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Students are able to take up to nine GCSE subjects, alongside additional qualifications in ICT, P.E. and Religion.  This will not disadvantage any student; even the top universities are looking for quality rather than quantity.  However, the option of taking another subject in Twilight time enables those students who wish to broaden their choices or take a greater number of GCSEs to do so.   

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Curriculum: Key Stage 4

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Choosing your Curriculum Pathway

There are three types of Curriculum Pathway you can choose to study next year:

The English Baccalaureate

The Exmouth Baccalaureate

The Discovery Baccalaureate

Whichever pathway you select, you will take GCSE courses in:

 English Language

 English Literature

 Mathematics

 Science – either double or triple award.

In addition, students on all pathways will take religion, philosophy & ethics – short course GCSE unless it is selected in the open options – as well as PE and personal development.

All students will choose an additional three subjects from the options subjects, with the opportunity of a fourth choice in twilight time, after 3pm, for students who are keen to widen their choices and who we feel would cope with the additional workload.

Which Pathway should you choose?

English Baccalaureate

This pathway is open to all students. It will give you the opportunity to take Triple Award Science or Double Award Science, alongside a foreign language, geography or history and one or two other subjects from the full range on offer. This enables you to have a broad and balanced curriculum and still have the opportunity to specialise in some particular strengths or interests. Whilst the final decision lies with students and their parents, we would strongly recommend the English Baccalaureate route for high achieving students who might want to apply for places at Russell Group Universities in the future.

Exmouth Baccalaureate

If you do not wish to take geography or history, alongside a foreign language, you will not qualify for the English Baccalaureate and so we call this pathway the Exmouth Baccalaureate. On this pathway, you will only have to choose one subject from: computer science, French, geography, history and Spanish and your other 2 or 3 choices can be selected from the full range on offer. It still offers the opportunity to take a wide range of subjects at GCSE and, with good grades, continue on to A levels or other level 3 courses in Post 16. It also offers the opportunity, in some subjects, to study on BTEC courses or study for Vocational Certificates (V Certs), if these styles of course suit the learner better than GCSE.       


Discovery Baccalaureate

Students who have been part of the Discovery Programme in Key Stage 3 should consider this pathway, as we recommend opting for history, taught in the same style as their Discovery lessons. This will aid the development of literacy and many other skills which will help students to access their other courses. The Discovery Baccalaureate would typically be composed of Vocational Certificates (V Certs) alongside the history but students on this pathway will have the flexibility to choose a BTEC or GCSE in a subject of particular strength or interest.

Please take a look at the diagram below which summarises your pathways and choices

College staff will be able to explain these pathways to you and clarify anything you are uncertain about at your child’s coursing interview.

Twilight Options

Taking a fourth subject in Twilight

Some students may have strong reasons for wanting to take a fourth option.  To enable this to happen, we include a twilight option which takes place after 3:00pm, across two days in the week, typically Tuesdays and Thursdays.  To match daytime options, each subject is studied for three hours per week.  For Religion, Philosophy and Ethics the three hours will be composed of two twilight hours and one daytime core Religion lesson.

Twilight lessons are entirely optional and do not suit all students.  Before choosing a fourth option, students need to consider carefully what other commitments they have after College as, once chosen, attendance will be compulsory.  Students also need to think about how they will manage the extra workload of three extra hours of lessons as well as additional homework and reflect on their personal organisation.  The College reserves the right to decline requests to take a twilight option in cases where a student has not shown: a good attendance record   a good homework record

Only ONE subject may be selected




Religion, Philosophy & Ethics


By selecting one of the subjects above as a twilight option, students may find that they have extra flexibility to take three other subjects of their choice during normal College hours.

All twilight offers are subject to sufficient numbers of students opting.  Any of the subjects listed above may be chosen during the normal college day and do not have to be selected in twilight time.

