Senior Curriculum

Happy and Successful

“Pupils are well educated, achieving the school’s aim that they should be happy and successful. Pupils of all ages, including those in the Sixth Form, display excellent levels of knowledge, understanding and skill across all; subject and activities” (Independent Schools Inspectorate)

Academic Achievement

Wherever you turn you see the evidence of enthusiastic learners and teachers. The quality of the girls’ educational experience is at the core of everything we do.

The standard of academic achievement at Burgess Hill Girls is excellent and the ‘value added’ as measured by Durham University’s Centre of Evaluation and Monitoring (CEM) is something of which we are extremely proud. Using baseline data gathered as the pupils join the Senior School in Year 7, GCSE performance of each pupil is, on average, more than one and a half grades higher per subject than would be expected from pupils of similar ability. This regularly places Burgess Hill Girls in the top 1-2% of the schools using CEM statistics.

The data confirms what we see daily; that the girls thrive in this environment and exceed all expectations, giving them the confidence and foundation for a successful future.

Programme of study

The academic curriculum is kept under review and we value the independence we have to build a programme of study that we believe will support your daughter in building a strong portfolio of qualifications, and equip her with the best possible foundation for her future whichever path she takes.

Alongside strength in core subjects, your daughter will benefit from our commitment to sport and the creative and expressive arts. Your daughter will develop her independent learning skills whilst continuing to build her general knowledge through a rich variety of courses designed to encourage curiosity and feed her enthusiasm for learning.

Careers Events

Careers events aimed at raising the aspirations of girls are supported by successful female role models from a range of careers and links with local businesses.


In Years 9, 10 and 11 your daughter will follow a programme of nine GCSEs from a wide choice of subjects. Further qualifications are available through timetabled enrichment sessions in Chinese, further Mathematics, Greek, the Higher Project Qualification and Statistics.

Academic Success

“This is a school that is rightly proud of its pupils and what they achieve as individuals. Things like academic success naturally follow but the school does not chase statistics.” (Parent)


GCSE Art & Design provides students with a wide range of creative, exciting and stimulating opportunities to explore their interest in ways that are personally relevant  and developmental in nature.

The two Unit specification enables students to develop the ability to actively engage in the process of Art & Design, to build creative skills, develop imagination and intuitive ways of working and develop knowledge and understanding of media, materials and technologies in historical and contemporary contexts.

Assessment is by Unit 1 – The Portfolio of work 60% and Unit 2 – The Externally Set Task 40%

It is a strong foundation for further progression onto Art & Design related courses such as A level and Art related vocational courses.


Creativity is the key element of Design and Technology, providing lots of opportunities to develop individual ways of learning. The girls are challenged to put their knowledge into practice as they actively seek to solve the problems that face them.

The girls themselves design innovative products using a range of different materials; this develops individuality and a pride in the task, meaning every project becomes highly personal.

All the girls study the Key Stage 3 curriculum for a double lesson each week, but many choose to extend this into lunchtime workshops where they further fine-tune their experiences and skills.

In the optional Key Stage 4 and 5 programs, projects developed for the external examination boards both address the design briefs issued whilst remaining individual and stemming from the students’ own imaginative design ideas.

The school’s two specialist areas – one dedicated to Fabrics and Textiles and the other focused on Resistant materials – rely heavily on sound design ideas and originality. The sky is the limit for the scope of the products manufacture, and the successes gained in local, national and international exhibitions demonstrates that our students achieve these goals.


Making products which you have designed is fun and at BHG the specially equipped workshops provide fantastic opportunities to let your creativity flow. GCSE and A level Design & Technology Textiles or Design & Technology Resistant Materials are the choices available to students keen to expand their Product Design skills. Both aspects focus on problem solving and students design their own product in response to a brief, and then develop the idea to manufacturing their unique product.

These courses prepare students for progression into Further, Higher Education or Vocational courses. The reputation of the Department is well established competing in National and local competitions.


Many girls can also be seen during the lunch time or after school working on their creations they are so enthusiastic about wanting to see their ideas take shape.  The scope of the projects is wide and outside the classroom curriculum personal interests can be pursued in much greater depth.



We have specialist Drama teachers to teach all year groups. We also have an excellent Speech and Drama department which offers individual lessons for a range of New Era examination courses.


