Grade 10 Elective Subject Information

A brief description of the elective subjects to give some idea of the substance of these subjects. These are compiled the staff who teach them.


The school syllabus provides a thorough grounding in basic principles of Accounting, as well as introducing pupils to a wide range of forms of business-ownership, and the books kept by these businesses. Pupils learn how to draw up the books and financial statements of sole traders, partnerships, non-profit organizations and companies (including cash flow statements). Other topics include bank reconciliation statements, debtors and creditors’ ledgers, asset disposal, cash budgets, ratio analysis, VAT and Manufacturing Accounting. Business ethics and good accounting practice is also included.

There is a time pressure as the Grade 8, 9 and 10 syllabus is covered in Grade 10. The final FET exam, at the end of grade 12, covers all the work in Grade 10, 11 and 12. Experience has shown that sound ability in Maths is usually a prerequisite for success in this subject, and boys should be attaining at least 60 to 65% in Maths at the end of Grade 9. The subject also requires an ability to interpret information as well as good reading skills, so a good competency in English is also strongly advised. However what is probably more important than that is an ability to think logically, a strong work ethic, enthusiasm and good levels of concentration. Success, and an interest, in Economic Management Science in Grade Nine should not be taken as an indicator of success in Accounting as Accounting tends to be of a far more technical nature as opposed to exploring the broad business concepts in Economic Management Science. In the same manner, the subject is in no way related to Economics, which is far more theoretical. An interest in business would however be a prerequisite for taking Accounting as a subject. Boys must also be able to work under pressure particularly during tests and exams.

Accounting is definitely a life-skill subject, as everyone needs an understanding of finance, but it is certainly a business language requiring a definite aptitude for this “type” of work. At Bishops, we cover work beyond what is required in the curriculum with the aim of giving our boys the edge when entering university. There is a perception that boys entering a commercial degree need not have studied Accounting at school. The truth is that universities need to ensure that they are casting the net as wide as possible so will market their degrees with the view that Accounting at school is not a necessity. Feedback from boys who have studied Accounting at school suggests a distinct advantage in having done so; likewise boys who had not taken the subject found the work challenging particularly during their first year at university. Ultimately those boys going on to study a business degree/diploma will find that they have a head start on those who have not taken Accounting before.

In closing, parents should not put pressure on their sons to take the subject. There must be a strong desire and motivation from the boys themselves.


Why Dramatic Arts?

"The future of our nations depends on our ability to create and to be creative. During the coming decades our most important resources will be human resources. If our nations are to continue to meet the challenges of the future, today's schools need to develop creative leaders."

[Performing Together: The Arts and Education]

Confidence. Creative thinking. Improvisation. Collaboration. Compromise. Integrity. Vision. Imagination. Open-mindedness. Empathy. Studying Creative and Dramatic Arts at school has a long list of benefits.

Dramatic Arts education is an important means of stimulating creativity in problem solving. It can challenge learners' perceptions about their world and about themselves. Dramatic exploration can provide students with an outlet for emotions, thoughts, and dreams that they might not otherwise have means to express. A learner can, if only for a few moments, become another, explore a new role, try out and experiment with various personal choices and solutions to very real problems – problems from their own life, or problems faced by characters in literature or historical figures. This can happen in a safe atmosphere, where actions and consequences can be examined, discussed, and in a very real sense experienced without the dangers and pitfalls that such experimentation would obviously lead to in the "real" world. This is perhaps the most important reason for Dramatic Arts in schools.

Still, there is far more that Dramatic Arts can do. At the centre of all Dramatic Arts is communication. Like all the arts, Dramatic Arts allows students to communicate with and understand others in new ways. Perhaps more than any other art form, Dramatic Arts also provides training in the very practical aspects of communication so necessary in today's increasingly information-centred world. Learners who have participated in dramatic activities are less likely to have difficulty speaking in public, will be more persuasive in their communications, both written and oral, will be better able to put themselves into others' shoes and relate to them, and will have a more positive, confident self-image. Participation in dramatic activity requires self-control and discipline that will serve the learner well in all aspects of life.

