Year 9 Options: Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

How many GCSEs should I take?

There is no set number.  The Government has several performance measures for schools, one of which measures the best eight of each student’s grades, so clearly this is a number below which a student should not fall. In addition to this, at Heart of England we believe that students should leave open as many future options as possible, therefore students will achieve 10 GCSEs in total by the end of Year 11. This number is on a par with local schools.

Do I need the English Baccalaureate?

The English Baccalaureate (EBacc) is a performance measure for schools, not a qualification and you will not receive a certificate for it.  The EBacc includes subjects highly valued by many top universities but is not currently required for entry to any Russell Group university.  The English Baccalaureate subjects will not necessarily be of interest to all. Pupils should make the best choice for them; one that allows them to achieve and progress, recognising the importance and value of achievement in these core areas, but also studying and achieving in other areas where they have an aptitude and interest.

The EBacc is much debated in education.  Some feel that this portfolio of subjects provides a foundation of solid, academic study on which to build broader learning and it is elitist to deprive all students of the opportunity to study them.  Elsewhere, these subjects have been described as elitist, or non-creative, or boringThe main criticism of the measure is that there is scant evidence to support the claim that they actually do ‘facilitate’ entry to Russell Group universities.

The reality is that, at present, no-one can prove one way or the other that studying the subjects that make up the EBacc has a definite positive impact on students’ futures.  It could be argued that if the EBacc has future-creating properties, then we are disempowering our students by allowing them to drop all of these subjects, in a way which could prove detrimental in the future.  Entering a competitive world post-school without any of these perceived academically advantageous subjects due to a decision at age 14 could prove limiting. In short, by requiring students to do one of the subjects that make up the EBacc, we are not limiting their choice but rather preventing them from limiting their choices in the following years.

Does it matter if I don’t know what I want to do for a career?

Not at all!  You do not have to choose subjects with a career in mind, but do select carefully so that you do not restrict your career options. The more a career choice is delayed the better – there is more chance to change your mind.

Will I Sit GCSE Exams?

We hope so!  You will study GCSEs which will be awarded a 1 – 9 grade (with 9 being the highest) rather than A – F. The GCSEs are designed to be linear, with external exams at the end rather than internally assessed coursework, although practical subjects have retained some controlled assessment which is done during the course and counts towards your grade. You need to read each subject description thoroughly to see exactly what the assessment arrangements are.  All of the qualifications that you will choose have some externally examined element and exams will be at the end.  There will be no resit opportunities; you need to make sure you get it right first time around! The 2020 and 2021 exam series have been changed due to the Coronavirus pandemic but we hope that by the summer of 2023 (when you sit your exams) everything will be back to normal.

Will I definitely get to study the subjects I choose?

Whilst every effort is made to give students their first choice, courses may be oversubscribed or there may be insufficient numbers for a course to be viable.  In this eventuality, all students’ choices will be considered carefully.  It is therefore extremely important that students also think very carefully about what they would choose if one of their options did not run.

We aim to enable students to study at least two of their chosen subjects, and selection criteria for oversubscribed courses will take this principle into account.

In most cases students will be able to study their preferred subjects.  Occasionally, students may be asked to choose again if:

  1. there are insufficient student numbers to make a course viable
  2. the options chosen do not fit with the timetable structure that is arrived at
  3. the subject has too many students opting for it
  4. it is recommended that students follow a special course of study

How Many Hours is Each Subject Taught For?

Each option subject is studied for 5 hours so each week consists of 20 hours of options subjects.

What Do I Do When I’ve Chosen?

When you and your parents/carers have agreed on your selection of subjects, please complete the KS4 options online form by downloading it submit it to us.

Wednesday 17 March 2021