Further subject information can be found in the relevant school curriculum document on the Curriculum page.


Creative Arts Booklet | PDF 4.74MB

Art is a popular and highly successful area of study at Denstone. The department thrives on the diversity of each student and has clear focus for each stage of a pupil’s development. We encourage personal and individual responses from all students.

The department consists of two full time members of staff who have specialist expertise in a wide field of art, as well as a full time technician. It is a very well-resourced department with facilities for ceramics, photography, printing, fine art and textiles and strives to incorporate contemporary issues as well as traditional enquiry. The emphasis to record from life whenever possible is paramount to the students learning and the department has an array of displays that students can work from.

The junior classes begin their creative journey by exploring and investigating the visual elements, with projects that nurture their ability as well as improve their recording skills. They are introduced to textile techniques and fine art processes as well as traditional and contemporary artists.

The progression to GCSE is a natural and easy one in art, whereby the students are encouraged to develop their recording skills further through more challenging concepts and projects. The GCSE course consists of two coursework projects where the student is guided through the assessment criteria whilst enjoying their own enquiry and journey. Projects are enhanced by workshops or gallery visits which enrich the students learning and engagement. The culmination of the course is an externally set task which consists of one project that takes place across several months. The students are able to utilise their skills and knowledge to display this confidently in their annual end of year exhibition of work.

At A Level the continuation of personal discovery continues through a structured programme of short eight week projects where students have the opportunity to experiment in ceramics, textiles, screen printing and drawing exercises. This leads on to their own self-identified brief where the individual works to their chosen theme, producing a thorough and comprehensive body of work ready for university. During the course students have the opportunity to have international gallery visits as well as artist workshops to embed their level of understanding as well as cultural inspiration and awareness of the wider world and the creative industries.


The challenging nature of biology helps develop enquiring minds and critical thinkers, highly valued by universities and employers in all fields. At Denstone, the biology department shares a charming traditional building with chemistry and physics, and benefits from generous sized modern teaching laboratories with interactive whiteboards, video microscope, and a prep room with full time technician support. Teaching is dynamic and challenging and utilises modern techniques. The department is large and thriving, with 6 full time staff.

There are some important and topical issues encountered today relating to biology such as, how do we beat bacteria? Are GM crops safe? Is there a population problem? At Denstone College we prepare students to face the world with an understanding of the role played by science in answering these challenging dilemmas, and each of our specialist teachers place experimental work at the very heart of learning.  

First and Second Form students follow the AQA Activate scheme of work and have access to a wide range of resources via the online learning platform, Kerboodle.  Emphasis is placed on practical skills and we extend our students’ abilities by giving them the opportunity to apply and extend their knowledge.

Third Form and GCSE study focusses on how science continues to shape lives. Our GCSE curriculum looks closely at how biology influences everyday life and encourages students to apply this to real situations, bringing content to life. Students follow the AQA GCSE Biology or Trilogy curriculum, which is closely supported by our online platform, Kerboodle, helping to provide continuity from the First and Second Form.

A Level students follow the AQA specification and are again supported by Kerboodle. Experimental work is the mainstay of our teaching. Some of our practical equipment is for exclusive use by the Sixth Form including a PCR machine, gel electrophoresis and colorimeter, as well as a range of A Level standard light microscopes. Biology is a popular choice for A Level with a large proportion of pupils going on to study Biology or a related subject at university. We are extremely successful at placing Medics, Vets and Dentists and each year we run a series of mock vivas, working hard to prepare our students for the rigorous demands of university interviews.

The Biology Department has had success outside the classroom too, ranging from the Royal Society of Biology Poster and Essay Competition to the Biology Olympiad for Sixth Form, and the Biology Challenge for the Third and Fourth Form. We also encourage our students to broaden their horizons by taking them to a variety of stimulating lectures and seminars. Our younger students get involved in British Science Week and have even taken part in Citizen Science initiatives.

Business and Economics

Business and Economics are distinct subjects which are taught within the same department. GCSE Business is an optional subject which can be studied from the Fourth Form, with A levels in both subjects available as part of our Sixth Form curriculum.

The New 9-1 GCSE Edexcel Business course allows students to know and understand business concepts, business terminology, business objectives, and the integrated nature of business activity including the impact of business on individuals and wider society.  Students will also be learning how to apply their knowledge and understanding of contemporary business issues and to different types and sizes of businesses in local, national and global contexts. Students learn how businesses begin and soon studying large plc and their main functions. The assessment consists of two one hour and forty-five-minute papers covering each year of the GCSE.

GCSE Business gives students a real thirst for studying the subject through to A Level either through A Level Business or A Level Economics; where this GCSE gives students a real flavour of the outside world.