Learners in Dramatic Arts will learn to work together, to cooperate, to find the best way for each member of a group to contribute, and to listen to and accept the viewpoints and contributions of others. No art form is more truly collaborative. Dramatic Arts is an important tool for preparing learners to live and work in a world that is increasingly team-oriented rather than hierarchical.

Dramatic Arts also helps learners develop tolerance and empathy. In today's increasingly polarised and intolerant culture, the ability to understand others' motives and choices is critical. Dramatic Arts can help build responsible global citizens.

In addition to its intrinsic educational value, Dramatic Arts reinforces the rest of the school curriculum. Since communication and empathy are central to Dramatic Arts, a learner who has explored life in the drama classroom will be better able to understand ideas in history and current events. More importantly, Dramatic Arts can be used to promote active learning in any subject – to give students a kinesthetic and empathetic understanding as well as an intellectual understanding of a topic. Studies have shown again and again that this approach yields a greater depth of understanding and a marked improvement in retention.

Tell me and I will forget.

Show me and I will remember.

Involve me and I will understand.

[Chinese Proverb]


Why study economics?

The Bishops Economics department will be offering Economics as a Cambridge International A level subject from 2021. Boys will have the option (not compulsory) of writing both external AS and A level exams through the Cambridge International exam board at the end of Grade 10 and 11. All boys will also write a Bishops exam paper that is based on the AS and A level syllabi, and this will be the mark that will appear the boy’s Bishops report. Both exams will be taught from the same syllabus, the complexity of the exams will be the only difference. In Grade 12, we revert to the National Senior Certificate (NSC) syllabus and all boys will write the NSC exam at the end of their Grade 12 year. This means that you will be able to complete your Economics studies at Bishops with both an A level as well as an NSC qualification.

What does Cambridge International AS & A Level Economics offer?

The study of Cambridge International AS & A Level Economics allows boys to explore concepts and theories which can be applied to the way that modern economies work. Cambridge learners develop the ability to explain, evaluate and analyse economic issues and arguments. They gain lifelong skills and a solid foundation for further study. Apart from the actual Economics theory that the boys will learn, the ability to acquire critical thinking, analytical and evaluative skills is so important for a modern day academic. These are the skills that modern day employers are looking for when the boys will enter the jobs market.

About the syllabus

Through the Cambridge International AS and A Level Economics syllabus, boys will learn how to explain and analyse economic issues and arguments, evaluate economic information, and organise, present and communicate ideas and judgements clearly. The focus is on developing the higher order skills of analysis and critical evaluation rather than simple knowledge acquisition. The syllabus covers a range of basic economic ideas, including an introduction to the price system and government intervention, international trade and exchange rates, the measurement of employment and inflation, and the causes and consequences of inflation. Learners also study the price system, the theory of the firm, market failure, macroeconomic theory and policy, and economic growth and development.

Prior Learning/Attainment requirements:

No prior knowledge of the subject is required, and the course builds on, but does not depend on, the knowledge, understanding and skills learned in EMS. It is STRONGLY recommended however, that candidates attain at least 65% in both English and Mathematics in Grade 9 before contemplating taking the course. Once subject choices have been made, we will provide you with our recommendations as to whether or not your son has the aptitude to study Economics in Grades 10 – 12. This is done purely to avoid struggling through a few terms of Economics only to change subject later through their Grade 10/11 year.


In this age of global trading and world-wide travel, having a qualification in a European language is a huge advantage, whether it is for business or leisure purposes. Employers and universities often look for students who have studied a foreign language at Matric level as they highly value the skills required for achieving this qualification. The French Department at Bishops is committed to giving our boys this invaluable skill for their future: the ability to communicate in a language spoken in no less than 33 countries, on all 5 continents, and certainly widely used in Africa. As a leading country of the African continent, South Africa plays a big role and many of its professional people end up having to communicate in French.

