Subjects in Forms 1-3
In the First to Third Forms, as well as the core subjects of English, Mathematics and Science, pupils all study the humanities, technology and the expressive arts and can select from a range of modern and classical languages.
Subjects at GCSE
All pupils take Mathematics, English, English Literature, Biology, Chemistry and Physics and a Modern Language as their core GCSE subjects. Pupils choose three further option subjects from a further Modern Language (French, German, Spanish), Art, Business Studies, Design and Technology, Drama, Geography, History, Latin, Greek, Music and Religious Studies. Mathematics is taken early; depending on set, either at the end of the Fourth Form or in January of the Fifth Form.
Subjects at AS/A2
Pupils can choose freely from a wide range of subjects in the Sixth Form, including Ancient History, Art, Biology, Chemistry, Design and Technology, Drama, Economics, English Literature, French, Geography, German, Government and Politics, Greek, History, Latin, Mathematics, Further Mathematics, Music, Physical Education, Physics, Religious Studies and Spanish.
All pupils on entry to Forms 1 and 3 are tested for signs of dyslexia and similar conditions. The Learning Support Co-ordinator advises parents when further investigation seems appropriate and some extra support is available within School.
Homework is set and marked regularly to a published timetable in all years. The School Library is open and supervised until 6pm most evenings to provide an opportunity for pupils to work in a quiet environment with reference books and the internet on hand for research.
After lessons on Friday afternoon, Fifth Formers can follow courses that provide them with a range of skills, including First Aid and Expedition Training, which can prepare them for the Duke of Edinburgh’s Silver Award. Lower Sixth Formers spend the whole of Friday afternoon in one of a number of Service activities and have the option to continue into the Upper Sixth. The Army and RAF are both represented in our thriving Combined Cadet Force. In addition to regular exercises, we undertake frequent visits to camps in the UK and abroad and benefit from the advice of visiting UK and NATO forces officers. The Conservation group is a member of the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers (BTCV), fostering an awareness of environmental concerns by practical work in the countryside. At the School’s own farm we have restored a pond, reinstated hedges and planted trees. We also help to manage part of an SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest) on a local area of rare acid heathland. We have a fruitful and mutually beneficial Partnership Scheme with local primary schools. Our students provide help and support to younger children here, and staff and students deliver master classes in a range of subjects. Community Link is an activity in which our students are able to provide additional help and support to those who are disadvantaged in the community, working with the elderly, children with disabilities and various charity organisations. A small group of Sixth Form students takes an active role in the Publications Department, writing for and producing various School publications, including the School magazine, The Albanian. Students learn to write, edit, design and produce layouts to tight deadlines. Any of these activities can be used towards the Gold level of The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. St Albans School is an Award operating authority and our record of Award winners at Silver and Gold levels is impressive. The Award has 4 sections: Service, Skills, Physical Recreation and Expeditions, which take place in Wales, Scotland, France, Italy, Switzerland and Spain. At Gold Level a residential project also has to be completed.
PE lessons take place in the gymnasium and fitness centre, while games afternoons are usually based at the Woollam Playing Fields, to which pupils travel by coach. There are regular after-school training sessions and representative teams in rugby, hockey, cricket, football, table tennis, tennis, badminton, skiing, basketball, athletics and cross country. A strong fixture list features local and national opposition, and there are frequent sports tours around the country and abroad. Recently different sports teams have visited New Zealand and Fiji, South America, the USA, the Caribbean, Holland and Italy.
As well as curricular music lessons, a wide range of instruments is taught by peripatetic instrumental teachers. There are many opportunities to play in ensembles, from the School Choir, through the Chamber Orchestra and String Quartets to the School jazz band and pupils’ own rock bands. Pupils give regular concerts, and the Music Department has a policy of staging concerts by young professional musicians.
Outside drama lessons, there are frequent opportunities for pupils to get involved with performances, both on stage and backstage. There is a major whole-school production each December as well as various smaller shows at other times of the year. There is a dedicated Drama Centre, New Place, and the main stage in the School Hall is very well equipped with a sophisticated lighting and sound system.
Further details about the curriculum on a subject specific basis may be found on the subject pages.