Discovering and developing talent

Ethos

Wycombe Abbey enables girls to open their minds and to develop their personal passions. The learning environment is supportive, yet challenging, with a sense that pupils and their teachers are on an educational journey together. We pride ourselves on the outstanding teaching provided by our specialists who communicate a genuine love of their subject and serve to inspire the girls they teach.

We believe that education should not simply be about delivering a curriculum and examination syllabus, but that real learning stems from stimulating intellectual curiosity and nurturing a love for the subjects being taught, which will stay with our girls throughout their lives.

Academic Qualities

Wycombe Abbey is committed to Academic Excellence and we are aware that this means preparing pupils for success at school, and also at university and their careers beyond. We have identified those attributes that categorise successful learners, which we refer to as the Five Academic Qualities. They are: Risk Taking, Resourceful, Determination, Reflection and Development.

The five academic qualities are embedded within teaching and learning at Wycombe Abbey and we feel they are central to success both inside and outside of the classroom. Not only do they promote deep learning and higher-level academic thinking, but they also encompass lifelong learning skills. They support our vision of ensuring academic excellence and a future-focused approach.

Perhaps the most important of all the Academic Qualities is the first one: Risk Taking. This is the ability to take the vital first step of giving something a go, even if it is not immediately clear that success is possible. This is a character trait that all people are born with, otherwise, none of us would be able to walk, but which can become eroded over time. The kind and supportive atmosphere of the School is central to giving pupils the confidence to take academic risks without fear of failure.

Inevitably there are times when things do not go according to plan, and we encourage pupils to develop the vital skills of resourcefulness and determination. We know that universities and employers are looking for flexible thinkers who can approach problems in different ways. Resourcefulness alone however is not always enough and there are inevitably some things that take time and effort to master, and the role of sheer hard work and determination should not be overlooked. We encourage our pupils to embrace challenges and to be prepared to stick at things even if they find them difficult initially.

It is well known that across all fields it is not necessarily those who show early promise who end up being the most successful. The hallmark of those who go on to achieve highly are those who never stop learning, and central to this is the ability to reflect on past performance and use this to learn from mistakes and adapt. We encourage pupils to take ownership of their own learning and to identify what they need to do to improve. We also promote a growth mindset where pupils believe that it is always possible to develop.

Achieving academic success

Results

As the UK’s top girls’ boarding school we consistently achieve superb academic success. Our girls perform exceptionally across many different disciplines, achieving excellent results in public examinations. The GCSE and A level results for 2020/2021 were outstanding with 90.32% of examinations awarded an A* grade (8/9) and 99% of grades at A*- A (7/8/9). At A level, 63.9% of grades were awarded A*, with 99% of results graded at A*-B.

GCSE AND A LEVEL RESULTS

 

 

Each year girls gain places at high-ranking universities on competitive courses. One third secure Oxbridge offers with the majority heading to Russell Group universities or prestigious Art, Drama or Music Schools. Increasingly, girls are choosing to apply to universities around the world; US universities are proving particularly popular with offers coming from Brown University, Duke University, Columbia University, Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University and Yale University.

 University Destinations 2021

 University Destinations 2020

 

Curriculum at a Glance

The curriculum provides a programme of study which is as broad as possible until the end of UV to enable girls to make well informed decisions about their academic futures. Later on there is the opportunity to specialise when choosing options for university.

UIII-UIV (age 11-14)

The UIII-UIV curriculum offers a comprehensive introduction to a wide range of academic, creative and technical disciplines. Girls study English, Mathematics, Science, languages (Latin, Greek and Modern), Computing and Humanities (Geography, History and Religious Studies) as well as Art, Cookery, Design and Technology, Drama and Music. PE and Wellbeing complete the offering and ensure that girls’ emotional, social and physical development are nurtured.

GCSE (age 14-16)

We offer a large number of possibilities for subject combination at GCSE. We do not have predetermined option blocks and instead give girls flexibility to choose the subject combination which best fits their abilities, aspirations and personal passions. There are six compulsory subjects: English, English Literature, Mathematics, Biology, Chemistry and Physics. Girls also select four or five other subjects from a range of 15; at least one of those choices must be a modern language and another must be a Humanities subject.

A Level (age 16-18)

Our Sixth Form curriculum is designed to nurture individual interests and provide a solid foundation for university studies and the global work place of tomorrow. We do not have predetermined blocks at A level. The timetable is devised around a girl’s individual subject choices, no matter how specialised or diverse. Four A level subjects are chosen from 26 options. Girls may also choose the Extended Project Qualification. The subjects follow A level specifications, although Pre-U is offered for those girls studying Chinese and German. All girls in the Sixth Form follow a programme of enrichment, carefully designed to develop critical thinking, leadership and research and presentation skills. It also includes guidance on university applications, careers, and health and wellbeing.

The study of Art develops creativity and confidence and gives girls a new language of expression. The expertise of our staff and technicians spans the artistic spectrum and includes in-depth knowledge of printing, textiles, digital imagery, painting and glass work. Girls gain first-hand experience working alongside our Artist in Residence who teaches and leads workshops.

Pupils enjoy the opportunity to participate in specialist masterclasses such as an introduction to silversmithing techniques, wood carving, making mosaics and creating jewellery. The Department also supports the Architectural Society as well as the Art Society and Art and Craft Society which undertake projects such as marbling and tie-dying.

Girls choose to participate in a number of competitions including the Saatchi Gallery/Deutsche Bank ‘Art Prize for Schools’ Competition, the Royal Academy ‘Young Artists’ Competition and School photography competitions. All pupils are also welcome to use the art workshops during the evenings and at weekends for recreational art, from making birthday cards to major creative projects.

Every year trips are organised to visit art galleries in London and engage with contemporary artists.

For more information on the full range of extra-curricular opportunities available, please click here.

UIII-UIV (age 11-14)

All the fundamentals of good practice are covered as girls learn independence and explore the possibilities of 2D and 3D disciplines. Work is undertaken in drawing, painting, ceramics, textiles, graphic design and mixed media with pupils discovering new areas in which to extend their knowledge.

GCSE (age 14-16)

The AQA GCSE course encourages personal project work which develops problem solving and analytical skills. Practical skills continue to be honed and then applied to explore, experiment and refine chosen themes and ideas culminating in individual and original work. Artists and designers from a range of cultural and geographic backgrounds are referenced throughout.

Find the GCSE syllabus here.

A Level (age 16-18)

For the AQA A level course, pupils undertake rigorous, in-depth investigative work which instills a depth and breadth of knowledge and understanding. Curiosity and creativity are key in all aspects of research to develop original work. In the Sixth Form girls can also elect to take photography classes and participate in life drawing workshops.

Find the A level syllabus here.

 

Staff List:

Head of Department: Miss Kay Williams BEd
Miss Rhiannon Holland-Bright BA
Mrs Harriet Spence BA, PGDip

Biology is the understanding and appreciation of the intricacies of the natural world and how lives are transformed by developments in biotechnology. Girls develop key research and observation skills and learn how to present data effectively. All lessons are taught by subject specialists in one of the three well-resourced Biology-specific laboratories.

Alongside the curriculum, pupils engage with a variety of clubs such as the Junior Science Club. Girls also take part in organised activities including lectures, Science Live and national competitions, for example the Biology Challenge and the Biology Olympiad. Recently, girls have had the opportunity to attend an Oncology Day at the University of Oxford where they explored a scientific approach to the medical field.

Educational trips also take place and in the past they have included an UIII trip to Jersey Zoo and a Sixth Form trip to the Peruvian Amazon.

UIII-UIV (age 11-14)

Pupils develop their understanding of how Biology influences their world through the study of life cycles, microscope use, sports science and health. They learn how to perform scientific investigations as they carry out dissections and monitor the spread of diseases. By the end of UIV girls have a fundamental understanding of biological principles and have started their preparation for the IGCSE examinations.

IGCSE (age 14-16)

The Edexcel IGCSE programme focuses on a variety of topics from the human organism to plants and the environment. As pupils complete practical investigations on enzymes and organs, they become well prepared should they choose to study Biology at A level. On top of this we aim to ensure that all girls are intellectually equipped with the knowledge needed to make informed decisions about topical issues such as genetic modification and climate change.

For exams in 2019 and beyond, we will use the new IGCSE syllabus found here.

A Level (age 16-18)

The topics explored in the Edexcel course become more detailed in both breadth and depth and new fields such as bio-chemistry and epigenetics become central areas of investigation. We encourage pupils to start identifying the concepts that run through the subject and to understand how the different topics interact. Girls learn how principles studied in all three sciences are needed to appreciate how biological systems work from a molecular level up. Practical work is the heart of the A level course and pupils learn a variety of scientific techniques and the correct way to process and present their data and conclusions.

Find the A level syllabus here.

 

Staff List:

Head of Department: Mrs Elizabeth Wallace BSc
Mrs Magda Lockwood BA
Miss Bethan Rowley BSc
Mr Matthew Whiteley BA
*Dr Levi Fernandez BSc, PhD

Chemistry is the foundation of understanding the world. Through interactive teaching and weekly practical experiments, pupils develop advanced problem-solving skills as well as applied and theoretical knowledge of the subject. All lessons are taught in one of the three well-resourced Chemistry-specific laboratories.

The enrichment activities for Chemistry include clubs such as the Junior Science Club and Sixth Form Science Club where girls make bath bombs, edible cinder toffee and aspirin as well as growing crystal ornaments and conducting flame tests. Other opportunities include lectures in School and trips to national conferences such as the ‘Chemistry in Action Day’ and Science Live. Pupils may also work towards the CREST Awards – Bronze and Silver.

Every year, girls have the opportunity to enter a wide range of competitions including Salters’ Chemistry Competition, Top of the Bench, Oxford University Oncology Department Video Competition, Cambridge Chemistry Challenge and the Chemistry Olympiad.

UIII-UIV (age 11-14)

Pupils are able to develop their science-based enquiry skills in a range of chemical contexts and there is a strong emphasis on practical competence. Girls take part in laboratory work every lesson as they learn about a variety of subjects from solvents and the separation of mixtures to natural resources and atomic structure. By the end of UIV pupils will be confident learners who are capable of suggesting and carrying out experimental work to answer chemical questions.

IGCSE (age 14-16)

During the Edexcel IGCSE course, a rigorous foundation is laid down from the perspective of the nature of matter and chemical reactions. Pupils study topics such as bonding structure and industrial processes and explore methods of extracting metals. The emphasis is on problem-solving and analytical skills, mathematical manipulation and linking the theoretical to the experimental.

Find the IGCSE syllabus here.

A level (age 16-18)

The theories explored at IGCSE become more nuanced in the OCR A level course. Pupils develop a more subtle understanding of the balance between attraction and repulsion forces and their role in determining chemical reactivity. Mathematical skills become especially important with pupils studying rates of reaction as well as discovering physical evidence for reactions. There is a continued emphasis on learning through practical tasks and their subsequent evaluation. The course becomes very collegial in nature and pupils are exposed to, and encouraged to seek out, everyday developments in Chemistry.

Find the A level syllabus here.

 

Staff List:

Head of Department: Mrs Zoe Edwards BSc
Dr Sharon George BSc, MSc, PhD
Mrs Antonia McNeill BSc
Mr James Mercer-Kelly MSc, PDES
Mrs Anna Roberts BSc, MEd
Miss Krutika Sunil BSc, MAEd
Mrs Jenny Werren MSc
Miss Rachel Wilson MChem, MSc

Chinese is an official language of the UN, the International Criminal Court and is a priority language for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Studying the subject opens doors into these fields and gives girls the opportunity to broaden their cultural and linguistic knowledge. The Department consists of experienced and enthusiastic teachers who specialise in Mandarin and Cantonese.

Beyond the curriculum, the Department organises a translation competition and girls have the opportunity to polish their inter-cultural linguistic skills.