Introduction to Options

One of the most critical phases in a young person’s development is between the ages of 14 and 19 years.  It is the period where they build on their earlier learning and prepare for adult life and employment.  The world has changed greatly in recent years and schools have needed to change as well.  It is now very unlikely that a young person, in today’s job market, will remain in the same job for life.  Students need to be adaptable, reflective and able to work well independently as well as working well as part of a team.  Securing a job is highly competitive for young people and good qualifications in the core subjects are vital.

If you know students who have been through our options process before, you may notice some changes to the offer for you.  Evaluation  of how recent Key Stage 4 students have managed their courses, alongside new legislation and guidance from the Government, have led us to adapt our curriculum offer in Years 10 and 11 in the following ways:

Additional time has been given to the study of English, mathematics and science.  

All students will take English Literature as well as English Language qualifications.

Additional time has been given to the study of each selected option subject.

It will be a requirement, unless there are clear reasons for not doing so, to select at least one of the options from the group of English Baccalaureate (EBacc) subjects, namely: computer science, French, geography, history or Spanish. For many students, the best option will be to select the combination of subjects which leads to the EBacc – detailed later in the booklet.

There is a twilight provision to enable stretch and challenge across a broader range of subjects for those with the ability and organisational skills to cope with extra lessons after 3:00pm.  These remain entirely optional.

The growing importance of securing a GCSE grade 4 (grade C on the old system) or above in English and mathematics is clear.  Failure to do so can be a barrier for entry onto many courses or careers after College.  It is now compulsory for all students without these qualifications to continue to study English and/or mathematics, for as long as they are in education.  Reducing the number of options available has enabled us to allocate more time to these subjects, as well as increasing the time spent on their options, in order to give students the best possible chance of achieving good grades.

Without twilight subjects, students are still able to take GCSEs in up to 9 subjects, alongside an additional qualification in religion.  This will not disadvantage any student; even the top universities are looking for quality rather than quantity.  However, the option of taking another subject in twilight time enables those students who wish to broaden their choices or take a greater number of GCSEs to do so.

The Key Stage 4 Curriculum Structure

The Curriculum is in two parts delivered over a 26 period week.


All students must take these subjects

English (Language and Literature) [4 periods a week]

Mathematics [4 periods a week]

Science – Double or Triple Award [6 periods a week]

Core Physical Education [1 period a week]

Core Religion, Philosophy & Ethics [1 period a week]

Personal Development including Citizenship, sex and careers education [1 period a week]  


Each option subject is studied for 3 periods a week. Students may opt for one of the following pathways

English Baccalaureate

Geography or History /French or Spanish and one other free choice

Exmouth Baccalaureate

Either Computer Science, French, Geography, History or Spanish plus two other free choices

Discovery Baccalaureate

Three choices including Discovery History, V Certs and an opportunity to mix with another BTEC or GCSE subject.


A further choice from:  Computer science, French, History, Religion, Philosophy & Ethics or Spanish can be taken in an additional three hours after college.

Key Stage 4 Course Details

Click on subject for details

Compulsory Subjects

Science (Triple)


Science (Double)

5 periods a week


4 Periods a week

Mathematics (GCSE)

4 Periods a week


Mathematics 2

1 period a week each of



(GCSE /Level 2)

Students choose 3 subjects from the list below


Business Studies

Computer Science

Craft V Cert.


Design Technology

Discovery History



Food & Nutrition


Graphical Communication

Health & Fitness

Health & Social Care




Media Studies

Music BTEC

Music GCSE


Sport BTEC

Sport / P.E.  GCSE

Religion, Philosophy & Ethics


Read Notes about Science and which exam you may take

Making Your Choices

If you require forms for options they are in your Options Booklet or go to Year 9 Office

There is a great deal to think about when deciding which subjects to take:

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

What subjects interest you most?

How are the different subjects’ type of assessment and style of learning likely to match your strengths?  

Would you cope well with more or less coursework?

What sort of career or Further Education plans do you have?



