Festival of Inquiry

Please click through to our Virtual Events page - and register your interest for our ‘Festival of Inquiry’ - a celebration of online learning for those with curious, inquisitive and inquiring minds. There will be a daily selection of tasks and challenges - ranging from ‘Shark Attack in Science’ to ‘The Great Fire of London Art creation’.

Festival of Inquiry - 23-27 November (for ages 6-11 years old)

Winter Wonder Week - 30 November - 4 December (for ages 3-5 years old)

Mathematics and Sciences

Mathematics, Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Computer Science are taught as separate subjects, by specialists, at all Key Stages with Further Mathematics and Psychology offered in addition in the Sixth Form. Bucking the national trend for girls, these subjects are all popular in the Sixth Form at The Abbey and many girls go on to study STEM and other related subjects at university.

These disciplines provide opportunities for the girls to develop a range of skills from hands on practical work (with 4 dedicated labs for each separate Science) and computer programming to the power of combining logical and creative thinking in problem solving.

Specialist days, visits, clubs and cross-curricular activities complement the standard curriculum time and enable the girls to see how solving real life problems comes from combining and applying what they learn in the different subjects.

Biology is the study of life itself, drawing together the threads of evolution and interdependency to deliver a deep understanding of life on earth. Studying biology opens doors to careers that have the potential to advance the state of life, through medicine, research, exploration or conservation.

In Upper III (Year 7) and Lower IV (Year 8) the emphasis is on developing skills, confidence in the laboratory and a love of the subject. The pupils learn how to use a microscope, as well as learning about the seven characteristics of life. In Upper III, the course includes looking at Amoeba and Volvox and studying movement, sensitivity and nutrition. In Lower IV, pupils compare growth and reproduction in the plant and animal kingdoms, perform experiments to study excretion and investigate bread dough rising due to the action of yeast. Pupils have plenty of opportunity to use creative skills producing posters, cartoons and models. In Upper IV (Year 9) pupils are put into smaller groups and are set across the three sciences, studying the Edexcel International GCSE (9-1) course. In Sixth Form girls may take the Eduqas A-level qualification, or choose Biology as an IB subject.

Outside the classroom

Enhancement and extension activities are provided for girls of all ages including: Biology club for Upper III and Lower IV, Biology Challenge competition for Lower V (Year 10), Biology Olympiad competition for Upper VI, CREST awards, recommended reading lists, a weekly update of upcoming television programmes and the opportunity to attend lectures on advanced biological research including the annual Mrs Jo Trott Memorial Lecture by visiting scientists.

In a girls’ school Computer Science is not seen as a ‘boys’ subject. Instead, girls see technology changing the world and want to be a part of it.

Computers run our everyday lives, yet we take them for granted. Computer Science is about learning and understanding the mathematical, scientific and engineering principles underlying every kind of computing system, from mobile phones and the Web, to the supercomputers that simulate the effects of disease on the human heart.

As a successful Computer Scientist, you will develop a curiosity about how things work and an ability to think creatively, logically and critically. Through a combination of individual learning, team projects and experimentation, you will learn the 'how' behind the fascinating and ever changing world of computers. You will experience the full product development lifecycle, by researching and designing digital products with input from selected industry experts. You will develop the knowledge to become a technological leader, not just a follower. Teachers with years of real-world experience will use their enthusiasm, passion and knowledge to guide you on this exciting journey.

Outside the classroom

We offer a range of lunchtime activities e.g. Animation, Coding, Cipher, Rubik’s and Robotics clubs. Girls love to use these activities to extend their computing and problem solving skills. In addition, Computer Science teachers are available during lunch times for curriculum and homework assistance for all years.

Why does ice float? Why is carbon monoxide poisonous? Have you wondered how firework colours are created? The study of Chemistry provides us with the answers to questions such as these and encourages us to develop curiosity about the world around us. Moreover, Chemistry equips us with the practical and evaluative skills to be confident, competent and inquisitive scientists.

Taught by passionate subject specialists, we provide an environment in which pupils are able to flourish while honing their practical skills, knowledge and understanding.

The problem-solving, analytical and numeracy skills which students develop during their study of Chemistry open up opportunities in many diverse fields.

In Years 7 and 8 the emphasis is on developing practical skills, confidence in the laboratory and a love of the subject.

In Year 9, pupils begin studying the Edexcel International GCSE course. They can then proceed to A level or IB Chemistry.