UIII-UIV (age 11-14)

The course begins in UIII and UIV when foundations are laid. The aim of the class is to promote confidence both in speaking and writing, as well as establishing a firm basis in grammar and vocabulary. The UIII cohort include two sessions a week and the UIV cohort include four sessions weekly. Girls learn to speak and write about themselves and the immediate world around them.

GCSE (age 14-16)

In the AQA course, girls study a range of topics relating to their own life and choices. They learn to cope with increasingly spontaneous dialogues and to discuss relevant issues, expressing their opinions creatively. The weekly conversation classes start from the Summer term in the Lower Fifth year and are focused on exam preparations.

Find the current GCSE syllabus here.

Pre-U

Topics in the Pre-U course are based on Chinese current affairs as well as personal reactions to events. The course involves the critical study of a period of history and of a piece of literature. Girls’ oral and research skills become increasingly refined as they develop analytical skills and complete a written essay.

Find the Pre-U syllabus here.

 

Staff List:

Head of Department: Ms Xiaoyan Wan BA, MA
Miss Xiaoli Pan BA

Classics is the study of the language and culture of the Ancient Greeks and Romans. Girls learn the subtleties of close analysis and puzzle-solving as they gain a rigorous understanding of these early civilisations. Teaching staff bring the topics to life with a variety of specialisms including philosophy, linguistics, history and literature.

The Department runs the Classics Society which involves film nights, mosaic competitions and Roman baking events, whilst lectures are held at School featuring visiting speakers such as Professor Simon Goldhill and Dr Bruno Currie. We also have a thriving Classics Book Club which meets on a termly basis and is open to all girls from LV upwards; in recent meetings, we have discussed Kamila Shamsie’s Home Fire, Pat Barker’s The Silence of the Girls and Robert Harris’ Imperium. All girls are able to enter essay and translation competitions which are both internally and externally judged.

Trips to Roman Bath and international sites of classical interest, such as Pompeii and Athens, run to complement the curriculum and pupils have the opportunity to see regular plays in Stratford-Upon-Avon and High Wycombe. Each year, girls also travel to Cambridge to enjoy the experience of seeing a play performed in Greek.

UIII-UIV (age 11-14)

Pupils are introduced to both Latin and Greek and develop their understanding of the grammar and syntax of both languages. This linguistic challenge greatly improves their analytical and problem-solving skills. Alongside this, they explore the worlds of Greek myth, Pompeii, Roman Bath and Alexandria, in order to go beyond the language and understand the people who spoke it. The subject is widely accessible and broadens the girls’ knowledge of history, philosophy and art.

GCSE (age 14-16)

With increased linguistic confidence, pupils taking the OCR course begin to explore texts written by Classical authors, such as Tacitus, Herodotus, Virgil and Homer in the original language. Girls develop their analytical skills and are encouraged to comment stylistically on selections of prose and verse. Readings of this literature are enhanced through a greater focus on the wider historical context.

A Level (16-18 years old)

In the OCR A level course, pupils go into substantially more depth, both linguistically and analytically. Making use of their solid foundations in both languages, they identify the mechanics of a sentence and are encouraged to translate more idiomatically. A more holistic approach is taken with the literature; pupils study four separate texts, from four different genres, over the course of two years and they develop a broad expertise across a range of areas. Classical Civilisation, the study of texts in translation, sculpture, art and wider topics not covered in either Latin or Greek, is also offered. It is a unique challenge, which offers an extensive breadth of study for all pupils, including those with no previous experience in Classics.

 

Staff List:

Head of Department: Mrs Jacky Tidbury MA, NPQSL
Miss Emily Boswell MA
Miss Rachel Franks BA, MA
Mr Oliver Murphy BA
Miss Tara Strange BA
Dr Christina Tsaknaki BA, MSt, PhD
*Mrs Katharine Harrison MA

The Computer Science Department aims to ensure that all girls have a thorough understanding of computer science, computational thinking and digital literacy. As they progress through the school, the girls develop their skills at solving a wide range of problems using algorithms and programming languages. They also gain a deep understanding and can discuss critically the ethics and environmental factors of technological solutions including, for example, AI, robotics and machines learning.

We have thriving numbers of girls taking the GCSE and A level Computer Science options. With an increasing number of girls going on to Higher Education to either study Computer Science or related subjects. We are keen to develop links with other subjects not only science and engineering but also across the arts and humanities. There is a flourishing programme of talks, trips and activities to engage pupils. We build on links with universities, industry and leaders in the field (especially women). For example, our Lower School project on the Mars Rover was brought to life by a talk from a former pupil who was working with NASA on testing the latest rover. The department is innovative and utilises new technology to support learning including the Raspberry Pi, VR headsets, BBC micro:bits and robotics, to name but a few.

There is a thriving computer society, mainly run by the girls who organise hackathons and various other events, competitions, and journal writing. Pupils enter competitions such as the National Cyber Security Centre’s CyberFirst competition and the University of Oxford’s Bebras challenge. In the past, girls have achieved particular success solving codes in the Alan Turing Cryptography Competition.

There is a digital learning programme which aims to standardise the use of devices across pupils and staff to allow for effective use of technology in and beyond the classroom.

UIII-UIV (age 11-14)

In weekly lessons, we teach the girls to be responsible, knowledgeable and creative digital citizens. They learn how to use current and emerging technology in a safe and responsible manner. Computational thinking is a key skill that they can apply to many problems outside the subject. For example, the ethics of self-driving cars. Pupils gain an understanding of simple Boolean logic and its uses in circuits and programming and how numbers are represented in binary. Coding skills are developed to enable entry to our GCSE programme and girls create and repurpose digital artefacts for specific audiences. We link our topics to the real world and integrate with other subject areas culminating in an end of year project.

GCSE (age 14-16)

The CAIE IGCSE course in Computer Science is an excellent opportunity to investigate how computers work and how they are used, and to develop computer programming and problem-solving skills. There are some exciting new features such as digital currency, AI, machines learning and the uses of robots on the syllabus.

Find the GCSE syllabus here.

A Level (age 16-18)

The OCR A level Computer Science course inspires and challenges girls to apply the knowledge they have gained of creative and technical skills. The girls study the components of a computer and their various uses, how data is stored within different structures and advanced Boolean algebra. Computational thinking and programming features are a core thread throughout the course. The Computer Science A level goes well with any other subject and can be a good complement to the humanities as well as maths and science. Increasingly, girls are going on to study Computer Science and related subjects at some of the top universities in the world.

Find the A level syllabus here.

 

Staff List:

Head of Department: Mr Adrian Porter BSc, MA, MBCS
Mr Alexander Howells BSc, MSc
Mr Binit Shah BA, MMath
Mr David Vaccaro MA
Mr Keshav Prashar BA

 

Cookery provides girls with the nutritional understanding and kitchen skills vital to prepare them for the future. Many of these skills are practised in the boarding houses with friends and house staff for evening and weekend activities. Basic skills are learnt in the early years, moving through to professional food and wine courses in Sixth Form. Cooking from scratch, safety in the kitchen and an awareness of healthy eating habits are promoted at all levels.

Pupils of all ages are able to take part in optional cookery workshops where expert chefs inspire girls to explore new dishes and have fun when cooking. The Department also runs an annual trip to the Waterside Inn in Bray.

UIII-LIV (age 11-13)

Pupils are encouraged to discover the pleasures of cooking and to prepare food with confidence. Practical skills are developed and girls are taught everything from how to hold a knife to how to present fine dining and make soufflés. The level of teaching is outstanding and learning from international-level chefs, girls are given the organisational skills and poise to experiment with panache.

Sixth Form (age 16-18)

As they begin to live more independently, all girls in the Upper Sixth take part in the Clarence cookery course which introduces them to safe and nutritious cooking. Girls also have the opportunity to complete the industry-recognised Leiths Introductory Certificate in Food and Wine. Pupils who embark on this course develop skills to a professional level, cooking three-course meals and exploring new dishes and wines from around the world.

Staff List:

Mrs Marion Bonnefoy Dip

Design Technology provides pupils with creative opportunities to design, develop and manufacture their own concepts in a safe working environment. Utilising computer design programmes, laser cutters and bandsaws, girls thrive on the experience of creating their own projects.

During the evenings and at weekends all girls can use the Design and Technology facilities to develop their own personal work and discover new areas of the subject such as pewter casting.

The Department runs the Greenpower Car Club where girls design and build their own car from scratch, eventually racing the vehicle against other competitors on a real racing track. Trips to visit exhibitions and designers’ workshops are organised for those interested in learning about Design Technology in the commercial world.

UIII-LIV (age 11-13)

Pupils learn the foundations of Design Technology through undertaking a range of projects incorporating Computer Aided Design and Computer Aided Manufacturing. New manufacturing processes involving wood, metal and plastics are explored to produce products such as furniture and decorations. This develops a strong knowledge base and confidence in the workshop to work with a range of software and manufacturing machinery, as well as more traditional tools.

 

Staff List:

Head of Department: Mrs Sue Buxton BSc
Miss Helen Allen BA
Miss Lucy Crampton MEng
Mrs Catherine Dowdall MSc
Mr Howard Haughton BEd

Drama encourages growth in confidence and the development of valuable core life skills such as teamwork, negotiation and communication.

Girls are able to take part in performance opportunities throughout their time at the School and learn to write, design, direct and market their own plays. Each year the UIII and LIV take part in a joint production and the LV enjoy an inter-house play competition. The Sixth Form play is also produced annually and is directed by the Head of Drama. The Drama Society stage their own production which is written, directed and performed by girls of all ages.

Speech and Drama is taught in small groups to girls working towards LAMDA examinations, with an emphasis on co-operation and creativity.

The Department runs termly trips to see plays at theatres in Oxford, Stratford-Upon-Avon and London.

For more information on the full range of extra-curricular opportunities available, please click here.

UIII – UIV (age 11-14)

Pupils cover a range of topics, texts and genres in UIII to UIV, all of which are designed to challenge and engage the pupils and to encourage them to work collaboratively and creatively.

The UIII will work on scenes from ‘Twelfth Night’, devise their own work based around myths and legends and study Greek theatre and Commedia dell’arte in the first year at Wycombe Abbey.

As well as exploring a range of performance skills and techniques, the Drama department also seeks to develop the following:

·         Public speaking skills
·         Empathy for others
·         Collaborative and cooperative skills
·         Critical and analytical thinking
·         Self-confidence

Drama is particularly important for UIII pupils in terms of ‘breaking the ice’ in September and asking them to work effectively (and have fun!) with their peers as they start their careers at Wycombe Abbey.

The Drama department also offers a wide range of extra-curricular opportunities from UIII through to UVI. There are a variety of productions for all year groups to be involved in throughout the year as performers, or backstage/as technical support for the shows.

Parents are warmly welcomed to join us to watch many of the performances throughout the year. There is a drama society that pupils can join and girls are also given the chance to go on trips to the theatre as often as possible.

In addition to this, pupils can take extra lessons in graded LAMDA examinations from the LIV upwards.

Drama can be pursued as an exam subject after UIV and is a popular GCSE choice. Girls in UIV will be given information on how the Drama GCSE is comprised and some of the work covered in UIV is designed to replicate some of the GCSE specification.

A selection of productions from the last few years:

·         Julius Caesar
·         The Rise and Fall of Little Voice
·         Grimm Tales
·         King Lear
·         Blue Remembered Hills
·         Playhouse Creatures
·         Kindertransport
·         A Midsummer Night’s Dream

GCSE (age 14-16)

We now use the Eduqas exam board at GCSE which uses 1-9 grading. The course is 60% practical and has a written exam at the end of UV worth 40%. Pupils at GCSE are expected to devise their own drama pieces, perform a scripted piece for an examiner, study a set text (from a list provided by the board) and also develop directorial, analytical and evaluative skills. We will see at least two productions during the GCSE course and girls must answer one exam question on one of the productions we see together.

For an overview of the GCSE specification click here.

