What is Psychology?

Psychology is the study of the mind and behaviour. Research in psychology seeks to understand and explain thought, emotion and behaviour. Applications of psychology include mental health treatment, forensics and other areas affecting health and daily life. It is difficult to capture everything that psychology encompasses in just a brief definition, but topics such as development, personality, thoughts, feelings, emotions, motivations, and social behaviours represent just a portion of what psychology seeks to understand and explain.

Miss Borgers

Head of Psychology


“People’s beliefs about their abilities have a profound effect on those abilities.” – Albert Bandura.

The purpose of our curriculum is to broaden students’ horizons in a subject that they have never studied prior to A Level, therefore challenging students with new knowledge. Psychology as a subject is very relevant in a diverse and ever-changing world and our curriculum will develop student’s ability to empathise with others and engage in deep thinking about the people around them.

This AQA A Level qualification offers an engaging and effective introduction to Psychology. Students will learn the fundamentals of the subject and develop skills valued by Higher Education and employers, including critical analysis, independent thinking and research methods. The specification reflects advances and changes in the subject curriculum and provides a coherent and holistic programme of study. At Weatherhead High School, sixth form students have the opportunity to access a high-quality Psychology curriculum that is both enjoyable and challenging. We aim to deliver a curriculum where students who have achieved at least a 5 at GCSE level in Maths, English and Science have the opportunity to study Psychology and we aim to ensure our curriculum is inclusive and accessible for SEND students. The department aims to keep up to date with high quality teaching and learning practices. 

Students will develop a broad range of substantive knowledge, including the different psychological perspectives, an understanding of how people relate to each other in society, an understanding of biological and psychological processes and behaviours. Students learn broad practical applications from the theory, a greater awareness of the human condition and how best to approach and treat a range of human behaviours using biological and psychological therapies. Disciplinary knowledge is developed through skills of assessment, including description, application and evaluation and the methods employed by psychologists.  

The curriculum also strives to develop student’s cultural capital, literacy and mastery that is embedded throughout the two-year course, engaging with strategies which help pupils to develop not only a deep but a secure knowledge and understanding of Psychology, which will enable students to build on their resilience, problem-solving skills and confidence in their learning journey and the progress that they make. The students are aware of what they are aiming to achieve in the curriculum and what their curriculum journey will look like. Regular informal and formal assessment opportunities will allow students to better understand how to achieve and make progress in Psychology, with opportunities embedded for students to reflect on their progress. Ultimately students will develop a love and appreciation for Psychology.



Curriculum Overview

The A Level Psychology SOW is taught in such a way that students get the best out of the AQA specification, by building on their knowledge, topics are taught in an order where regular mastery can be achieved, with interleaving opportunities. 

Year 1: 

The Approaches topic on paper 2 is taught first, which enables students to learn the key beliefs of psychologists. The Research Methods topic is taught throughout the two years (1 lesson per week), as all topics within Psychology are developed through research. 

Paper 3 topics, including issues and debates, cognition and development, schizophrenia and forensic psychology; provide students with the opportunity for in depth learning, which enables students time to consider and master the content throughout year 12 and again in year 13.

Year 2: 

Paper 1 topics including social influence, memory, attachment and psychopathology. Biopsychology (Paper 2) is the last topic to be taught, as students will have some knowledge of this topic area from GCSE Science, such as the nervous system and drawing graphs. Students studying Biology at A Level will also have covered some of the topic areas featured in Biopsychology, such as synaptic transmission and inferential statistical testing. 

Teaching and Learning

The A Level Psychology curriculum is taught by passionate subject specialists. Students will be taught the curriculum by one dedicated teacher. Students are provided with high quality resources, including a booklet for each topic learnt, which includes all of the written content that they require for the examination. Booklets also feature examples of exam questions and activities, which allows for regular discussion and informal, summative assessment. 

Students will have a class folder where they will file their booklets, as well as other class work materials, including worksheets, activities, exam questions and additional notes. Students will be provided with a homework folder to file their homeworks and key assessments. A tracker sheet at the front of this folder will be updated weekly by the students to monitor their own progress. 

The department actively encourages the use of wider teaching and learning resources such as online psychology forums to keep abreast with curriculum developments, networking and sharing of good practice. 

Mastery and Assessment

The Psychology curriculum ensures that students have many opportunities for mastery and assessment to regularly check student’s understanding and strengthen the consolidation of material. Regular mastery takes the form of mastery starters, mastery in homeworks and assessments (where students set work based on their prior learning as well as their current learning), weekly timed exam questions in class, informal mastery quizzes and independent study opportunities.

Summative assessment includes; mastery starters, questioning in class discussions, exam question and activity question responses. Students will be set two pieces of homework per week, including a research methods/mastery homework.

