps to bring Geography alive and we ensure pupils have many opportunities to study outside the classroom. For example, we have organised recent visits to Slapton Sands (Devon), Porlock Bay (Somerset), Ashes Hollow (Shropshire), Birmingham Botanical Gardens and Cadbury World.

There are also opportunities for our geographers to explore further afield. In recent years we have run international trips to Iceland and the Western USA which included the Grand Canyon.

We give pupils access to a wide range of specialist publications and encourage them to read widely around the subject. There are several online resources to assist learning and the department facilitates the use of Geographic Information Systems.

There are further opportunities to get involved in Geography through entering the annual Worldwise Quiz, participating in one of our many enrichment activities, or attending one of the fascinating talks on geographical topics by visiting speakers.

The Geography Department also maintains an active Twitter feed through which pupils and parents can stay up-to-date with geographical current affairs as well as pupil work and Departmental news.

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it
George Santayana

There is no better place to study History than in an environment that is truly historic. From walking through the grounds of the only Cathedral to host a coronation outside London, to being taught in an 11th Century classroom; from taking an exam in the room where the Domesday Book was founded, to gazing out at a herb garden once tended by medieval monks; our pupils soak up history as they go about their daily routine.

Our overall aim is to bring history to life for our pupils. The Department gives students a broad understanding of the world today through the study of key events, individuals and ideas from the past. We encourage independent thinking and research skills and our curriculum is designed to equip our pupils with all the analytical tools they will need for life and work in the wider world. We want our students to enjoy their studies, ask questions and seek answers, and to do so with confidence.

Taking full advantage of our excellent teacher-to-pupil ratio, we use a discussion-based approach to teaching and learning and tailor it to the interests of the pupils themselves. This is most notably seen in the GCSE years where, at the request of pupils, we have introduced an iGCSE in Global Citizenship in addition to their History qualification.

We look for extracurricular opportunities for our pupils wherever possible. Whether that is day trips to Tintern Abbey or the Imperial War Museum, residential tours to World War I battlefields or Berlin, or even a Civil War re-enactment.

Pupils are also able to get involved in helping others learn history by being involved in Heritage Tours on the School premises, being involved in History Week in Gloucester, or being members of the Historical Association.

This added value beyond the classroom or computer screen gives our pupils a real insight and appreciation of their place in the present and how the past has created today.

“Mathematics has beauty and romance. It's not a boring place to be, the mathematical world. It's an extraordinary place; it's worth spending time there.”

This quote by Marcus du Sautoy sums up how we feel about our subject and we do our best to communicate some of this passion to our pupils.

We aim to make Mathematics accessible, relevant and engaging and to ensure that all pupils are appropriately supported and challenged, enabling them to develop the understanding and skills needed to achieve their full potential in the subject.

Our programme helps pupils cope with the mathematical demands they will face in other subjects, future study, employment and everyday life. It also introduces them to the beauty, diversity and intriguing evolution of mathematical ideas.

Pupils develop their ability to analyse and solve problems using skills such as proportional reasoning, numerical fluency, logical thinking and statistical analysis. They establish themselves as confident independent learners through the development of self-reflection, resilience and resourcefulness.

History Classes

Every member of the Mathematics team strives to create a positive and happy learning environment in which all pupils feel valued and ready to explore, question, tackle and ultimately conquer mathematical challenges.

We introduce working in sets early in the First Form so that children can be introduced to concepts and skills at a pace that is appropriate for them – keeping them engaged and challenged while keeping morale high. By walking around the room, teachers are able to help and encourage those who need extra support. 

A variety of activities and tasks develop sound understanding of concepts, fluency in mathematical techniques, effective problem-solving skills and the ability to reason mathematically. Study programmes are flexible, allowing more consolidation of key ideas or extension work exploring unfamiliar concepts. Review and target-setting are built into each term’s programme.

Our teaching is highly interactive. Along with teacher-led discussion and worksheets, we incorporate group work, pupil-led board demonstrations, mini-whiteboards, games and competitions, the use of internet subscription sites and investigative work using maths specific software.