A Level (age 16-18)

At A level, girls have absolute ownership over their own choices, work and outcomes; they become their own directors and create their own ensembles of actors. Pupils also develop highly sophisticated writing skills and produce their own interpretation of a play or selected text. There are several performance opportunities as well as the chance to contribute on the technical side of theatre whether that be sound, light, set design, prop making, costume, hair or make up.

 

Staff List:

Head of Department: Mr James Harrington BA
Mrs Naomi Cozens BA
Mrs Jessica Woodward BA,
*Mrs Diana Cummins LLAM
* Mrs Amanda Terrill BA
* Mrs Katie Thorpe LLAM, LALAM

An understanding of economics helps to create global citizens of the future who understand and can problem solve the major economic issues of our times. Girls develop both a theoretical understanding of economic models as well as real world application to understand both microeconomics and macroeconomics.

The Department supports the Economics Society and the pupil-edited magazine, The Wyconomist, which is distributed to the School’s community and includes articles on world economics and politics, as well as analyses of local shop prices. Girls of all ages enjoy the Business Breakfast Club which meets every week to discuss the latest news. Recently, staff arranged for Martin Cox from the John Locke Institute to give a talk at the School.

Pupils also have the opportunity to take part in a selection of competitions including the Royal Economics Society essay competition and the Bank of England Target 2.0 competition. Girls in LVI take part in the Institute for Fiscal Studies Share Challenge which allows them to invest £100,000 of virtual money in the real stock market for three months.

A Level (age 16-18)

In the Edexcel course, pupils focus on the concept of choice as a major economic factor and consider the impact these choices have on the wider market. Girls develop an understanding of budgets, how prices are set by firms and the inner workings of contemporary business. The course equips economists with a knowledge of theoretical and practical processes.

Find the A level syllabus here.

 

Staff List:

Head of Department: Mrs Alison Kiln BA, MA, MBA
Mr Tom Startup MA, MPhil

The study of English is all about discovery and the pleasure to be found in reading and pursuing new ideas. It is an opportunity to join the greatest, longest conversation in humanity and, in doing so, to stir your heart, open your mind and feed your soul. Learning how to communicate in a clear, creative and compelling manner is critical for a successful education and for flourishing in the world beyond school. Led by passionate academics and skilled teachers with a diverse range of specialisms and interests, the English Department seeks to nurture a love of literature that will last a lifetime, while encouraging pupils to become writers and speakers who will use their voices to shape the world.

Complementing the curriculum, seminars, lectures and talks are planned throughout the year, with guests such as actor Natalie Simpson speaking on her career and Bethany Lane sharing thoughts on the poetry of Plath. The School newspaper, The Publication, is edited by pupils and overseen by the English Department. Girls apply their writing and public speaking skills in a selection of competitions, including the School Poetry Declamation competition, the national ‘Poetry by Heart’ competition and the Short Story Writing competition. In the past, pupils have presented academic papers to students at Harrow School.

Pupils enjoy the opportunity to take part in their own Carnegie and Booker awards ceremonies, as well as a selection of Book Clubs focusing on titles including Go Set a WatchmanNutshell and Capital. Each year, one girl is selected as the Poet Laureate to be the poetic voice of the school, helping us all to find the words with which we can express the many aspects of life at Wycombe Abbey.

The Department also runs numerous theatre trips throughout the year to plays such as The Duchess of Malfi, Macbeth and Romeo and Juliet at Shakespeare’s Globe, alongside an annual visit to Milton’s Cottage. Opportunities for residential trips to sites of literary interest are also sought and have previously involved Wordsworth’s Dove Cottage, the Brontë Parsonage and a Yeats Tour of Ireland.

UIII-UIV (age 11-14)

Our UIII-UIV curriculum aims to develop core comprehension and composition skills, doing so alongside the study of a range of accessible and engaging poetry, prose and drama. Pupils explore literature from different time periods and genres, such as Frankenstein, The Tempest and Back Home, fostering a hunger for literary discussion and learning how to respond in analytical and creative forms. With digital media taking an increasingly prominent role, pupils learn how to adapt their use of language to suit different contexts and forms, while debating activities serve to build confidence and composure.

IGCSE (age 14-16)

Having established a strong foundation in literary study and composition in UIII-UIV, the IGCSE courses in English Language and English Literature provide a fabulous opportunity for pupils to delve into a selection of enriching texts in a detailed and exploratory manner, while further refining their different modes of expression. Pupils explore one nineteenth century novel, one Shakespeare play, a modern play and a selection of poetry, nurturing their critical voice and learning how to shape compelling arguments. The English Department encourages girls to go ‘beyond the syllabus,’ enriching the study of examined works such as Jane Eyre and The Crucible with a variety of other texts and theatrical experiences to provide greater contextual appreciation.

A Level (age 16-18)

If you love reading, talking and writing about literature then it is hard to imagine a more suitable A level subject for you! The OCR syllabus introduces girls to some of the finest seventeenth century literature, including Paradise Lost and The Duchess of Malfi, alongside a range of modern plays, novels and poetry. Developing an appreciation of the context within which these texts were written, while exploring the views of critics and other readers, ensures that girls’ understanding of the literature they encounter is rich and nuanced. Pupils are expected to read widely beyond their set texts, feasting on the literature at their disposal as they become confident, astute literary critics.

Staff list:

Head of Department: Mr Samuel Lenton MA
Second in Department: Miss Hannah Rogers BA
Ms Eleanor Bradley MA
Mrs Susie Cochrane-Dyet BA [maternity cover]
Miss Amy Davis BA
Miss Cat Hoyle MA
Miss Hollie-Ann Jeans BA
Mr Samuel Joyce BA
Miss Stephanie Toogood BEd

Studying French opens up many social, cultural and professional opportunities, with French-speaking countries representing the UK’s third biggest export market. In lessons, pupils develop their receptive and communicative skills by working with a range of books and digital resources. Teachers make frequent use of authentic material (including music, news articles and literature) in order to foster an appreciation of the cultures of France and the French-speaking world.

There is also a range of extra-curricular events and competitions organised by the Department every year: these include attending lectures on social and historical themes pertaining to the French-speaking world, translation workshops in school, study days at the BFI and overseas trips. We have a French book club, and run grammar clinics and news clubs. We also encourage pupils to practise their language skills in regional and national competitions; entering the Oxford University Flash Fiction prize, the Anthea Bell Prize for Young Translators, and participating in debating competitions against other schools have proven to be extremely popular.

UIII-UIV (age 11-14)

The French course is devised to help girls understand both the language and the mind-set of the French. In our lessons we teach both a technical approach to translation and a more communicative approach to the language; the focus is very much on introducing the girls to the culture and lifestyle of the whole French-speaking world, not just France. Girls expand their vocabulary to discuss hobbies, places and health issues amongst others.

GCSE (age 14-16)

Pupils tackle more difficult societal issues such as unemployment, the environment, changing family models and the impact of technology in our daily lives. Originality and creativity become more important and an awareness of current affairs is fostered through the study of news items. Pupils also acquire a wider range of grammatical structures so that they can express themselves with greater sophistication. The examination of French culture expands to consider the French-speaking world and its traditions

Find the GCSE syllabus here.

A Level (age 16-18)

In the Sixth Form we continue to study topical themes such as radicalisation and marginalisation, the purpose of the UN and the contributions made by the Arts and Sciences in today’s society. Verbal and reading skills are refined to the point where pupils become near-native speakers and can analyse classical French literature and iconic French films in the target language. Pupils are encouraged to adopt an increasingly independent approach to their learning, and weekly conversation lessons with a native speaker help pupils to develop their oral proficiency.

Find the AQA A level syllabus here.

 

Staff List:

Head of Department: Ms Lucy Nott MA (Cantab)
Ms Anabela Figueira Licence (Paris Nord, France)
Ms Sophie Dubois BA (Exeter)
Ms Sophie McIvor BA (Durham)

Geography is central to our understanding of the physical landscape, its human inhabitants, and the interactions between the two. Through studying the subject, girls are equipped to understand and thrive in the modern world. Department staff focus on real events and current issues, sharing from a range of specialisms from plate tectonics to the representation of place and space, climate change, and global development.

Geographers take part in activities with the Geography Society, and girls attend lectures at School and Eton College. In the past, guest speakers have given talks on humanitarian aid, expeditions, careers in Geography, and mapping census data. The Department also provides subscriptions to magazines such as The Geographical and the Geography Review and girls of all ages are encouraged to follow their own lines of enquiry.

A wide variety of trips take place throughout the year including a Sixth Form visit to study urban landscapes in London, and a residential field trip to learn about coastal features at Porlock Bay, Devon while carrying out practical fieldwork. In addition, international trips are run to experience differing landscapes and glacial features in Iceland.

UIII-UIV (age 11-14)

In UIII we delve deeply into the human and physical geography of China in our country profile study. Pupils apply their own experiences to Geography through the study of tourism and its impacts. We then travel the globe to the Amazon Rainforest, focusing on the conditions of the rainforest and its rich biodiversity. Our LIV geographers explore the Arctic and the issues facing this vulnerable ecosystem. They then look at microclimates and the impacts of climate change and population on the future of our food supply. In UIV, geographers are encouraged to think about their own actions in a geographical context through the impacts of fast fashion. We take a global outlook on population distribution, and create our pledge for climate action and generating change. During this Key Stage, girls also focus on current world politics and issues such as natural disasters and population growth.

IGCSE (age 14-16)

The Edexcel IGCSE course focuses on a broad mix of physical and human Geography, including fieldwork investigations and creating enquiries into river environments and changing urban environments. Economic activity becomes especially important, and the development of human welfare is explored at a range of scales. We also run a residential field trip, where we gain an opportunity to explore the landscapes we have been learning about through observation and analysis.

Find the IGCSE syllabus here.

A Level (age 16-18)

The A level course is a chance to look at the bigger picture of both the physical and human geographies we have been learning about over the years, and to create links with the other A level subjects on offer. Pupils observe how large-scale cycles affect our physical world, and how space and place are central concepts to the study of human geography. We also focus on key geographical themes, including coastal landscapes, the geography of disease, and human rights. Pupils are encouraged to read and make links with current affairs. Our Sixth Form Geography Book Club and Global Citizens Programme provide pupils with a chance to explore Geography outside the classroom and really enhance their understanding. A central part of A level Geography is the personal independent investigation, where pupils focus on a part of Geography that most interests them, setting hypotheses, carrying out primary and secondary research and, through detailed analysis, drawing original conclusions. This is introduced to geographers through a residential field trip, a fantastic opportunity to explore an area of Geography that is of interest to them.

Find the current A level syllabus here.

 

Staff List:
Head of Department: Miss Georgina Taylor BA
Miss Elizabeth Gardner BA, MA, MSc
Miss Lucy Joseph BA, MEd [Maternity Leave]
Miss Nikki Payne BSc [Maternity Cover]
*Mrs Margot Wood BA, MNatRes

Studying German opens opportunities to the language, culture and marketplace of three leading European nations at the very forefront of science, technology and business. Around a quarter of the people in the EU speak German as their native language.

The Department organises debating competitions and enters girls into poetry, short story and film competitions as well as the Oxford German Olympiad. Pupils also engage in political discussions at the News Club and take part in the German Film Day hosted in London.

Regular theatre trips are available.

UIV (age 14)

This is a fast-track course to lay the foundations of German vocabulary and grammar with the aim of promoting confidence in both speaking and writing. Classes include a weekly session in a Language Laboratory and girls are encouraged to take an interest in aspects of German culture.

IGCSE (age 14-16)

In the Edexcel IGCSE course, girls study a range of topics related to their own lifestyle and choices and that of other people, especially those in German speaking countries. They learn to cope with increasingly spontaneous language, to discuss issues and to express their opinions creatively. Classes are supported by weekly conversation lessons in small groups to promote oral fluency.

Find the IGCSE syllabus here.

