When students reach Year 9, they start a new phase of their education called Key Stage 4. During their three years of Key Stage 4, students are able to study subjects of their choice, alongside the core subjects required by the National Curriculum.
At this stage of their education, our students are growing in independence and are forming ideas about their future career paths. Choosing options gives students the chance to focus on subjects they most enjoy, choose the subjects they feel will most benefit them, and even to try new subjects they haven’t studied before.
At our academy, we ask students to choose five options subjects. They also study the core subjects of English Language and English Literature, Mathematics and Combined Science. At the end of Key Stage 4 (in Year 11), students take their exams in these subjects and earn ten qualifications (as Science is worth two).
The majority of qualifications we offer are GCSEs. However, we do also offer a selection of qualifications which have a stronger vocational focus, such as BTECs.
In addition, all our students take lessons in PE. They will not be examined in PE (unless they choose it as one of their options) but will continue to practice a healthy lifestyle through sports.
How students choose their options
In the spring of Year 8, students and their families are introduced to our options process.
- A special website is created for students and their families with detailed information about each option available. As well as a written summary of each course, many subjects have created videos to give students a flavour of what Key Stage 4 is like. The website is made available to students and their families weeks in advance of the options evening, when they are asked to submit their choices.
- Students are given personalised recommendations and guidance through a part of the options website which will require them to log in with their academy account.
- Students are given special assemblies, taster lessons and support from tutors to ensure they understand the process and the options available.
- Year 8 and their parents/carers are invited to an Options Evening. During this time there are talks to help families understand the process and a chance to talk to subject teachers in detail about the courses they teach. Finally, families are encouraged to move to our computer suites to complete our options form and submit their decisions.
- Before Year 8 students break up for the summer, we write to them to confirm which choices they have been allocated. We strive to give students the choices they have asked for, as long as it is practical to do so (e.g. that enough students have applied to do a course, and that it can be accommodated in the timetable).