Drama lessons for KS3 involves two lessons per week as a “double” lesson in our specifically designed Drama studio or Croft II Drama space.

The KS3 Drama curriculum is based upon developing pupil imagination, communication and creativity whilst assessing their progress in the three essential areas of making, performing and responding in Drama.

The KS3 Drama curriculum has been designed to introduce and sustain the continual assessment of pupils according to the Drama Assessment Level descriptors published in the Arts Council document “Drama in Schools” as well as the assessment criteria and marking of GCSE Drama.

The curriculum content, delivery and assessment format focuses on the development of Drama skills in the following areas – Making and Creating, Performing and Responding & Evaluating.


At GCSE Level, we follow the OCR Specification. Our GCSE Drama course has been designed to be a practical, engaging and creative specification for students to study. It will provide opportunities to understand and create Drama as a practical art form in which ideas and meaning are communicated to an audience through informed artistic choices.

It will allow students to study Drama in an academic setting, interrogating this art form and applying their knowledge and understanding to the process of creating and developing Drama and to their own performance work. It will prepare learners for the further study of a range of higher educational courses as well as Drama or Performing Arts courses and helps in developing transferable skills desired by further education, higher education and employers in all sectors of industry.

Our course helps create independent learners, critical thinkers and effective decision makers – all personal attributes that can make them stand out as they progress through their education and into employment. The non-exam assessment allows students to explore their own interests and develop their skills in either performance or design. It also provides freedom for students to experiment and take risks with their work while developing their own style.



In Years 7, 8 and 9 students complete four core modules of work each year, each unit lasting half a term. The summer term uses extension materials to refresh key skills in preparation for examinations; the final half term offers opportunities for independent study.

We aim to cover a broad and stimulating range of genres across all years, inviting students to enter a variety of local and national writing competitions. Independent reading is also encouraged and supported through KS3 reading schemes and extra-curricular activities such as The Carnegie Shadowing Scheme, Book Week, the Southern Schools Book Award and our Young Adult (YA) video series, BookSmart.

By the end of KS3, students should be able to read accurately, fluently and sensitively, write expressively and accurately, and speak and listen with confidence. All students are fully prepared for the rigours of GCSE.


In Years 10 and 11 students follow a combined course leading to two separate qualifications – GCSE English Language and English Literature. The department is using the new AQA specifications.

Both courses develop key skills which underpin learning across the curriculum: analytical reading and interpretation, the manipulation of a variety of forms and styles, and speaking and listening in various contexts such as individual presentations and group discussion.

In English Language, students respond to 19th, 20th and 21st century texts; English Literature includes study of a 19th century novel, a whole Shakespeare play, and a selection of poetry.



At Burgess Hill Girls, Classics is alive and buzzing as a discipline that is highly relevant to the modern world. By exploring our past we gain a clearer picture of the present and a greater understanding of context. Our subjects develop a broad range of important skills, linguistic, analytical and evaluative, for example, whilst exploring fascinating civilisations that continue to influence the West and the world as a whole. They delve deep into what it means to be human. Whether you are seeking answers to the ‘Big Questions’, want to lose yourself in some of the finest stories ever told or simply enjoy a linguistic challenge, Classics and the Ancient World have something for you.

For many of our students a real highlight is participating in one of the overseas trips where Classics gets up close and personal. From the birthplace of Hercules and the dizzy heights of the Parthenon to exploring the ruins of Pompeii and Herculaneum and the wonders of Rome, the girls experience the ancient world first hand. Back in the UK, our students continue to explore Classics outside the classroom and we offer many enrichment opportunities, such as university competitions, workshops, visiting speakers, theatre trips and site visits. We are also one of the few schools proud to offer Classical Greek as a co-curricular activity.

In the classroom, our students study both the language and the culture of the Romans. In KS3 we follow the Cambridge Latin Course and girls enjoy the rigour and intellectual flexibility needed to translate and explore the stories and interactive language activities and explore cultural links. They soon become experts on gladiatorial combat and what to cook for a Roman dinner party, and learn about the structure and beliefs of this multicultural society. The skills they need to do this are vital for the modern world.

In KS4 and 5, our students are privileged to read in the original some of the works of famous authors such as Virgil, Ovid, Cicero and Tacitus, which have inspired many later generations. As they develop their skills of literary criticism and communication and their linguistic prowess, they may read one of the greatest love stories ever told or find themselves in a court room with an orator whose brilliance has survived through the millennia.

