With years of A-level education experience, we support our students to achieve their very best, and reach the universities of their choice.

The A-level course is a two year programme with final, external exams taken at the end of the second year in May and June. Results are published by the external examination boards in mid-August. Our A-level teaching is rigorous and intensive: we allocate nine lessons (6hrs 45 minutes) to each main subject per week.

Earlscliffe students will ordinarily choose four subjects at A-level. One of these four subjects is usually a student’s own language.

Almost all of the subjects on offer at Earlscliffe are seen as ‘core’ subjects and they are therefore readily accepted by the UK’s best universities. Most students will also study IELTS and undertake the highly-regarded EPQ (Extended Project Qualification), which will help their university application considerably.

A-levels are national qualifications regulated by the UK  government

A-level Subject Options

Students choose one subject from each of our option blocks A, B and C. There is an additional block D from which students may choose if they wish.

2024 2025 A- Level Subject Options

In addition to these main three or four subjects, students will also study their native language and IELTS, as well as complete an EPQ (Extended Project Qualification).

In constructing the block options we took into consideration many of the more popular academic pathways beyond A-levels.

To study dentistry, for example, a student would need to study Maths and two sciences. This explains why we put Chemistry and Biology in the same block and Biology in a separate block. A student who wishes to pursue a more creative degree would be able to do so by studying Photography, Art, and underpin it with a related academic subject.

In addition to the extensive advice given to students before they join the school, there is a grace period at the beginning of the year where students may change subjects. This bespoke aspect of our academic pathways is just one of the many key features of Earlscliffe.

Small class sizes and intensive teaching

Even in the most popular subjects we maintain small classes. The reason for having small classes is very simple. The greater the amount of individual attention that the student receives, the greater the chances are that the student will achieve better grades. In a small class, teachers are able to get to know the students, and everybody has to contribute. In addition, small classes create safe environments in which students are more willing to participate and ask questions.

Class sizes average at around 7 students. This means some subject choices have classes which only have 2 or 3 students and others are above average due to their popularity. When a class reaches a maximum of 12-13 students we will look to open a new class for that subject.

With between 6 hours and 7.5 hours of teaching time per subject each week, meaningful and positive relationships are built, a determined work ethic is created and each student achieves their full potential.

English language support

EAL (English as an Additional Language) is a fundamental part of every lesson. The individual English language needs of each student are taken into account by their teacher and lessons are planned accordingly.

Our teachers are very experienced with EAL and they employ a wide range of methods to help support the development of the students’ English language skills. The specifics of the support will depend very much on each students’ needs and the course they are doing. For example, ITY students may have to read works of fiction and produce book reports, whereas A-level students will have to learn subject-specific terminology, in context, and take part in frequent vocabulary tests.

We also empower the students to be independent learners, and to continually improve their English language skills. Students are trained to use dictionaries and resources effectively and efficiently in order to support their own learning.

TRaC™ Testing System

Our TRaC™ (‘Test, Rank and Coach’) system of weekly, competitive testing is a key factor of Earlscliffe’s assessment and target-setting strategy.

Teachers set tests for each of the main subjects during the week. Papers are based on the week’s work and they are returned graded according to A-level or GCSE criteria, ranked according to the student’s relative performance in class, and followed up with coaching sessions to assist with continuous improvement as needed.

TRaC™ testing keeps students working at a consistent, measurable level and pace.
These weekly results are monitored by the student’s teachers as well as the Head of Department and the student’s Head of Year. Students soon get used to the system and regard it as a valuable tool. As a team, we are able to consistently assess our students’ knowledge and skills, and feel in control of learning.

TRaC™ scores are made available to parents and guardians through the Parent Portal (password protected). Please note that it is unusual for a student on any course to achieve all high grades in TRaC™ tests in the first few weeks of the course, as they need a little time to settle down and get used to the academic requirements, the language and the marking schemes.

Parents are encouraged to monitor TRaC™ performance and pass their comments and praise to their children accordingly. TRaC™ results can also be sent to guardians if wished. For a fuller discussion or explanation of your son or daughter’s TRaC™ test records please contact the Deputy Head: nialljohnson@earlscliffe.co.uk


Homework is completed in the evenings and at weekends. Students are allocated at least two hours each evening as quiet study time in their rooms, which is supervised by their House Managers. While many students do less homework on Saturdays, almost all students use Sundays to do some serious, extended study in their own time.