The department is closely involved in a number of cross-curricular projects and enrichment activities. This supports our desire to foster an appreciation of the power and beauty of mathematics and the crucial input of other cultures to the development of mathematical ideas and techniques.

Only 6% of the world's population are native English speakers and 75% speak no English at all. In a global society, being equipped with one or more additional languages is a real bonus.

We aim to make learning a language an enjoyable, creative, innovative and interactive experience so that our pupils feel enthusiasm and enjoyment for the subject, gain a real sense of achievement and achieve their full potential.

Our teachers ensure that students work both independently and co-operatively in a positive and tolerant atmosphere and gain good learning and study habits. We help them pursue excellence in public exams and provide them with a sound platform for the study of languages in higher education.

In the first year, all pupils learn French and Spanish. As they progress through the curriculum, they may choose to carry on one or both languages to GCSE and most pupils are encouraged to take at least one language to GCSE.

Modern Foreign Language Trip

By the end of the course, our objective is for all students to communicate effectively in the target language and appreciate the countries and cultures where it is spoken.

Visits abroad provide a practical opportunity to use their language skills. Every year, Second Form (Year 8) pupils go on an activity and language course in Normandy. Every other year, Third Form (Year 9) through to Upper Sixth (Year 13) pupils can join us on a trip to Spain and/or France.

Language study has wider benefits too including:

  • By learning to understand, appreciate and compare different cultures and communities, pupils gain real insight into their own culture and society.
  • Through exercising their listening, speaking, reading and writing skills, students  express themselves with increasing confidence and creativity.
  • The process of comparing other languages with English teaches students the building blocks of different languages and unlocks the way for future study.
  • Language students acquire many transferable skills which open the door to wider employment opportunities in the UK, Europe and beyond.

Sevilla Trip - February 2019

Music has been the heartbeat of our school ever since we began to provide choristers for the Cathedral 500 years ago.

Music is the perfect subject for those who wish to develop their musical talents and gain a qualification which not only engages pupils in their passion for performance, but develops other skills such as literacy, critical thinking, team work, leadership and communication, time management and organisation.  The subject divides into three components: Understanding Music (Listening and Appraising), Performing and Composing. There are a wide range of set works to suit all tastes from classical music right through to modern day popular music. Pupils may choose their own preferred style of pieces for the performance coursework and follow their own interests and preferred style of composition for the composing units. As a large percentage of the course is coursework based, pupils will be encouraged to develop their potential on an individual level, following a course of study that best fits their strengths and interests. Creativity is an important aspect of pupils' education, and such skills are ever more important in the real world. Music is regarded as academic as any other GCSE, so if you have a talent for music, this course could be for you.

Music GCSE

"Sports do not build character. They reveal it.
Heywood Broun

Physical Education is an important part of life at King's, from First Form to Upper Sixth.

Our G.S.C.E. PE course provides pupils with an opportunity to study both the practical and theoretical aspects of Physical Education; it is also designed to foster enjoyment in physical activity. The knowledge gained should enable pupils to develop an understanding of effective and safe physical performance.

PE and Sports Lessons

The syllabus consists of four components. Two components are a theory based terminal examination worth 40%, where pupils should be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of: key concepts and processes in Physical Education; developing skills, techniques and motivation; developing physical and mental capacity; making informed decision making using the principles of training and safe exercise; opportunities, pathways and participation in Physical Education. Two further components involve practical performances and analysis tasks worth 60%. It is important to understand that within the practical performance element, pupils will be assessed in four practical activities and will also be required to demonstrate their ability to analyse performance and lifestyle within two written pieces of controlled assessment.

The course would suit pupils who have a genuine interest in the scientific, psychological and sociological basis of physical activity. To undertake this examination successfully the individual should possess the ability to reach a good standard of physical performance in a variety of different physical activities. It would therefore be a requirement that the pupil has represented the school in two sports if they are to achieve a suitable grade.

"I don’t agree with what you say but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”.

