Most boys come to The Oratory at 13+ and go straight into one of the four senior houses. They begin their academic studies in the Third Form (Year 9) and all follow a common curriculum covering a wide range of subjects. Even at this stage, boys are taught in small groups by specialist subject teachers in appropriate rooms. For example, the sciences are taught as separate subjects in laboratories which have all the necessary equipment.
A significant number of boys come to The Oratory at 11+ and spend their first two years in St Philip House before joining a senior house in the Third Form. In their first year they will have most of their classes in St Philip House, but will be taught Science, Art, CDT, IT and Physical Education in the specialist facilities in the main part of the school, while in their second year, boys go to the senior part of the school for all classes.
In the Fourth and Fifth Forms (Years 10 and 11) boys prepare to sit their GCSEs. Although certain subjects, including English, Mathematics and French, are compulsory, boys may choose their options from about the twenty which are available. Before the final decision about which subjects to study is made, discussions are held between the parents, boy, subject/teachers and Housemaster. Although most boys study eight or nine subjects to GCSE it is possible for boys to take more. In some subjects, including English, Mathematics and French, the boys are put into sets according to their ability in that subject, while in others teaching is generally carried out in mixed ability groups.
In the Sixth Form boys may choose from more than twenty five subjects and, with our flexible timetable, many different subject combinations are possible. For example, some boys opt to study the sciences and some purely arts, while many select a mixture of arts and sciences. As for GCSE, prior to any decision regarding subject choice being made, there are discussions between parents, boy, teachers and Housemasters; the advice of the Careers Master may also be sought in order to ensure that university entrance requirements are satisfied. It is normal for boys to study four subjects to AS Level in the Lower Sixth, although it is quite possible for boys to opt for five if they wish.