Sir William Borlase's Grammar School

Academic Curriculum

The Borlase Curriculum provides a breadth and depth of academic learning and cultural experience to excite and extend all our students, including SEND learners and disadvantaged learners. It is rich in knowledge and in opportunities to develop creativity, instilling a life-long enthusiasm for learning.  

This distinctive Key Stage 3 creative curriculum is rich in cultural learning and empowers all our pupils with important, valuable skills that support personal and academic development; these include creative intelligence, independent thinking, collaborative skills, resilience, confidence, leadership, time- management, interpretation and empathy. 

In years 9-11, learners have an enriched  Key Stage 4. They study their subjects as disciplines; teachers inspire them with ideas outside and beyond the GCSE specification. There are trips, visits, practical explorations, independent research projects that enrich the learning experience and promote deeper understanding for all learners including SEND and disadvantaged learners - learners are not on a five term conveyor belt moving towards an examination. 

This leads on to an intellectually inspiring and empowering Key Stage 5 where students have a wide choice of academically challenging subjects that lead them onto aspirational destinations to follow their passion. Their studies are extended by independent projects and wider learning, and their journey to being an independent learner is facilitated through academic and organisational skills learned in tutor time. The curriculum includes opportunities to contribute to the community through mentoring and volunteering; to develop leadership through running societies and clubs; and to understand and prepare for the wide range of possible future destinations they might choose.  

Our curriculum is delivered by passionate, specialist teachers who encourage aspiration, intellectual curiosity and the exploration of their subject disciplines inside and beyond the classroom. It promotes a love of reading and literacy and develops oracy.  It includes a broad range of super and extra-curricular opportunities which ignite and extend students' interests, enthusiasm and skills across a wide range of endeavours including those linked to academic subjects, to sports, the arts, engineering, AI, public speaking,  creative writing, entrepreneurialism and so much more.

The Borlase Curriculum develops our students’ understanding of how they learn, enabling them to be effective independent thinkers and learners; it empowers them with positive strategies to prepare for examinations that support mental and physical well being. 

The Borlase Curriculum supports the Borlase culture and values, developing character based on and instilling a sense of moral and social responsibility. It teaches ethical leadership, reinforcing respect and kindness towards oneself, others and the environment. 

The Borlase Curriculum inspires and empowers all our students to be happy and successful and to have the skills, knowledge, values and confidence to shape the future.

The school's academic departments maintain information pages that provide information about each department's curriculum intent, the topics covered and details of the exam boards used for GCSE and A level qualifications. 

Key Stage 3

The Key Stage 3 Curriculum is designed to introduce our pupils to a wide range of subjects across the academic disciplines.

The distinctive, creative curriculum in Years 7 and 8 is rich in cultural learning and empowers all our pupils with important, valuable skills that support personal and academic development; these include creative intelligence, independent thinking, collaborative skills, resilience, confidence, leadership, time-management, interpretation and empathy. 

The Borlase curriculum provides a broad and rich educational experience in the first two years of learning . We aim to introduce students to a whole range of new ideas,  knowledge and skills to inspire and empower them, encouraging aspiration and enabling them to make informed choices about their next steps towards their future pathways. 

In order to achieve this, all pupils study discrete lessons in creative subjects taught by specialists alongside core subjects. The curriculum comprises English Language and Literature, Mathematics, History, Geography, French and German/Spanish, Physics, Chemistry and Biology, RS, Philosophy and Ethics, Art, Drama, Dance, Music, DT, MFL Food, Computing, Physical Education & Games and PSHE. 

Many of these subjects are completely new to pupils in Year 7 and 8; some have had limited experience of them but not taught by subject specialists. The decision to give pupils at least a full hour per week of all of these subjects is rooted in a firm belief that young people benefit from the opportunity to have a meaningful relationship with these subjects to develop the confidence and skills to recognise their own potential and passion. All learners experience subjects to which they might not otherwise be exposed unless their families created these opportunities. The creative curriculum is accessible to all students including SEND/EHCP.

To enable the provision of the Year 7 and 8 broad, rich curriculum, slightly less time is allocated to core subjects (Maths and Science) although there is extensive enrichment in these subjects; this time is put back spread across years 9-11 once students have chosen options. To promote reading and literacy, all academic departments promote wider reading which is also included in the Tutor Programme. The English Department delivers discrete Library lessons in years 7-9. The Literacy coordinator promotes literature, organises author visits. Creative Writing and essay competitions are promoted including at House Level. 

Key Stage 4

In years 9-11 subjects are taught as disciplines; teachers enrich learning and  inspire them with ideas outside and beyond the GCSE specification. There are trips, visits, practical explorations, independent research projects that enrich the learning experience and promote deeper understanding for all students including SEND and disadvantaged learners; pupils are not on a five term conveyor belt moving towards an examination. 

The KS4 curriculum aims to provide a strong academic core to enable all students to demonstrate their command of a broad range of subjects to GCSE Level while giving them the opportunity for choice and specialism; we aim to enrich and extend students’ learning across the three years, taking their education beyond the confines of the GCSE syllabus. We aim for all students to be empowered to follow their next chosen pathway. 

