The academic curriculum is organized around the ideals of a liberal education.
The subjects we teach are broadly pre-vocational, and throughout a boy's life at Grammar, we insist that he pursue a range of academic studies. This is most important in the final two years, where we do not allow boys simply to take English, Mathematics and Science for their Higher School Certificate, but insist on a basic breadth requirement which means that at least two humanities subjects must be taken.
The list below provides a general guide to the curriculum, although it should be noted that certain combinations of subjects may not be available every year because of staffing and timetable constraints. The School also reserves the right to withdraw a subject from its programme. General questions about details of subject choices are dealt with by the Director of Studies.
All boys take English, Mathematics, Science, Latin, French, History, Geography, Art, Applied Arts, Music and Personal Development, Health and Physical Education.
All boys take English, Mathematics, Science, Mandatory History and Geography, Art, Applied Arts, Music and Personal Development, Health and Physical Education, and two electives. One elective is chosen from Latin, German, History or Geography and the other from Classical Greek, French, Italian, Chinese, History or Geography.
All boys take English, Mathematics, Science, Australian Studies and Personal Development, Health and Physical Education. Form II electives are normally continued. A third elective is chosen from Accelerated Classical Greek/Italian/German, Sanskrit, History, Geography, Art, Applied Arts or Music.
All boys take English, Mathematics, Science, Australian Studies and Personal Development, Health and Physical Education, and continue with their three electives from Form III.
Form V and VI
In line with the School's requirements for breadth of study, all boys must study six subjects in Form V. In Form VI boys must study a minimum of four subjects, including at least two humanity subjects. We normally require a boy to study 12 units in Form VI. English is taken by all boys. In addition to English, HSC Courses are offered in Mathematics, Chemistry, Physics, Biology, Earth and Environmental Science, Latin, Classical Greek, French, German, Italian, Chinese, Japanese, Ancient History, Modern History, Geography, Economics, Visual Arts, Design & Technology, Music, Personal Development, Health and Physical Education, and Studies of Religion (1 unit course only). 1 unit extension courses are available in English, Mathematics, Latin, Classical Greek, History, French, German, Italian, Chinese and Music. A second extension course is available in English and Mathematics making it possible to study four units of both of these subjects.
As well as offering pastoral care, the House/Tutorial system also plays an important role in broadening the boys’ intellectual and cultural horizons.
Every ten days or so a period-long tutorial takes place when each Tutor will devise activities which promote discussion amongst his or her boys on matters of local or global significance, ethical or moral concern, or general cultural interest. The business of the tutorial is to complement the syllabus and is considered an important part of a Grammar boy’s overall education. Guest speakers, presentations by boys, excursions to museums, art galleries and the like feature regularly within the tutorial programme.
There is an important distinction to be made between academic 'acceleration' and 'extension'. At Grammar we do not permit accelerated progression through our courses, but rather have a policy of academic extension beyond the syllabus for boys who seek it.
Many classes at Grammar are streamed, and much extension work takes place in a normal classroom context. Special extension activities in science and humanity subjects are arranged for those boys who wish to pursue them.
Academic extension work may be done in a variety of ways. Some boys are given leave to attend special courses in timetabled periods. Others work in their own time under expert supervision.
Two masters have special responsibility for academic extension. One of them covers the arts, and the other the sciences.
The School sponsors a regular visiting scholars programme. Distinguished visitors spend time teaching at the School, and then give a public lecture. Recent visitors have included Prof. Nils Andersen of the Niels Bohr Institute in Copenhagen, Prof. Simon Blackburn (Cambridge), Prof. Sir Geoffrey Lloyd (Cambridge), Dr Andrew Parker (Oxford), Prof. Bryan Gaensler (Harvard), Dr Chris Clark (Cambridge), Ms Marina Warner (London), Prof. Richard Hunter (Cambridge), Prof. Robert Tombs (Cambridge) and Prof. Robin Holloway (Cambridge).
In addition to this, Grammar participates in the various Science, Mathematics and Geography Olympiad programmes.
Sixth Form Supervisions
Some years ago Dr Vallance, set up a Supervisions scheme whereby Old Boys who have recently left the School return to offer current Sixth Formers help with their coursework and advice on preparation for the HSC. They also share with boys their experiences of undergraduate life at university and suggest how best to prepare for that. These sessions are conducted after school with small groups of boys and are entirely optional.