French is offered as a third-language option, although those who are not required to take Afrikaans or Xhosa as their second language can take French as an alternative. The successful student will be one with linguistic flair, enthusiasm, and ambition to succeed, who will use all the tools made available to him to practise the extended vocabulary and grammar taught.

The main focus of the work undertaken in class is communication in a variety of means and on a variety of topics, all relevant to the Grade the boys are in and the modern world they live in. The themes can be thought-provoking and interesting debates ensue. Lessons are obviously taught in French and rely on teacher-pupil and pupil-pupil conversations. The innovative information technologies of today enable the teacher to bring accurate, up-to-date knowledge of the French-speaking world into the classroom.

In Matric, the syllabus also includes some poetry and literature. Other areas of the final examinations focus on reading skills, comprehension and effective communication, both orally and in writing. The control, administration and examining of this additional language falls under the Independent Examinations Board (IEB). 


The Geography curriculum aims to train young people to become the decision-makers of the future. It focuses on developing both knowledge and skills. On the knowledge side, the Grade 10 year examines geology, population geography, climate and Geography Information Systems (GIS). On the skills side, pupils work with Google Earth and Google Maps and create a project on the Epic. We spend two years doing the National Senior Certificate syllabus, a programme that has consistently been rewarded with outstanding results.

The syllabus examines rural and urban settlement, the weather of Southern Africa, environmental issues of the region and a study of South Africa with an emphasis on the economic development of South Africa.

Geographers leave school with skills which are usable in the workplace. Advanced computer literacy is important. Maps, graphs and raw statistical data are tools with which they will become familiar. We have a number of exciting computer programs which make studying an enjoyable experience. We have extensive resources on the intranet and the internet that includes YouTube video playlists, a web mix and we make use of a number of educational apps.


"A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots." - Marcus Garvey

Grade 12 affords the candidate an in-depth study of the making of the modern world, from both a global and South African perspective, and all themes covered are of a post-World War Two nature. Specifics include: case-studies within the Cold War; a broad overview of the Vietnam War; an analysis of post-independence Africa by way of a focus on Angola (think South Africa's involvement in the Border War) and Mobutu Sese Seko's Congo; the short-term and long-term impact of the Civil Rights Movement [CRM] and Black Power in 1960's America; Steve Biko, Soweto '76 and the downfall of apatheid during the 1980s; South Africa's miraculous - and treacherous - path to democracy during the early 1990s and the ever-topical and hotly-contested assessment of the work conducted by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission [TRC], post-democracy, with regards promoting reconciliation within South African society.

Grade 11 seeks to lay the foundations with regards the context required to succeed in Grade 12. Themes explored are, with this in mind, associated with the 20th century and include: Russian and Soviet history [think Lenin and Stalin and their respective attempts, by way of economic policies, to impose communist rule successfully]; the rise (and fall) {and rise again} of the United States of America as a 20th century superpower; the devastating impact of the practice of pseudo-science during the 20th century by way of case-studies in Australia; Germany and Rwanda [think genocide] and an in-depth study of South African history between 1948-1976 using Mandela's 'Long Walk to Freedom' [abridged edition] as a setwork. A comprehensive research task is completed during the course of the year.

Grade 10 establishes a broad framework of the events and processes and personalities that shaped the course of history, both abroad and domestically, pre-contemporary society. Topics covered during the year include: the downfall of mighty empires; the emergence of Europe as the preeminent pre-20th century continent; the rise - and fall - and rise (again) of China; the far-flung consequences of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade; the French Revolution and subsequent Reign of Terror; Napoleon's divided legacy; the birth of the United States of America and the Civil War that was to tear the fledgling nation apart during the 1860s;controverisal personalities and battles that shaped modern-day South Africa (think Shaka and Rhodes; think Blood River and Isandlwana); South Africa's Mineral Revolution [think diamonds and gold] and the South African War (1899-1902) that followed. Candidates will be expected to deliver an original research project at the end of Term 3.