A Level (age 16-18)

Topics in the A level course are based on a broad range of topical issues and current affairs related to German speaking countries. The course involves the critical study of German films and/or works of literature. Oral skills become increasingly refined and the ability to conduct detailed independent research is a key requirement throughout. Girls become self-motivated in their study and develop a unique level of creativity and precision.

For exams in 2018 and beyond, we will use the new syllabus found here.

 

Staff List:

Head of Department: Mrs Marney Dworkin MA
Miss Susanna Michael BA

The study of British political systems and political ideologies develops analytical ability and communication skills. Girls gain a critical awareness of the relationship between political ideas, institutions and processes as well as an informed understanding of contemporary political structures and issues in their historical context. Politics lessons generally involve much lively debate and individual opinions, both of which are very much encouraged. Girls learn to listen carefully to alternative views and incorporate these ideas into their own arguments.

The junior and senior Politics Societies are very popular and host school-wide votes on current topics as well as organising events such as Wycombe Abbey’s own ‘Question Time’.

The Department arranges talks from visiting speakers including MPs, MEPs and Members of the House of Lords as well as debates with other schools such as the Royal Grammar School, High Wycombe and John Hampden Grammar School. There is also an opportunity to attend a yearly Sixth Form Politics Conference in London.

A level (age 16-18)

The A level course focuses on government and politics in the UK and on global political ideologies. Girls explore the ideas of key political thinkers and focus on core philosophies such as Conservatism, Liberalism and Socialism. The course instils pupils with the ability to interpret and evaluate political information critically and to form rounded arguments and mature judgements.

 

Staff List:

Dr Emma Lorimer MA, DPhil
Mr Neill George BA
Dr Alistair Goddard BA, MA, PhD
Dr Stephen Goward BA, MA, MSc, PhD
Mrs Charlotte Shilling BA, MEd

The broad History curriculum challenges girls through a variety of British, European, and world history. Girls learn to think, write, and articulate opinions analytically, and develop critical skills in evaluating texts and evidence. Work is often tackled collaboratively and through examining fascinating content from the past, pupils gain valuable wisdom about the world.

Aspiring historians join the junior and senior History Societies where they take part in on-site treasure hunts and re-enact historical events. Girls contribute towards the three different school journals and magazines and the Department provides access to a variety of additional academic journals and light-hearted publications such as The Plague. Girls are also supported to take part in national competitions and engage with local history projects such as the ‘Tell Them of Us: Wycombe and Somme’ event which organises tours of local cemeteries in conjunction with Wycombe Museum.

The Department organises a comprehensive selection of events including ‘University Challenge’ and even a cookery competition named the ‘Great Historical Bake Off’. Previous speakers have included the renowned historian Andrew Roberts. Relationships with other schools are built with events such as the Junior Schools History Competition.

Trips also take place every year to sites of historical interest such as the First World War battlefields and memorials in Belgium and France and key locations in the Cold War in Berlin.

UIII-UIV (age 11-14) 

Pupils learn about medieval China and medieval Britain, Tudor/Stuart Britain, the Mughal and British Empires, the American War of Independence, Benin, the abolition of slavery, the Industrial Revolution, suffrage reform and the First World War.

Courses balance enquiry-driven learning about important periods and events with developing a sense of chronology and an ability to analyse and evaluate historical evidence.

GCSE (age 14-16) 

Girls study exciting and important courses on Weimar and Nazi Germany and international relations 1919-2000 in the CIE IGCSE curriculum. Pupils are equipped with an understanding of the crucial events, developments, and ideas of the 20th century, ideal preparation for being informed citizens of the 21st century.

Find the IGCSE syllabus here. 

A Level (age 16-18) 

In the AQA course, girls study fascinating and diverse courses on Stuart Britain 1603-1702, revolutionary and Stalinist Russia 1917-1953, and a centre-designed coursework programme on British relations with India 1845-1947. By the end of Upper Sixth, girls will have developed sophisticated source interpretation skills and the ability to write persuasive and original lines of argument.

Find the A level syllabus here.

 

Staff List: 

Head of Department: Mr Neill George BA
Second in Department: Mr Luke Scott BA
Mrs Gill Evans BA
Mrs Vicky Fawkes BA
Dr Stephen Goward BA, MA, MScEcon, PhD
Mr James Jones MA
Dr Emma Lorimer MA, DPhil
Mrs Charlotte Shilling BA, MEd

Studying History of Art provides a unique insight into the history, ideas and culture of different societies across the globe, spanning from the ancient world to the present day. An array of specific paintings, sculptures and buildings are studied in great depth so that all pupils know a Monet from a Michelangelo and the Renaissance from the Rococo.

The Department offers a wide range of enrichment activities and opportunities for pupils to see art and architecture at first hand. The History of Art Society holds termly lectures from invited speakers. Recent talks have included ‘Michelangelo’s influence on 20th Century Artists’, ‘Francis Bacon and the Modernist Self’, and ‘The Real Downton Abbeys’. Girls are encouraged to enter national competitions including the prestigious Roche Court ARTiculation public speaking competition and the SPoKE art history video documentary prize.

There is a bi-annual trip to Florence and Rome which looks at a large number of works studied in the A level course including visiting the Uffizi Gallery and Vatican Museums alongside hidden gems such as the Brancacci Chapel and Villa Borghese. Regular excursions are run to London museums and galleries such as the National Gallery, the Victoria and Albert Museum and the British Museum. Girls are also invited to attend the Association of Art Historians annual ‘Ways of Seeing’ conference.

Each year a number of girls choose to pursue History of Art at university and recent leavers have gained offers from a range of illustrious institutions including Oxford University, University of Cambridge and the Courtauld Institute of Art.

A Level (age 16-18)

Studying the Edexcel History of Art course develops pupils’ understanding of the relationship between: society and art; art historical terms; concepts and issues; the influence of cultural, social and political factors; developments in materials, techniques and processes of both art and architecture over time.

The course begins by developing the core skills of visual analysis, allowing girls to use technical terminology and identify the formal features of any painting, sculpture or building they encounter. Two themes are then explored: ‘Identities in Art and Architecture’ and ‘Nature in Art and Architecture’. The former considers how art and architecture have been used to express identity, be it status, character, gender, nationality or ethnicity. Artists studied include Rembrandt, Grayson Perry, Frida Kahlo and Vincent van Gogh. The second theme looks at how nature has provided a source of inspiration in art and architecture and how natural materials have been used across time and place. Artists studied include J.M.W. Turner, Claude Monet, Hokusai, and Frank Lloyd Wright.

Pupils also study two key art historical periods in depth, developing their own research skills and using critical texts. ‘Invention and illusion: The Renaissance in Italy (1420-1520)’ explores a period of extraordinary artistic achievement focusing on artists/architects such as Botticelli, Brunelleschi, Donatello, Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael and Michelangelo. ‘Power and persuasion: The Baroque in Catholic Europe (1597-1685)’ investigates the artistic response to the political and religious turmoil of age in the Italian states, France, Spain and the Spanish Netherlands through the works of artists such as Caravaggio, Rubens, Velazquez and Bernini.

 

Staff List:

Head of Department: Ms Emma Bowen BA, MA
Mrs Claudia Phipps BA, MA
Miss Fania Weatherby BA, MA

Giuseppe Baretti said in the 18th century that “talking about a country without first knowing its language is like making soup in a basket”. Italy has one of the richest heritages in the world and learning Italian is fundamental to understanding and experiencing Italy’s culture, society and history.

Sixth Form (age 16-18)

The School offers an AQA GCSE course for girls in the Sixth Form. The course builds on the girls’ Latin and French and focuses on demonstrating how Western cultures are linked.

Find the GCSE syllabus here.

 

Staff List:

Mrs Chiara D’Andrea Brion MA

Mathematics is brought to life with illustrations, examples and practical demonstrations of mathematical concepts. This essential subject is taught to a high level in all year groups with the opportunity to continue at A level and enjoy the challenge of Further Mathematics. Pupils develop the ability to think logically, solve problems and work collaboratively with their peers. The Department consists of highly qualified teachers covering a full range of specialist mathematical areas including statistics, mechanics and pure mathematics. The staff are supported by four one-to-one tutors.

Girls have the opportunity to become involved in various competitions such as the Maths Olympiad for Girls, the Bristol Mathematical engineering challenge and competitions with the UK Maths Trust. Individual mathematics challenges are also held for the junior, intermediate and senior categories, and girls have achieved success at a national level.

The Department supports the pupil-led Maths Society which hosts treasure hunts and film nights for the younger girls. Lectures on applied mathematics are also organised with speakers from Queen Mary University of London and celebrations are held for Pi Day.

UIII-UIV (age 11-14)

In UIII pupils consolidate their Mathematics knowledge and begin to explore new topics such as algebra which will take them up to IGCSE. Initially, girls are taught in mixed-ability classes allowing them to settle in, before they are separated into divisions according to ability. This allows us to direct the most appropriate type and level of support to each individual. The first year of teaching culminates with an individual statistics project where girls construct and complete a survey on the ‘Typical Wycombe Abbey Girl’. By the end of UIV girls will have all the skills necessary to succeed not only in Mathematics, but in all of the many subjects that demand a good level of mathematical ability.

IGCSE (age 14-16)

During the Edexcel course, we develop and perfect the skills and knowledge required for IGCSE. New subjects such as differentiation are introduced and the content is taught in a variety of ways including investigative tasks, problem solving, group work and using ICT. It is vital that the pupils see mathematics in as many different contexts as possible to support them in subjects such as Physics and Chemistry. At this stage, our most able pupils go beyond the normal curriculum to study Additional Mathematics, an ambitious course which requires an exceptional level of understanding.

Find the IGCSE syllabus here.

A Level (age 16-18)

Mathematics remains the most popular subject in the Sixth Form and with their IGCSEs behind them, girls have a wide variety of options in the Sixth Form including Edexcel courses in AS and A Level Mathematics, AS and A Level Further Mathematics, AS Additional Further Mathematics and the Sixth Term Examination Paper (STEP). Within these options we offer a wide choice of applied modules to create courses that best suit each individual and their choice of subjects. The topics mastered at IGCSE are extended and the girls’ understanding of them is deepened. Intriguing new mathematical concepts are introduced and explored, with the pupils encouraged to question, to think deeply and to challenge themselves, developing their powers of logical reasoning and increasing their confidence in working with complex ideas.

Find the A level syllabus here.

 

Staff List:

Dr Iain Wallwork MSc, PhD (Head of Department)
Mrs Geraldene Compton BA
Miss Stephanie Clarke BSc
Miss Charlotte Dorme MMath
Mrs Carole Fawcett BA
Mrs Sally-Ann Harbour BSc, MSc
Ms Avani Hurribunce BSc
Mrs Stephanie George BSc
Mr James Graham  MMath
Mr Matthew Oliver BSc
Mr Keshav Prashar BA
Miss Sarah Phillips BMus
Mr Binit Shah BA, MSc MMath
Mrs Sinead Try BSc
*Dr Shemila Mirza BSc, PhD
*Mrs Jane Staddon BSc

The ability to speak, read, listen and write in a foreign language has never been of greater value than it is today. A knowledge of culture and the means to communicate with people around the world is an essential part of twenty-first century life. Across all of the languages offered at Wycombe Abbey, girls are equipped to de-construct news stories, appreciate national bias and get under the skin of a country to truly understand its people.

The Department runs an annual Language Day which inspires interest in a range of modern languages. Speakers from GCHQ, the BBC, Channel 4, the University of Oxford and the University of Cambridge deliver talks to the girls exploring world politics and journalism.

For girls who are keen to develop their range of languages and cultural knowledge, we have a dedicated team of experienced visiting teachers who teach languages outside our main curriculum. All teachers are native speakers who focus on cultural elements in every lesson to make sure pupils have a linguistic competence and understanding that goes beyond grammatical accuracy.

The languages currently delivered through private tuition are: Japanese, Italian, Russian, Dutch, Arabic and Hindi.

In the past, we have also organised lessons in Swedish, Modern Greek, Farsi, Flemish and Swahili.