A level Business is a popular and successful sixth form subject taken by students alongside many other combinations of subjects. Virtually all students will eventually work in some form of organisation, be it HSBC, a school, hospital, library or a family business; this course aims to prepare students for this experience by combining practical and theory-related study of everyday business issues. Those following other subject areas often choose Business within their A level options as it adds breadth to their studies.

The AQA A-level Business qualification is fully recognised by UK universities for degree course entry. From September 2015 students will study the new linear A-level Business, taking all their exams at the end of a two-year course. The A-level is assessed by three two hour written exams at the end of the course. Students study topics in decision making in business and strategic direction and change to name just a few.

The A Level Economics Curriculum

A Level Economics has grown significantly at the College in recent years. With no prior specific knowledge required, this course represents a first look at the subject for many of those who take it, offering a broad and challenging introduction to the microeconomic and macroeconomic analysis of many relevant economic questions; why is income inequality increasing in the world? What causes unemployment? Why are premiership footballers paid more than doctors? What economic measures can governments adopt to tackle climate change? Will population growth damage our standard of living? Economics helps students develop their skills of analysis and evaluation, nurturing an insatiable curiosity about real world issues and events in the process. Many students go on to take the subject at degree level, including Oxbridge, and it is a highly prized subject amongst employers. It also provides an essential beginning for students thinking of taking a broad range of business and management courses at university.

Students study the AQA A Level Economics specification, with final assessment in the form of three exams (two hours each), involving data, calculation, multiple choice, analysis and essay questions.


Chemistry is central to our understanding of so many things. How can we make natural resources more sustainable? How should we treat illnesses with drug development? Chemistry at Denstone seeks to develop pupils' understanding of the chemical world around them, whilst equipping them with practical investigative skills relating to the real world. Maintaining curiosity is central to learning in chemistry alongside a desire to see how chemical phenomena can be used to explain real life experiences.

Teaching is dynamic and learning is exciting, with much emphasis on laboratory practical work. Courses cover the study of organic, inorganic and physical chemistry. At GCSE practical work dominates the course and develops the ability to acquire knowledge, especially the fostering of imaginative and critical thinking. ICT and data logging software play a key part in trying to enhance pupils’ learning.

The Junior School specification for First to Second Form follows the new and exciting AQA Activate 2-year course, focusing on the development of pupils enquiry skills alongside improving pupils ability to apply and extend their understanding of real world phenomena. Enjoyment and engagement are key in these early years.

From the beginning of the Third Form students follow the GCSE course from AQA Specification. It covers the three traditional branches of chemistry: organic, inorganic and physical chemistry. It is intended to be a broad overview of the subject and so includes aspects of analysis and numerical methods in chemistry as well as atomic structure, the Periodic Table, energy, reaction rates, acids and bases, organic chemistry, industrial processes, oil and the atmosphere. In the Fourth Form students can follow Triple Science Chemistry or Combined Science where students follow a reduced chemistry curriculum that offers opportunities to deepen understanding of working scientifically. 

Sixth Form students study A level through the OCR Specification A. Many of the topics introduced in the GCSE course reappear in an expanded form together with a much larger organic section and a systematic study of the properties of elements and their compounds according to their periodic classification. L6th students are challenged by targeting the most able to take the Cambridge Chemistry challenge at the end of the L6th. 

Upper Sixth study then focusses on Polymers, Organic Synthesis and Analysis, Equilibria, Energetics and Elements and practical assessment groups known as PAGs. There is no practical assessment in the A level with three linear written papers including a synoptic style assessment worth 27%.
The department successfully takes part in the Salter's Chemistry Festival and arranges a lively and popular programme of visits to universities, Science Live and Sixth Form spectroscopy visits as well as the Astra Zeneca conference and other symposia.

Computing and ICT

Computing Skills are essential life skills and we encourage all pupils to develop their knowledge and expertise in using the latest tools and software.  Given the changing nature of this area, the department frequently looks for opportunities to embrace new technologies and incorporate them into the curriculum.

The Lower School Computing curriculum is based upon key themes which are repeated as a pupil progresses from year to year.  These themes are Digital Safety, Functional Skills and Computer Science.  Digital Safety covers the need to be vigilant when using any form of IT from social media, to gaming.  Functional Skills involves working with key Microsoft applications such as Word, Excel and PowerPoint. Computer Science introduces pupils to problem solving, computer programming and physical computing. Pupils have the opportunity to code apps, websites and games as well as program a range of physical devices like robots and microbits. The Junior School Computing and ICT curriculum is updated regularly to reflect current computing trends.

GCSE Computer Science is a practical subject which teaches pupils about the fundamental principles and concepts of Computer Science, including abstraction, decomposition, logic, algorithms and problem solving. Pupils learn to apply these principles and concepts to their programming. Alongside the practical programming element students also cover topics such as networks, data representation, cyber security and computer systems.

