Key Stage 4 Options
In Year 9, students are able to choose their Key Stage 4 (GCSE) options to study in Years 10 and 11. This is one of the most important decisions of their educational career. This section is designed to help students and parents/carers through the decision-making process in order to get it right.
When and how to choose
The GCSE options will be chosen in Year 9. Students must choose their subjects by Friday 5th May 2023 and the Options Form will be sent via ParentMail w/c Monday 24th April 2023.
We will then confirm the subjects in June 2023 as the timetable and staffing have to be in place before we are in a position to confirm.
Support for Students and Parents/Carers
In the week commencing Monday 24th April 2023, students in Year 9 will not be set any subject homework. Instead we are asking them to study the subject information that can be found via the links below and watching the subject videos.
In addition to this, at the top of this page is a Year 9 Options Video Presentation for parents and students, which explains the Year 10/11 curriculum, the options process and gives guidance for making these important choices.
The student timetable in Years 10 and 11 (Key Stage 4) will be split into 25 x 1 hour periods which is the same as in Years 7 to 9. Below is a sample timetable of how subjects could be spread out over the week.
English, Maths and Science will be studied for 4 hours per week then each of the four optional subjects will be studied for 3 hours per week. Core PE will be studied for 1 hour per week and PSHE sessions will be embedded into the timetable.
Subjects at Cowley Academy
Every student will study nine GCSE or BTEC subjects, which will consist of the core subjects of English, Maths and Science and a choice of optional subjects.
Click the subject name or image below for detailed information.
- Students will study four optional subjects. On the Options Form, students will be able to choose subjects which will be in five different groups to allow students to choose a reserve subject.
|SUBJECT (click subject name or image below for detailed information)||Hours per week||No of GCSEs / BTECs|
|BTEC Art & Design (General)||3||1|
|BTEC Business Studies||3||1|
|BTEC Creative Media Production||3||1|
|BTEC Digital Information Technology||3||1|
|GCSE Food Preparation & Nutrition||3||1|
|BTEC Health & Social Care||3||1|
|BTEC Performing Arts (Acting)||3||1|
|GCSE Religious Studies||3||1|
|CNAT Sports Science||3||1|
|BTEC Travel & Tourism||3||1|
Help choosing your options
The choices that you make, may shape your future and the subjects you can study in Sixth Form, College or University. Whilst this can feel like a daunting decision, we hope these points will help you to make the right choice.
You will speak to family and friends about the choices to make, but at the end of the day it must ultimately be your choice as this is your future.
You will still see your friends and have the opportunity to make new friends when studying different subjects.
You will find it easier to study and be more motivated if you are good at a subject. We do not want students to choose a subject they may struggle in.
Only you will know what are your favourite subjects and we want you to enjoy your time at school. We know that students who choose subjects they enjoy are more likely to get better results.
By mixing up the subjects into core and option groups, we have already helped you do this, but it is good to choose a mixture to keep options open if you change your mind about what you want to do in the future.
If you don’t know what you want to want to do in the future, don’t worry as there is still time to work that out. Most careers do not require specific GCSE subjects, but there are some that do, such as:
- Healthcare sector jobs
- Art and design based jobs
- IT, Engineering and technology
- Language based jobs
- Practical jobs (e.g. chef/ musician)
- Scientific or medical jobs
Transferrable skills will prove invaluable in future education and employment.
If you like or dislike a teacher, this should not influence you to choose a specific subject. You should choose the subject for the other reasons listed.
Some students are better at exams at the end of the course such as GCSEs, some prefer coursework over the two years such as BTECs. Read the subject information which will give more information about assessment.
Don’t be afraid to ask. Speak to your teachers, family and friends for guidance and use the experience and knowledge of the careers team.
We have listed the five most useful websites that may help with choosing your options.
www.cowleyacademy.org.uk/careers-jobs-of-the-week contains all of the ‘Jobs of the Week’ from the school careers team.
nationalcareers.service.gov.uk provides an outline of most careers and in the job profiles section it lists GCSE requirements.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
We have answered the most common questions asked by parents and students.
We aim to ensure that all students receive their first choice of optional subjects, and although we manage to do this for the vast majority of students, we cannot guarantee it. Where students do not get their first choices, we try to ensure that they do get their next choices. It is therefore vital that the subjects are chosen in order of preference.
We will help advise students so they choose the correct subjects in Year 9. If they have appropriate justification to change a subject, they must to this by week four of Year 10 so they do not miss valuable content of the course and be able to demonstrate they can catch up.
The standard of both qualifications is the same – the main difference is in the way that they are assessed. GCSEs are assessed almost entirely by terminal exams (a small number have coursework elements), whereas BTEC subjects are assessed largely on coursework with a smaller examined unit. The BTEC results in the school are consistently outstanding and provide many students with an enhanced route into Sixth Form or College.
|9||High A* grade|
|8||Lower A* or high A|
|7||Lower A grade|
|6||High B grade|
|5||Lower B or high C|
|4||Lower C grade|
|3||D or high E|
|2||Lower E or high F|
|1||Lower F or G|
|U||U remains the same|
|Distinction*||D*||= GCSE grade 8 or 9|
|Distinction||D||= GCSE grade 7 or 8|
|Merit||M||= GCSE grade 5 or 6|
|Pass||P||= GCSE grade 4 or 5|
Universities will state specific GCSE entry requirements to study a degree. As a minimum they will require students to have achieved GCSE English and Maths at grade 4. Then depending on the degree subject, you may also require a GCSE Science at grade 4. All universities will have different entry requirements so it is best to check with the university directly as they may also require specific GCSEs.