Our three-year Key Stage 4 programme, from Year 9 through to Year 11, gives us plenty of time to prepare students so that they can achieve optimal performance. All the courses on offer to students this year are fully described in our GCSE Options Booklet. The booklet is an e-book for easier online browsing, please click here if you would like to view the pdf version which is easier to print and download to most devices.
An initial poll was held during tutor time for all students to indicate initial preferences after having the opportunity to read the GCSE Options Booklet. This enabled us to create option blocks which we hope will allow all students to choose the options that they wish to select. However, due to lack of interest in a very small number of initial choices, some subjects do not feature in the blocks. We will aim to give students their four selected options where a course has sufficient demand to run. In the unfortunate circumstance that a course does not run or the combination they select cannot be timetabled, a selection will be made from their 1st and 2nd reserve choices. Students will also have ample time to discuss the courses with their current teachers during lessons and at the GCSE Options Fair for both students and parents on Tuesday 21st March.
As you may be aware, new GCSE schemes of work have been introduced nationally and your child will be following these new courses. For many subjects, there is no great change to the content taught in the past, but the GCSE Options Booklet contains full details. The new qualifications will use new grade schemes, from 9 (the top grade) to 1 (the lowest).
Despite the changes to the GCSE schemes of work, much remains the same. All students continue to study English and Maths, leading to examinations in English Language, English Literature and Maths. They continue to study Science, leading either to three separate GCSEs in Biology, Chemistry and Physics or two combined GCSEs, Core and Additional Science. No decision needs to be taken in Science until much later in the course and students are able to progress to studying Science A-Levels from both course options. Students also continue to have two lessons of PE each week.
We recommend that students continue to study a balanced academic curriculum in Key Stage 4. It is difficult for students aged just 12 or 13 to know what they might want to do in the future and we want to ensure that they are well placed to choose from a wide range of options, not only at A level but also when looking at the vast range of courses available in Higher Education, including applying to top universities. We want to ensure that our students “keep doors open” to make further choices in the future. Traditionally the majority of our students have chosen to study both a language and at least one humanities subject at GCSE and we continue to recommend this; together with their core subject, this means that students study combination of subjects known as the English Baccalaureate (EBacc). Even if they feel that the EBacc is not for them, we strongly encourage students to take at least one GCSE from amongst the following list: Computer Science, Geography, History, French, Spanish and German. In their remaining choices, students can consider subjects from a wide range within Creative Arts, Humanities, IT, Technology, PE and, of course, more from the list above. Most courses are GCCEs but we also offer a small number of vocational courses (a GCSE equivalent). These add breadth and depth to the diversity of our Key Stage 4 curriculum. Again, to ensure that students study a balanced curriculum, they should not choose two subjects that are very similar (e.g. they cannot choose PE and Sport) and are limited to one non-GCSE subject amongst their choices. Once students have made their choices, we work hard to try to accommodate these within our timetable, but it is not always possible to give every student their first choice of subjects. If not enough students choose a course, we cannot run it; in some subjects, such as Technology, we cannot run groups above a certain size. We ask all students to include some alternatives on their form, in case this is necessary, and in that event we would get in touch with you to discuss the best next steps.
I hope you find this information useful and enjoy working through the process with your child. There will be many opportunities to discuss matters at each stage, but should you have any problems, good contacts to choose from are: your child’s tutor; the Key Stage 3 Manager, Miss Jones; the Deputy Head Teacher Mr Nevola, or myself.
The Options form must be handed in no later than Wednesday 5th April in order for us to ensure that our staffing and timetable is in place for the start of the courses. In the meantime, I look forward to the next exciting stage of your child’s education with us at Perins.
Mr S Jones