For information on the main curriculum languages of Chinese, French, German, Italian and Spanish, please visit the individual subject tabs.

The academic study of Music develops analytical skills, involves historical research, aural perception and creativity. The girls learn through listening and appraising, the scrutiny of musical scores, individual and group performance and composing. The academic Music team has extensive experience in historical study and analysis, composition, performance evaluation and harmony.

The Department runs regular masterclasses and workshops with expert musicians as well as talks in conjunction with the Music Society. We offer support and mentoring to elite musicians who play at an advanced level to help the girls balance their academic, practice and performance commitments. Many girls are also successful in open competitions, winning Choral Scholarships at Cambridge, and in gaining selection for the National Youth Orchestra.

Various competitions take place throughout the year including the Music Essay Competition, Competitive Music Festival and Annabel Choy Competitive Composition Concert. Concert trips are also organised and every year, girls attend the IGCSE World Music immersion day at SOAS (School of Oriental and African Studies), in London.

There is also a wide range of opportunities to play in small groups, sing in choirs and play in orchestras, with performance opportunities at School, locally, nationally and internationally.

For more information on the full range of extra-curricular opportunities available, please click here.

UIII-UIV (age 11-14)

Girls are introduced to significant figures, works and musical movements in the history of music from the 16th to the 20th century. They develop the skills to understand and interpret musical scores, to discern aurally and describe interesting musical features using the appropriate terminology. The girls also undertake pastiche composition exercises, use specialist ICT-based notation software and develop keyboard skills. Our approach starts with sound and aims to foster an interest in and love for music of all styles, to encourage further study.

GCSE (age 14-16)

Skills of aural perception, historical understanding and score analysis are honed further during these years through the study of CIE IGCSE Music. Alongside the study of a wide range of Western Classical genres and world music, including set works, pupils learn how to compose complete pieces, and develop their understanding of performance with interpretative insight.

Find the GCSE syllabus here.

A Level (age 16-18)

The three core skills of appraising, performing and composing form the basis of study in the Edexcel A level course. Girls deepen their appreciation of how composers in a wide range of genres manipulate the elements of music to achieve their goals, through detailed scrutiny of scores and recordings. In composition, they learn sophisticated ways of developing melodic and harmonic material within complex structures, and they prepare a recital for performance.

Find the A level syllabus here.

 

Staff List:

Director or Music: Mr Stefan Reid MA MMus
Assistant Head of Department: Miss Sarah McClure BMus, MA, FTCL
Head of Woodwind and Brass: Mr David Ledingham Dip TCL
Mr Nick Robinson MA, LRAM

In PE, girls enjoy a diverse and dynamic range of team games, individual sports and aesthetic activities. All pupils develop physical potential, experience challenges and learn how to take personal responsibility and be a team player. The Department’s specialist teachers provide a high level of teaching and bring national level experience in Lacrosse, Netball, Hockey and Swimming.

PE is compulsory for all year groups as well as being offered as an optional examined subject at GCSE and A level.

For more information on the full range of extra-curricular opportunities available, please click here.

UIII-UIV (age 11-14)

During the Autumn and Spring Terms, pupils experience skill-based practices and game play in Lacrosse and Netball, changing to Tennis, Athletics and Cricket in the Summer Term. Within PE lessons every pupil completes five different units throughout the year. These have been designed to develop the fundamental skills required for a broad range of physical activity.

  • Perform – A creative, performance-based unit, teaching choreographic and aesthetic skills.
  • Aqua – A water-based unit teaching essential stroke and fitness skills alongside a variety of water-based activities.
  • Discover – A practical unit designed to develop an understanding of methods of training and the positive effects of exercise.
  • Striking and Fielding – A unit based on team striking games, teaching essential skills and tactics of the game.
  • Foundation – A unit based on developing core skill-based fitness components.

LV-UV (age 14-16)

A carefully supervised options programme is undertaken by Fifth Form pupils. A balance of instruction and opportunity for self-motivation is provided in activities including Basketball, Climbing, Swimming, Dance, Tennis, Squash, Volleyball, Pilates/Yoga and fitness training. Pupils also receive an induction to the fitness suite, using this under supervision and guidance on developing individual training programmes.

GCSE

We offer Physical Education as a GCSE option through the AQA exam board to the Fifth Form. The course is made up of 60% theoretical assessment taken in two papers and 40% non examined assessment (NEA). Some of the theoretical topics include; applied anatomy and physiology, health and fitness, movement analysis, social-cultural influences on sport and ethical issues. Pupils will also be moderated by AQA in the Spring Term of UV in three chosen sports of their choice. This is then accompanied by a piece of written coursework analysing their own performances in one sport, identifying strengths, weaknesses and planning a training programme. In recent years we have had great success with our GCSE candidates who frequently finish the course with the highest possible grades in both the practical and theoretical sides of the course.

LVI-UVI (age 16-18)

Sixth Form pupils have time allocated in their weekly timetable for Physical Education. We appreciate that by this stage, girls often have developed particular interests in certain activities, and they are given a wide range of choice to help them gain maximum benefits from this time. Options available include Swimming, Dance, Team Games, Tennis, Squash, Climbing, exercise to music, Yoga/Pilates and use of the fitness suite. Externally run workshops are offered throughout the year to expose girls to the many options for physical activities available to them when they leave school.

A Level

We continue to offer Physical Education at A level. The course is designed to encourage pupils to:

  • build on their previous experience to enhance their knowledge and increase their understanding of the modern-day sporting arena;
  • evaluate and discuss current developments in sport such as the impact of new technology, sport-specific rehabilitation and use of ergogenic aids;
  • develop an ability to appreciate the relationship between theory and practice and to apply theoretical knowledge to develop an understanding of practical performance in sport;
  • pursue and develop the performance and analysis of one physical activity throughout the course;

A level Physical Education is designed to address current issues in sport and equip girls with the skills and knowledge required for entrance into higher education. The academic rigour of this subject is maintained by its weighting towards examination questions rather than coursework. It is an interesting course requiring lots of different study skills and will provide an enjoyable breadth and balance to other studies.

The course includes topics such as; applied anatomy and physiology, skill acquisition, factors affecting optimal performance, exercise physiology and biomechanics and sports psychology. The assessment through AQA compromises of two written exam papers and a non-exam assessment (NEA). The NEA is a live moderation or video assessment in a sport of their choice (30% of A level).

 

Staff List

Director of Sport: Mrs Sophie Bryett-Windle BSc
Head of Sports Performance: Mrs Alison Earnshaw-Punnett BA
Assistant Director of Sport: Curriculum: Mrs Fiona Gee BSc
Assistant Director of Sport: Academic: Miss Ruby Smith BSc
Miss Claire Flynn BSc
Mr Nigel Greenall HND
Miss Alexandra Hedley BEd
Mrs Flick Hermsen BSc
Miss Hannah Lowther BA
Miss Charlotte Radcliffe BSc
Miss Lucy Smith BSc
Miss Ricki Stevens BEd
Miss Lettie Tay BSc
Miss Stephanie Toogood BEd

The domain of Physics ranges from subatomic particles to the movement of galaxies. Girls gain an understanding of how the world works and discover the laws and principles that govern how the universe behaves. Through learning to identify the complex causes of seemingly simple events, pupils develop resilience, perseverance and academic rigour.

The Department consists of six specialist teachers, with a wide range of experience, from engineering to astrophysics. All lessons are taught by subject specialists in one of our three Physics-specific laboratories.

The Department oversees an extensive selection of enrichment activities including the British Science Association CREST Awards (Bronze, Silver and Gold), the Engineering Education Scheme, Go4SET (which links pupils with employers and universities), Science Live and visits to the Big Bang Fair in the NEC. Pupils have the option of joining the Junior Engineering Society which experiments with spaghetti bridge building, balloon helicopters and 3D printing. Girls are also encouraged to enter competitions such as the BPhO Physics Olympiad, the Experimental Olympiad and the CERN beamline competition.

A biennial Sixth Form trip is run to visit CERN (European Organisation for Nuclear Research ‘Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire’), where girls enjoy the opportunity to hear from researchers and gain first-hand experience of contemporary work.

UIII-UIV (age 11-14)

Pupils learn about essential physical concepts and how to carry out investigations in order to explore hypotheses. The value of applied Physics is demonstrated as girls consider the implications of nuclear power and design a pan made from paper to boil water in developing countries.

IGCSE (age 14-16)

During the Edexcel IGCSE course, pupils start to learn more advanced models for physical systems. They learn how mathematics may be used as a tool to make predictions and to understand observed effects. Practical work continues to be important and in a free-fall experiment, methods for taking accurate measurements are explored.

Find the IGCSE syllabus here.

A Level (age 16-18)

In the A level AQA course, pupils are introduced to more complex physical models such as Quantum Physics and the Standard Model of Particle Physics. By this stage, their practical skills have developed such that they are able to plan and carry out an investigation, including research, selection of apparatus and safety. There is a strong problem-solving component to their learning, and pupils build the resilience required to tackle new applications of theory.

Find the A level syllabus here.

 

Staff List:

Mrs Catherine Dowdall MSc
Dr Beccy Dawber BA, MA, MSc, DPhil
Mrs Sue Buxton BSc
Dr Dawn Leslie MSci, PhD
Mrs Sharon McGeehan BSc
Mr Matthew Welch MEng, BA

Combining creativity with a solid scientific basis, Psychology offers Sixth Formers the opportunity to become confident, articulate and analytical scientific writers. The course combines prior GCSE knowledge in Humanities, Mathematics and Linguistics to give pupils a unique blend of skills. The staff bring a variety of specialisms in subjects such as gender, memory and biology and teach in well-resourced, conference-style classrooms.

Pupils have the opportunity to join the Psychology Society which runs socials with partnering schools and leads discussions on films and current topics. The School’s annual Brain Day explores topics linked to abnormalities of the brain and, in the past, girls have had the chance to watch a live brain dissection with Dr Guy Sutton.

Topical lectures are held at Wycombe Abbey and Eton College and the School enjoys close ties with Psychology Departments at The Royal Grammar School, High Wycombe and Canterbury Christchurch University.

A Level (age 16-18)

Drawing on experiences in GCSE Biology and Mathematics helps guide pupils through various research-based topics, while offering many chances for discussion, debate and independent research. A level Psychology works as well with other traditional sciences as it does with languages or the Arts. Topics such as conformity, gender, attachment, stress and research methods are approached from a cross-curricular perspective.

Find the A level syllabus here.

 

Staff List:

Head of Department: Miss Lauren Monteil

Religious Studies is a dynamic academic discipline which encourages curiosity, independent thought and analysis through the evaluation of religious and philosophical traditions. The Department introduces girls to the precepts of six major faiths before considering the ethical and social implications of belief and non-belief in the modern world. The teaching staff have a broad variety of specialisms, ranging from theology and world religions to the philosophy, psychology and sociology of religion.

As pupils move through the school, they are presented with opportunities to explore more abstract philosophical and theological concepts and are encouraged to enter a number of essay competitions, including the Trinity College Cambridge Philosophy Essay Prize, the Trinity College Cambridge Religious Studies and Theology Prize and The Edgar Jones Philosophy Prize (St Peter’s College Oxford).

At GCSE, girls enter the Cambridge ‘Religion on Film’ competition. There is also a pupil-led Philosophy Society which discusses topics including the media and censorship. It has been fortunate to welcome prestigious speakers such as Simon Blackburn to the School.

UIII-UIV (age 11-14)

A foundation in the study of six major religious traditions (Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism and Sikhism), fosters a curious and reflective approach towards issues of religion, ethics and culture. The relationship between belief and practice is considered alongside ethical dilemmas and girls are encouraged to develop empathy for those who share different values.

GCSE (age 14-16)

The OCR course teaches an analysis and evaluation of core beliefs and teachings in Christianity and Islam. Theological arguments for the existence of God, eschatology and scriptural authority are assessed as well as issues surrounding marriage, medicine, charity and censorship. The course considers the philosophical and ethical implications of faith in the modern world and the tensions encountered between secular and sacred worldviews.