At A Level, students have two choices: A Level Computer Science or Cambridge Technicals Level 3 Introductory Diploma in IT.

A Level Computer Science has computational thinking at its core; students learn to think logically, solve problems and designs systems. Lessons are delivered using practical methods where possible. Programming skills are developed by producing solutions that help explain other aspects of theory relevant to the course. Pupils are exposed to several programming paradigms and languages and they are encouraged to explore additional options through self-study. 

Theory topics include data representation, communication and Internet technologies, hardware, software development, and relational databases modelling. 

The Cambridge Technicals level 3 introductory diploma in IT is a vocational qualification designed with the workplace in mind and provides a high-quality alternative to an A Level. they are designed in collaboration with experts spanning the breadth of the sector and has been developed to meet the changing needs of the sector, and to prepare young people for the challenges they will face in Higher Education or employment.

The Computing and ICT department has excellent facilities. There are five well equipped ICT rooms and access to the latest software.  This is supported by a team of onsite technicians.

Design and Technology

The study of Design and Technology provides pupils with the opportunity to develop problem solving skills through project work. Students are encouraged to think laterally, and develop their own particular creativity and expertise in design.

The department currently has three members of staff and a technician. It is housed in a modern and well-equipped building with an excellent range of facilities for working with all manner of resistant materials. The department combines traditional techniques with CNC based work, seeing both as equally important in today’s market.

Students regularly achieve Arkwright Scholarships and have also been very successful in the Rotary Club Young Person’s Awards for Innovation. The department has also featured in the Good Schools' Guide for the best GCSE Resistant Materials performance for girls.

Younger students are taught through project work, gaining skills in design of the three main resistant materials: wood, plastic and metals, as well as graphics work, product analysis and computer aided design (CAD). There are three GCSE sets, all following the AQA Design and Technology course.

At A-Level, the students follow the AQA Design and Technology Product Design course. D&T students often progress into careers in architecture, product and industrial design, engineering, and materials science.


Drama at Denstone is both vibrant and dynamic, playing a central role in the whole school ethos. It aims to involve each and every student who passes through the College in some aspect of theatre, recognising that this may not necessarily be on the stage. Our Drama teachers are inspirational and experienced, and we believe the study of drama promotes social, presentation and communication skills as well as engendering a lifelong love of the Arts and the stage.

In the First to Third Forms, students enjoy drama as an important element of their weekly curriculum. As pupils reach the end of the Third Form, those who have a passion for the subject have the opportunity to study drama from a more academic perspective.

This popular curriculum area gains consistently high grades at GCSE year on year. Students engage in an interesting but demanding course of examined and practical work. Throughout the programme of study, students present their practical work to enthusiastic audiences in the School Room. This not only gives the candidates important practical experience but provides the audience with an insight into the innovative work that the department undertakes.

At A Level, Drama and Theatre is a dynamic curriculum area which is academically challenging. Students learn through experience, seeing theatre and making theatre for themselves. They are introduced to a wide range of theatrical styles and contexts as they explore plays practically, devise and work on performances. 30% of the course is based on practical aspects of drama whilst the remaining 70% is written. The devised practical examination piece is presented to an evening audience in the Lent Term of Year 1. The moderator comes in to mark the final scripted piece in the Lent Term of Year 2. (Script 1 is performed in the Summer Term of Year 1 and Script 2 in the Autumn Term of Year 2.) Drama and Theatre A Level Results are consistently excellent. 

A small but consistent number of pupils go on to study drama or theatre–related courses in higher education.

There is a wide and varied programme of Enrichment:

  • There are many opportunities for extra-curricular involvement in our main productions.
  • Regular Theatre Visits
  • Practical Drama Workshops
  • LAMDA lessons
  • Edinburgh Fringe Festival Society
  • The Festival of Speech and Drama - Students are prepared to enter the Newcastle Festival


English provides the skills that are the cornerstone of a first-rate education and a successful, fulfilling life: creativity, clarity of thought, and effective communication. At the heart of our work is a passionate belief in the power of language, the adventure of literature and the joy of self-expression.

Students are encouraged to read widely across all genres and respond with all the force of their own personalities and insights. They will gain a knowledge of the inspiring history of English literature from its very dawn to the present day; and slowly but surely they will venture further and more boldly into all the ‘faery lands forlorn’ that the dark and beautiful imaginations of our greatest writers have created for us. They will also be led to become inquisitive readers, who interrogate texts and dissect arguments: in other words, they will learn how to think.

You can make anything by writing.
C. S. Lewis

Writing too is not merely a necessary life skill but an art to be nurtured and honed. First and foremost, students will learn to write accurately, with respect for their readers; at the same time, they will learn the power and versatility of the tools they have been given. They will write poems, scripts, short stories, journalism and essays across all year groups and they will learn to emulate the craft of established writers, as well as to develop a distinctive personal style.

