Guided Options

Making decisions about which subjects students wish to continue studying is an important time in any child's education. We think it is really important that students continue with a broad and balanced education so that they keep their options open for future opportunities in an ever changing world.

We have found that allowing students to make these choices at this time have meant they have been able to continue with their hobbies, sports and extra curricular activities whilst still studying their chosen subjects.  

Several subjects remain compulsory while others are chosen from a system of options. Students will study fewer subjects but in greater depth. Inevitably they will have to decide which subjects they wish to continue and which they will no longer study.  We want to ensure that all students are given the best advice and guidance about the curriculum choices they make.

Final Option Choices

 

The Guided Options Process

 

Subject Pages and Frequently Asked Questions

In the section below you will find further details about the options subjects that we offer. From here you can download the individual subject page that you are interested in, rather than downloading the whole booklet. The FAQs should help to address most of the common questions we get asked, but if you need more information please email subject leaders, who will be more than happy to help you out.

Computing FAQs and Subject Page

To learn more about the course and to download the Computing Subject Page please click here.

 

Will I be coding for 3 years in Computing?

Although coding is on the syllabus you will not be coding for 3 years! You will be taught how to program and how to write and understand pseudocode/flowcharts for writing programs. The actual coding is a very small part of the specification.
 

Will I have to learn lots of theory?

Yes the specification includes a very long list of topics, ranging from networks to converting a denary number into hexadecimal. 
 

How much do I need to know about computing key terms?

We will go over some of the key terms from years 7 and 8 and introduce lots of new terms. We want students who choose this course to really have an interest in learning about the concepts and key terms around all computing areas.

Design Technology FAQs and Subject Page

To learn more about the course and to download the Design Technology Page please click here.

 

Will I be making things in D & T ?

Yes you will but it will be in model form. The exam board expect to see what your intentions are in terms of what you make. They do not expect you to make what you design. Modelling may well take the form of laser-cut prototypes, not necessarily hand –crafted models.

 

Is it a hard course?

Yes and No. It isn’t just about making things in the workshop. You will need to be imaginative, well-motivated and be able to manage your own time well. An interest in the world of design, new innovations and products, as well as environment and sustainability will be an advantage.

 

What sort of things are covered in the syllabus?

Business studies, industrial processes, energy generation, design processes, mechanisms and control, electronics, sustainability and environmental issues, new technologies and materials all feature in the syllabus.

Digital IT (BTEC) FAQs and Subject Page

To learn more about the course and to download the Digital IT Subject Page please click here.

 

Will I be coding in Digital IT?

No, in this course you will learn a mixture of practical IT skills using the Google suite and MS Windows and theory content.
 

How will I know if I would be suitable for this course?

You need to have an interest in the practical aspect of IT (creating spreadsheets, using different software packages etc). You will also need to have an interest in learning about how to design and manage a project and how organisations use digital technologies in all areas, for example data security.
 

Is a BTEC the same as a GCSE?

The BTEC has a different grading system: the highest grade is a Level 2 Distinction*. This is the equivalent of a grade 8.5 at GCSE.

 

Drama FAQs and Subject Page

To learn more about the course and to download the Drama Subject Page please click here.
 

I don’t think I’m very good at acting. Would this stop me from getting a good grade in Drama GCSE?

Everyone can act, it’s just about confidence and developing performance skills. With three years to work on this by year 11 you will have developed your own style and know what plays and characters suit you best

 

I have heard there is a lot of writing.

There is but this is based on all the practical lessons you will have and some of it doesn’t have to be written.  In the devising unit you need to evaluate your work, and this is often in the form of a written diary, BUT you could create a vlog, a blog, or a cartoon strip, or create a voice recording. There is a written exam but the questions are acting or technical questions so your answers will come from studying plays in lessons and also a live play you have watched.

 

Can I do lights, sound, set, costume for the exam instead of acting?

Yes! You can do this twice if you want to, once when devising a play in a group and once when you present a play to an outside examiner. You would still be taking part in all the acting developmental lessons though. 

 

Will I have to perform a monologue for the exam? 

No. We do encourage you to try to perform on your own during the lessons, but exam work can be in groups, in pairs or own your own. 

 

Are the lessons in GCSE Drama like year 8?

