KS4 Options

These pages of the website provide a guide to the learning pathways offered at KS4 and the wide variety of subjects that can be studied.

There are 3 learning pathways:

a) The English Baccalaureate (EBacc)

b) The Main Pathway

c) The Technical Pathway

The aim is to provide information and guidance that will enable students to choose the correct learning pathway from the wide selection of subject courses offered that will maximise their potential at Key Stage 4 and Post-16.

It is important that every student follows the most appropriate learning pathway that meets their needs and reflects their prior attainment and progress to date. The learning pathway should provide sufficient pace and challenge to learning and reflect the student’s individual interest, talents and academic ability. The final programme of study chosen needs to be broad, balanced, relevant and enjoyable, whilst also meeting the statutory requirements and school performance measures

Pathway A – The English Baccalaureate (EBacc)

This is the most prestigious learning pathway offered and will lead to the English Baccalaureate qualification. The EBacc provides students with a broad range of academic subjects upon which to build any future career options. It is expected by this Government that all students, at KS4, follow this pathway and it is recognised as a highly prestigious pathway by school Sixth Forms, Colleges, Universities and employers and is ideal preparation for Post-16 study.

To achieve the EBacc, students must gain a GSCE grade 9-5 in six subjects. These subjects must include:

  • Mathematics
  • English Language
  • 2 Sciences (2 from Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Computer Science, Double Science (2 GCSEs))
  • 1 Humanity (1 from History or Geography)
  • 1 MFL (Spanish)

In addition to this suite of academic subjects students will have the freedom to choose two additional subjects to study throughout KS4. These subjects cover a wide range of choice from both academic and vocational options. Students will also have weekly lessons in physical education (PE) that is not examined and a number of curriculum themed days based around religious education, PSHEE and citizenship.

In addition to this suite of academic subjects students will have the freedom to choose two additional subjects to study throughout KS4. These subjects cover a wide range of choice from both academic and vocational options. Students will also have weekly lessons in physical education (PE) that is not examined and a number of curriculum themed days based around religious education, PSHEE and citizenship.

 

Pathway B – The Main Pathway

This is the most diverse learning pathway offered with a full range of GCSE subjects and Technical Awards. This pathway provides students with a broad range of subjects upon which to build any future career options. All students are expected to follow either the Ebacc Pathway or the Main Pathway.

Students on the Main Pathway will study the following six traditional GCSE’s that are all well respected and valued by future employers:-

  • Mathematics
  • English Language and Literature
  • Combined Science (two GCSEs)
  • One subject from Computer Science, Geography or History

In addition to this suite of academic subjects students will have the freedom to choose three additional subjects to study throughout KS4. These subjects cover a wide range of choice from both academic and vocational options. Advice will be given to each student as to the number of technical subjects to study, with each student recommended to study at least one of these and many studying two or three. Students will also have weekly lessons in physical education (PE) that is not examined and a number of curriculum themed days based around religious education, PSHEE and citizenship.

 

Pathway C – The Technical Pathway

This is the most technical pathway offered with a variety of Technical Awards to compliment the compulsory GCSE subjects. This pathway is only available to a small minority of students as identified by the School who will benefit from extra lessons in Mathematics and English.  This pathway provides students with a broad range of vocational subjects which provide clear progression on to Level 3 technical courses or work related vocational apprenticeships.

Students on the Technical Pathway will study the following five traditional GCSE’s that are all well respected and valued by future employers:-

  • Mathematics
  • English Language and Literature
  • Combined Science (two GCSEs)

On this pathway students will receive extra lessons in Mathematics and English to provide maximum opportunity of gaining valuable standard passes (Grade 4) in these key subjects.

In addition to this suite of academic subjects students will have the freedom to choose three additional subjects to study throughout KS4. These subjects cover a wide range of choice from vocational options. Students will also have weekly lessons in physical education (PE) that is not examined and a number of curriculum themed days based around religious education, PSHEE and citizenship.

New Format GCSE courses

Subjects that are being offered are all new format GCSE courses. The GCSE courses are all linear with examinations held at the end of the course. These examinations include extended questions requiring students to write at length in order to gain the highest marks/grades. There is a greater emphasis on problem solving and application of knowledge. Controlled assessments or coursework has been significantly reduced or completely removed, making the new courses more rigorous and more difficult than older specifications.

The new GCSE courses also include the new grade system from 9 (HIGHEST) to 1 (LOWEST) for all GCSE examinations.  The greater differentiation in this grade scheme, means that there is more opportunity for students to work towards the very highest grade of 9, which is only targeted at the top 3% of the students entered nationally for the examination.  The government has made it clear that the Grade 5 is considered a GOOD PASS and the Grade 4 is a STANDARD PASS, all students must aim for this minimum benchmark or higher. In the future School Sixth Forms, Colleges, Universities and employers will be looking for passes at Grade 5 or higher for entry to courses, apprenticeships, employment and training.

The following table indicates the expected equivalence between the old GCSE grades and the new GCSE grades.

New GCSE Grading Structure

 

The examination board has been chosen by each Subject Director to give the students the best possible chance of accessing the highest grades and making good progress. All examination boards used have equal weighting and all provide pathways for further study at Post 16.

Vocational / Technical Courses

The Technical courses are equivalent to, and as challenging as, GCSE courses but the learning is structured slightly differently with an emphasis on portfolio and practical based learning. All Technical courses have some external examination at the end of the course. It is essential to realise that work completed during KS4 will play a crucial part in determining the final grade awarded at the end of each course.  We strongly advise students and parents to study each course detail carefully and note the examination process required. All subject staff can help with your decision making. It is necessary for parents to regularly check that assignments have been completed on time, as failure to comply with the examining board’s regulations will lead to disqualification in the final examination.

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