Philosophy, Religion and Ethics (PRE) is a thriving subject at King’s. It encourages people to question their own and others beliefs and to truly engage in informed, open dialogue where evidence is paramount. 

In Philosophy we question what makes something 'true' or valid? We tackle big questions about what we think we already know, including the Cosmological and Design Arguments, the Problem of Evil, the credibility of the evidence for the Big Bang and much more. Possible questions which we consider are: What caused the universe? Does there need to be a first cause? What causes evil? Why would an all loving God allow evil to happen? How do we really know that the Big Bang happened?

In our study of Religion we learn about religious beliefs from both the Abrahamic and Eastern traditions. We study the main beliefs and practices and consider fundamental questions about both credibility and relevance in an increasingly secular world. Possible questions which we consider are:  Does it matter if the accounts of Jesus, Moses or Muhammad are not credible? Are they still good examples for us to live by even if we are not religious?

In our study of Ethics we learn about how we make decisions- do we use our conscience (Deontology) or do we base our decisions by thinking about the possible results? (Teleology) We also study religious and non-religious approaches to topics such as War, and our older students tackle issues in medical ethics such as abortion or euthanasia. Possible questions which we consider are:  Is it ever right to end the life of one person, to save the life of another? Is the death penalty ever appropriate? Is it better to make decisions based on what we think we should do (Deontology) or by considering the possible results? (Teleology)

Philosophy, Religion and Ethics Classes

The PRE department is situated next to a very attractive and peaceful garden (the location for the Monastic Refectory in Medieval days) and the subject benefits from the close working relationship between the School and Gloucester Cathedral.

All students study PRE from the First Form (Y7) to Fourth Form, (Y10)  taking a Short Course GCSE at the end of the Fourth Form. (Y10). Many students also opt to do the Full Course GCSE. Students can also opt to study PRE as an A Level and this is an increasingly popular choice at King's.

The department also runs a thriving fortnightly Friday Philosophers club, in which staff and students from across the school debate current issues.  Recent issues have included:

  • Is there such a thing as a selfless good deed?
  • Should civilians be allowed to own guns?
  • Is animal testing ever acceptable?
  • Should the female students at King's be allowed to wear trousers as part of their uniform?

Where it helps enhance a topic, pupils are given the opportunity to visit other religious settings, such as the local mosque, or to listen to outside speakers from a variety of philosophical, religious or ethical backgrounds.

Come and visit our department - we would love to welcome you into our subject where the most important thing is to question what you think you already know, in a quest for true knowledge.

Science knows no country, because knowledge belongs to humanity, and is the torch which illuminates the world”
Louis Pasteur

Our purpose is to enthuse and excite pupils about the wonders of science; equipping them with knowledge, understanding and skills that will enable them to master and apply scientific concepts and principles.

We recognise how a broad scientific education contributes to a student’s overall personal and academic development. We also appreciate the relevance of the Science curriculum to other subjects, such as Mathematics, Geography and IT, and we work closely with other departments to ensure these links are maintained.

We want to introduce scientific concepts in ways that will stimulate curiosity and interest, always encouraging pupils to do their best and achieve their individual potential, performing well in formal examinations.

Providing tailored support based on every pupil’s individual needs, we aim to foster an open-minded, questioning attitude, together with tolerance, patience and respect for the opinions of others.

We help pupils to develop skills, which allow them to critically analyse and evaluate both their own work, and information obtained from a variety of sources.

Pupils must appreciate how science affects the cultural, social, economic, technological and political aspects of society. They must also be aware of and understand the ethical arguments behind many aspects of science and be able to communicate their ideas effectively and appropriately.

We encourage teachers to follow a three part lesson structure with a starter activity, main activity and plenary. Lesson objectives are shared with the class at the start of the lesson and referred back to in the plenary.

To enrich the curriculum for keen young scientists, we organise a variety of science-themed trips during each Key Stage, and hold half-day sessions on topical science themes.

A few photos from a recent Technology Tournament at the University of Gloucestershire.