14-16 Subjects

GCSE Curriculum Guide

Please download the ‘Guide to 4th and 5th Year Curriculum and Examination Options’ using the link below.

Subject Summary

Please find a summary of each subject below. Please use the links above for more detailed information.

Art and Design

Art requires pupils to produce extensive research, using their sketchbook and supporting studies to produce work that shows the development of their ideas. An Art and Design GCSE is essential for anyone wishing to go on to art school or in to careers in art and design. We have forged close links with Falmouth University and its Art Department, which is of great benefit to pupils who wish to pursue a future in the creative arena. Art can lead to careers in graphics, textiles, fashion design, photography, animation, three dimensional design (furniture, jewellery, display, exhibitions, etc.), architecture, industrial design, and beauty therapy. The skills learnt and developed in Art are also useful when applying for Dentistry.

Computer Science

A high-quality computing education equips pupils to use computational thinking and creativity to understand and change the world. Computing has links with Mathematics, Science, and Design and Technology, providing insights into both natural and artificial systems. The core of Computing is Computer Science, in which pupils are taught the principles of information technology and computation, how digital systems work, and how to put this knowledge to use through programming, enabling them to solve problems, create systems and produce a range of content. Computing also ensures that pupils become digitally literate – able to use, express themselves and develop their ideas through technology – helping to equip them for the future workplace and become active participants in a digital world.

Design and Technology

Environmental responsibilities together with developments in social media and design software, as well as advances in materials and manufacturing, have presented exciting new challenges and opportunities. Creative thinking implemented through practical endeavour has proven a winning formula in an increasingly broad-spectrum employment arena. Globally, pupils are being prepared for a variety of professions, many of which have not yet evolved. Of one key element we can be sure: they will all use technology. The Truro Design and Technology Department aims to equip pupils with the creative skills required to thrive in the modern workplace. The Design and Technology GCSE places great emphasis on understanding and applying iterative design processes.


Drama GCSE will require dedicated study as well as providing further opportunities to perform and to write. Drama helps to develop a unique combination of skills: teamwork, problem solving, creativity, and reflective evaluation. The course involves ensemble work and a dedication to group devised drama which requires rehearsals outside normal school hours at certain times during the course. It also requires writing skills as part of the non-exam assessment and written examination. Drama gives pupils an opportunity to develop their personal communication skills and allows them to explore written texts that go beyond what is offered in the English Literature course as they consider how to interpret texts for staging purposes. Pupils will gain greater self-awareness and confidence in public presentation and interview situations.

English Language and English Literature

Although these are two distinct GCSE subjects, the skills being developed are really very similar as the syllabuses encourage pupils to improve their language skills and appreciation of literature, developing successful readers, writers, speakers, listeners and thinkers. The emphasis in OCR GCSE English is on the analysis of literary texts and the accurate, effective use of language: pupils will learn to understand and respond to what they hear, read and experience. Beginning with a core language skills module in the 4th Year, the course encourages pupils to read a challenging range of fiction and non-fiction, some from the C19th, and to write in response, using relevant vocabulary, correct grammar, spelling and punctuation, and demonstrating a sense of style and an awareness of audience.


Geography is a strong facilitating subject, which provides students with extremely useful transferable skills. It presents helpful background knowledge for jobs and courses in exporting and importing, tourism, outdoor leisure management and cartography. It is also very relevant to careers related to land use and the environment, including land and housing management, town planning, GIS risk mapping, agriculture, surveying, geology, ecology and forestry.


Geology is an integrated science that incorporates elements of Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Mathematics and Geography in a practical and applied way, rather than one that is purely theoretical. It includes the study of minerals, rocks and fossils, landscape development, the evolution of life, natural hazards, climate change, plate tectonics, and the concept of deep time. The Department has strong links with many universities and national organisations and these relationships are used to enhance the learning experience. The subject opens up opportunities to progress into careers in mining engineering, exploration geology, geo-technics, environmental geology, petroleum geology, geo-conservation and oceanography.


IGCSE History is an academically rigorous subject that provides a sound foundation for all arts and social science careers. Not only does the qualification provide valuable insights into the way the modern world has evolved; it is also an excellent medium for the development of the skills of investigative reading, identifying and evaluating key evidence, weighing up arguments and composing logical, convincing written judgements. These skills are transferable to most higher education courses and are vital in a wide range of future careers, including law, journalism, management and politics.


A good pass in Mathematics at GCSE (universities currently indicate this as a 6) will be needed for virtually all scientific and engineering courses and for certain others like Anthropology, Business Studies, Economics, Geography and Psychology. Very many careers will be closed if a pass standard (currently 4) in Mathematics is not obtained.

Modern Foreign Languages: French, German, Spanish

Pupils may continue with their current languages for their IGCSEs in the 4th and 5th Year. However, no pupil can pick up a new language ab initio in the 4th Year. Language skills are, as ever, highly regarded by employers. Obtaining a good grade in a Modern Foreign Language is also very useful evidence of a pupil’s ability to learn any language should a future employer require such training for their employees. Some universities also look for pupils having a language qualification as part of a rounded set of academic skills; this is particularly true for universities in the USA and other parts of the world.


There are two ways of studying GCSE Music, each with different entry requirements which provide secure foundations for success.

  1. Two-year GCSE Music Course

Pupils need to be at a minimum of Grade 3 standard before starting the course. We prefer our pupils to take this varied, fun, two-year GCSE Music Course as it provides the best preparation for success.

2. One-year Wednesday Afternoon Activities Fast Track GCSE Music

This is for bright, very advanced musicians, who would not normally be able to fit a Music GCSE into their timetable. It is offered to pupils in the 4th Year and we cover the whole GCSE course in one year as part of the Wednesday Afternoon Activities Programme.

Physical Education

The Physical Education GCSE course introduces a more academic study of the subject, with both a practical and a written theory component. The subject provides a valuable insight into sports performance, health-related fitness and contemporary issues relating to sport for pupils, and is particularly recommended for those possibly considering a sports-related career. Such careers include PE teaching, sports coaching, sports physiotherapy and psychology, and sports management.

Religious Studies

Religious Studies is a compulsory GCSE subject at Truro School, providing pupils with an opportunity to explore two religious traditions, alongside a focus on contemporary moral values and ethical issues.

Religious Studies is a highly rigorous and academic discipline. We strive to engage our pupils in theological, philosophical and ethical debate, helping them to develop intellectually, morally and spiritually, and support them to form their own views. Pupils will become reflective critical thinkers with a greater awareness and understanding of the world they live in and, in becoming so, will be supported to achieve the best possible examination results in the process.

Sciences: Biology, Chemistry, Physics

Pupils need a background in Science to help navigate through a scientific and technological world, regardless of whether they pursue a career in a science-related discipline. Without scientific qualifications pupils may also rule out many opportunities to work not only in industry, in the fields of engineering and manufacturing, or technological processing, but also in the health services and education. The application of the scientific skills of numeracy, team-working and problem-solving is also valued in the financial sector.

The Truro School Identity

Our school motto, Esse Quam Videri (to be, rather than to seem to be), captures the essence of our identity and is defined by the 5 C's below. Underpinned by strong Christian principles, we are a caring and inclusive community which values, nurtures and develops each individual.

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