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Year 9 Options - GCSE Choices 2021

Dear Student,

Welcome to the ‘Year 9 Pathways’ area of the school’s website.  This area has been designed to help you with the choices that you are about to make.  These choices will shape the breadth and focus of your GCSE curriculum and will influence your direction in sixth form and beyond.  It is called ‘pathways’ because it is helpful to start thinking about these choices in context of your long-term aspirations just as much as the mo re immediate influences.  Factors such as which subjects you have enjoyed studying the most, which are you reaching your potential in and which sound the most interesting at GCSE will need to be balanced with which are essential/ important to support your A level options and career choices.  

Don’t worry if you really do not know what your career aspirations are.  At this point most students fall into two groups.  The first group are those who do and have always known what their direction is and therefore find the process of choosing options more straightforward.  The other group are still not sure and therefore making choices that keep their options open will be more important.  For example, try to continue with at least one creative and more than one humanity subject.

The options process is organised around ‘options month’.  During February you will take part in a careers event which will help you to explore a variety of different career pathways.  You will also receive detailed presentations from each of your subjects (including those that are only taught from Year 10 onwards), your parents will be invited to attend the options information evening and finally you will have a parent’s evening at which you and your parents/carers can discuss your current performance with your current teachers.  Below you will find a downloadable course outline for all subjects, both compulsory and optional, to give you a brief insight into what each subject covers.

Here are some key dates over the coming months:

  • 8th February 2021                                                           Options Fortnight website launched
  • 9th & 10th February 2021 (6:30pm-7:30pm)    Virtual Options Information Evening for Parents and Students
  • 26th February 2021 – 5th March 2021                 Subject talks in lessons
  • 26th February 2021 – 5th March 2021                 Subject presentations for new subjects: Business and Media
  • 10th March 2021                                                                Year 9 Parents’ Evening
  • 19th March 2021                                                                Closing date for options choices

As a school we believe that a broad and rich curriculum in years 7, 8 and 9 should become more personalised in years 10 and 11.  This will provide the best start for the more specialised curriculum in the sixth form.  There are certain caveats to this.  In order to continue the breadth of your education we do insist that at least one humanity subject is studied (History, Geography or Religious Studies) and at least one modern foreign language is taken (Spanish, German or French). There will be an informal audition for GCSE music (just to confirm your playing standard) and some subject choice combinations may require an additional discussion to check that they fit with career aspirations.  Other than that, please be guided by what you have a real curiosity for, what you really enjoy and what will help you to compete for those world class opportunities that you aspire to.  Please make sure that you make use of staff when evaluating your choices.  Your form tutor, learning manager and subject teachers will be happy to answer any questions that you might have.

After the parent’s information evening you will receive a link to the online options selection website.  It is here that you will select your options.  Once all of the choices have been made the school will endeavour to create a timetable that accommodates as many of these combinations as possible. On the rare occasion that a combination cannot be accommodated your learning manager will meet with you and talk through your options.  This will include looking at your reserve subject choice.

A commonly asked question is why are some subjects important to my career choice only available at A level (Sociology, Psychology, Economics and Politics) but not offered as a GCSE and will that restrict my choices later on? The simple answer is that these subjects offer a rich and rewarding experience at A level and that prior study is not necessary to be successful in the subject at that level. It also means that when you choose your A level options you have a wider range of subjects to choose from. The sixth form prospectus includes the specific entry requirements for these subjects. You will participate in various activities in year 10 and year 11 to help you with your choices at A level.

The school will do its utmost to accommodate student choices, however some subjects are limited in the number of students that they can take due to health and safety guidelines, staffing and financial constraints.   In the situation where a subject is oversubscribed any applications for that subject made after the deadline will be discounted, the remaining places will then be allocated through random selection.

It just remains for me to wish you the very best of luck with your choices and I look forward to talking to you over the next few weeks.

Mr Boney