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 Deputy Headmaster (Academic).
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, Mandatory Geography, Art, Applied Arts, Music and Personal Development, Health and Physical Education, and two electives. One elective is chosen from French, Italian, Latin, History or Geography and the other from French, German, Chinese, Latin, Classical Greek, History or Geography.
All boys take English, Mathematics, Science, Mandatory History, Mandatory Geography 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, Drama, Art, Applied Arts or Music.
All boys take English, Mathematics, Science, Mandatory History, Mandatory Geography 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 humanities subjects and at least one Mathematics or Science subject, totalling a minimum of twelve units. A maximum of four units of Science courses may be taken. English is taken by all boys. In addition to English, HSC courses are offered in Mathematics, Biology, Chemistry, Earth and Environmental Science, Physics, Classical Greek, Latin, French, German, Italian, Chinese, Japanese, Ancient History, Modern History, Geography, Economics, Design & Technology, Drama, Music, Visual Arts, Personal Development, Health and Physical Education, and Studies of Religion (1 unit course only). One unit extension courses are available in English, Mathematics, Classical Greek, Latin, Chinese, French, German, Italian, History, 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 Tutorial period 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 period is to complement the syllabus and it 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 take the view that broadening and deepening a boy’s understanding of a subject, through personal contact with a master who is an authority in the field, is preferable to acceleration through the curriculum.
Many classes at Grammar are streamed, and much extension work takes place in a normal classroom context. There are a range of co-curricular clubs which focus on a particular academic area. Grammar also participates in the Science, Mathematics, Informatics, and Geography Olympiad programmes.
Several Senior Masters are responsible for Academic Extension for boys in senior years. Boys may elect to pursue extension work, sometimes during class time, and sometimes outside normal hours. The formality of arrangements depends on the number of boys involved at a given time. The School also invites distinguished scholars and artists to teach the boys in small groups from time to time.
The School sponsors a visiting scholars programme. Distinguished visitors share their expertise in a range of ways with boys at the School, and may also give a public lecture. Past academic visitors have included: Prof. Nils Andersen (Niels Bohr Institute, Copenhagen); Prof. Simon Blackburn (Cambridge); Prof. Sir Christopher Clark (Cambridge); Prof. Bryan Gaensler (Harvard); Prof. Simon Goldhill (Cambridge); Prof. Robin Holloway (Cambridge); Prof. Richard Hunter (Cambridge); Prof. Ivor Indyk (Western Sydney University); Prof. Sir Geoffrey Lloyd (Cambridge); Mr James Morwood (Oxford); Dr Andrew Parker (Oxford); Prof. David Rothenberg (New Jersey Institute of Technology); Prof. Robert Tombs (Cambridge); Ms Marina Warner (London).
Headmaster’s Supervision Scheme
The Headmaster’s Supervision Scheme gives Form VI boys the opportunity to work in a core subject in small groups with a recent Grammar HSC graduate as the boys go through their HSC year. The Scheme gives Form VI boys the chance to work closely with a near-peer mentor who has recently gone through the experience of completing the HSC; this mentoring component has been a very significant part of the Scheme’s success in the past. The Supervisors may also share with boys their experiences of undergraduate life at university and their thoughts how best to prepare for this. These sessions are conducted before and after school with small groups of boys. Participation is voluntary.