Yes and no. You have two lessons a week so you will be expected to go into more depth about whatever topic or play you are looking at.  You will still be working in groups though like in year 8, developing ideas, creating characters, and performing scenes. The main difference is that notes, and ideas will need to be written down during the lessons to help you with your evaluation later.

 

Do I have to be in the school show?

No. But the more experience you have in performing, of different plays, of a variety of acting styles and theatre spaces the better. Also working with students older than you means you gain a lot from their experience.

 

Will there be a lot of extra rehearsals?

Not necessarily. If you use your lessons well, you won’t have to give up much extra time. Students do choose to have rehearsals at lunchtime and after school as they then have the whole studio to themselves and can organise their set and lights. 

Fine Art

To learn more about the course and to download the Fine Art Subject Page please click here.

 

Is it important to be good at drawing in Fine Art?

Drawing lies at the heart of what we do in Art. If you aren’t at the level you would like to be don’t worry. The most important thing is to be willing to put the time in to develop your skills. 
 

Do I have to do a lot of writing?

You will do writing though-out the course. You will analyse artist work, write down ideas and plans for your own work and evaluate what you have done. The most important thing is to do it as you go along and develop good habits.
 

Will I be able to make any art I like?

In the first year of the course we follow the same projects as each other with an emphasis on developing different skills, in drawing, printmaking, painting and 3-D work. Later on in the course you take charge of your projects taking them in the directions that you want to, in conjunction with the guidance of your teacher.

 

Food Preparation & Nutrition FAQs and Subject Page

To learn more about the course and to download the Food Preparation & Nutrition Subject Page please click here.
 

How much cooking do you do as part of the GCSE?

During Year 9 practical work is around 40-50% of any lesson time, but unlike Year 7 & 8 practical lesson, in the GCSE years we have two hour lessons so a lot of our practical work is done alongside our theory work to support better learning.  

In Year 10 practical work makes up about 25-40% of our lesson time and in Year 11 practical work is less than 10% of any lesson time you have in Food Preparation and Nutrition. 
 

What sort of theory do we learn?

Food Preparation and Nutrition has a wide and varied curriculum that covers a huge range of topics.  In Year 9 the bulk of the learning is based around ten topics:

  • Nutrient and food groups

  • Energy balance, Kcal’s and RDA’s

  • Dietary related health conditions 

  • The digestive system

  • Age and lifestyle 

  • Ingredient function in cooking process

  • Food production, farming, packaging and labelling

  • The effect of food production on the environment and plastic pollution 

  • Bacteria, moulds, fungus and food spoilage

  • Food and culture  
     

What sort of things do we cook?

It is important that we quickly develop good fundamental food preparation, cooking and presentation skills in Year 9.  The practical work we do helps to support the theoretical learning, because of this our practical work is flexible.  We aim to cook modern, healthy and seasonal food that inspires students to come out of their comfort zone and expand their culinary horizons.  

Geography FAQs and Subject Page

To learn more about the course and to download the Geography Subject Page please click here.
 

Do you have to know where places are in the world?

Although it’s not essential it does help. We will be learning this as we go along but as a starting point you need to be able to locate the seven different continents. This could be something you learn in preparation for starting the course.
 

Do you need to be good at Maths?

Obviously, it helps, but we will teach the Maths as we go along. You need to have a basic understanding to be able to access some of the questions.
 

Do you need to know how to read a map?

You may remember this from KS3 but don’t worry if you have forgotten, we will go over this in the first few weeks of the course.
 

Do you go on lots of fieldtrips?

During the three-year course we go on at least two fieldtrips. Our main trip is a trip to Bristol to look at how Cabot Circus has increased the economy of Bristol. However, we will aim to teach you outside the classroom at every opportunity. 
 

Are there long questions in the exam?

There are some parts of the exams that require a longer written answer up to 9 marks. We will have lots of practice to get you ready for these types of questions. So, don’t worry.
 

Should I take GCSE Geography?

You should take GCSE Geography if you have enjoyed your lessons during KS3. You should be prepared to work hard and apply maximum effort to each lesson. If you think both of these apply to you, you should consider taking GCSE Geography.