Examinations and/or tests and/or class activities take the form of essays, source-based questions and presentations and debates. Excursions and guest speakers are used, widely, as educational tools to enrich learning. Long gone are the days of memorising dates and facts off by heart. The courses challenge learners to garner historical understanding and informed opinion into the contemporary and global community in which they will ultimately operate and to acquire the intellect, critical thinking-type skills and essay-writing abilities crucial for success in tertiary studies and their post-school endeavours.

The culture of History at Bishops, as a senior-grade subject of choice, is strong. Boys traditionally enjoy the balance afforded by History to commerce and/or science-centred subjects. That the Bishops' History Department has returned 80+% final averages in the NSC examination every year since 2014 and 149 subject distinctions in the last two years has entrenched the notion that History is a subject in which a Bishops' boy can excel during the senior-phase of his high school career.

Information Technology

The essence of Information Technology is the solving of problems through creative and logical thinking. Solutions are implemented by coding in current software development tools. Through this, students gain an understanding of the principles of computing. The subject also develops an awareness and an understanding of the social, economic and other implications of using technology.

Information Technology is made up of two main components, namely theory and practical. These components culminate in a 3 hour theory exam and a 3 hour practical exam in the final Grade 12 examinations.

The theory component looks at computer hardware and devices, system and utility software, electronic communications and networking principles, future trends, human-computer interaction, social, accessibility, economic and ethical issues of computing, management of information, solution development, algorithm design and database design.

The practical component focuses on the implementation of solutions by producing applications in a programming language called Delphi. It also includes web design. Programming concepts include logical decisions, data structures, database development, problem formulation and solution and object-oriented programming.

Successful Information Technology students enjoy finding solutions to logical problems and experimenting with different ways of solving problems. They are self -motivated, able to think for themselves and are able to work independently. They enjoy a good challenge and are usually competent at Mathematics.

There is an aptitude test for Information Technology which helps give guidance on whether boys are likely to cope with the demands of the subject.

Life Sciences

The Bishops Life Science department strives to develop qualities in our boys so that they become 21st Century critical thinkers who are curious, have imagination, have initiative, are problem-solvers and effective communicators; are able to collaborate both inside and outside the school, have empathy for others and have grit and resilience. We aim to empower our boys so that they can take their place in the global community where they can become active in shaping the world. In attaining this we expect our boys to take responsibility for their own learning, while at the same time learning about effectively managing their own time.

The Life Sciences are the Sciences of the Future, just think of genetic engineering, biotechnology. and sustainable development. The six dedicated teachers of this department have designed our course to give our boys the necessary biological foundation so that they can appreciate these specialties and more. Our innovative teachers share their skills and knowledge both inside and outside the school and are respected by the greater teaching community for their contributions to education.

The topics we cover in Life Science include the scientific study of living things and their relationships to each other and to the environment, the UN Sustainable Development Goals and Targets as well as the impact humans have on the environment, gender issues, ethical behaviour and sustainable practices. Boys learn the use of current technology as well as well as practising research skills, exploring through project-based learning and understanding the scientific method.

Boys are encouraged to get involved in several events outside the curriculum such as the participation in the Science Café and the Cape Town Expo for Young Scientists or being active in the Global Issues Network and the White Rhino Trail.

We aim to instil a lifelong curiosity and love for the natural world.


Music as a subject in Grades 10 to 12 provides pupils with a thorough theoretical background to music as well as a general overview of different musical styles. The course offers an excellent opportunity to develop artistic and creative skills as part of the academic curriculum. It develops the pupil to the extent that these skills can be used in business and other related fields. Life skills that are learnt as a result of taking music as a subject include leadership, responsibility, organisation, time management and team-work. Included in this curriculum is extensive exposure to music technology and relevant computer software, as well as the workings of the music industry.