Our students of Classical Civilisation study Homer and ponder on the true meaning of heroism whilst the consummate storyteller weaves his web. There are also the delights of Greek tragedy which deals with the big questions in life; to whom do you owe ultimate loyalty? How far should you go to support your country? What is the cruellest revenge? Not for the faint-hearted, our students explore betrayal, lust for glory and brutal murder.

Some students take up the exciting opportunity to study Classical Greek. They enjoy learning to read and appreciate Greek literature, by authors such as Herodotus and Homer in its cultural context and in its original language.

Whatever you love, Classics has something for you.


French is an obvious language to learn as France is a major trading partner of the United Kingdom and a favourite holiday destination. The Francophone world, French culture and customs are an inherent part of the course and every opportunity to introduce the students to French society and way of life is actively sought: French breakfast, films, websites and Years 9 and 10 have the opportunity to discover life in the south of France with the French Exchange trip to Avignon.

Our aim is to make learning French a rewarding experience by giving the students the necessary tools to be able to express themselves in writing and orally confidently and accurately. Our state of the art language laboratory gives the students the opportunity to have genuine conversations and hone on their listening skills. Our French Assistant, a young graduate, teaches small groups at KS4 to help student be competent communicators.

We use Mission: français in Years 7 and 8, Clic! in Year 9 and the Nelson Thornes course for GCSE, together with Kerboodle. All courses provided students with interactive activities and audio and video resources.


German, the language of Philosophers, Scientists, Writers and Musicians, Artists and successful Sportsmen and women is also the first language of the European economic powerhouse. It is introduced at the end of Year 7 and pupils can then opt to continue in Year 8 and all the way through to A Level. All the classes are taught by a specialist linguist.

We use the interactive version of the Echo Express course from Heinemann for KS3, and the Nelson Thornes AQA course for GCSE and A level, in conjunction with the online resource ‘Kerboodle’. A developing relationship with the German department at the University of Cambridge  which has enabled us to meet the German translator of Harry Potter and support from our German language assistant are ways in which we help pupils gain confidence and achieve their aims.

All pupils from Year 10 upwards have access to a German Assistant. Access to a native speaker allows students to hone their speaking skills and she is able to share with them her first-hand knowledge of German speaking, current affairs and culture.

Enthusiastic linguists across all languages are encouraged to take part in the annual national Linguistics Olympiad. In 2014 an Upper Sixth student was a gold medal winner in the International Finals in Beijing.


Spanish is taught by native speakers and by bilingual staff whose knowledge of Spanish far exceeds the level normally required for teaching at A Level. Our combined experience ranges from primary schools to three prestigious Russell Group universities.  The department is truly international: we are familiar not only with Castilian Spanish, but also Latin American varieties.  Our students know they won’t get red wine when they order ‘tinto’ in Colombia!

From the beginning of their studies in Year 8, we place emphasis on teaching Spanish in ways that foster greater awareness of English grammar and associated improvements in verbal reasoning.

The AQA course helps students develop confident, effective communication skills in Spanish and a thorough understanding of the culture of countries and communities where Spanish is spoken. It develops an interest in, and enthusiasm for, language learning and encourages students to consider their study of the language in a broader context.

“My teachers have always made our lessons engaging and their encouragement has meant that Spanish is definitely still a possibility for me next year as an A Level” (former GCSE student).



Biology relates to all living things, from microorganisms right up to the largest mammals and trees. It is about ‘us’, so holds relevance to anyone studying the subject, at any age.

On entry to the Senior School in Year 7, girls are taught by a specialist teacher, learning about Cells, Human Reproduction, Classification and the Skeleton. A basic understanding of biological techniques such as using a microscope are developed and confidence in working in a laboratory environment is built.

Through Year 8 and 9 we are keen for girls to pursue their interests in the subject through the study of topics as diverse as Photosynthesis, Food and Nutrition and Inheritance. Assessments become more in line with those that they will meet at GCSE but we always look for girls to go beyond the boundaries of the syllabus to explore their own biological passions.