Each A-level subject has an extended reading section, with books, articles and texts recommended as additional reference material. This information will be given to the students by the subject teachers and is also available on the school’s Independent Study website. Students have access to daily newspapers and weekly journals like ‘The Economist’, ‘The New Scientist’ and ‘The Spectator’ – titles they should be reading in their free time to improve their understanding of the wider issues relating to their academic subjects.


The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) examination is a globally-recognised English language test, required for university entry and many other purposes. This must be taken by all students who do not hold a GCSE English Language qualification from a UK school.

All students, unless they are native English speakers, will attend IELTS lessons regularly to improve their English, even if they do not intend to go to a UK university. IELTS is taught by qualified teachers for between two and six lessons per week.

The IELTS exam can be taken at various points in the academic year. The examination has writing, reading, listening and speaking components. Most top UK universities will require an overall score of at least 6.5 or 7.0, with good scores in the writing and reading sections.

There is no limit on the number of times you can re-take the IELTS examination. It can be taken and then improved upon at the next exam sitting, and so on throughout the year if necessary. We expect the majority of students to attain a 6.5 or 7.0 within a year of starting their A-level studies with us.

Extended Project Qualification (EPQ)

Most A-level students at Earlscliffe will do an Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) in addition to their A-levels. This qualification is excellent and is highly regarded as an ideal opportunity for the students to prepare for university. An EPQ is equivalent to an AS Level and adds weight to a student’s UCAS application.

The EPQ allows learners to study a topic area which extends their learning in their chosen area of study and enhances their independent research skills. Each student selects a project topic which will expand their learning in their field of study, in a related area, or a topic that is relevant to their own personal interests.

Each of the four units offers a different type of project: a dissertation, an investigation/field study, a performance, or an artefact. Learners will be assessed on their ability to plan, manage, complete and review their project. It can be completed over one or two years, and is assessed by the student’s supervisor from within the centre and externally moderated by the exam board.

Such is the importance we place upon this qualification that the students have timetabled EPQ lessons. They work in small groups and individually with a supervisor, who guides and facilitates them on their journey through the EPQ.

University and Careers

Each student at Earlscliffe will be given a considerable amount of support and guidance related to selecting the right courses and universities to apply to, completing and submitting their university applications, and working towards their chosen career.

For more information, including a detailed list of university destinations which Earlscliffe students have gone on to, please click here

Year 12 Sample Timetable


0830 – 0900 Group Tutor
0900 – 0945 P1 Psychology Maths IELTS EPQ Maths
0945 – 1030 P2 Psychology Maths IELTS EPQ Maths
1030 – 1045 Break
1045 – 1130 P3 Study Psychology Public Speaking Study Economics
1130 – 1215 P4 Study Psychology PSHE Study Economics
1215 – 1300 P5 LUNCH
1300 – 13.45 P6 Russian Economics Psychology Maths Economics
1345 – 1430 P7 Russian Economics SCS Maths Economics
1430 – 1500 Break and Group Tutor
1500 – 1545 P8 Maths Economics SCS Psychology Psychology
1545 – 1630 P9 Maths Economics Maths Psychology Psychology
1630 – 17:15 P10 Economics Meetings, tutoring or clubs 

SCS = Sports Culture Service; Student chooses from a list of options e.g; book club, baking, photography, public speaking etc

PSHE = Personal, Social, Health Education

Teaching hours – per week – Each period = 45mins

  • Psychology – 7.5
  • Economics – 7.5
  • Maths – 7.5
  • Own Language – 1.5
  • EPQ = Extra Project Qualification – 1.5
  • Other – 6

The 5-term A-level

Occasionally a student needs to start the A-level programme in January, rather than the previous September. This may be because:

  • the academic year in their home country differs from the UK
  • they have decided that the course they started in September is not the correct choice for them

Therefore, Earlscliffe offers students a 5-term A-level option. Thanks to our small class sizes and personalised teaching approach, students are able to manage the A-level workload in a shorter space of time. However, admissions are subject to an academic and pastoral review, as this is an especially challenging academic programme.


A-level “Taster” course

A limited number of places are available for students wishing to spend one or two terms with us on the A-level course. This is a great option for students wanting to improve their academic confidence in a truly personalised and dynamic environment – they are able to really focus on three or four subjects that they enjoy and are talented at. It also provides English language and cultural immersion which helps to grow the overall life skills of the student.

Many students feel that this course helps to prepare them for life at university.