A large portion of the course is practical, which includes both solo and ensemble work. It is expected for subject pupils to be a member of the choir and/or an ensemble, as the music department feels this is core to the pupils’ overall musical development. Lessons on a pupil’s first musical instrument are free for pupils taking Subject Music in Grades 10 - 12.

Physical Sciences

Physical Science encompasses both Chemistry and Physics. Chemistry essentially considers the make-up and interaction of materials while Physics broadly studies the effects of forces, motion, electricity and other phenomena. In completing the syllabus in each grade, boys be exposed to a large content base and application of this knowledge. To be successful at Physical Science, boys will thus need to apply themselves to both learning the content taught and spending time developing their problem solving skills.

There are six knowledge areas that are covered in the course:
- Matter and Materials
- Chemical Systems
- Chemical Change
- Mechanics
- Waves, Sound and Light
- Electricity and Magnetism

Practical work in Physics and Chemistry is undertaken regularly in all grades to facilitate understanding of the concepts and is an assessed component of the matric course.

Experience has shown that significant difficulties with Mathematics hinder success in this subject. Physical Science cannot be taken in conjunction with Maths Literacy.

Visual Art

Visual Art as an option in the FET band is an exciting subject that gives plenty of scope for creativity and rewards the industrious lateral thinkers in the class. Being able to translate what they see in an accurate way is an important skill for Visual Art pupils to develop; some will walk into the class in Grade Eight and demonstrate a very sophisticated level of skill in accurate observation drawing. Some boys take longer to develop the visual perceptual skills, but with hard work and drawing on a regular basis can significantly improve their ability to translate what they see more accurately.

What is more important than a talent for drawing (although that is a good starting point), is a healthy appetite for consistent, hard work and an ability to think in an original and creative way. A willingness to try new ideas, to experiment with materials and to take an interest in visual culture, are important; these are the qualities that we prize most in our Visual Art pupils.

However, we do not value accurate observation above a more abstract and/or imaginative approach. We also know that some boys are more analytical in their approach and others what the theoreticians call ’haptic’. Whether an individual boy develops in a more abstract, naturalistic or imaginative direction in their work, we insist that everything is underpinned by an ongoing investigation into the underlying structure of the world around them though observational drawing and a constant experimentation with different tools and media.

There are a number of practical projects called PATs (Practical Attainment Tasks) that the boys work on. Each project has been designed to achieve certain specific outcomes, and covers all the four required National Curriculum Visual Arts outcomes of: Conceptualising, Making, Management and Presentation and finally, Visual Cultural Studies.

The individual project will introduce the boys to something new & challenging in terms of a support to draw or paint on, a medium or media to use, techniques to try out, artist’s works to look at for inspiration, links with Visual Cultural Studies component of the course, etc, etc. In the Grade 12 finals, the boys face a written three hour, 100 mark Examination paper. To prepare for this, we cover parts of the syllabus in Grade Eleven, and introduced the boys to examination type questions.

One of the most important ways in which boys can build confidence in studying the theoretical, Visual Cultural Studies component, is to develop the ability to recognise key works by major artists prescribed for study on the syllabus. This is a task which is ideal suited to those more ‘Right Brained’ individuals who learn more effectively when working with images rather than text. Related to this, boys need to sort out artworks as belonging to specific historical periods, nationalities, styles and types of subject matter. We have been engaged in this task through the course, but put much emphasis on this in the last few months. There is a rich range of resources on the Bishops Intranet, each boy should have a copy of the textbook “Caves to Canvas”, as a additional source of information. We also work closely with the library staff and make sure the boys use the wonderful resources available in the Molteno Library as part of their studies in the course. As the Visual Arts curriculum is loaded onto the Bishops Intranet, the laptop is an essential tool for all Visual Art pupils to have right up to the end of Grade 12.

The end-of-year Grade Twelve retrospective exhibition can be a wonderful culmination of five years of work in the field of the Visual Art. Working towards this goal must be foremost in the minds of each boy taking Visual Art as a subject from Grade Ten to Twelve.