The options process is designed to help Year 9 students make the right decisions to help them aspire and achieve. We work hard to ensure our Key Stage 4 curriculum offer is ambitious and varied allowing a personal approach in order to meet individual needs and aspirations.

As students look forward to joining Year 10 and beginning their examination courses, it is important that they choose the subjects which are right for them. Students should be encouraged to think very carefully about choosing which pathway is the most suitable. They should consider which subjects they will enjoy and the subjects that will enable them to progress to the next stage of their education or training beyond Year 11. Having a genuine interest and enthusiasm in a subject is always a sound basis from which to start their selection.

Students and their parents/carers are fully supported through this process and have access each year to the following features:

  • Futures lessons as part of the Personal Development Curriculum in Unit 5
  • Options launch assembly
  • Options Evening
  • Strategically placed Parents’ Evening
  • Mentoring and careers guidance sessions
  • SEND specific careers guidance calls from the Phoenix Team
  • A dedicated Google Classroom page that includes:
    • Options Booklet
    • Options process and key information
    • Subject information, subject video presentations and exam board links
    • Aspire and Achieve Workbook
    • Year 9 Futures Workbook
  • Taster lessons in Unit 7

The Core Subjects:
For all students there is a compulsory part of their curriculum. These are the core subject areas of GCSE English Language, English Literature, Mathematics and Science Trilogy, where students will study the three different disciplines of Science and certificate with a combined double GCSE grade. In support of personal development and wellbeing all students will take part in 4 hours of core Physical Education over a two week period.

The EBacc Subjects:
The EBacc (English Baccalaureate) is an award which supports students to study a broad and balanced curriculum involving specific GCSE subjects, which are considered essential by many university degree level courses and higher level apprenticeship providers. In order to achieve this uncertified award, students will need to gain a grade 4 to 9 in a Modern Foreign Language and Humanities subject, as well as English, Mathematics and at least two Sciences. The vast majority of our cohort will follow the EBacc pathway.

The Open Subjects:
Students have a wide range of subjects to choose from as optional choices. Through extensive research into local labour market statistics and recommendations, we have selected to offer a range of subjects that fit into particular sectors that are set to grow across the South West. This decision has been made to ensure that all students have a balanced and suitable curriculum throughout years 10 and 11. It is this blend of academic GCSE and BTEC/RSL vocational courses that ensures all students are successful with their two-year journey.

GCSE Qualifications:
(General Certificate of Secondary Education) is an academic qualification, taken in a number of subjects. The qualification involves studying the theory of a subject with some subjects having controlled assessments as part of the criteria. GCSE grades are awarded from 9 to 1 which are the new equivalent to A* to G. All GCSE subjects are now examined at the end of Year 11.

Vocational Qualifications:
Each Vocational course is equivalent to 1 GCSE and is graded at Level 1 Pass, Level 2 Pass, Level 2 Merit, Level 2 Distinction and Level 2 Distinction*. Students who follow a vocational course will experience different types of assessment styles. They are matched to an assessment programme where a portfolio of controlled assessments are built up over the whole course instead of a grade that is largely determined by a final examination like a GCSE. Most vocational qualifications will comprise of 25% external examination with 75% of the courses internally assessed supported by external moderation.

Grade Equivalency


Vocational (eg. btec/rsl)

old gcse equivalent

Grade 9
Grade 8
Level 2 Distinction* (l2d*)
Grade 7
Level 2 Distinction (L2d)
Grade 6
Grade 5
Grade 4
LEVEL 2 PASS (l2p)
Grade 3
level 1 distinction (l1d)
Grade 2
level 1 merit (l1m)
Grade 1
level 1 pass (l1p)


The following list gives you an idea of the typical subjects that we could offer:

GCSE ArtBTEC Child DevelopmentGCSE Combined Science TrilogyBTEC DanceBTEC Digital Information Technology
BTEC DramaBTEC EngineeringGCSE English Language & LiteratureBTEC EnterpriseGCSE French
GCSE GeographyGCSE HistoryWJEC Hospitality & CateringGCSE MathsGCSE Music
RSL MusicGCSE PhotographyGCSE Physical EducationGCSE Product DesignGCSE Spanish
BTEC SportBTEC Travel & Tourism

A minimum of five good GCSEs (or vocational equivalents) including English and Maths are essential for future success. Even if students are not thinking about university in the future, sixth forms/colleges, apprenticeship providers and employers view FIVE qualifications at grade 9 to 4 including English and Maths as a desirable standard.

Each year we look forward with great enthusiasm to working closely with our students and their families, which we are confident will result in students accessing exciting futures ahead.

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