Find the GCSE syllabus here.

A Level (age 16-18)

Through the A level course, girls develop a passion for the rigorous and critical study of related themes in theology, philosophy and ethics. New fields are introduced such as metaethics and Kantian ethics and the role of moral law in business and sexual practices is examined. Critiques of religion from Marxist and Freudian perspectives are studied and girls become familiar with the ideas that have shaped religious and philosophical thought for centuries.

For exams in 2018 and beyond, we will be using the new syllabus found here.

 

Staff List:

Head of Department: Mrs Amelia Khan MA
Miss Emily Boswell MA
Dr Neal Carrier BA, MPhil, PhD
Mr Alexander Howells BDiv, BSc, MSc
Mrs Karen Kuhlmey BA, AKC
Mr Luke Wildgoose BA

Learning the second most spoken language in the world opens young minds to rich, diverse cultures and offers professional opportunities across the globe. The Department comprises of six linguists, three of whom are Hispanic specialists and three teach additional languages.

Learning at all levels is very collaborative and the Spanish Club sees older pupils mentor younger girls, building up confidence and providing advice. As with other language subjects, the News Club allows pupils to discuss current events and political ideas. Moreover, all girls benefit from the essay and debating competitions available.

A level Study Days are held in London and pupils have the opportunity to attend debating competitions at a national level. Trips are also taken to destinations such as Granada and Salamanca.

UIII-UIV (age 11-14)

Pupils acquire the essential vocabulary enabling them to use Spanish in speech and writing. Insights into Spanish and Latin American culture foster interest and curiosity.

GCSE (age 14-16)

For the AQA GCSE course, girls who have already studied Spanish in previous years are taught in divisions. They will consolidate all they have learned previously and become increasingly fluent in their use and understanding of Spanish. A greater emphasis is placed on current affairs.

Conversation lessons take place in small groups from the end of the LV.

Find the GCSE syllabus here

A Level (age 16-18)

The AQA course helps pupils to acquire a deeper understanding of contemporary Hispanic societies by exploring cultural heritage through discussion, presentations, and the debating of controversial ideas. A great emphasis is placed on exploring current affairs from Castilian and Latin American points of view, providing a distinctive perspective on world events. Pupils learn to use Spanish in a variety of contexts and enhance their knowledge through an exploration of Hispanic literature and art.

Find the A level syllabus here

 

Staff List:

Head of Department: Mr Matthew Nicholson BA (Dunelm)
Mrs Gema Christian BA (Cantabria, Spain)
Miss Sophie Dubois BA (Exeter)
Miss Elena Gaioni BA (Exeter)
Miss Annabella Figueira Licence (Paris Nord, France)

Learning Enhancement

Girls with specific learning needs are well supported at Wycombe Abbey and flourish here. Every girl learns in her own way and our Learning Enhancement Department helps girls by giving the specific support required to assist with the demands of everyday living and learning, sometimes with specific one-to-one lessons or via drop-in sessions.

The Department works closely with academic and pastoral staff as well as parents to provide one-to-one lessons which take each pupil’s whole wellbeing into account. Girls also benefit from drop-in sessions where they seek advice on work from subjects across the academic spectrum.

English support is given to girls for whom English is not their first language; this may include IELTS and IGCSE teaching for pupils who join the Sixth Form without a GCSE qualification in English.

Life after school

Beyond Wycombe Abbey

The School provides pupils with all the support they need to manage a successful transition to university and independent living. We aim to ensure that every girl is equipped with 21st century skills, ready to take her place in a globalised and rapidly changing world.

Each year girls gain places at high-ranking universities on competitive courses. One third secure Oxbridge offers with the majority heading to Russell Group universities or prestigious Art, Drama or Music Schools. Increasingly girls are choosing to apply to universities around the world – US universities are proving particularly popular with offers coming from Columbia, Harvard, MIT, Princeton, Stanford and Yale.

 

 University Destinations 2021

 University Destinations 2020

Girls benefit from a range of support in their higher education applications. A team of Specialist Sixth Form tutors is on hand to assist in all aspects of the application process, from choosing a degree subject to reviewing personal statements and writing references.

The LVI receive a presentation from the Director of Admissions at the University of Birmingham on the UCAS system, and are introduced to traditional and non-traditional routes to universities during three university preparation days. These include presentations from universities in Europe as well as the UK.

Academic departments run regular university preparation lessons where applicants are introduced to material far beyond the A level syllabus and undertake admissions test preparation. A comprehensive mock interview schedule gives girls confidence and experience before being called to interview by universities. Regular meetings throughout the Sixth Form inform girls about the UCAS Apply and Track systems, how and when to accept offers, and the UCAS Clearing process.

Applicants to US universities have unrivalled support. This includes presentations from Admissions Directors from US colleges, an SAT/ACT tuition programme, talks from alumni interviewers, and an essay writing workshop. There is a biennial US universities tour and we have an in-house US Universities Fellow.

Careers Guidance aims to inspire, inform and support girls at Wycombe Abbey in preparing them for their future career. Recognising that we live in a rapidly changing world where young people are likely to enjoy a series of careers in their lifetime (some of which in areas yet to be invented), we focus on empowering girls to take control of their own career path and equip them with the necessary skills, confidence and resilience.

Throughout the year all girls have the opportunity to hear a variety of speakers at various careers events. Highlights in 2016 included the Careers Seminar, the Future Tech Careers event, showcasing a number of new and exciting areas such as alternative energy and biomedical engineering, and the ‘Breaking the Mould’ event, featuring inspirational female speakers including a commercial pilot, jewellery designer, structural engineer and a vicar.

Every pupil at Wycombe Abbey is a member of Futurewise, which offers an array of courses spanning career areas from law and medicine through to journalism and media.

UIII – UIV (age 11-14)

The LIV have a dedicated Careers Day in the Summer Term to encourage them to start exploring possible careers. Girls engage with local businesses and hear talks from a range of different speakers such as entrepreneurs, engineers and authors. Pupils are also encouraged to use the Fast Tomato guidance programme and take part in the School’s Enterprise competitions.

GCSE (age 14-16)

In LV, girls have careers-related sessions as part of the Wellbeing programme and are encouraged to explore areas of interest. In UV, there is a greater level of support to aid girls’ A level choices. Everyone takes the Morrisby Online Assessment which helps to explore different career and education options. The annual Careers Seminar brings together 25 speakers from a range of occupations and industries. Girls in UV have the opportunity to choose which two areas they would like to attend informal talks on and explore. This is an excellent opportunity to start their career networking.

A level (age 16-18)

Girls in the Sixth Form attend The Careers Seminar every year as well as smaller scale targeted events looking at specific career areas such as investment banking, law, medicine, marketing and entrepreneurship. Girls also have access to practical workshops designed to support CV writing and preparation for work experience. The Careers Library is an excellent source of information, and is placed alongside the Higher Education resources. Girls’ career plans are tracked via tutors and the Careers Guidance Department so that any additional support can be targeted where there is most need.

The vast majority of pupils at Wycombe Abbey undertake a minimum of two weeks’ work experience, one week during the summer following UV and a further week during the summer of LVI. While work experience is a necessity for some careers, such as medicine and veterinary medicine, all the girls are encouraged to take part; many will be looking for internships whilst at university and work experience is excellent preparation for this.

Girls are encouraged to be proactive in securing their own work experience placements, although the School is fortunate to have parents, alumnae and other contacts who are able to offer work experience or work shadowing opportunities.

The Sixth Form at Wycombe Abbey provides a supportive environment for girls to reach their academic potential, nurture their individual passions and navigate the range of opportunities available to them after they leave school.  Whilst important, we want girls to leave Wycombe Abbey with more than just a set of excellent academic qualifications. We want them to be independent, self-motivated learners, intellectually curious and informed global citizens, and confident, caring role models. In short, we want them to be Future Ready.

Embracing opportunities

Beyond the Curriculum

Whether a girl is an aspiring aerospace engineer, actor or anthropologist, there are many activities and resources available to help her pursue her passions beyond the core curriculum. Our enrichment activities allow girls the opportunity to follow their own lines of enquiry into the areas that interest them the most. Without the pressure of examinations, girls are able to take intellectual risks and build resilience. A flavour of the opportunities available beyond the classroom is below.

 

Nearly all the subjects on the curriculum have their own academic society, which complement and enhance the learning that goes on in the classroom. These societies, many of which are pupil-led, organise visiting speakers, conferences and trips.

Download list of societies

A number of Activities Days see the girls taken off timetable for a fully immersive experience. Such activities allow for extended projects that would not be possible during normal lessons. For example, highlights from the biennial Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Day include an exhibition of a 9-metre-high rocket at School and a design-and-make-your-own-trebuchet workshop. We also organise a biennial Language Day, where pupils can sample a variety of languages, including Hebrew and Ancient Greek. Most recently, we introduced a Healthy Lifestyles Day, involving sessions on nutrition, relaxation techniques, physical activity and mental health awareness to highlight the need for a balanced lifestyle.

Cross-Curricular Projects are a way for pupils to put to use the skills they are learning in academic classes, towards a bigger, broader project. A recent task included creating a school and girls had to deliver a three-dimensional model, logo, school motto and ethos. Mentors guided pupils through the process to meet the tight deadline of three days to submit presentations.

Writing challenges are an excellent way to demonstrate initiative, passion and engagement with a chosen subject. Girls take advantage of the considerable resources in the library as well as the academic support available at the School. These opportunities for scholarship cultivate independent learning habits as well as skills of critical thought and enquiry. Some girls choose to enter essays into national competitions and often achieve success.

Girls enjoy lectures from distinguished guests on a variety of cultural, social, political, ethical and economic matters. Recent speakers have included fine art wildlife photographer David Yarrow, renowned hypnotist Martin S Taylor, Britain’s most successful female rower Katherine Grainger, comedian and broadcaster Michael Palin, writer and journalist Jeremy Paxman, best-selling author and professional golfer John Hoskison and scientist Baroness Greenfield. These lectures assist in broadening horizons and extending and developing each girl’s knowledge outside of the classroom. Pupils also enjoy the opportunity to network with influential people from a variety of industries.

Academic scholars are expected to produce a piece of original research or reflection over the Summer holidays. During the Autumn Term they present their ideas at the Scholars’ Presentation evenings, run by the Deputy Head (Academic), which provide thought-provoking discussion. Topics in recent years have included: Engineering Solutions to Water and Sanitation in the Third World; Le Front National; The Ageing Population; Killer Whales; a Speech in the Style of Cicero. We also hold Scholars’ Dinners and speakers at these have included Dame Carol Black, Principal of Newnham College Cambridge, and Professor AC Grayling, founder of the New College of Humanities.

 

School Trips and expeditions are an integral part of the academic curriculum and a powerful tool to consolidate learning. We offer a huge selection of trips around the world and closer to home, which are designed to enable the girls to experience the world and gain a global worldview. Recent adventures have included skiing in Whistler, Geography trips to the USA and Iceland, a Classics tour of Greece, a History of Art tour of Italy and a Duke of Edinburgh expedition to the Yorkshire Dales.

Our Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) provision is carefully designed to prepare girls for careers in these important fields. We develop interdisciplinary awareness and give girls the skills and ability to adapt in a range of fields including the Sciences, Design Technology, Computing, Careers and Art.

A full programme of STEM activities and projects are available to pupils of all ages. A selection of some recent highlights are outlined below.

Junior Engineering Society meetings for the UIII are led throughout the year by the Engineering Society chairmen (Sixth Form girls) and involve highly enjoyable practical challenges.

The annual two-day UIII STEM project involves an extended team challenge, offering the opportunity for the girls to flex their technical and scientific wings and draw on their creative and artistic skills, as well as their technical and scientific knowledge.

