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Below are responses to some frequently asked questions that may help you.

If these don't answer your query then please complete the form at the bottom of the page and we will get back to you.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between a GCSE and a BTEC/NCFE qualifications?

A GCSE is a General Certificate of Secondary Education. It is an academic qualification and normally ends with final exams that judge the breadth and depth of your understanding.

A BTEC or NCFE are vocational qualifications. These also include an exam, but this is normally only about a third of the assessment and can happen at any point in the course. The other two-thirds of the assessment aims to show how you can apply your learning through coursework.

Which qualifications are compulsory and why?

It is a legal requirement that during Key Stage 4 all students must work towards some specific national qualifications. These qualifications are GCSEs in English, Maths, and Science. In addition, the government requires all students to study at least one EBacc subject, which are Geography, History, French or Spanish. They must also study a PSHE curriculum and take part in weekly physical education, but these do not need to be taken as a qualification.

If a student does not achieve a Grade 4 or above in English and Maths, they must continue to study these as part of any post 16 courses until they achieve it.

What is the EBacc and what is its purpose?

The EBacc stands for the English Baccalaureate. Unlike qualifications such as the International Baccalaureate (IB) that we offer in our Sixth Form, it is not a qualification in itself and will not produce a certificate. The EBacc consists of qualifications the government judges to be facilitating subjects that will help students gain access to higher-level university courses. To complete the EBacc students would need to study at least one of each of these qualifications:

  • English

  • Maths

  • Science

  • Modern Foreign Languages (ie. French, Spanish)

  • Humanities (ie. Geography, History)

The government insists that all students must study English, Maths and Science GCSEs plus one subject from Geography, History, French or Spanish. Those who are aiming for high-level Universities are encouraged to also study at least one language and one humanities subject.

How many qualifications will I study?

Students will study eight different subjects. These qualifications are (including the relevant exam board):

  • GCSE English Language (AQA)

  • GCSE English Literature (AQA)

  • GCSE Mathematics (Pearsons)

  • GCSE Combined Science (AQA)

  • NCFE Technical Award in Health and Fitness

  • Plus three qualifications of a student's choice, but must include at least one of Geography, History, French or Spanish.

Once I have submitted my option choices am I guaranteed to study those subjects?

Sometimes it is not possible to timetable particular combinations of subjects. Also subjects may be undersubscribed so it will not be viable to run as many teaching groups as we would like. We obviously aim to give everyone their first choices, but sometimes we need to look at your reserve choices. Where your first choices are not possible we will obviously make contact with you before any final decisions are made.

What subjects should I choose?

Think about your strengths and interests. Which subjects are you doing best in? Which subjects do you find most interesting?

Think about which career might be right for you and which subject you might like to study at Sixth Form or College. You don’t have to have your future mapped out, but start thinking about it now. You are more likely to do well in a subject that you are already achieving well in or that you enjoy. Often achieving better grades in any subject can be more important to allow you access the best post-16 choices than gaining a low grade in a specific qualification.

Much will change between now and when you get to 16 or 18. It is therefore wise to keep options open and choose a range of qualifications.

How should I decide which subjects to take?

Most subjects that you can choose will be good general preparation for the world of work or any future learning you undertake.

When considering subjects to choose here are some things to consider to help you to narrow down your decisions:

  • Is it a subject you enjoy?

  • Does it fit with your career ideas and goals?

  • Are your current grades in the subject good?

  • Are you confident this is a subject that you want to study, particularly when it becomes more challenging or moves into areas that interest you less?

  • Does it ensure you have a good combination of options after Year 11?

  • Based on your research does it fit well with the style of learning that motivates you (eg. academic, vocational etc)?

Be careful to avoid making choices based on::

  • Liking the teacher – the teacher may well change.

  • Thinking the subject is easy – have you researched what it is really like?

  • Because your friends have picked it - they may have an aptitude or interest in it and won't want you disturbing them!

I know what I want to do when I'm older but how can I find out what I need to get there?

Ask your teachers, in particular your Learning Coach for help. If you are thinking of studying a particular subject at University or a specific career, think very carefully about the subjects you would need for that career/course.

Make use of Unifrog (which you have used in your Life lessons) to explore what subjects are ideal for your future plans.

If you want an individual meeting with our careers advisors then just email

I’ve got no idea what I want to do when I’m older?

Its not something to worry about yet. The important thing is to choose a range of subjects which give you flexibility and keep all the doors open for you. Try not to choose too many subjects from one particular area but choose subjects you feel confident you can achieve well at.

Where can I get more advice from?

  • You can email the subject teachers listed on the Our Subjects to get more advice by clicking on the relevant buttons.

  • Your Learning Coach will also be happy to offer advice and support. Talk to them during your weekly Learning Conversation or contact them via email.

  • Talk to your parents, family and knowledgeable friends. They will have your best interests at heart, know you well and be able to help you identify your strengths, skills, and qualities.

  • Your friends will be going through the same stress as you, so you can bounce ideas off them if you like… but it’s important to remember it’s your final decision so don't be pressured by them.

  • Life lessons – seek out the opportunity to talk to Mrs Wootten who can provide you with information, advice and guidance to help support your decision making.

  • Email if you would like an individual careers interview with our independent advisor (Mr Handley)

I want to choose a particular subject but I don’t like the teacher?

Liking or not liking the teacher is absolutely no reason for not choosing a subject. You may not have that teacher next year and you have to think about your ability and interest in the subject first.

I want to choose a particular subject because all my friends have?

You have to choose a subject because you want to do it, not because your friends are doing the subject. Your friends could be in different classes or may change their minds at the last minute (its happened before!). You need to think about what is right for you.

Will I get my first choice?

We cannot guarantee that you will get your first choice as sometimes courses don’t run due to lack of numbers. However we will do our very best to try and make sure that you do. In the unlikely event that you can’t get your first choice then we will be in touch with you to discuss and resolve it in the most suitable way.

Are there any rules to my choices?

There are three:

  1. You must choose at least one subject from Geography, History, French or Spanish

  2. You can’t choose the same subject more than once.

  3. You can't choose both GCSE Photography and BTEC Art & Design

When will I find out what subjects I've been given and when will they start?

We aim to have option groups finalised by Friday 18th March. This is dependent on all responses being received by the deadline.

Option subjects will start after the Easter holidays to give a full two years of study before final exams in the summer of 2024.

Still have a question?

Complete the form below to let us know more about how we can help you. We are planning to how small group or individual virtual meetings straight after half term to discuss queries that we can't easily answer via email.