As girls enter their GCSE programmes they become confident in biological processes and have a good grounding in all of the areas covered at this level. The current GCSE courses offered are either the AQA GCSE Combined Science Trilogy Course leading to two GCSEs or the individual sciences via the AQA GCSE Triple Award, leading to three separate GCSEs in Physics, Chemistry and Biology. Material and skills learnt in Years 7 to 9 are expanded and challenged at GCSE Level, while still offering the opportunity to uncover something new and enriching.

Biology offers a challenging course of study that holds relevance with much seen in everyday life and current affairs, as well as linking with many other subjects. It is a popular subject throughout the phases of the school and, as a department, we seek to take this interest and foster its development, whether that is into A level study or simply for the enjoyment of learning.


Chemistry is taught by specialist teachers from year 7. We love teaching Chemistry and believe that it is essential to regularly carry out practical work to support theory. Our new state of the art laboratories are a pleasure to teach and learn in. We concentrate on the following areas at Key Stage 3:

• Year 7: Safe working, Measurements, Particle Theory, Acids and Bases, Simple Chemical Reactions, Practical Skills
• Year 8: Solutions, Separating Mixtures, Water and Purity, Elements, Compounds and Mixtures, Chemical Reactions, Formulae, Practical Skills
• Year 9: Atomic Structure and the Periodic Table, Metals, Fuels, Acids, Bases and Salts, Practical Skills
We offer AQA GCSE Science subjects with the girls choosing to study either the double award AQA Trilogy course or the triple award AQA separate sciences during Key Stage 4. Both provide an excellent foundation for studying A level sciences but the triple award is recommended for those considering reading Chemistry, Biochemistry, Engineering, Medicine or Veterinary Science at university. The main topics include:
• Atoms, Bonding and Moles, Chemical Reactions and Energy Changes, Rates, Equilibrium and Organic Chemistry, Analysis and the Earth’s Resources.


Computing during Key Stage 3 covers a wide range of topics. Coding skills, alongside the computation thinking required to understand, design and test solutions, are developed from simple visual programming platforms such as Scratch to high-level programming languages such as Python.

Girls also learning about e-safety, as well as other key computing areas such as web design, handling images and sound and the use of application development tools. Girls are also given the opportunity to design and build increasingly complex electronic circuits; from simple Arudino-based games in Year 7 to sensor-controlled robots in Year 9.

At Key Stage 4, GCSE Computing is offered as an option that builds on the experiences of the Key Stage 3 programme. Software design and programming skills continue to be developed alongside key theoretical topics such as network design, databases and the Internet. Other issues, such as open-source software, system reliability and electronics are explored using a wide range of online and practical resources.


Mathematics in the Senior School moves on from the numeracy and basic geometry topics covered in Key Stages 1 and 2 to extend and broaden the range of skills and knowledge required to solve increasingly complex problems. Algebra provides a powerful tool for investigating patterns and solving problems and graphs are used to represent mathematical relationships. Geometry topics introduce new methods and concepts to solve a wide range of shape, area and volume problems and statistical methods are applied to interpret and represent data using measures and diagrams.

Throughout, problem-solving is a central theme; by developing fluency in key mathematical skills and through the use of logic and reasoning, our girls become increasingly able to solve a range of mathematical problems with confidence.

Throughout Key Stages 3 and 4, lessons are taught in ability groups, providing more support in smaller classes where this is needed while allowing others to move more quickly onto enrichment and extension activities where this is more appropriate. For all, support outside lessons is regularly provided in the form of clinics and Sixth form subject mentors.

In Key Stage 4, we follow the Edexcel GCSE in Mathematics and, during Year 11, some girls take the opportunity to study GCSE Statistics or the AQA Level 2 Certificate in Further Mathematics.

In the Sixth form, A Level Mathematics is consistently one of the most popular subject choices. We follow the OCR (MEI) GCE in Mathematics, which combines both pure and applied mathematical topics. A Level Further Mathematics is also offered as a full subject and additional support for girls taking AEA or STEP examinations is also available.


Physics is a fascinating subject that attempts to help us understand how the world around us works. Physics in the Senior School starts with a broad and balanced curriculum allowing the girls to develop a love and understanding of some of the fundamental ideas before we then go on to stretch and challenge them throughout their Key Stage 3, GCSE and A Level courses.

At Key Stage 3, the girls are introduced to a variety of topics including Forces, Energy, Electricity, Waves and The Earth and Beyond.

