It is an exciting time for students when, in Year 9, they look forward to the next chapter of school life and make some decisions for themselves. The decisions that have to be made are not always straightforward. Education is ever changing and there are many factors that will need to be considered. The options process takes account of the latest government advice and what we feel is the best provision for your son/daughter.
We have included as much choice as possible in the range of courses available to your son/daughter. There are many courses for which specifications are just being approved by exam boards, and the content is therefore in draft until these are finalised. There will also be no early entry for core subjects and therefore all exams in English, Maths and Science will also be taken in Year 11. Students across the country in this cohort will leave school with a mixture of both the new GCSE courses and the legacy specifications in Design and Technology subjects. Therefore they will finish with some letter grades and some number grades. This is perfectly normal for this cohort of students. Students will also leave school with an Attainment 8 score (reflecting the grades they receive across their subjects) and also a Progress 8 score (reflecting the amount of progress that they have made in their subjects from their KS2 primary score). In these new measures English and Maths carry an increased double weighted score. Maths and English are therefore crucially important.
The next thing to reflect upon is the English Baccalaureate (EBacc). This is a qualification comprising six GCSEs at grade 5 and above in English, Maths, Combined Science, and any three from History, Geography, Languages and Computer Science. This is a significant measure used in the world of work and academia. It is highly likely that universities will regard it as a feature in selection of candidates. Many schools are making Humanities and Languages compulsory for all in response to this. Many more are insisting that those capable of passing them to a grade 5 (equivalent of an old C grade) must do those options. We feel it is better to allow families to make this choice, whilst being fully informed of its significance and with advice to all from tutors and senior leaders. There is still an element of free choice if a student decides to ensure that they have the EBacc subjects.
If your son/daughter chooses not to study the EBacc there is a danger that in a few years’ time this could have an impact when applying to the university course or profession that they want. We are happy to leave the decision to you and your son/daughter. We appreciate you may be happy to take this risk in order for them to study a combination of subjects that they enjoy and feel will offer them more.
Your son/daughter will have an opportunity to talk it through with a member of staff in school and there will be a chance for you to discuss it further at options evening. Mrs Bunston (Assistant Headteacher) is leading our work on options and she is assisted by Mr Lush (Careers Consultant). Students should also seek advice from their subject teachers and/or subject leaders. Their Form Tutors and Heads of House are also available for support. If your son/daughter is in Year 9 and his/her options do not include the EBacc and we feel they could pass it, we will write to you again. We will not look for a return; we are merely seeking to ensure you feel we have paid sufficient respect to your freedom to choose and allowed you to do so in full knowledge of the issues surrounding the EBacc.
I hope you find the options process a pleasant one and that it leads to a programme of study over the next two years that is enjoyable and successful. I look forward to congratulating each student in the summer of 2019.