“The Maths department has always been constant in the quality of teaching, resources and continuity through the years. From UIII to UVI, maths has always been reliable. I'm going to miss it so much! Many thanks for all the help!” Upper Sixth leaver

Mathematics is a creative and highly inter-connected discipline, developed over centuries and providing the solution to some of history’s most intriguing problems. Mathematical thinking is important for all members of a modern society and the language of Mathematics is international. Its importance is universally recognised and its study equips students with powerful ways to describe, analyse and change the world. The feeling of achievement that comes from finally solving what at first seems to be an intractable problem is unique to the subject, but comes only to those willing to try.

The aim of the Department is to develop each girl's understanding of Mathematics and mathematical processes in a way that promotes confidence, fosters enjoyment and inspires curiosity. The courses followed at The Abbey provide opportunities for the girls to extend their problem-solving skills and to develop clear reasoning and logical thought, whilst also encouraging an appreciation of the relevance, beauty and importance of Mathematics in everyday life. We offer extra support at drop-in sessions and enrichment activities that challenge and stimulate.

There is always a very high uptake of Mathematics in the Sixth Form as it is an excellent gateway to university and a wide range of careers.

“Sports do not build a character, they reveal it.” – John Wooden

Physical Education at The Abbey offers a broad, balanced and engaging curriculum, providing all girls with the opportunity to excel in a number of activities. Lessons promote important transferable skills; teamwork, leadership and communication, and allow girls to grow in confidence both physically and mentally. Traditional sports; Hockey and Netball, are an important part of the curriculum but they run alongside activities such as Dance, Yoga, Zumba and Swimming. All girls should leave their lesson with the knowledge and confidence to lead a healthy, active lifestyle.

Outside the classroom

Recreational and team clubs are offered at lunchtime and after school. Matches are usually after school on Tuesday to Thursday.

Academic Physical Education

Medicine for the healthy; sports science is how the healthy human body works during exercise, and how sport and physical activity promote health from cellular to whole body perspectives. The IB course covers an exciting range of topics; physiology, energy systems and biomechanics as examples. There will be opportunities to discuss current health issues such as Diabetes and Obesity. Independent assessments will allow girls to explore areas of interest whilst furthering their knowledge and applying key parts of the course. The GCSE Physical Education will provide girls with the knowledge to enhance their own sporting ability whilst learning the fundamentals of sports science.

Specialist scholarships in Sport are offered to pupils joining the Senior School in Upper III (Year 7) and are awarded for three years until the end of Upper IV (Year 9). Find out more on our Scholarships page.

There are many additional opportunities to participate in Sport at the Senior School. Find out more on our Extra-Curricular page.

Follow us on Twitter @theabbey_sport

Physics is regarded as one of the 'facilitating' subjects by universities and employers, as it requires students to be creative, solve problems, work individually and in teams, to think about the world around them and to demonstrate high levels of numeracy.

Physics is a fascinating subject in its own right. Pupils love studying the key ideas of Forces, Energy, Space and the world around us.

Any student who studies Physics at GCSE and beyond will find themselves in demand in the future, as well as having a great advantage in their understanding of their own world and the wider universe.

Our course follows an exciting model which relates theories and ideas with practical investigations and new technology. There is support material for pupils to aid understanding and extension opportunities for pupils wishing to broaden their knowledge beyond the curriculum. We start the Edexcel IGCSE course in Upper IV with pupils sitting their IGCSE exams in Upper V. There is ample time to gain the knowledge and practical skills which are tested in these exams. In Sixth Form girls may take the OCR 'A' A-level qualification, or choose Physics as an IB subject.

Outside the classroom

Enhancement and extension activities are provided for all girls of all ages - these include Engineering and STEM days, visits to CERN in Geneva, CREST awards, Physics Masterclasses at Oxford, and the highly competitive Physics Olympiad competition.

“The goal of education is not to increase the amount of knowledge but to create the possibilities for a child to invent and discover, to create people who are capable of doing new things.” Jean Piaget

What influences decision-making? Why do people do what they do, and why do people react differently to one another? These are just some of the questions into which psychologists delve in this fascinating area of study. Psychology fits equally well whether students are also studying science or arts-based subjects and provides students with a plethora of transferable skills; including communication, data analysis and evaluation. With applications as diverse as marketing, education and clinical psychology, studying Psychology can be a gateway to an absorbing career.