The Year 8 curriculum comprises core and non-core subjects.
Core subjects with the number of lessons allocated each week are:
English with drama – 5
Reading – 1
Mathematics – 5
French – 3
Biology – 2
Chemistry – 2
Physics – 2
PSHE – 1
Two lessons per week are devoted to the non-core subjects of:
Art, classics, computer science, design technology, geography, history, music, physical education and religion, ethics & philosophy. The top set in Classics also study Latin for one lesson per week.
In addition, Year 8 pupils have five lessons of games per week and two lessons per week are devoted to a second modern foreign language. They also undertake two or three sessions of independent, supervised study in the library or another classroom in which to complete prep, read or simply explore academic interests beyond the normal school curriculum.
Setting in English, maths, French and humanities continues, and commences in science at the beginning of Year 8.
Pupils’ writing skills are reinforced and extended by more demanding, targeted activities with specified audiences and purposes. More demanding fiction and non-fiction texts are read and each pupil is encouraged to become a more critical reader.
Following on from the work undertaken in Year 7, MyMaths is used as the main resource and comprises a students’ book and a homework book at three tiers of ability: support, core and extension. Assessment occurs after each topic, tests are taken at the end of the Michaelmas term and exams are taken at the end of the Trinity term.
Pupils’ language skills are developed in all areas as they become more familiar with a range of tenses and a broader range of topic areas. They continue to be encouraged to be independent learners and to explore various cultural aspects of the French-speaking world.
Students look at the diversity of living organisms and reproduction in mammals in the Michaelmas term. During the Lent term they look at the digestive system in more depth, covering aspects of nutrition and diet as well as the process of digestion. In the Trinity term, students will look at the process of respiration and the release of energy from food, before looking at aspects of health and disease in humans.
Pupils look in detail at the Periodic Table. They carry out practical studies on the different reactive groups across the table, with topics including metals and their compounds, earth science and environmental chemistry. The curriculum is based around the National Curriculum programme of study, which is completed during Year 8, before students embark on studying material for the IGCSE course in Year 9.
Students cover the behaviour of electric circuits and examine the characteristics of a variety of electrical components. They go on to study energy transformation and efficiency, types of forces and their effects as well as the concept of pressure. As in Year 7, a great deal of practical work underpins the teaching.
Second Modern Foreign Language
Students have a choice of German or Spanish and will learn this second language for a minimum of two years. In Year 8, students apply language-learning strategies which they have acquired from studying French to access new grammar rules and build up vocabulary across a range of topics, while also investigating cultural aspects of places where German and Spanish are spoken.
Year 7 topics are extended; new media and techniques are introduced. Project examples include the drawing of natural objects and buildings; these are developed into larger oil or pastel designs, and ceramic pieces are made.
More elements of the Cambridge Latin Course are followed or, for lower sets, Discovering the Greeks – the history, culture and achievements of classical Greek civilisation.
Design concepts are introduced and practical skills reinforced. Pupils consider the environmental, ethical and health and safety issues relating to the design and make of a buggy, a trophy and a bubble-generating machine. The importance of a quality product is emphasised.
In the Michaelmas Term, girls are coached in hockey and boys in rugby. In the Lent Term, boys take hockey and girls are coached in netball, with some pupils choosing swimming, lacrosse or squash. In the Trinity Term, it is cricket for boys and rounders for girls and many also choose to participate in athletics and tennis.
The course follows the Oxford University Press Geography 123 Series Book 2. The main topics covered are coasts, weather and climate, Brazil, ecosystems, crime and a study of London. The year group enjoys a Trinity Term field trip to Robin Hood’s Bay.
In the Michaelmas Term, the Renaissance is studied. This is followed by a study of the Tudors in the Lent Term, concentrating on religious changes in the 16th century and Elizabethan England. In the Trinity Term, the Stuarts are studied, focusing on the English Civil War.
Building on the knowledge and understanding gained in Year 7, students are further equipped to use information technology to create programs, systems and a range of content. Topics of study include: logic, algorithms and data representation; computational thinking; coding (Scratch), digital creativity (animation and web design) and a project.
Pupils have one lesson devoted to the study of songs and songwriting with practical group work being an integral part of the programme. The second lesson is devoted to the study of the guitar with pupils learning chords and strumming patterns for half of the year and the study of music from around the world and musicals for the second half of the year through a largely practical perspective.
This follows the same pattern as in Year 7 – basketball and swimming in the Michaelmas term, gymnastics and swimming in the Lent term and athletics and tennis in the Trinity term – and develops further these sports. The swimming element also involves personal survival techniques and synchronised swimming.
Religion, Ethics & Philosophy
We spend Year 8 exploring key aspects of Islam, Buddhism and Judaism. We look to understand what it is to be a follower of these religions in the modern world. The old cultural traditions provide rich and interesting studies, and we also come to enjoy the benefits of meditative practice of Buddha. We have enjoyed recent trips to a mosque and a synagogue.