Choosing Your Courses

Choosing subjects and qualifications to study in years 9, 10 and 11 can seem daunting.  Don’t panic!  There is a lot of information and advice to help you choose what is right for you.

We believe that breadth of study remains important to all of our students, whilst also allowing the freedom to specialise as appropriate.  Hence, we guide all students to choose one subject from geography, history, French, German and Spanish.  There are then a further 3 free choices to be made.

If you are capable of achieving the English Baccalaureate, we strongly recommend that you take the options subjects to enable you to achieve this award.

The English Baccalaureate

The English Baccalaureate will be awarded to pupils attaining A*-C GCSE passes in maths, English, two science qualifications, a language, and geography or history.  If you would like to achieve the English Baccalaureate, please ensure you have chosen a language and either history or geography.

What sort of person are you?

To help you decide what to study in years 9, 10 and 11, start by asking yourself what you enjoy doing and what you are good at.

Think about:

  • What you are interested in: it could be other cultures and languages, writing projects, helping people, being outdoors or designing things
  • What types of activity you enjoy most - working things out and thinking them through, practical activities or artistic options like painting, drawing or performing music
  • What you are like at home, as well as in school - what skills have you developed following outside interests?

Know yourself

Work your way through Fast Tomato which you will have started in your IT lessons.

Good information is the key to making successful choices.  Make sure that you allow yourself enough time to research your career ideas, option choices and possible progression routes.

When selecting your courses you should consider a number of questions:

What do I want to do when I finish the course in 2020/2021?

Do you know what you want to do after you leave school? Maybe you already have some ideas – or maybe not.

Do you want to:

  • stay on at sixth form?
  • go to college?
  • get an apprenticeship?
  • go to university to study a specific subject?
  • get earning money as soon as possible?
  • not have to think about any of this at the moment.

These could all influence which options you choose now.

If you would like to go to university, we strongly recommend that you choose subjects that enable you to achieve the English Baccalaureate. 

What package of qualifications do I need to get there?

For an explanation about each type of qualification please see "Explanation of Qualifications".

If you have got a career in mind, there may be some choices that are especially useful.  If you know what you want to do later in life, such as become a doctor, air cabin crew or zoologist, you should find out what qualification you need to get there.  For more information about what qualifications you may need for any job you may be interested in, visit the job profile section at http://nationalcareersservice.direct.gov.uk/job-profiles/home

Subjects that enable you to complete the English Baccalaureate are strongly recommended.

To be able to take some courses at A level/level 3, you may need to have specific option choices.  These subjects include: dance, languages, media, photography and theatre studies.

What could this package of qualifications lead to?

When researching your options do keep in mind what progression routes your option choices could lead to.  BTEC courses will only be able to count as one GCSE equivalent when applying for sixth forms.

Many universities will required the English Baccalaureate.

Will it help me in my future career?

A good deal of information, advice and guidance will be available before the final decision about course choices is reached.  Students should be prepared to seek individual advice from appropriate staff (form tutors, subject staff, careers staff and head of house) as well as visiting the careers library and using Fast Tomato to explore career routes and subject combinations.  It is hoped considerable discussion, both at school and at home, will lead to the most appropriate choices being made.

What is my learning style?

For some subjects there may be a choice of courses which are taught and assessed in different ways.  This is to accommodate the varying learning styles.  Match your learning style to the courses that are delivered in the most suitable way for you.

What are the right options for me?

It is important to choose options that interest and motivate you.

  • What interests you?
  • What makes you work hard? 

Do I like the subject?

The most important thing is that you choose courses that you think you will enjoy.  Be careful that you do not choose a subject because your friends are going to do it or because you like the teacher taking you this year (you are likely to get a different teacher next year).

Am I fairly good at it?

Obviously, choosing a subject in which you can be successful will increase personal satisfaction and levels of motivation.

Will my course choices keep my future options open?

Your most important subjects are protected in the Core – everybody has to follow them.  After them, the choice is about doing something you like and something that you will do well in.  You do not have to do a bit of everything.  However, you must bear in mind to be able to take some courses at A level/level 3 you may need to have specific option choices as mentioned previously.  BTEC courses will only be able to count as one GCSE equivalent when applying for sixth forms.

Do I know what the course will involve?

Students should actively seek further information, advice and guidance from their subject teachers.  All subjects will be providing information over the next few weeks, including those that you have not studied before.

Need to talk to someone?

Please discuss your options with your tutor in the first instance.  Students may contact our careers advisor for information and advice.

Help for parents and carers

As a parent or carer, are you keen to help your child make decisions about their future – without limiting their options?  If you need to find out more, then we would suggest the following sites:

www.direct.gov.uk/en/EducationAndLearning/index.htm 
This is the government’s site for all education and learning.  There are many links to find out more about the courses, levels and developments.

(https://nationalcareersservice.direct.gov.uk)
The National Careers Service has advisers there to offer careers information.  It also has a very useful job profiles section explaining what qualifications are required for each career.

Snapshot Information

  • If you choose Core Support, it must be with the agreement, or the advice of Mrs Mellor or Mrs Cave (SENCOs.)
  • Where more than one course is offered within a subject (e.g. business, art, DT, music), departments will help to guide students so that they choose the course most appropriate to them.
  • Students currently studying two languages are expected to continue with at least one of the languages as one of their option choices.