In order to achieve this, in Key Stage 4 all pupils study 10 GCSE subjects with a core comprising English Language and Literature, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, a Modern Foreign Language, Mathematics, Philosophy and Ethics, Physical Education; they select three further option subjects without restriction on choice. 

We do not insist all our pupils study History or Geography although between 80-90% have chosen to do this over recent years. We value pupils having the opportunity to choose the subjects that excite them and are confident that all experience a rich and broad curriculum in years 9 -11.  All pupils study an HPQ/ Certificate in Philosophy and Ethics, developing humanities skills and exploring an appropriate RS curriculum. The study of Philosophy is essential to develop independent thinkers who approach all their subjects with consideration of ethical values. 

Assemblies and enrichment activities also cover key areas from Geography/History such as Climate Change, World Wars, Holocaust memorial. There is the opportunity to take up either of these subjects and/or Politics or Economics in the Sixth Form without a GCSE in the subjects. We value giving our pupils free choice and for some students, two or even three creative subjects or a second language is appropriate.

The curriculum for Key Stage Four ensures all students have a broad based range of academic subjects to develop a depth and breadth of knowledge and skills. It is therefore made up of a compulsory Core Curriculum and Option subjects to free Key Stage Four students to follow their passions.

The Core Curriculum studied by all students:

  • GCSE English Language and GCSE English Literature
  • GCSE Mathematics
  • GCSE Sciences
  • Philosophy and Ethics HPQ
  • Personal, Social, Health and Citizenship
  • Physical Education
  • A Modern Foreign Language (French, Spanish or German)


Students can choose three Option Subjects to enrich their learning and follow specialist areas of interest.

  • GCSE Art and Design
  • GCSE Computing
  • GCSE Dance
  • GCSE Drama
  • GCSE Design and Technology
  • GCSE French (as a second MFL subject)
  • GCSE German (as a second MFL subject)
  • GCSE Spanish (as a second MFL subject)
  • GCSE Geography
  • GSCE History
  • GCSE Music
  • GCSE Physical Education

We hold two parents evenings at the start of the summer term to introduce the options system to Year 8 parents and a further evening in the Autumn term to give parents guidance at the outset of GCSE work.  

Students are informed about GCSE learning in subjects through their specialist teachers, tutors and PSCE lessons.

Key Stage 5

The Sixth Form at Borlase forms a large part of this 11-18 co-educational grammar school.

The Curriculum at KS5 offers students choice from a wide selection of A Level subjects to facilitate their moving on to their many different chosen pathways beyond Borlase. Where many schools have narrowed their provision we are committed to providing a full range embracing all sciences, languages, humanities and the arts. Most students study 3 full A Levels. Further Maths is very popular as a fourth subject with Mathematicians and the applied BTech in Production Arts is also studied by science and arts students as a third or fourth subject. All subjects are taught by specialists in their field who enjoy teaching beyond the curriculum and direct students towards higher level research and wider reading. At KS5, students also complete the highly regarded Extended Project and many scientists submit a Gold Crest Project and Mathematicians will take Extension Maths. A weekly Lecture Series further enriches learning with speakers covering political, social and cultural issues. 

The Sixth Form at Borlase offers a lively, vibrant learning environment where students are inspired by their learning in class and through their many wider experiences. With over 400 students in the Sixth Form they generate an energy and enthusiasm for learning that takes everyone forward. They are encouraged to offer new ideas, to lead and to be excited about academic exploration and discussion. One of the distinctive characteristics is the plethora of student-led academic societies that meet weekly, from Engineering Soc to MedSoc to PolSoc and LitSoc - just about every field is covered! Most Borlasians from Year 11 choose to be in the Sixth Form and every year they are joined by 80-90 students from other local schools who bring new talents, energies and ideas, making an immediate contribution to the life of the school.  We welcome applications from Buckinghamshire and beyond. 

The extracurricular life of the sixth form is rich indeed with outstanding opportunities in sport, the performing arts, creative writing, STEM, and many other areas outlined in the prospectus. There are many annual trips and visits linked to curricular learning and developing wider experiences. For example, community service and science expeditions to Uganda and the Arctic; D of E Gold; Politics trips to Washington DC; Creative Writing in Venice and many sports and arts trips.

The Sixth Form offers an exceptional Futures and Masterclasses Programme supporting students in their research into careers, university preparation including the best for any particular discipline; Medical Schools, Oxford, Cambridge, American and European Universities, or preparation for specialist Dance, Music, Drama and Art conservatoires. Students also select some of the competitive higher level apprenticeships such as the fully funded graduate scheme at the Dyson Academy.

Please see our Admissions policy for entry criteria.


Please find the following Sixth form subject options:-
  • Art
  • Biology
  • Business Studies
  • Chemistry
  • Computing
  • Dance
  • Drama & Theatre Studies
  • Economics
  • English Literature
  • French
  • Geography
  • Geology
  • German
  • Government & Politics
  • History
  • Mathematics
  • Music
  • Physical Education
  • Physics
  • Psychology
  • Spanish
  • Technical Theatre

For more information please refer to our Sixth Form page on our website.