For girls in UIV, there is the opportunity to take part in the ten-week long Go4SET project, run by the Engineering Development Trust (EDT) and sponsored by GlaxoSmithKline. GSK provides recent graduate engineer mentors who supervise and guide the teams, giving them a great insight into the life of an engineer, including site visits.

The Engineering Education Scheme is on offer to LVI girls and is a six-month engineering project sponsored by a company, who also provides a mentor. The scheme culminates in the achievement of a Gold CREST award. In the past, we have worked with National Grid and also the Manchester X-ray facility, based at Rutherford Appleton Laboratories. This has given the girls a unique opportunity to design a rig to be used on the Diamond Light Source facility.

The greenpower car project is open to all ages within the school and provides a unique range of opportunities from designing and building the car to driving it at venues such as Dunsfold Rise and Rockingham. Pupils use CAD software to design and test different car shapes in a virtual wind tunnel, get involved in the manufacture and development of the cars and stretch their troubleshooting abilities when things do not go quite to plan!

STEM Day is a biennial event in which all pupils are taken off timetabled lessons to participate in workshops, activities, shows and lectures. Highlights of past STEM days have included a nine-metre-high rocket parked outside the Abbey for the day, a full-size hot air balloon on the Abbey lawn, ‘Bug man’, who enables pupils to handle a whole range of insects and reptiles, lectures by Simon Singh, Ben Goldacre and Matt Parker and a design-and-make-your-own-trebuchet workshop, including a bean bag battle and a fractal dome experience.

The Thinkery is our Friday night club for girls in Years 7-9 (ages 11-14) where they can explore and debate a wide range of topics and interests. There have been fun (and literally explosive) science experiments, author visits, the opportunity to learn how to conduct, taught by a professional conductor, talks on Money and Power in US politics and Fractals: Beauty and Application, to name just a few of the activities for this group.

The Arts

Girls at Wycombe Abbey enjoy a wide variety of interests and opportunities in the arts. Last year more than half the school performed at Shakespeare’s Globe and nearly every pupil plays an instrument, if not two. As girls take part in extra-curricular Art, Dance, Drama and Music, they develop creativity, leadership and teamwork. The positive effects of their pursuits are felt in all areas of school life.

Art

Art is a vibrant subject at Wycombe Abbey, offering a wide range of activities beyond the formal curriculum. The girls are exposed to artistic techniques and skills, and are involved in artistic projects and discussions about the role of art in society.

Led by a specialist in black and white photography, digital media and painting, the opportunity to get involved with photography as an extra-curricular activity is offered to Sixth Form pupils. Using Pentax SLR Cameras girls explore different creative and experimental techniques as well as process and print methods. Photographers have the use of a custom-built dark room which is fully equipped for black and white photography. Whole school competitions also encourage younger girls to get actively involved in taking pictures. Our annual publication, Perspective Magazine, showcases photography highlights from all age groups.

The Artist in Residence encourages an enthusiasm for art and design, while teaching the lower school and providing the girls with first-hand experience of how a professional artist works. Our current Artist in Residence, Claudia Phipps, is a glass artist whose work spans the spectrum of architectural glass from stained glass, engraved and fused glass, through to installation and sculpture. Claudia teaches masterclasses in glass etching, painting, batik and silk painting.

Girls have the opportunity to take part in a range of creative workshops, broadening their knowledge and appreciation of art and design. Weekend workshops are run by visiting artists with skills and expertise in specialist fields. Subjects include silversmithing, glasswork, 3D textiles, wood carving, mosaic, paper art, fashion upcycling and screen printing.

Dance

Dance is very popular amongst pupils at Wycombe Abbey. We have an extensive extra-curricular provision including Ballet, Tap, Modern, Jazz and Street Dance and dance specialists lead several weekly Dance Companies.

Within our purpose-built Sports Centre, girls have access to an impressive dance studio and smaller practice areas.

Each year pupils have the opportunity to perform to the School community in a variety of dance shows. The annual UIV House Dance Competition displays pieces choreographed by each House around a given theme. A Junior and Senior Choreography Competition invites girls to produce their own solo or group piece. Our annual dance shows are an opportunity for pupils to perform the work that they have choreographed individually, alongside pieces devised by our dance teachers within one of our Dance Companies. The production demonstrates talent across age groups through a multitude of dance genres.

Tap, Modern, Ballet and pointe are offered in individual or group settings. Girls study Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing (ISTD) Tap and Modern or Royal Academy of Dance (RAD) ballet qualifications from Beginner through to Advanced and vocational levels.

Drama

 

Girls at Wycombe Abbey develop a wide range of skills in the area of the dramatic arts as performers, writers, directors, stage managers or costume designers. Pupils learn to be adaptable and flexible and to think creatively while working collaboratively to achieve a shared outcome.

Our Lancaster Arts Centre has a 430-seat theatre. The theatre is fully equipped with sound and lighting facilities. There is also a green room and a generously stocked wardrobe.

All girls are encouraged to get involved and develop confidence through performing. Each year the UIII and LIV take part in a joint production and the LV enjoy an inter-house play competition, during which the girls write, design, direct and market a play arising from a stimulus set by the Head of Drama.

The Sixth Form play is produced annually and is directed by the Head of Drama. We also stage a Drama Society Production which is written, directed and performed by girls of all ages.

In August 2015, we took our GCSE Production of Be My Baby to the Edinburgh Festival and were awarded a 4-star review. In March 2016, we staged A Shakespeare Soiree at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre with a cast of 220 incorporating drama, dance, choral and orchestral music to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death and 120 years of Wycombe Abbey.

In recent years girls have also successfully auditioned for the National Youth Theatre.

Speech and Drama is taught in small groups, pairs and as solo lessons for girls working towards LAMDA examinations; it emphasises the value of teamwork, co-operation and creativity. We encourage an understanding and enjoyment of poetry, prose, published and improvised drama, and other theatrical arts through performance. Girls develop an awareness of the stage space and the skills needed in communication as they perform a variety of pieces.

There is a rich and frequent programme of workshops and masterclass opportunities. In the past, these have included the Frantic Assembly Workshop for GCSE girls, a two-day acting and puppetry workshop with Gomito Theatre Company and a bespoke workshop provided by Gecko Theatre Company. We regularly invite professional actors to give talks and lectures. Recently speakers have included actor Simon Russell Beale and former Wycombe Abbey pupil, Natalie Simpson.

As the School is located close to London, Stratford-upon-Avon, Oxford and the local theatre in High Wycombe, pupils have the opportunity to attend theatre productions on a regular basis. Previous trips have been organised to see Romeo and Juliet at Shakespeare’s Globe and 1984 at Creation Theatre, Oxford.

Music

Music is an important part of life at Wycombe Abbey. We believe all girls, whatever their level of skill, should be able to experience music making, both individually and collaboratively. Nearly three-quarters of the girls play at least one musical instrument and many study two or even three. The School’s strong tradition of singing is reflected in annual choral concerts and frequent musical productions. We have three orchestras (Symphony, Sinfonia and String Chamber), string, wind and vocal ensembles, a choral society and four choirs. Professional musicians are regularly invited to perform and give masterclasses. We constantly strive to find new ways to inspire and stretch the School’s musicians.

The Performing Arts Centre is a modern complex with a 200-seat auditorium that is equipped with the latest technology and acoustics. There are 30 individual music practice rooms available throughout the site.

Girls play in small groups, sing in choirs and play in the orchestras, with opportunities to perform at School, locally, nationally and internationally.

All girls take part in the annual House Music Competition, House Chapel Services and weekly Whole School Singing sessions. The House Music Competition, adjudicated by external judges, has three stages, divided into a musical ensemble round, a House singing round and a solo round.

Informal concerts are held each week, providing an opportunity for girls to perform in front of a small, supportive audience. Major concerts include the Archer Concert, featuring a varied programme of orchestral, chamber and solo repertoire, Orchestral Concert, held at an external venue and featuring the three School orchestras and advanced concerto soloists, Chamber Music Concert, an opportunity for our many small music groups and the Summer Concert, involving all of the School orchestras and many small groups in a largely light programme. We are active locally and perform three community concerts and several carol singing events each year.

Our two senior orchestras perform with soloists at professional external venues, which have included St John’s, Smith Square, London, Royal College of Music, London and the Sheldonian Theatre, Oxford. We take part in a joint Choral Group Concert with Eton College. The Chapel Choir and Chamber Orchestra undertake a biennual tour to Europe.

Our 40 full-time and visiting music staff deliver lessons to two-thirds of the girls. Individual tuition is available in piano, voice, violin, viola, ‘cello, double bass, harp, guitar, flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, saxophone, recorder, trumpet, French horn, trombone, tuba, drum kit and orchestral percussion. Termly ABRSM examinations are held at School and girls achieve success up to Grade 8 and beyond, including performance diplomas. Some girls take Trinity and Rock School examinations at local centres.

We offer support and mentoring to elite musicians who play at an advanced level to help the girls balance their academic, practice and performance commitments. Many girls are also successful in open competitions, winning Choral Scholarships at Cambridge, and in gaining selection for the National Youth Orchestra.

A wide range of masterclasses and workshops are led by notable musicians, singers, composers and academics. These include a composition workshop and talk by local composer Charlotte Bray, who has written for the world’s leading musicians and orchestra (including two BBC Proms commissions), a jazz and improvisation workshop for all woodwind and brass pupils by the Pete Long Big Band, leading musicians from Ronnie Scott’s, a piano masterclass by Vanessa Latarche, Head of Keyboard at Royal College of Music, a choral masterclass by Joyful Company of Singers, one of Europe’s top amateur choirs, and a masterclass and performance by professors and students at the Royal Northern College of Music.

There are a variety of competitions on offer to help stretch and develop musicians. Our biennial music essay competition is open to all pupils. Themes have included music in response to war and conflict zones and music that inspires. The Annabel Choy Competitive Composition Concert allows girls to compose a piece of music which is then performed by pupils throughout the School.

The Music Society exists to organise trips to concerts. Recent performances include Tasmin Little/John Lenehan, London Philharmonic Orchestra with Nicola Benedetti, London Symphony Orchestra with Denis Matsuev and the London Philharmonic Orchestra with Milos Karadaglic.

Groups and Bands

For performers who are Grade 8 and above. It tackles full orchestral repertoire as well as concerto movements featuring soloists.

For string players who are Grade 8 and above, with guest woodwind and brass when necessary. The orchestra performs string orchestra repertoire and Classical symphonies as well as concerto movements featuring soloists.

For performers who are Grades 4 to 7. The group plays arrangements of full orchestra repertoire.

An instrumental ensemble for all UIII orchestral musicians.

Senior ensembles for advanced woodwind players. They perform their own challenging arrangements as well as combining together and with rhythm section for large-scale performances.

For performers between Grades 4 and 7. They play fun arrangements of film music/pop songs.

For girls in LV to UVI, this choir leads singing in Chapel Services, and key services throughout the year. Membership is by audition.

This choir is auditioned from members of the Chapel Choir. It is an elite 12-voice a cappella ensemble, singing complex sacred choral music, secular close-harmony and barbershop-style pieces in concerts throughout the year.

This choir is open to all girls in LIV to UIV. They lead singing in Sunday Chapel Services.

For girls in UIV to UVI, this choir joins Eton Choral Society to perform one major choral/orchestral work in March each year.

A choral ensemble for all members of UIII.

An auditioned, girl-led, Gospel choir.

There are a large number of chamber ensembles, which currently includes several string quartets and piano trios, piano groups (eight hands at two pianos), jazz group, ‘cello ensemble, flute ensemble, oboe trio, and harp and flute duo.

We have three school rock bands which perform at social events throughout the year hosted at Wycombe Abbey and Harrow School.

Sport

Wycombe Abbey has an impressive sporting reputation. Our extensive sporting facilities and the dedication, experience and high calibre of our coaches support each girl to follow her sporting ambition. In 2015/2016 we reached 16 national finals across eight different sports, along with success at international, regional and local level. In 2017, and for the second year running, we were listed among the top ten UK independent schools for sport by School Sport Magazine, ranking eighth overall and the third best girls’ school nationwide.