With the basics now in place, the girls can approach their GCSE courses confident in the knowledge that they have a solid base on which to build. These current courses offered are either the AQA GCSE Combined Science: Trilogy Course leading to two GCSEs or the individual sciences via the AQA GCSE Triple Award, leading to three separate GCSEs in Physics, Chemistry and Biology. These courses build on the knowledge already established and also introduce new topics such as Fields, Thermal Physics, Lenses and Radiation.

A Level Physics is a popular course; we currently follow the AQA examination board. With the A Level course comes a whole new branch of Physics, stretching and building on the Mechanics of GCSE but also introducing new topics such as Particle Physics, Atomic Physics and Relativity.

There is definitely no stereotyping at Burgess Hill Girls, Physics is definitely not ‘just for the boys’ and each and every girl is encouraged to think for themselves, analyse a situation and make valid, well-informed decisions. Physics often calls for imagination and inventiveness and at Burgess Hill Girls we actively encourage the girls to ask those awkward questions.



Music at Burgess Hill Girls is outstanding. Performances at every level, from school and community concerts to national competitions, bring much acclaim from audiences and adjudicators alike. We encourage and nurture every style and interest in music from traditional Western Classical through to contemporary popular styles and musical cultures from around the globe. Music is considered a universal language that has no boundaries and can be shared by everyone.


Students in Years 7 to 9 have one 40 minute music lesson each week with a specialist music teacher. The curriculum covers a broad range of music, from Western Classical to Contemporary Pop, taking in World genres and music for Media and Screen. Through these areas students develop creative and technical skills as well as cultural awareness.


Music at GCSE  is a development of the work studied at Key Stage 3 and a stepping stone for further study at AS and A Level.  We study the Edexcel Syllabus and the course aims to develop students’ understanding and appreciation of a wide range of musical genres and styles and encourages critical and creative thinking. The course is divided into three components – performing, composing and listening – and has four Areas of Study: Western Classical Music 1600-1899; Music in the 20th Century; Popular music in context; World music.

Key skills that are developed through this course include communication, creative use of technology, improving own learning and performance and working with others.

We are proud that, historically, girls have consistently achieved excellent grades in this subject.


Over 200 girls take instrumental lessons from our dedicated peripatetic teachers at the school, and we have a wide range of extra-curricular musical groups on offer including choirs, orchestras, a jazz band, and an African drumming group as well as a large range of string, woodwind and brass chamber ensembles to suit all abilities. Some girls even form their own ensembles in the form of bands and even a Glee Club. There are also opportunities to direct other musicians and learn the skills of conducting.

Giving voice to your own musical ideas and learning how to craft and develop them is as important as learning an instrument, and our girls develop their skills of composition in a range of styles. One of the most special occasions we have is hearing a student’s work come to life at a concert.


Come to one of our concerts… they are fantastic!

Come and see the enthusiasm, passion and confidence.

See the exceptionally high standard and hard work that has gone into it.

See the fun and enjoyment we all get from music.



The Geography department at Burgess Hill Girls seeks to provoke and address key questions about the natural and human worlds, using different scales of enquiry and encouraging an understanding of contrasting perspectives.

There is a strong tradition at Burgess Hill Girls of studying Geography. It is part of the ‘core curriculum’ at Key Stage 3 and a popular optional subject at GCSE and AS 7 A Level. Set sizes for external examination groups are small enough to allow for detailed individual support of students, whilst remaining large enough to promote healthy debate and an atmosphere of mutually supportive academic endeavor.

External examination results are consistently excellent, with an average pass rate of over 80% at A*/A for GCSE and 80% at A*/B for A Level over the last eight years. Many students go on to study Geography or related subjects at university.


Burgess Hill Girls has an enthusiastic History Department which strives to develop our students into confident and inquisitive individuals who will have a fuller understanding of the world they live in today. Through the development of analytical and discussion skills, we show the relevance of History and the impact it has upon the present day on a personal, national and international level.  We encourage students to think critically and want them to develop and articulate their own opinions about the past.

Our curriculum at Key Stage 3 covers a very broad range of History. In Year 7 we study the history of England from 1066 to 1450.  This allows students the opportunity to experience medieval days, (with some sword play!) and castle trips. We also study Britain from 1500 to 1750, examining how the United Kingdom was forged.

