Senior Academic Curriculum

Encouraging intellectual curiosity

Westbourne offers a broad, balanced curriculum that is designed to challenge and inspire our Senior School pupils to think more deeply about the world around them and prepare them to thrive in the world beyond the classroom. Our personalised approach to learning supports each student individually to aspire to academic excellence, with a flexibility that enables them to choose a pathway that best suits their abilities, needs and independent interests.

Developing independent research and problem-solving skills, students demonstrate a thirst for knowledge that is nurtured by expert staff in addition to cutting-edge technology including AI-supported learning resources.

“Westbourne School has given me the chance to excel and succeed in all my subjects such as Latin and French, which are my favourites. I receive so much help, advice and encouragement from teachers and students who all make up a family. I love Westbourne for these aspects and more.” Safia, Year 11

Academic excellence for all ages

Founded on well-established principles of breadth and challenge, students study a broad range of subjects up to Year 9 and then follow a core of six or seven GCSEs combined with three or four optional subjects, making a total of eight to ten GCSEs for most students.

Students joining us in Year 11/Pre-IB explore a range of academic subjects in Term 1, narrowing their choices to their final six IB Diploma subject choices by the start of Term 2 with the option of GCSE examinations in the Summer Term.

A supercurriculum to extend and inspire

Alongside academic subjects, we also provide a programme of Personal, Social and Health Education (PSHE), which runs throughout the school. Beyond the curriculum, there are myriad opportunities for academic stretch and extension, for example, via the vast array of Olympiads, Competitions and Challenges available to enter.

There are also many internal opportunities for students to extend themselves in their subjects which don’t necessarily end in awards, such as our plethora of clubs, committees and financial literacy programmes.

What will I study?

Years 6, 7 & 8

Students in years 6, 7 and 8 study an academic course based on, but not limited to, the internationally renowned Common Entrance curriculum, which provides them with a first-class grounding across a wide range of academic subjects, complemented by a wealth of extra-curricular and sporting activities. The Common Entrance course guarantees a comprehensive and well-rounded foundation for GCSE studies, which pupils at Westbourne start in Year 9.

In these first three years of Senior School, students are supported by a dedicated Middle Years Co-ordinator, who closely monitors each student’s academic progress and personal wellbeing.

Students’ performance at the end of the course, which is measured by an assessment plan in each subject, helps to establish their route to future studies in a flexible, personalised way, suited to the needs of the individual.

English Language, English Literature, Mathematics, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, History, Geography, Latin, Spanish, Business Studies, Computer Science, and Physical Education are just some of the subjects on offer.

Years 9, 10 & 11

Pupils start their GCSE studies at Westbourne in Year 9, which is generally earlier than at other secondary schools in order to give them a headstart in their studies. Our students benefit from studying a wide range of subjects in Year 9, which they then refine in Year 10 depending on their personal choice and aptitude.

Many private schools offer either GCSEs or IGCSEs. IGCSE stands for ‘International General Certificate of Secondary Education’ and is the globally-recognised version of the GCSE, which enables students all over the world to access further academic study.

At Westbourne, we have analysed the curricular in depth to determine the best academic pathway for each specific subject we offer. About half of our subjects are GCSEs and half are IGCSEs.

Study at this level encourages advanced communication, research and critical analysis skills, as well as a more informed understanding of the world that we live in across a range of disciplines. At the end of Year 11, our pupils are well prepared to make the transition to further study in Sixth Form.

English Language, English Literature, Mathematics, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, History, Geography, Latin, Spanish, Business Studies, Computer Science, and Physical Education are just some of the subject options we offer at Westbourne at this level.


Our leading Pre-IB Programme has been developed and refined for over a decade, dedicated to supporting overseas students aged between 15 – 17 years in progressing seamlessly from national education systems into a British boarding school.

The immersive programme provides the opportunity, within a fully supportive setting, for students to discover and explore a multitude of subjects, with one year GCSEs being an optional extra.

Students may join Pre-IB for as little as one term for an international student immersion programme, or follow the complete 1-year course, fully preparing them for entry into our award-winning IB Diploma Programme the following year.

Pre-IB provides a thorough grounding across all 6 subject areas of the IB Diploma with a strong focus on academic English. Throughout Pre-IB you will study:

Term 1

  • 5 lessons of Further Mathematics, providing not only a maths qualification at the end of the year but a much smoother transition into IB Maths.
  • 5 lessons of English, both first and second language is on offer depending on the strength of your English.
  • 8 science lessons; Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Computer Science
  • 8 humanities lessons: History, Geography, Psychology and Economics
  • Theory of Knowledge (TOK)
  • Community, Activity, Service (CAS)

Term 2

In term two you will narrow down your subject choices, focusing on those you enjoy the most, which support your university and IB Diploma aspirations.

Term 3

In term three you will carry out research work in your subjects which replicates the coursework demands of the IB course.