Students will be formally assessed every half-term based on their current and prior learning in the form of a range of multiple choice, short answer and extended writing exam questions. Students progress is recorded on the departmental tracker document and reviewed on a weekly basis in dedicated departmental time. Students have dedicated reflection and improvement time that is scheduled weekly, to enable students to review and respond to the specific written and verbal feedback that they receive from their teachers. 


Students develop their literacy by broadening their vocabulary, which is achieved through class discussions, lesson resources and materials including; booklets, command term sheets, key terms sheets for each topic, textbooks and reading articles. Wider reading is being developed where students have access to articles and a variety of texts from the Psychology library. 

SEND/Disadvantaged students:

The department provides resources which can be accessed by all SEND and disadvantaged students to remove barriers to learning. These include all students being provided with booklets with all the necessary content for the course, key term and command term sheets to support students with exam questions and subject specific vocabulary. The department has an open door policy with weekly support sessions. Essay plans/prompts/model answers act as a scaffold for answering extended writing questions. Teachers have one-ones with the students to establish their needs and tools to aid their learning such as extra time, coloured paper, explicit instructions etc. All SEND and disadvantaged students are given a revision guide to help them break down the content. All resources for the curriculum and daily lessons are posted on Google Classroom. All SEND/disadvantaged students are identified and monitored closely on the department tracker. 

Cultural Capital/Extracurricular/Personal Development

Class discussion in a variety of topic areas allows for stereotypes and assumptions to be challenged and in turn broadens student’s understanding of the world that we live in. Documentaries/media clips, for example when looking at mental disorders allow students to have a greater appreciation and awareness of issues in society. 

Students have the opportunity to visit Liverpool Crown Court each year, to sit in court sessions in the public gallery. This helps with learning the Forensic Psychology topic, but also provides an insight into possible career choices in the field of law and where their studies could take them beyond the A Level curriculum. It also provides students with an insight into the criminal justice and judicial system, an experience that is very insightful. 

The department invites visiting speakers to the school from different professions and experiences in psychology to provide students with careers information and what it is like to study and work in the field of psychology.  

Students in year 13 can volunteer to become subject ambassadors, where they represent the subject in a variety of ways, including attending the sixth form open evening. Students apply for this role, by writing why they would like to be a subject ambassador and what they could bring to the role. 

Remote learning 

This is part of the curriculum allowing all students access to their learning if they cannot attend school. Lessons are uploaded daily on Google Classroom in the same format as classroom lessons and includes the same resources, so that the curriculum is sequenced and implemented in the same way, with the same end points to be achieved. Engagement is monitored by the department, to enable prompt and effective communication with parents and colleagues if they are any concerns. This departmental tracker allows for precise and regular monitoring of students that the department can access as a live document at all times.


Student Numbers 2021-22: 

Year 13-38

Year 12-43

95% retention rate from year 12-13

150 students attended the psychology Taster Day sessions and as a result, an additional year 12 class has been timetabled for year 12 for 2022-23 (from 2 classes to 3 demonstrating the popularity and uptake of the subject). 

Student Numbers 2022-23:

Year 13-43

Year 12 approx. 76 at present (Sept 2022)

Destinations from 2020-2022:

Russell Group Universities




Roaa A – BC D*

Liverpool John Moores University – Psychology


Rebecca A – ABB Liverpool John Moores University – Psychology


Abbie E – BC

Edge Hill University – Psychology


Mai L – A*B D*

University of Liverpool – Psychology


Chloe S – CCD

Edge Hill University – Educational Psychology

Sarah D – AAB

University of Manchester – Psychology


Ellie G – BBD*

University of Salford – Psychology of Sport  deferred 2022  – Gap Year


Chloe J – ABB

Liverpool John Moores University – Forensic Psychology and Criminal Justice


Amaris A – ABB

Edge Hill University – Criminology


Millie W – BBB

University of Liverpool – Criminology

Abigail C – BB Distinction

University of Chester – Mental Health Nursing 


Miya D – ABB

University of Liverpool – Psychology


Ashlea D – BB Distinction* University of Salford – Counselling and Psychotherapy


Lucy D – A*AB

University of Liverpool – Psychology


Jessica F – CC Distinction*

Liverpool John Moores University – Criminology



Milly H – AA Distinction*

University of Liverpool – Psychology (2023)


Ellie L – BCD

Liverpool John Moores University – Criminal Justice 


Hannah M – AAC

University of Liverpool – Psychology


Lucy S – AC Distinction*

Liverpool John Moores University – Psychology


Annabel V – CDD

Liverpool John Moores University – Criminal Justice 

 ALPS Data from 2019-21 shows impact on outcomes:

Over the last 3 years the ALPS grade was a 4 in 2020, a 2 in 2021 and a 6 in these 2022 results. This year’s ALPS grade is more comparable to 2019 (the least year external examinations were sat), which was a 6, which shows how the department has remained consistent in its performance. The department has continued to achieve an ALPS grade in the black and hasn’t been in the blue since 2018. The department was 0.04 away from an ALPS 5. 18/37 students achieved an ALPS 5. This result is pleasing, especially considering this cohort of students had not previously sat an external examination and have been a cohort significantly affected by the pandemic. 

