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At the end of Key Stage 3, your child will be asked to choose their GCSE options. Here we will look at how the process work.
The term 'options' is used to describe the subjects that children can choose to take at GCSE level. Children usually choose their options in Year 9. They then spend Year 10 and 11 studying these subjects, leading up to their GCSEs in the summer term of Year 11.
There are three core subjects that children have to study in Key Stage 4 with all students going on to take GCSEs in these subjects. They are Maths, English and Science.
All schools are also required to provide religious education and sex and relationships education in KS4, but students don’t have to take GCSEs in these subjects. Instead they are covered in our PSHCE programme.
Choosing the right subjects is extremely important for your child's future and it certainly pays to invest some time in making the right choices. In school we will ensure your child has all the necessary information and support to make the most appropriate choice.
Many Year 9 children have no idea what career they might eventually go into, and if this is the case, it makes sense for your child to choose as broad a range of subjects as possible.
If your child does already have a career in mind, or is leaning towards studying a certain subject at GCSE, encourage them to look at the entry requirements for a university course or other training in that area. Taking specific subjects may put them at an advantage when they’re applying for further education.
If your child thinks they might want to take a science-related subject later on, it’s sensible for them to take at least double science at GCSE. Some schools and colleges won’t let students take science A levels unless they have double or triple science GCSE.
Perhaps the most important thing, though, is for your child to choose subjects that they’re good at and will enjoy. Try to discourage them from choosing a course because their friends are doing it, or because they like the teacher; friendships don’t always last, and teachers may move on, leaving your child stuck with a subject that they don’t actually like.
Choosing which subjects to take can be tricky, but there’s usually plenty of information available to help you and your child whittle their options down.
This year we will not be holding an options evening but there will be plenty of opportunities for parents to be involved in the process. Please check this page regularly for updates and further information.
Speak to pupils who are taking, or have taken, GCSEs in the subjects your child is considering. Ask them what it’s really like to study the course; for example, how much homework do they get? Is there coursework, or just a final exam? What do they like and dislike about the subject?
If your child has a specific career or higher education qualification in mind, arrange a meeting with the school careers advisor to see if there’s a particular combination of GCSEs that they should be taking. Use careers websites to find out more about routes into the careers that your child might consider. Paul Williams is our school based Connexions advisor and is available for further advice and guidance.
Encourage them to make a list of pros and cons of each subject, taking into account things like how easy or difficult they find it, how much homework they’ll have to do, what grades pupils typically get in the subject, how many go on to take an A level in the subject, and so on.
Above all, don’t panic! Remember that your child’s teachers are there to help them make the right GCSE choices.