In the Fourth and Fifth Forms, all students are entered for GCSE English Language (Edexcel board), a rigorous qualification, which ensures they are critical readers and effective writers, with the language skills they will need for further study and in the workplace. Most students are also entered for GCSE English Literature, which introduces them to the appreciation and analysis of a wide range of classic literary texts.

The books transported her into new worlds and introduced her to amazing people who lived exciting lives. She went on olden-day sailing ships with Joseph Conrad. She went to Africa with Ernest Hemingway and to India with Rudyard Kipling. She travelled all over the world while sitting in her little room in an English village.
- Roald Dahl

At A level, students study the Edexcel English Literature course, one of the four recognised ‘facilitating subjects’ so beloved by admissions tutors at Russell Group universities. This two-year course invites students to read, discuss and appreciate an inspiring selection of prose, poetry and drama texts from the literary heritage of Britain and beyond. There is a strong focus on encouraging individual and exciting responses to texts, and on developing a bold, confident essay style. Due to the nature of the course, AS level is not offered in English Literature: students will therefore not have the burden of external exams at the end of Lower Sixth, allowing a more enjoyable learning process and a longer, smoother transition from GCSE. In addition, all Lower Sixth students attend the exciting English Department Lecture Series, which not only provides a super-curricular spin through the entirety of our English literary history, but also develops skills crucial to future success at university: concentration, effective note-taking, and engagement with challenging, free-flowing ideas.

IELTS, the International English Language Testing System, is designed to assess the language ability of candidates who need to study or work where English is used as the language of communication. IELTS is available as part of the Sixth Form curriculum for students who are applying to study at an English-speaking university. The course covers four skills - listening, reading, writing and speaking and is recognised in many countries, including Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK and the USA.


The study of geography develops intellectual and practical skills which students put into use every day, both at school and beyond. Geography graduates are highly rated by employers; they currently have one of the highest levels of immediate post-graduate employment of any degree. A geographer has an almost unique historical and contemporary perspective on human life; their understanding of landscape, climate and society, coupled with natural curiosity, produces rational thinkers and problem solvers, of much value to industry, education, and indeed society.

Fieldwork is an important part of the learning process, and teaching is lively and invigorating. Every pupil in the first three forms is taught geography, and there is a strong emphasis on geographical skills and a sense of place. During the first three years, pupils follow a pathway to develop their grasp of human interactions with our physical environments.

The subject is very popular at GCSE level, being offered all three option groups. The department follows the AQA specification, focusing on Physical Geography in the Fourth Form and Human Geography in the Fifth Form. Relevant fieldwork takes place early in Fifth Form. At A level, we follow the Edexcel specification, which contains Physical units on Tectonics, Coasts, Water Insecurity and Energy Security. As well as Human units on Globalisation, Regeneration, Superpowers, Health and Human Rights and a synoptic focus on Geographical Issues. Fieldwork and skills are an important part of study in both years and a wide range of visits, day and residential, are offered to support the Independent Investigation, which contributes 20% of the final grade.

Throughout their time with the department, pupils are encouraged to regard geography as an ongoing natural process rather than a classroom specific activity.


History is extremely popular at Denstone, and staff are highly effective in sharing their passion for the past. The subject is enjoyed by all in the First to Third Forms, and is offered as an option at GCSE and A level.

History is not the story of strangers, aliens from another realm; it is the story of us had we been born a little earlier. And it is a dramatic story at that! The study of history fires the imagination: can we imagine being a Roman, an African American hearing Martin Luther King speak, an RAF pilot in the Battle of Britain, perhaps even a Nazi? Everything that we have has been inherited from the past: we ‘stand on the shoulders of giants’. Our societies were not invented on the spur of the moment, they have evolved over the course of the life-span of the human species. For example, the laws we abide by and the cars that we drive were invented by our ancestors. To understand history, then, is to understand what it is to be human.

Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.
Edmund Burke

History is also one of the most respected academic subjects among universities. For example, Cambridge University recommends History as one of the top A Level choices. In its own right the study of History equips you with the ability to research, write, analyse and interpret complex information as well as formulate opinions and debate with confidence. It also combines well with both science and arts subjects and allows you to keep your university and career options open. It is therefore no surprise that history graduates can be found at the top of a wide range of professions, including making up a proportionally huge 10% of all directors of top businesses. 

From First to Third Form the syllabus broadly follows a chronological journey through British and some world history ranging from the medieval Battle of Hastings, through Victorian Empire to twentieth century warfare and intolerance in countries such as Nazi Germany and Apartheid South Africa. This array of topics prepares pupils effectively for accessing GCSE and A Level beyond where History is a popular option choice.