We have exceptional outdoor and indoor facilities including six lacrosse pitches, a grass athletics track, rounders pitches, a floodlit astroturf pitch, indoor and outdoor netball courts and 20 tennis courts. The Davies Sports Centre includes a 25-metre six-lane indoor swimming pool with touchpad timing and water polo scoring facilities, multi-use sports hall, dance studio, fitness suite, four glass-backed squash courts, fencing piste and climbing wall.

Inter-House competitions are organised throughout the academic year with a varied programme of indoor and outdoor activities. House Sports Captains lead the training and trials, followed by competitive matches and House finals at the end of each term.

Girls have the opportunity to participate in both competitive and leisure activities. Those who are members of competitive teams are involved in weekly fixtures against local schools and within national leagues, hosted both on-site and at external locations. Additional coaching for specialist activities is available to broaden sporting experiences from martial arts to golf, fencing and Trampolining.

Teams and individuals gain national and international titles across a range of sporting disciplines.

Girls with advanced ability and potential in their sporting talent are invited to join either our Aspiring Athlete Programme or Performance Athlete Programme. Selection is sport-specific and based on the standards associated with regional or national level participation. We provide girls with the support needed to pursue sporting excellence in an educational environment.

Mentoring is provided by a PE staff member with expertise in the individual’s sport. The mentor will advise on goal setting, time management, nutrition, injury prevention and relaxation techniques. They meet regularly to discuss the progress of training programmes and the management of academic commitments. Girls on the programmes also receive Strength and Conditioning training in order to support their development.

Effective leadership is a key element of sport and influential in developing confident and independent young women. The Sports Leaders qualification develops enhanced organisational and communication skills, heightened self-esteem and motivation, as well as an appreciation of challenges faced by others. The programme is designed to inspire the girls to have an active role in our School and community life. We offer two nationally recognised qualifications, Level 2 and 3 Certificate.

For the Level 2 Certificate, girls volunteer to support the smooth running of school fixtures and in small groups, lead a sports event for community members and pupils from local schools. The course is designed to develop leadership qualities through theoretical and practical experiences and girls are taught the key skills of communication, organisation and safety and risk assessment.

The Level 3 course takes two years to complete and girls are required to understand the needs of a range of community groups, such as children, disabled people, community groups and the elderly. They plan and lead a sports event for one of these groups and complete a total of 30 hours’ volunteer service.

Tours abroad are available to girls to build upon their sporting achievements and team spirit. Trips consist of tactical workshops, strength and conditioning, team training and an opportunity to participate in competition at the most advanced level. Netball players have previosuly toured to La Manga and South Africa and Lacrosse players to the USA, Caribbean and Australia. The School also organises trips to watch international fixtures such as the Lacrosse Women’s World Cup Festival and the International Netball Quad Series.


Sports Opportunities

Athletics forms part of the Summer Term curriculum, with clubs and competitions regularly taking place. Our competitive team trains throughout the year with Marlow Athletics Club, gaining additional professional coaching. The School’s expansive and undulating location is ideal terrain for cross-country and long distance athletes to prepare for their events.

Skills are learnt during regular lessons and developed during the weekly recreational club.

Our excellent climbing wall gives the School the opportunity to run an extra-curricular activity and club which provides training for all levels of climbing. Through developing relevant rope and knot skills, girls learn to take responsibility for one another on the wall.

Years UIII-UIV study dance as part of the ‘Perform’ PE curriculum within lessons focusing on a variety of performance styles and choreography. Dance is also a very popular paid extra, offering lessons in Ballet, Tap and Modern Dance.

Two experienced coaches offer sessions for girls from novice to international competition standard. Girls are able to take part in local, regional and national events with many competing in the Public Schools Championships.

Training sessions run throughout the year, in our very popular after school clubs. Girls compete in friendly fixtures and have also gone on to achieve contracts from local football clubs.

Extra golf lessons take place at Wycombe Heights Golf Club. Girls attend once a week to train and have the opportunity to play in competitive match play.

In addition to the curricular gymnastics, we have a popular club which runs year round. This training environment gives girls the opportunity to further develop skills, enabling them to perform at school and national competitions.

Hockey is played in the Autumn and Spring Terms, in a mainly recreational club training session. Teams compete against local opposition, and girls wishing to play regularly are linked to Wycombe Hockey Club, with many of these progressing to county squads.

A small number of riders have access to lessons on weekday evenings at Shardeloes Farm Equestrian Centre.

Throughout the year there are weekly on-site karate sessions and additional training opportunities at the Elkai Karate School, London. Kickboxing & Muay Thai Boxing international-level instructors inspire the girls to develop martial art and self-defence skills. Official grades are undertaken by girls of all abilities, with kickboxing beginners working through to black belt level during their time at School.

Lacrosse is thriving at Wycombe Abbey. On our staff, we provide high levels of experience amongst our department, including Miss Smith a current Senior England player, and Mrs Gee who previously played for and managed the Scotland National team, who provide unrivalled teaching expertise. The pupils are coached from beginner through to international level with players being selected for county, regional, national U19 programmes and Senior International level.

Lacrosse is played during the Autumn and Spring Terms, and we compete annually in regional competitions and the National Schools Tournament where we were crowned 1st team National Champions in 2020, U13 National Champions in 2019 and U14 runners up at the National Schools competitions 2020.

Netball takes place throughout the Autumn and Spring Terms across all age groups through curricular and extra-curricular time. Many of our coaches continue to compete themselves and are able to share a wealth of training and competitive experience. We play matches as part of local, regional and national leagues and have regular success in national competitions.

Riders with any level of experience can attend weekly sessions throughout the year with coach JJ Spark at Greenpoint Polo. Girls of all ages represent the School on grass pitches and in arenas at the Schools and Universities Polo Association (SUPA) National Tournaments.

Rowing opportunities are offered at Dorney Lake, the London Olympic Games 2012 venue, and in land-based Ergometer sessions at School. Coaching is available for all abilities, from beginners to those wishing to develop their skills for competition.

Girls enter the First Snow School Championships (Les Menuires) and the British School girls’ Races (Flaine) each year. Our PE Department trip leaders are experienced skiers and are assisted by ski race trainers from Flaine.

Expert coaches lead our squash programme with many girls choosing additional private sessions. Squash is part of our curricular and extra-curricular programmes and we hold two weekly recreational clubs for girls wishing to play for leisure, fitness or competitively as well as regular fixtures against other schools. We have had numerous successes at the National Schools Competition over the years.

Our Swimming programme provides training opportunities for pupils of all ages and abilities. Morning and evening training sessions offer pupils the ability to attend several sessions a week that can be balanced with other school commitments and support their individual swimming goals. In conjunction with Wycombe District Swimming Club, who train on-site, our high-performance swimmers are able to access regional and national level coaching. Regular galas, including the Wycombe Abbey Swimming League, take place against local schools. In addition to local galas, the School enter regional and national competitions.

Tennis is a year-round sport for beginners and more advanced players at Wycombe Abbey. Living Tennis have been the sole tennis providers since 2018 and deliver all tiers of coaching at the School. Starting at the ETC (Extra Tennis Coaching) level, the girls can progress to two-tier Living Tennis Academies: School Academy and Advanced Academy. Further advancement for elite players can then be provided within Living Tennis’s own Delgado and Lee Pro Academy at Bisham Abbey National Sports Centre.

School fixtures are played throughout the summer against local schools, and we compete to a high standard in the Aberdare Cup, National LTA League and the Independent Schools’ Championships hosted by Eton College.

Two experienced coaches offer sessions for girls from beginner to advanced standard. Girls progress as they work through the official BG (British Gymnastics) Levels with specialised School equipment – an overhead rig with a twisting and tumbling belt for support. Girls compete at the annual School event and Buckinghamshire Schools Competition.

Nurturing Leadership

A strong leadership and service ethic is an intrinsic part of Wycombe Abbey life. Each of the programmes available offers girls an opportunity to serve others, share gifts and talents, and discover how rewarding this can be. Leadership skills are developed and girls become active and responsible global citizens who are inspired to make a positive difference to the world.

A volunteer pupil role, Charity Champions select charities to support and arrange fundraising activities, learning about what makes a good charity. In the past, girls have organised bake sales, fashion shows and sold home-made gifts to help a range of local, national and international charities.

Through debating girls learn to express their ideas and build constructive arguments, offering rebuttals and presenting relevant points of information. All pupils are able to join either the Junior or Senior Debating Societies which meet weekly to discuss current events and develop debating skills. There are many opportunities for girls to take part in competitions and in the past these have included the Churchill Public Speaking Competition, the Rotary Club’s Youth Speaks Competition, the English Schools Mace and the Oxford Schools Debating Competition.

Named after the School’s founder, Dame Frances Dove, the Dove Award is a service-oriented scheme for all LIV girls. Girls participate in a diverse range of challenges from research, personal achievement targets and assisting a charitable enterprise to undertaking a survival exercise and a night spent camping in the School grounds. Successful completion of the Award prepares girls for participation in The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award programme.

The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award programme is about setting girls on a path to a productive and successful future, and an Award at any level is a valuable addition to any university applications. Girls develop the skills and attitudes needed to become rounded and confident adults, qualities that employers also value highly. We offer the Bronze level to the LV and the Gold to the Sixth Form.

A mix of politics and current affairs; over the academic year girls attend a number of conferences in the UK and abroad, representing different countries’ views in a range of committees and debating hot global issues. Every delegate is exposed to a range of key skills, including rating and amending resolutions in the United Nations style and how to work as an effective advocate and diplomat. Recently, a group of girls beat 104 teams from across the world to be placed first in the St Andrew’s International Model United Nations hosted in Ireland.

Girls have many opportunities to take the lead, make their voices heard and contribute to the running of their School. The School Leadership Team comprises the Head Girl and two Deputies. The Head of each of the nine Senior Houses is also a School Prefect, and takes responsibility for organising activities. There are also Prefects who take responsibility for the major areas of School life like Drama, Sport, Charity, Music and Chapel – and for each of the year groups. All the LVI take responsibility in House for activities such as House Music, Charity and Sport. Across all year groups, elections take place annually to elect a year group representative to communicate their views at School Council and shape new initiatives.

All girls in UVI serve the local community through a variety of volunteer roles in local playgroups, retirement homes and secondary and primary schools for disabled children. Girls can also choose to help students in weekly sessions at Cressex Community School and support regular swimming lessons led by Horizons, a local sports club.

Enterprise

We recognise that members of the next generation will have many different careers during their lifetime. Many girls may also be inspired and empowered to run their own businesses. In preparation for this, Wycombe Abbey aims to nurture a globalised and entrepreneurial worldview.

Joining the National Young Enterprise Scheme provides an opportunity for girls to start a company and run it for eight months. Budding entrepreneurs get involved in everything that a real business would, from choosing a name, deciding on what products to make and sell or what services to offer. As company members, pupils gain skills such as business planning, problem solving, delegation and basic accounting.

The Coca-Cola Real Business Challenge is an exciting enterprise competition that invites all LV girls (Year 10) to tackle a business task set by Coca-Cola European Partners. It is an engaging opportunity for the whole year group to develop enterprise skills and pitch their own business ideas against other teams and schools.

In 2015, the Wycombe Abbey team was victorious as National Champions, winning a digital workshop to develop their app. Girls answered a brief to develop an awareness campaign for Special Olympics Great Britain (SOGB). The challenge included the delivery of a number of campaign elements from a bus stop poster (which we were excited to see on the bus stop outside the School) and fundraising proposal to a fully working app.

Working in tutor groups, UIII girls (Year 7) are given a budget of £15 to create a new product or upcycle and transform an existing product. Parents are invited to come shopping and the girls are tasked with making as much profit as possible within one hour. Sales this year raised over £900.