Student Absence Line: 01666 829759

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Student Absence Line: 01666 829759

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GCSE Options

Curriculum » GCSE Options


Malmesbury School aims to offer each student a broad and balanced curriculum and therefore everyone is taught a full range of subjects throughout Years 7, 8 and 9.  As students begin to study for GCSE and other examinations, the number of subjects taken by each individual must reduce in order to allow sufficient study time for each examination subject.  This requires students and parents to make choices about which subjects to study during Year 10 and 11.  This booklet aims to help in the decision making process.

A number of subjects provide a foundation of skills, understanding and knowledge which are considered essential and are therefore compulsory for all students:

* English: the vast majority of students will take both English and English Literature at GCSE

* Mathematics

* Science: this balanced science course leads to either Combined Science (equivalent of 2 GCSEs) or a triple certification of GCSEs, Separate Science (Biology, Chemistry and Physics). The route that students will follow is determined at the end of Y9 after all students have followed the GCSE science course for a year.

* Physical Education: this is a recreational course which does not lead to a formal qualification

* iLEARN: this subject provides underpinning skills to develop students’ personal and study skills as well as their understanding of British values and society.

Option Choice Form:

There are four option blocks, A, B, C and D.

In each block, students will take one subject. Students need to select two subjects and number them ‘1’ for first preference and ‘2’ for second preference in each block.

It is very important that the correct number of choices is made, and that they are numbered to show first and second preference. Students should only pick each subject as their first preference once. Forms which are not completed in this way will be returned to the student to be amended.

Important notes about certain choices:

* There is a limit to the number of students for some vocational courses (Hair and Beauty, Construction (Trowel Skills), Land Based Studies and Horse Care). If students pick a vocational subject they will then be interviewed to check their suitability. Students can pick a maximum of 2 vocational subjects. If students have a strong academic profile it is highly recommended that they pick a maximum of 1 vocational subject.

* Students cannot choose ICT (Cambridge Nationals) in Block A and Computer Science in Block D.

* Language courses are most suitable for students who have studied that language at Key Stage 3. If students wish to study a language they have not studied at Key Stage 3, they should speak to subject teachers before completing the options form. If students have a strong academic profile it is highly recommended that they pick a language.

Students and parents will be given as much advice and guidance as possible before the final decision is made:

* An options evening on Thursday 21st January 2016 for parents and students provides the opportunity to hear more about the courses and to ask specialist teachers questions about them.

* Students will have an explanation from tutors to help them to understand how to complete the form.

* There will be considerable input from iLearn teachers to prepare students for decision making.

* This booklet gives details of all optional courses.

* Subject teachers will describe, to Year 9 students, the courses their subject areas offer in Years 10 and 11.

* Students will continue to discuss the implications of their options in iLearn and receive further careers advice both from their tutors and, in some cases, the school’s careers advisers.

* Parents are invited to attend one of the Year 9 Parents’ Evenings on the 11th and 25th February 2016 when, in addition to reporting on students’ progress, teachers will be happy to discuss option choices.

* Members of the senior team will answer questions from parents about the choices system at the Year 9 Options Evening and Parents’ Evening.

* After the choice sheets have been handed in, some Year 9 students will be seen by their tutor to discuss the suitability of their choices.

* Learning Support teachers will guide students who are supported by their faculty to help them make suitable option choices.

* Some students may find the rigour of studying nine or ten academic subjects to GCSE level too challenging.  Where tutors and the academic leader feel that a student will be unreasonably pressured by doing so, discussions will take place with both student and parents to consider the option of following entry level or level 1 vocational courses in certain areas of the curriculum.

In these ways, we hope to ensure that all students make the decisions which are most appropriate to their needs.

Students must return their completed choice sheets before Friday 26th February 2016. 

Late forms will have lowest priority in the case of oversubscription to a course.

Tim Gilson  


How We Process Options Forms

We offer a wide range of option choices for our students, to provide individuals with the most personalised curriculum we can.  Practical constraints on the timetable, of group size and of resources, sometimes mean that students do not get their first option choice in a block.  This means that we cannot guarantee that anyone will get their first option choice.

We try to be as fair as possible when we process forms, so all forms that are submitted to us by the deadline are given equal consideration.  Any forms which are late will be dealt with only after the others have been processed.  That means that there is no advantage in handing in options forms early, but there is a disadvantage if the form is late.

Students who want to change their option choices after the deadline will have to wait until all the forms have been processed.  If the change is possible at that stage, it will be made, but if groups are full, the original choice will have to stand.  For this reason, it is very important that students choose their options carefully and thoughtfully. 

There are certain circumstances which make it possible that a first choice may not be available.

1. Any subject that has a group of fewer than thirteen students in one option block may, possibly, be withdrawn, as it may be too expensive to run the option.  In this case, the next available option will be given.

2. Where a subject is oversubscribed and the timetabling of a further set is not possible, due to a shortage of rooms or of teachers, or because there are too few students to make up a further set, we will ask for volunteers to change subject.  If there are insufficient volunteers, those who will be successful will be determined according to attendance level during year 9, with the students with the highest attendance level being selected.

Some subjects are very limited in available places due to the need for limited specialist facilities or teachers.  These include Hairdressing and Beauty Therapy, Construction (Trowel Skills), Land Based Studies and Horse Care.  Where these courses are oversubscribed, selection will be by interview.

We will try to give each student at least one of their first choice subjects.  Please asterisk (*) the subject which is the most important choice to you.  Wherever possible, we will allocate you to that option.