The department believes it important to venture outside the classroom and explore living history around us. There is an annual First Form visit to Warwick Castle, where pupils learn how best to attack and defend a castle. The Third Form has a memorable visit to sites and museums of significance for twentieth century warfare. In the past, this has included the World War One battlefields as well as the Imperial War Museum and local National Memorial Arboretum. Exam classes experience a variety of trips ranging from UK destinations such as the Nottingham Holocaust Museum and Cosford Cold War Museum, to further afield such as Poland, Russia and the USA. Sixth Form students also have the chance to visit Auschwitz as part of the nationwide Lessons from Auschwitz Project. 

History is a popular option at GCSE. We follow the Edexcel specification, studying the Cold War, Elizabeth I, Medicine Through Time and Weimar and Nazi Germany. At A Level, we follow the OCR specification, focusing on the early Tudor monarchs, Russia 1896-1941 and Civil Rights in the USA 1865-1992. Students also complete a coursework essay, giving them the chance to investigate an aspect of a topic that is of particular interest to them.

Learning Support

The Learning Support Department aims to enrich the learning of all our students, recognising that pupils learn at different rates and have different individual needs. The purpose of learning support is to offer help to our students and enable them to reach their full potential. The team of specialist teachers, in-house assistants and external professional support is overseen by our Head of Learning Support (SENCo), who manages the needs of our pupils and the skills available to them.

Students are offered small group lessons within the department in the areas of Literacy / English, Mathematics and Study support. To reduce curriculum disruption, this provision usually takes place in prep periods, lunchtimes and during activity sessions.  

Pupils can also be assessed for eligible exam access arrangements for the external examining boards at GCSE and GCE.

English as an Additional Language (EAL) lessons are offered to overseas students who require help with English in order to access the College curriculum. All such students are assessed upon arrival to establish their standard of English in order to help teachers plan for future teaching and learning experiences. EAL lessons take the place of a modern foreign language in the curriculum.

Click to read Learning Support at Denstone College and The Prep at Denstone College


As a department, we place a great deal of emphasis on engaging pupils with the beauty and surprise of mathematics, helping them to understand not only its utility, but its intrigue.

In the Junior School, we have redesigned our First and Second Form scheme of work to ensure that deep understanding of important mathematical concepts is developed and that fundamental techniques are mastered. Pupils will learn how to apply these techniques in real life situations and for solving problems – skills invaluable for maths, their future academic studies, and their careers.

Pupils will also be prepared for, and take part in, the UK Mathematics Trust (UKMT) Maths Challenge, which gives students the opportunity to demonstrate their problem solving abilities as they pitch themselves against the best mathematicians nationally. Several pupils have achieved gold awards and pupils often gain invitations to subsequent rounds.

From Lent term of Third Form to Summer Term of Fifth Form, pupils are prepared to sit the IGCSE Mathematics qualification.  This course is designed to develop students’ problem-solving skills, as well as placing a high value on algebraic proof and reasoned argument. It provides pupils of all ability ranges the best possible chance of success, whilst stretching the most able and helping them prepare for the study of A Level mathematics.

Many pupils continue to study Mathematics in the Sixth Form and often beyond. We offer both A Level Mathematics and A Level Further Mathematics which are challenging and interesting courses. Both courses are popular choices at Denstone, with around 40% of pupils taking Maths and around 10% taking Further Maths. We constantly work hard to develop our A level resources and seek innovative ways to deliver the A level curriculum. Additionally, we offer support to those pupils sitting entrance exams to study mathematics at the top universities.

The Mathematics Department at Denstone is lucky enough to be housed in a super 2018 addition to the campus, The Derbyshire Building, which we share with Modern Foreign Languages. It is a two storey, 12 classroom building with smartboards and the very latest in teaching technology and furniture.

IGCSE Mathematics Curriculum | PDF 204KB

IGCSE Further Mathematics Curriculum | PDF 152KB

Modern Foreign Languages

The Modern Foreign Languages department at Denstone aims to foster in its pupils an interest and appreciation of foreign language and culture. We believe that learning a language is an important skill which is becoming essential in the workplace and which continues well beyond school. Understanding another culture is an enriching experience. Proper emphasis is given to academic rigour in our pupils’ approach to their language learning.

French and Spanish are taught from the First Form onwards. The curriculum has been created to enable pupils to develop skills and linguistic competence within a range of common topic areas. In French, the Department follows the Dynamo scheme of work. In Spanish, the department uses Mira Express, in Second and Third Form, an accelerated course that ensures that basic grammar and topics are covered in preparation for GCSE.  At the end of Third Form, pupils have the option to study either or both languages to GCSE.