Graphic Design FAQs and Subject Page

To learn more about the course and to download the Graphic Design Subject Page please click here.

 

Is it important to be good at drawing in Graphic Design?

The way we record ideas in Graphic Design is different to Fine Art and Photography. Although it’s not essential to be really good at drawing we do still have to draw in Graphic Design in order to record our ideas. Even though computers are amazing it is still quicker to use paper and pencil to get initial ideas down! When we do use traditional drawing techniques we often scan these images into the computer to manipulate them further or simply record them so we can add them to powerpoint presentations to log our process. 
 

Do you have to be really good on computers?

Computers are an essential tool for Graphic Designers. Obviously it helps to be familiar with computers but we will teach you all you need to know about using the software, so don’t worry if you lack a bit of confidence. What is important is a basic understanding of organising files and folders so that you do not lose important work. We will combine  traditional 
 

What apps do you use in Graphic Design? Do I have to buy this software?

We use Photoshop and Illustrator mainly, which are part of the Adobe Creative Suite. The Adobe Suite is the industry standard for Photographers, Designers and digital artists. We can provide details of how to purchase these at a heavily discounted rate. Whilst it is not essential to purchase these it is hugely beneficial to be able to continue working on artwork and designs from home. 

History FAQs and Subject Page

To learn more about the course and to download the History Subject Page please click here.

 

Why is History a useful qualification?

The study of History can lead to varied career opportunities other than just becoming an Historian! Some of these options could include:

¨ Administration and commerce: project management, human resources and industrial relations.

¨ Communication industries: journalism, marketing, publishing, writing and editing

¨ Education: research, archaeology and teaching

¨ Government: politics, public services, policy development and politicians

¨ Law: Criminology, solicitor, crime detection and policing

¨ Media: television, marketing, investigative reporter and public relations

¨ Creative: artist, actor, playwright, designer, architect and author

 

What History will I study?

Students will study the AQA GCSE HISTORY COURSE

Paper One EXAM— Period and Wider World Study

This includes the study of America, 1920–1973: Opportunity and inequality and bot the Korean and Vietnam war. 

 Paper Two EXAM—Thematic and British Depth Study

Students will study a unit called Britain Health and the Nation 1000-today and Elizabethan England 1568-1603

 

Do you have to write a lot in History?

GCSE history requires you to complete two exam papers which both have a mixture of short and long response questions. 

 

Will we go on trips?

Each year the exam board will nominate a site study and we do try to accommodate this in our planning but naturally this can only happen if the situation is possible. In normal circumstances we tend to offer a variety of opportunities from overnight trips to London to local theatre trips.

 

Do you need to remember lots of dates?

History does require you to study a variety of key dates, events and people. However, greater credit is given to those students who can explain those issues rather than remembering the exact dates that they occurred. 

 

How many exams do you do?

You complete two examinations both worth 50% and are 2 hours long. 

Travel & Tourism (BTEC) FAQs and Subject Page

To learn more about the course and to download the Travel & Tourism Subject Page please click here.
 

Do you have to know where places are in the world?

Although it’s not essential it does help. We will be learning this as we go along but as a starting point you need to be able to locate the seven different continents. This could be something you learn in preparation for starting the course.

 

Do you need to be well travelled?

No, we will be learning about the business side of tourism as well as the different tourist resorts.

 

Do you need to know how to read a map?

No. You do not require any 

 

Do you go on lots of fieldtrips?

During the three-year course we go on many fieldtrips. Many will take place for just a few hours but others may take a whole day. 

We may also decide to do these virtually as well.

 

Are there long questions in the exam?

In component two we have one exam. There are some parts of the exam that require a longer written answer up to 9 marks. We will have lots of practice to get you ready for these types of questions. So, don’t worry.

 

Should I take BTEC Tech Award Travel and Tourism?

You should take Travel and Tourism if you have enjoyed you have a real desire to understand the tourism industry in more detail. Furthermore, you may want to have a job in the future in part of the Tourism sector.

Maths Free Standing Maths Qualification (FSMQ) & Statistics FAQs and Subject Page

To learn more about the courses and to download the FSMQ Subject Page please click here.

 

Why Study FSMQ?