In 2022, the A*-A rate is 22%, an increase of 6.6% from the 2019 results. The A*-B result is 43%, an increase of 8.4% from the 2019 results. 

Year 12 mid course examination data-students made good progress, achieving an ALPS 5, with 30.2% achieving an A*-A, 55.8% achieving an A*-B and 71% achieving an A*-C. 

Students will finish the course having gained an excellent and thorough understanding and appreciation for Psychology and will be able to see its relevance and applicability to everyday life. 

Outcomes of SEND/Disadvantaged students:

All students including SEND and disadvantaged students will acquire the knowledge and skills to make progress, achieving their target grade or higher and will have the same opportunity to progress to higher education or employment. 

Case Study Example: An EAL, disadvantaged student had achieved GCSEs ranging from 3-6 in 2018 and began Psychology at A Level. In 2020, this student achieved a BC D* at A Level, which was an achievement at the top end of her target range and she went onto study Psychology at Liverpool John Moores University. 

Extra-Curricular/Personal Development:

Matthew Fletcher, a trainee Educational Psychologist for the local authority and Dr Ralph Pawling, a Psychology lecturer from Liverpool John Moores University gave talks to years 11-13 about their career journeys to inspire our students and show them different routes into a Psychology related career. These talks were very popular with over 35 attending during lunchtime sessions. 

The Psychology department also took 27 year 12 students to Liverpool Crown Court in the summer term where the students saw a range of court cases including sentencing and a trial. Students also had the fantastic opportunity and privilege to experience a Q & A with 3 different judges at the court. The students really enjoyed their experience and some commented that it inspired them to visit the court again in their own time and pursue a career in the legal field. 

The Psychology department selected 7 year 13 subject ambassadors who represented and supported the subject in a number of roles, including speaking to year 12 classes about their experiences as a student and offered guidance and support on how to make progress as a Psychology student. Other ambassadors looked at the role of British Values in the curriculum and helped to develop the Psychology library. 6 out of the 7 ambassadors represented the department at the Sixth Form Open Evening in November 2021 and were fantastic role models for the subject, helping to inspire the next generation of students to be passionate about Psychology.

Lesson observation feedback:

Both teachers in the department have been graded outstanding in formal lesson observations in 2022 by members of the SLT. 

Student Voice:

The department has received extremely positive feedback in its regular student voice throughout the academic year of 2021-22. Student’s have very positive professional relationships with their teachers and enjoy the range of topics Psychology has to offer, as well as the support that they receive from their teachers. 

The impact on our students will form part of the outstanding school impact to continue to achieve World Class accreditation. Ultimately the impact of the Psychology department will be measured by how effectively it helps our students develop into well rounded individuals who carry with them the knowledge, skills and attitudes which will make them lifelong learners and valuable future citizens.


Is There Anything Else I Need To Know?

Prospective students must have achieved a level 5 or higher in English, Mathematics and Science. These requirements are reflected by an increase in mathematical skills being assessed in the psychology exams.

Students will have the use of a core text book and departmental booklets. There is also a variety of additional textbooks in the Psychology classrooms.

There are lots of options available for Psychology degree graduates, careers can be followed in the following areas:

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Educational Psychology
  • Criminal Psychology
  • Forensic Psychology
  • Occupational Psychology
  • Police
  • Social work
  • Teaching
  • Health care
  • Business and many more…

Why study at Weatherhead?

Psychology is an extremely popular subject at A Level here and we are one of the biggest subjects at A Level in terms of the number of students.

The Psychology department has excellent, subject specialist teachers that are dedicated to the success of the students.

Students enjoy their psychology course which is evident from student voice; including the engaging and creative lessons.

What is Psychology?

Psychology is the study of the mind and behaviour. Research in psychology seeks to understand and explain thought, emotion and behaviour. Applications of psychology include mental health treatment, forensics and other areas affecting health and daily life. It is difficult to capture everything that psychology encompasses in just a brief definition, but topics such as development, personality, thoughts, feelings, emotions, motivations, and social behaviours represent just a portion of what psychology seeks to understand and explain.

Miss Borgers

Head of Psychology

Psychology Learning Journey