In the GCSE years, the French Department follows the Studio scheme of work in French and the Viva course is used in Spanish to cover the three prescribed Areas of Experience at GCSE; Identity and Culture. Local, national, international and global areas of interest, Current and future study and employment. All schemes are supported by a comprehensive electronic package which students have access to.

The study of a foreign language is compulsory for most pupils to GCSE.  Both languages currently use the AQA full course. We expect all pupils to achieve a grade 5 or above in a foreign language by the end of the Fifth Form. Typically at least 50% of pupils will achieve one of the top 3 grades.

Typically there are 30 pupils studying French or Spanish in the Sixth Form, including potential Oxbridge candidates. The AQA syllabus is followed using the Oxford A-level course books and scheme backed up by the comprehensive “kerboodle” independent access programme.

Gifted linguists are recognised according to published departmental criteria and are encouraged and challenged in top sets. Many of them become advanced dual linguists and decide to pursue their language studies further at university.

Outside the classroom the Department regularly runs a variety of extra-curricular activity clubs, such as: Spanish advanced conversation classes, Spanish La Liga football club, Spanish Culture Club for the Middle and Senior schools, French Cinema and Television Club and a” Tour de France” Club. There are also visits to the theatre, attendance at GCSE/A level students’ revision conferences and annual educational visits abroad. In the Second Form pupils have the opportunity to participate in a residential French visit combining outdoor activities and French classes on the Normandy coastline. From Fourth Form onwards, French pupils are given the opportunity to participate in the Staffordshire-Limousin French Exchange Programme. There are annual Fourth Form trips to Barcelona and Nice in October as well as a biannual visit for Sixth Form to another major Spanish city, usually Valencia, where the pupils participate in intensive conversation classes in the morning and participate in cultural activities in the afternoons.


The Music Department at Denstone is a very busy and flourishing department within the College. Over 250 individual instrumental and vocal lessons are taught on a weekly basis. 

There are numerous choirs and ensembles in which students can participate and an annual programme of over 20 concerts which provides students with opportunities to perform both formally and informally. Alongside the Director of Music and Assistant Director of Music, the department is also staffed by a Music department Secretary and an expert team of 18 highly qualified and experienced visiting music teachers, many of whom continue to perform professionally outside their teaching commitments. Many students achieve excellent results in the graded examinations of the ABRSM and other Music boards and, in recent years, several students have gone on to achieve the ARSM Performance Diploma

Within the curriculum, music is taught to all students in the first three years, with topics ranging from Minimalism to SE Asian Gamelan music, from blues to film music and from African drumming to topics that reinforce a thorough grounding in music theory and notation. All students are given the opportunity to experience and appreciate a broad range of styles and genre across the widest range of musical styles.

At examination level music is a popular subject. The department currently teaches the Edexcel syllabus for GCSE and the Eduqas syllabus for A level, with increasing numbers of students opting to study the subject at both GCSE and A Level. Those students who study music at A level do so not only because of their passion for the subject, but also because it is seen as an excellent complementary subject to both Arts and Technical subjects in equal measure. In recent years, several students have continued their musical studies at university and conservatoire.

Music Scholarships are available at 11+ and 13+ entry to the College and also available is the Lethbridge Scholarship (named after our former Director of Music) which is available for entry to the Sixth Form. (Details are available from the Department and from Admissions).

Personal Social and Health Education (PSHE)

The College addresses Wellbeing in a number of ways: weekly Wellbeing lessons to the 1st to 4th Form delivered by a specialist teacher, age appropriate presentations to Junior, Middle and Senior Schools and tutorials given by tutors addressing a wide-range of pastoral themes, such as friendships, anti-bullying, mental health and kindness. These sessions may well include short film clips, discussion topics, quizzes and news articles.

The 1st to 5th Form follow a dedicated scheme of work, delivered by the Wellbeing Lead, and further information can be found in our Relationships and Sex Education Policy.

The College also arranges age appropriate presentations using outside speakers for our pupils, parents and staff. Recent presentations have included Driving Safely, Online Safety, LGBT+, Mental Health, Finance, Gambling, University Life, and Sexual Health

Here are some things parents have had to say about the Wellbeing Programme

It is very good to see that the College is not afraid to get to grips with all areas of student life.

Thank you for organising the Mental Health presentation last night. I found it to be very informative and realised there were big gaps in my knowledge of the subject. It has definitely made me more confident in approaching the subject with my children.

Just to say thank you for organising a very interesting presentation. How little did I know!

We wanted to drop you a line to say how impressed we were with the presentation. We learnt a lot and can see the benefits of being well informed.