A question of balance...

You will follow a course including GCSEs or their equivalent in English Language, English Literature, mathematics and science.  There are also compulsory programmes in physical education, personal development, and religion, philosophy & ethics.  To complete your course of study you will need to choose at least 3 other subjects.  These are summarised on the forms at the back of the booklet.  Details of each course can be found in the coloured sections of this booklet.

Your choice depends very much on your individual skills and strengths, hopes and plans.  However, you should think very carefully about keeping a balance of subjects to ensure that you have a wide range of skills and experiences: this is especially important if you are not sure at this stage what you want to do after Year 11.

Please Remember:

Make any choice sensibly and carefully, based on information and not just on ‘likes and dislikes’

Discuss your choice with several people, but make your own decision

Think about yourself as a student

Have good reasons for your choice of subject

The Process

As a College, we will do everything possible to support and guide your child through this important process so that their study programme is both balanced and meets their needs.

The curriculum will be explained to students through our PD programme, there has been a Subject Parents' Evening [Wednesday 6th December] and there will be an Options Evening on Wednesday 7th February where a range of staff will be on hand to answer queries.  The students will also have 1:1 interviews with their tutors or another senior member of staff, to which you as parents are warmly invited. These take place after the Options Evening, immediately after the February Half-Term break.

At the back of this booklet you will find an Individual Learning Plan which you may want to take some time filling in with your child; it will help them think about not just their choices at GCSE but also which direction they will take later in their lives. This plan will help to inform their 1:1 interview.

Our expectations for students are very high in Key Stage 4 both in terms of extra maturity and in their attitude to their own learning and study.  We take a very dim view of students who, through their own poor behaviour, prevent others from reaching their potential.  We do aim to contact parents as early as possible if students are struggling, either in their studies or, in terms of their behaviour.  If, as a parent, you have any concerns please do not hesitate to get in touch with the Key Stage 4 office.

Changing options is very difficult because of the disruption that it causes due to the large amount of work that has been missed and the possibility that classes are full.

You will receive confirmation of which option subjects students have been allocated around May half term. If a student wishes to make a change after that point, they have until the end of the Summer Term to bring in a letter from home detailing their request and reason for changing. If there is space in a class and the swap works on the timetable, we will make changes until the end of the Summer Term.  After this point, no more changes to options will be allowed unless under exceptional circumstances.  It is therefore vital that students think very carefully about their choices and, even if they think they already know what they want to do, I would urge them to read through this booklet and bear in mind how these choices might affect what they can do after Year 11.

Further changes in Key Stage 4

We monitor closely how well students are succeeding in their Year 10 programme of study.  If there are any concerns, we look flexibly at what can be done to support your child to be successful.   If this is appropriate, the College will contact you.

I hope you will take a full and active role in supporting your child through this process and that if you have any queries you will not hesitate to contact any of the key staff mentioned in the booklet.

Changes To The Grading Of GCSEs

September 2015 saw the introduction of the first new GCSE courses, starting with English Language, English Literature and Maths.  September 2016 brought in new GCSEs in many other subjects including sciences, performing arts and EBacc subjects and other new courses begin in September 2017.

Alongside the new subject syllabi will be a new method of reporting results, moving from a lettering system of A*→G to a numerical scale of 1→9, where 9 is the highest grade and the bottom of grade 1 is aligned with the bottom of grade G.

The table below shows in more detail how the numbering system relates to current grades. Grade 4 or above will be approximately equal to currently achieving a grade C or above.  The Government expects that the proportion of students gaining the higher grades will remain similar to present.

Students in the current Year 9 will have all of their GCSE grades on the   1à9 grading system.  

There is no direct equivalence between the number grades on the new system and the letter grades on the old system, but for comparison purposes the  table below, based on information from Ofqual, may be useful.

New 1 - 9 grade system

Old A* - G grade system


High A*


A* / A






B / C




D /E


E / F


F / G