This qualification provides candidates with an introduction to the mathematics studied in AS and A Level GCE modules. It is designed as an enrichment programme for those students who have a thorough knowledge of the content of the Higher Tier of the National Curriculum for Mathematics. They should be expected to achieve a grade 7, 8 or 9 on the GCSE (9-1).

 

Do you have to be really good at Mathematics to study FSMQ?

Due to the content students wishing to study towards the FSMQ would ideally be in a top set already and expected to achieve a grade 7, 8 or 9 in their GCSE Mathematics.

 

What are the additional benefits of studying the FSMQ?

The FSMQ gives students with a real interest and passion in Mathematics an opportunity to study mathematical content which goes above the content of the regular GCSE in a space with likeminded students.  

 

How is the FSMQ assessed?

FSMQ is fully assed by examination and consists of 2 hour and half papers, there is no course work.

 

Why study GCSE Statistics?

Statistics is about making decisions when there is uncertainty. Perhaps one of the most versatile areas of maths, it gives students the skills to collect, analyse, interpret and present data.  GCSE Statistics involves a lot of probability and interpreting data, taking the skills developed in GCSE Mathematics further and providing a deeper understanding around this area of Mathematics.  This qualification develops skills that students will use in other subjects such as science and geography, as well as supporting progression to A level subjects such as Maths, Science, Computing and Social Sciences. Real-life scenarios will capture their interest and give them an insight into the importance of statistics in the real world.
 

Do you have to be really good at Mathematics to study GCSE Statistics?

No, GCSE Statistics like Mathematics is examined at both Foundation and Higher.  As a result GCSE Statistics is suitable for all students and for those students currently in top sets we would recommend the FSMQ and GCSE Statistics. 
 

What are the additional benefits of studying GCSE Statistics?

GCSE Statistics overlaps a significant part of the Statistics content within the GCSE Mathematics.  Choosing GCSEStatistics will inevitably support students with their general Mathematics.

 

How is GCSE Statistics assessed?

GCSE Statistics is fully assed by examination and consists of 2 hour and half papers, there is no course work.

Music

To learn more about the course and to download the Music Subject Page please click here.

 

Do I have to have grades on an instrument to ‘get on’ the course?

No, you do not have to have taken instrumental or vocal exams outside of lessons to do GCSE music and there is no entry requirement. While there are students who do exams and this is excellent preparation,  many students learn to a high standard on the GCSE who are self-taught on their instrument.  

Can I do the course as a singer?

Yes and singers often do very well at the GCSE.  You would need to develop your ability to play chords on the piano or guitar to help you write songs and this would be done in lesson. 
 

Do I have to have instrumental lessons outside of lesson time?

No, many students now use online resources to learn how to play music.  Instrumental lessons are of course beneficial but not essential to being successful at GCSE Music. 

 

What kinds of things do we do on the GCSE Music course? 

It’s very practical.  You develop your ability to play and compose music both individually and as part of a group.  We learn how to listen to and analyse music across a range of interesting styles and you will also become very good at using computers to make music (as well as on your instrument) 

Modern Foreign Languages FAQS and Subject Page

To learn more about the courses and to download the MFL Subject Pages please click here.

Do you need to have an ‘aptitude’ for languages in order to be able to cope with studying a language at GCSE?

Learning a foreign language is easily done by anybody who really wants to do it. So, do not worry if you do not have an “aptitude” for learning a foreign language. Desire is all you need along with the learning tools.

 

In what way does have a GCSE in a foreign language help you get a job?

Students with a GCSE in a language say:

“A language is a USP (unique selling point).”

“Being successful at another language shows good communication skills and shows employers you are willing to learn new skills and welcome a challenge.”

“A language allows entry to the European marketplace, and since BREXIT, this is more important than ever.”  

“A language gives you a competitive edge over an opponent.”

“It’s an unusual qualification that employers respect.”

Employers say they value the key skills developed by language learners – these include: communication skills, team working skills, interpersonal skills, presentation skills, problem solving skills, organisational skills, good learning strategies… 

 

Why do you need to learn a foreign language?

Because 75% of the world population cannot speak English.

Because 2 of the most wide-spread languages are French and Spanish.

Because if you want to travel, language skills are useful.

Because languages are highly valued for work.