Physical Education

Physical Education (PE) encourages and challenges pupils to achieve their optimum, physically and mentally, through participation and, where appropriate, competition in a wide range of individual, racket and team sports. PE stimulates and maintains pupil interest and enjoyment in physical activities and promotes health and fitness for current and future lifestyles. Our pupils understand the short and long term effects of exercise on the body, and the importance of safe practice in physical activities. PE aids young people in developing a range of desirable personal qualities such as, respect, self-discipline, determination, self-confidence, initiative and independent thinking.

Teaching and learning in the department is fun, with pupils working individually and as part of a team in a variety of activities. All pupils in the Junior School, First Forms to Third Forms, have Physical Education which is taught by full time qualified staff as a double timetabled lesson.

During Year 10 and 11, pupils' can opt to study PE at GCSE. We follow the OCR syllabus (J587 9-1 course), regularly achieving good results'.  The qualification is weighted 60% on externally assessed examination papers and 40% on non-examination elements (30% practical performance and 10% written coursework).

In the Sixth Form, those electing to study PE will follow the Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Extended Certificate (360) Rqf, course code VCJ68.  This is the equivalent of 1 A Level and is widely accepted by universities throughout the country. It is assessed 67% externally and 33% internally. The Btec Sport course comprises of 4 units:

Unit 1: Anatomy and Physiology (externally assessed).

Unit 2: Fitness Training and Programming for Health Sport and Well Being (externally assessed).

Unit 3: Professional Development in the Sports Industry (coursework unit, internally assessed).

Unit 5: Application of Fitness Testing (coursework unit, internally assessed).

Units 1 and 2 are delivered during year 1 of the course (L6 / Year 12) with learners' entered for the externally assessed exams in June of that year. There is the opportunity to re-sit both of these exams in January of U6/ Year 13, if required.

Units 3 and 5 are delivered during year 2 of the course (U6/ Year 13).  

These mixed methods of assessment develop the pupil’s study skills to prepare them fully for the demands of further education.


Without knowledge of physics, we would still be reading by candlelight, travelling by foot and communicating with smoke signals. And without the application of physics to engineering and medicine, designing a microscope to investigate cells and organisms too small to see with the naked eye, or getting humans to the moon, would only be fantasies.

Physics is an interesting and exciting subject that helps us to understand the world in which we live. It achieves this goal by trying to explain what we observe around us in terms of a set of inter-related and experimentally verifiable laws and principles.

Physics at Denstone is taught as a separate subject from the First Form to the Upper Sixth by a team of highly qualified subject specialists. In the First and Second Forms we aim to give our students a solid foundation in key concepts such as force and energy, and to help them develop practical skills in the laboratory. This, in turn, gives them the ability to spot simple relationships between variables and encourages an appreciation of how an investigation must be conducted to ensure validity, accuracy and reliability. At the same time, they are gradually building up a body of necessary knowledge which they can recall and apply to novel situations.

In the GCSE years we follow the AQA syllabus. Students opt for either separate sciences and are taught biology, chemistry and physics as three independent qualifications, or for AQA Trilogy Dual Award where although taught as three separate sciences the results are combined to achieve two GCSE awards . Experimental work constitutes a significant component of whichever course is taken and this involves laboratory work, data-handling tasks and developing an awareness of the social, ethical and economic dimensions of the subject.

In the Sixth Form students following the AQA Physics specification. It encompasses a range of traditional and modern topics including astrophysics, forces, nuclear radiation, particles and quantum physics among others. Practical work is a key focus with 12 compulsory practicals examined in the three terminal A2 papers.


There has never been a more exciting time to study politics. From three general elections in five years in the UK and the hottest political topic of recent times, Brexit, to President Trump's election in 2016 as a Washington outsider and host of The Apprentice, this is a period of flux. Understanding how power is distributed and how democratic our institutions and processes are, help us understand how well democracy functions. Be prepared to learn about current affairs in this dynamic and exciting subject.

The course offers a foundation in political concepts and systems, closely related to current affairs. Beginning from scratch, we provide a comprehensive grounding in the UK constitution and political system, the US political system and a broad range of political ideas. Students will learn how to analyse and interpret political events, and to evaluate them both in discussions and in written work.

Politics combines well with other A level subjects such as economics, history, geography, English and modern languages. Politics can be studied at degree level in many different combinations, including courses in Politics, Philosophy and Economics (PPE - Oxford), Social and Political Studies (SPS – Cambridge), International Relations (UWA), Political Economy (LSE). As a subject it demands high levels of analytical skill and is therefore potentially attractive to employers. 

There are 3 examination papers at A level with all exams taken at the end of two years of study. These are UK Politics, UK Government and Comparative Politics, covering topics examining UK government and politics, US government and politics and political ideas. These are studied to give students the ability to analyse, compare and contrast the UK and US political systems, identifying connections throughout their two year study. 

