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Year 8 Curriculum Choices

2016-2019

Introduction

We aim to provide a broad spectrum of subjects at GCSE level so that students follow the programme of study best suited to their interests, talents and aspirations. The information provided here is extensive and should be used in conjunction with the on-going programme of advice.

Our curriculum is currently under review and full details of the 2016-2019 offer will be made to students in due course, however the current core curriculum is outlined below.


The Process

Year 8 are being offered informal question and answer sessions about the process of choosing their curriculum for 2016-2019.  They are also currently taking part in individual careers appointments.

The process continues with the Year 8 Parents’ Consultation Evening on Wednesday 3 February 2016 where parents and students can discuss strengths and interests with subject staff.

Year 8 will receive the Curriculum Booklet which explains the choices available and provides a description of all the subjects.

Wednesday 9 March 2016 is the Curriculum Evening where, after a short presentation, students and parents can talk with subject staff about GCSE courses.

The deadline for submission of the choices will be Friday 18 March 2016.


The Curriculum

The current landscape of GCSEs is changing. The government policy is for GCSE to become less coursework based and more knowledge based - as a linear course which has a final examination at the end. There is also an increased emphasis on academic subjects which will become more demanding.

At Highworth we feel that whatever the changing political landscape, students should benefit from a range of courses taught to the highest level by outstanding teachers and this will never change. We feel that our range of courses provides students with the broad high quality academic background which is required to be successful in later life.

To this end, all students will follow the English Baccalaureate (EBacc) group of subjects with a “core” curriculum of English, English Literature, Mathematics, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, RE and Thinking and Reasoning skills. In addition you will need to choose a Modern Foreign Language (MFL) and either History or Geography.

Your daughter will then be able to choose two other subjects from the options available.

We will try to give her her first choices, though this may not be possible in every case. We therefore ask her that a reserve subject be nominated in case the initial choice is unavailable.

Other changes include English, Maths and RE moving to eight teaching groups rather than four allowing for smaller class sizes, greater differentiation and, in the case of Mathematics, different courses for different sets.


Compulsory Subjects

English Language and English Literature

Mathematics inc Further Maths 

Biology

Chemistry

Physics

RE

PE (Non Exam)

Compulsory Subjects

Modern Foreign Language

Geography or History


One choice must be either History or Geography but it is possible to take both; similarly it is possible to take French as a second language.


Option Subjects

Two subjects from:

Art

French

Business Studies

Geography

Computer Science

History

Dance

Music

Design Technology (choice of two syllabuses)

Physical Education

Drama

Statistics

Economics

 

 


Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Can I take both History and Geography?

A: Yes. Choose one as the compulsory Humanity subject and then choose the other as an option.


Q: Can I choose more than one language?

A: Yes. We are offering French as a second language which will run subject to uptake.


Q: I don’t know what I want to do as a career. What do I do?

A: Speak with careers staff, teachers and parents. Do some research - try www.careersbox.co.uk for example. Choose a broad and balanced set of choices to keep your options open rather than, say, choosing all practical subjects.


Q: What happens if sets are over-subscribed?

A: This can happen and there are no easy solutions. We cannot simply create more sets as we do not have the staff or rooms to do so. It is for this reason that each student is asked to include a reserve subject on her curriculum form. The vast majority of students will get their first choice options and where set sizes preclude the first choice, you will be able to take your reserve.


Q: What if only small numbers of students opt for a particular subject?

A: The school reserves the right to remove a subject from the curriculum if the set size is not viable; in practice, this rarely happens.


Q: I am keen on a career in medicine/dentistry/pharmacy. What should I do?

A: Students will need to achieve outstanding results in Biology, Chemistry and Physics to gain places at university for these competitive courses. You will need to target A* grades to have a realistic chance of success.


Q: Do I have to do Further Maths GCSE?

A: Within Maths, the courses are differentiated for the ability of the groups. At KS4 we move into four classes in each half of the timetable, resulting in smaller class sizes that we can tailor the course to suit the ability of the students. Hence, the top two sets will follow GCSE Maths and Further Maths; the remaining sets will follow GCSE Maths.


Q: I understand English is set at KS4. How does this work?

A: The majority of students are taught in mixed ability classes with differentiated lessons to support them in fulfilling their potential.  However, students with an outstanding record of attainment at Key Stage Three are allocated to one of two fast paced sets at Key Stage Four. This allows students with exceptionally high ability to work more swiftly through the syllabus at a sustained level of sophistication and complexity.

 


Q: Do we get graded on our coursework?

A: Yes. Although there is a general trend to remove coursework from GCSEs, you will still be required to complete some coursework and it will count towards the GCSE. Check the subject pages in this booklet.


Q: Once I have chosen a subject, what happens if I don’t enjoy it?  Can I change?

A: Any change to your subjects is clearly a big step particularly when trying to catch up on missed work. Any changes to subject choices are taken on a case by case basis and are very carefully considered.


Q: I still have questions.  Whom can I contact?

A: Speak with your teachers, mentor, Director of Learning, parents and careers staff. They can all offer help and advice. Older students may also be able to help you. Remember it is ultimately your decision; you have to feel happy and comfortable with the choices. Also remember that the most important thing is to get the best possible grades at GCSE.


Further Links

Connexions - http://cxk.org/connexions

Careersbox - http://www.careersbox.co.uk/