Because when you can speak at least 2 languages, you can earn up to 20% more money than someone who just speaks one language!

Some courses offer the opportunity to study abroad.

University College London, amongst others, has made a language GCSE a requirement for admission to all its courses and others are expected to do the same.

The top employers have also said:

‘Business is global today.’

‘English is important but not enough.’

 

Is Business the main job sector in which a foreign language would be useful?

Business is not the only area of employment where language competencies are needed. 

Multiple government agencies, the travel industry, engineering, communications, the field of education, international law, economics, public policy, publishing, advertising, entertainment, scientific research, and a broad array of service sectors all have needs for people with foreign language skills.

 

What are the general benefits of learning a foreign language?

People who have learned foreign languages show greater cognitive development in areas such as mental flexibility, creativity, and higher order thinking skills, such as problem-solving, conceptualizing, and reasoning.

Research shows that knowledge of other languages boosts students' understanding of languages in general and enables students to use their native language more effectively. Foreign language learners have stronger vocabulary skills in English, a better understanding of the language, and improved literacy in general.

Language learners learn to deal with unfamiliar cultural ideas, they are much better equipped to adapt and cope in a fast-changing world.

 

Photography FAQs and Subject Page

To learn more about the course and to download the Photography Subject Page please click here.

 

Do I need to have a camera to take photography?

Although it’s not essential to have your own camera, we do recommend that you have your own DSLR camera, we recommend that you buy one second hand to get better value for money.

 

Do you have to be really good on computers?

Obviously it helps, but we will teach you all you need to know about using the software, so don’t worry if you are not as confident on computers. What is important is a basic understanding of organising files and folders so that you do not lose important work. 

 

What programs do you use in Photography?

We use Photoshop which is part of the Adobe Creative Suite. The Adobe Suite is the industry standard for Photographers, Designers and digital artists. We can provide details of how to purchase these at a heavily discounted rate. Alternatively there are excellent free alternatives that we will introduce to you too.

Physical Education FAQs and Subject Page

To learn more about the course and to download the Physical Education Subject Page please click here.
 

Do you have to be ‘good’ at sport or in a top set PE group in order to choose GCSE PE?

You certainly don’t have to be in a top PE group or at a certain sporting level to choose this subject. However, please bear in mind that 30% of the final grade is assessed in three different sports (one individual sport, one team game and one free choice). Therefore at the very least you need to love playing or watching all sports. It would also be a huge advantage if you played sport on a regular basis outside of school (part of a team or club) or if you exercise regularly.
 

Is GCSE PE an easy option? 

No. If you love sport and have a genuine passion to learn more about how your body works and how to train it in order to improve your fitness then you should be ok. There is a lot to memorise and a large part of the course is human anatomy and physiology which many find challenging however if you put the effort in and always make links to sport then it does become easier.
 

Can I be assessed in sports which I play outside of school?

Yes you can, there are many sports that the exam board will allow you to be assessed in. For sports that we cannot assess in school (horse riding, skiing etc) then you will need to provide video evidence. You may also submit video evidence for sports that we offer within school (Netball, Rugby etc) which will help us more accurately assess the standard at which you are playing.

Vocational Engineering FAQs and Subject Page

To learn more about the course and to download the Vocational Engineering Subject Page please click here.
 

What will the practical element be?

There will be practical tasks where you are trained to use the various engineering machine tools and hand tools safely and skillfully so that you can work independently to make a finished engineered product in the Unit 2 exam. A range of materials may be used including steel, aluminium and plastics.

 

Do I need to be good at drawing?

There will be a large element of producing engineering design ideas and technical drawing. Whilst this is not the same as being an artist, being able to work neatly and accurately with pencils and drawing equipment will be an advantage. You will be asked to produce designs for a re-engineered product – this involve sketching in 3D.

 

Is it important to have an interest in Engineering to do the course?

It is a great advantage to enjoy all things related to engineering and to be inquisitive about how things are made. During the course we will look at many areas of manufacturing such as car and aircraft production, new materials and technologies, structures. We also investigate how household and sporting items are made, such as kitchen appliances, drones, golf clubs etc etc. There are many great TV documentaries now which focus on engineering and these can really help with developing and understanding about Engineers, materials and manufacturing processes.

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