In the Lower Sixth students will initially learn about UK politics. The nature of democracy, political participation, political parties, pressure groups, rights, elections and the media, and review how democracy in the UK operates. They will then study UK government, constitution, PM and cabinet, the Supreme Court and Parliament and start their study of Political Ideas that overlaps into the Upper Sixth. These political Ideas are liberalism, conservatism, socialism and feminism. The government and politics of the USA are the topics covered in the Upper Sixth with a comparative US/UK approach taken throughout.

Key skills of examining evidence and using evidence to draw conclusions are vital for examination success. Students are expected to keep up with current affairs and use their own examples in support of arguments they make. Politics is a text based, essay assessed subject, and these facts cannot be ignored. It is however, a subject rich in debate. The subject matter lends itself to a great variety of teaching and learning styles and activities.


Psychology is a truly amazing subject which reveals which factors motivate or govern the behaviour of others; it can help with understanding objectively how others behave. More importantly, it can give an insight into one’s own behaviours, fears and motivations and enable comprehension of how complex human interaction can be.

Psychology is only offered at A level. Psychology is the scientific study of the human mind and behaviour and therefore offers pupils scientific insights into many questions about the human experience. Because psychology is a science, pupils approach the discipline from a rigorous research methods angle and develop a critical eye for good and bad science. The psychology course encourages pupils to become critical thinkers who can question established ideas both within the subject and society. Psychology enables pupils better to understand the many diverse ways that people think, feel and act because these processes can be influenced by a complex pattern of environmental, biological and mental determinants.

The course aims to develop both an academic understanding of the subject and an appreciation of its impact on people’s daily lives. It demands attention for twenty important studies representing five key areas of investigation in psychology and requires four techniques of collecting data, enabling the opportunity to carry out self-report, observation, experiment and correlation. The rewards include insights into many aspects of human behaviour – including that of students.

The OCR specification on offer involves 3 units of study (entirely assessed by examination at the end of the two year course). Core Studies have been chosen to demonstrate the strengths and limitations of psychology as well as consider both a classic and contemporary study on the same area. The aim for the Key Studies will be to look at a little background material for each and then to look at both the classical study and the contemporary study. Lesson time will also be used to develop study skills – in other words putting the studies to use in the ways you’ll need for the exam. Here our subject matter should give us a unique advantage: psychology helps us to understand how we learn, and we will be applying this understanding to our own work. A Level focuses on five core areas of psychology; Cognitive Psychology, Developmental Psychology, Physiological Psychology, Social Psychology and the Psychology of Individual Differences. Alongside this is the practical component where students plan, carry out and evaluate their own investigations. In the Applied Psychology unit, you will learn about applications of psychology, in three key areas, Mental Health issues, Child Psychology and Criminal Psychology and how theory is applied in real life situations as well as covering approaches, perspectives, methods, issues and debates which run through psychology.

Religious Studies

Three-parent DNA treatment for rare defect raises debate

Media headlines such as those above remind us that careful examination of purpose, human nature, identity & value, and the meaning & integrity of any sense of ought maintains vitality. The subject gives young people the freedom and tools to think deeply, understanding and analysing arguments and commonly-accepted (or rejected) beliefs, relating to the above, with rigor. 

Over five years, students cover key beliefs from the six major world religions, along with contrasting secular perspectives such as humanism, as they link to themes studied. Key practices within these religions are also studied, both enriching understanding of beliefs and building well-informed young people, responsive to a rich world and able to deal with difference and recognise shared goods. 

Some models pumping out up to 40 times the legal limit of the pollutant nitrogen oxide – despite being marketed as more environmentally friendly.

The department is always looking for ways to extend and enrich classroom learning. Trips range from visiting relevant places of worship to a long weekend looking at the Philosophy found in Paris. We also attend and have hosted major A Level revision conferences.

Junior pupils study a carefully designed curriculum aimed at developing their religious literacy along with their confidence and skill as independent, critical thinkers. Philosophical and ethical thought are introduced, and are used to appreciate and evaluate the beliefs of a range of religions in relation to the divine and the nature of human beings. Pupils also spend a term studying the debate between science and religion, and looking at insight offered from both perspectives in relation to fascinating areas such as human freedom, morality and moral authority. 

RS is an option at GCSE. We follow the OCR specification, which is broken into three sections: Beliefs, Teachings and Practices of Christianity; Beliefs, Teachings and Practices of Buddhism; and Religion, philosophy and ethics in the modern world from a Christian perspective.

BBC makes last minute changes to assisted suicide documentary, after Samaritans complaint

A Level RS is a popular option for study in the sixth form. We follow the OCR specification, which is broken into three equal components: Philosophy, Ethics and Theology. 

A Level students are expected to undertake a significant amount of wider reading. To support students in doing this the department has put together a suggested reading list. The library is well stocked with all of the suggested reading and much more besides.