We begin Year 8 by examining the Industrial Revolution with a particular focus on the dreadful conditions workers faced in factories. Students go on to examine the 20th century world where they complete a depth study on how women gained the vote. From this we progress on to studying the causes, events and outcomes of the First World War.

History has always been a popular subject choice at GCSE and A level. We study the Pearson Edexcel GCSE course which covers Nazi Germany, the Cold War, Crime and Punishment from 1000 to present, and Anglo-Saxon and Norman England. The A level course is the AQA examination covering Russia 1854 to1964 and Britain 1952 to 2007.

Our historians produce balanced and well supported arguments. They learn how to extract information from historical sources and how to question their reliability, purpose and utility. History is complex and dynamic; through the investigation of cause and consequence and change and continuity, Burgess Hill Girls students grow in their understanding of the world, and as individuals.


In Religious Studies: Theology, Philosophy and Ethics, we encourage pupils to investigate and reflect on some of the most fundamental questions about life. We expose students to the ideas of the greatest thinkers our world has ever known. Religious Studies allows students to become more aware of contemporary philosophical and ethical issues.

At Burgess Hill Girls we develop the students’ knowledge and understanding of the major world faiths, and promote their spiritual, moral, cultural and social development. Pupils investigate Christianity and other world religions, especially those that are the main faiths of students within our school.

By the end of Year 8 students are well versed in being able to express their own views whilst also appreciating and expressing the points of view of others. We emphasise critical thinking, and aim to teach students to construct good arguments, analyse sources of evidence and think about different kinds of truth.

Religious Studies is a popular choice at GCSE and A Level, where we study Theology, Philosophy and Ethics.

We examine questions such as:

  • What is more important – the sanctity of life or the quality of life?
  • Should animals have the same rights as humans?
  • Why do people suffer?
  • Does suffering have a purpose?

So, what can you do with Religious Studies? The study of religion helps you to learn how to think critically, listen empathetically, speak thoughtfully, and write clearly—all skills that will be of great use no matter what you go on to do in life.

It will also help you to better live and work in our increasingly diverse society and global world. Students of religion go on to careers in a wide variety of fields including teaching, medicine, social service, law, journalism, international business, diplomacy and many more besides.


Physical Education and Sport of every kind is highly valued at Burgess Hill Girls, where we adopt a positive and vibrant lifelong approach towards leading a healthy, active lifestyle. The department boasts six highly qualified, inspirational and enthusiastic teachers ably supported by a number of specialist sports coaches.  This wealth of experience encourages every pupil to find an activity or sport they enjoy, and in which they can have the opportunity to participate at their own level or at county, regional or national standard.

We offer a huge range of extra-curricular activities during lunchtime and after school ranging from traditional Invasion Games to more creative based activities and outdoor pursuits. There is an extensive fixture programme for all age groups, with opportunities also of enjoying our exhilarating overseas sports tours.

Students not only learn to develop their core skills but also the importance of working in a team. Leadership, sportsmanship, co-operation and discipline are key life skills that each student may gain through participation in PE.

During Key Stage 3 we follow a more traditional programme, which includes a wide range of activities such as Hockey, Netball, Athletics, Tennis, Trampolining, OAA and Badminton.  During Key Stage 4 & 5 we offer a more extensive range of activities to try to encourage the girls to find their sporting niche.  Activities include Zumba, Insanity Classes, Boxercise, Street Dance, Climbing and Individual Fitness programmes.  Our GCSE and A Level results are excellent, enabling our girls to pursue a career in sport or wider areas.  Sport is at the heart of school life, providing every student with the opportunity to fulfil their dreams and aspirations in the embodiment of the school’s motto; ‘I am, I can, I should, I will.’

Watch this video to find out more about sport at Burgess Hill Girls:


Could you develop your independent research and project management skills further in Years 9 or 10 by completing a Higher Project Qualification on such varied topics as:

  • Why did the Mitford sisters develop such diverse and extreme political beliefs when they were all from the same family?


  • Why is there no main-stream socialism in the USA?

Can you present your topic to a non-specialist audience in an articulate and engaging way and field a range of questions with confidence?

Our students take these challenges in their stride and, as a result, develop a range of higher level research and communication skills that are much sought after by universities and employers alike.