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Year 9 Options – Frequently Asked Questions


If you are unsure as to what to choose as your back-up subjects, you can contact the school office and ask to speak to teachers of key subjects who may be able to advise you. It is also important to look at the combination of subjects you have chosen and what would work well together. Pupils most up to date assessment data is available to view on Insight and this will also help to inform you.

Please be aware that questions posted on the parental survey are anonymous so we cannot follow up individual questions with parents. If you wish to receive an individualised response, you must email direct using the options email address.


Can my child do GCSE media and CNC iMedia?

Yes, pupils can do a combination of GCSE Media Studies and study CNC iMedia as well as option choices.


The FAQ says those on green pathway choose 1 from option a and 1 from option b but the video presentation says Option A is compulsory language then choose 1 from Option B and one from Option C?

If you are on the green pathway, you have to choose a language in Option block A, the choice will be dependent on the current language each student is currently studying, then they will choose a further subject from Option block B, and one more from Option block C.



How many topics can I pick?


If you are on the Green pathway, you are automatically allocated a language, allowing you two further option choices from block A and block B. If you are on the Yellow pathway, you must choose three option choices, one from block A, one from block B and one from block C.


What is the minimum number of students for any options group to be viable and available to the students?


We have no set number to make a subject viable as different subjects have different ‘caps’ on their allocation dependent on the facilities available, for example Food and Nutrition only have 20 workspaces, whereas a different subject may have 32 places available. In terms of making a subject viable, we always try our best to allow every subject to run to provide access to a broad and balanced option choice curriculum for students, but ultimately it does depend on whether it can be staffed and we have the capacity to run a subject when numbers are very low. In these cases both parents and pupils will be informed asap.



See pupil comments

  1. How do I remove myself from green pathway?

This is done by consultation with Mrs Summers on an individual basis, however, change of pathways is rarely done.

  1. How were pupils selected for green pathway?


      Pupils who were making good progress in French / German, with a good ATL and BFL in MFL lessons were selected for green pathway. Pupils were chosen after assessment point 1 earlier in the year.

  1. My son / daughter is not making as much progress in French / German as another subject and that concerns me.


As MFL staff normally mention at parents evening, progress works slightly differently in languages as we have a different starting point. Most pupils start knowing nothing or just a few numbers or greetings in September whereas pupils have already studied Mathematics/ English / History at primary school and therefore their grades in those subjects are often higher in KS3. By year 11 most pupils who work well find that their grade for French or German is similar to other subjects. In KS3, we teach the basics, the building blocks of the language and then we build on this in years 10 and 11.


  1. What are the benefits of taking a language?


In the options booklet, the MFL page has a link to a good website, which will help to answer this question. If your son / daughter is considering going to university later, the Russell group of universities (Birmingham university belongs to this group) really value languages – this is also mentioned in the options booklet.


  1. Can you explain the examinations briefly?


The exams all take place in year 11 at the end of the course. There are four examinations:


Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking.


There are 2 different tiers –Foundation and Higher.Teachers decide which tier to enter the pupils for after the mock examinations.A pupil must do all 4 exams at the same level e.g. all foundation / all higher. The speaking exam is with the subject teacher and is recorded and sent to the exam board to be marked. There are three parts to the speaking exam – a role-play, a photo-card to describe and a conversation. Teachers prepare pupils for the speaking exam thoroughly and there is a mock speaking exam, normally in October of year 11.




 What do the exam papers look like?


Usually we do a foundation listening and reading exam as our final year 9 assessment, so that pupils get a taste of the style of the examinations before year 10. As we are not in school, I will ask teachers to post an example exam paper on Microsoft Teams if pupils request it.  I have put a copy of a foundation-reading question from both languages below.


The foundation-writing exam includes writing four simple sentences about a photo, writing a text of 40 words in French / German and then writing a text of 90 words in French / German. Pupils have done practice of one of these tasks as an assessment this year already.

Then there are a few sentences to translate from English into French / German.


The higher-writing exam has a choice of two 90-word tasks to do, a choice of two 150- word tasks and then a short paragraph to translate from English into French / German.


Art and Design

What materials will we need to purchase and if so will you send a list before the summer break so we can purchase anything if needed. Thank you

Materials for GCSE Art lessons in school will be provided for pupils.  However, an Art pack is available for pupils to purchase to help them with their studies independently.  These materials are of a very high standard and much better value than shop bought Art equipment. 

Do I have to be good at drawing?

Drawing is a fundamental skill to GCSE Art and something that we practice continuously.  As with all skills, ‘practice make perfect’, and the more you apply yourself to learning and developing a skill the better you will become at it.



If my child is already having instrumental lessons outside of school, I presume these can continue? If so what is the charge for?

As part of the GCSE music course we offer instrumental lessons to all students. We do ask for a contribution towards the cost of this.

Having the additional lessons themselves, is optional. As we understand that some students already have these outside of school and would rather carry on with these instead of having them in school time. If your child has lessons outside of school their will be no cost in school.

Year 9 Options Frequently asked questions for Design and Technology


Why is it only Timber they currently work with?

Our current GCSE specification focuses on core content and one from the following material categories: Metals, papers and boards, polymers, electronic systems, textiles and our current focus of timbers. We are currently interviewing for a new Design Technology teacher, depending on their strengths and the needs of the students the material option may change.


How much actual practical work is involved in comparison to theory/evaluation?

The current specification is 50% written exam and 50% assessed practical. The practical is split into 

1 – Investigate (16 marks), 2 – Design (42 marks), 3 – Make (36 marks) & 4 – Evaluate (6 marks).



GCSE Religious Studies

FAQ to follow - See general information here

Triple Science

How will I find out if my child has been selected for triple science?

Have the students who can take it already been informed?

Do you have a choice to do triple science or combined science?

Is this three separate GCSEs ie Physics, Biology and Chemistry? Meaning they will be studying 10 GCSEs?




The first wave of invitations to student triple science were sent out on Monday 20th April and we are expecting replies by Monday 4th May at the latest. Should students decline their place a second wave of invites will be sent out to a reserve list.

Triple science is by invitation only. This is purely because the course is high paced and we do not want to commit students to a course where they may struggle to achieve their best science grade. Combined science is of the same difficulty, covers all three sciences but contains less content so therefore students are only awarded two grades instead of three. It does not limit a student’s potential to study a science related course or science A levels post 16.

In Triple science students would be awarded three separate GCSEs, one for Biology, one for Chemistry and one for Physics.



Is it possible to take both History and Geography?

Yes, take one in the Humanities block choice and the other in the Option A column.



BTEC Health and Social Care

What do you study in it and how does it work?

Health and Social Care is an exciting qualification that allows you to explore and develop your knowledge, skills and understanding of the Health, Social Care and the Children & Young People's Sector. It will give you a real understanding and feel for what it entails to work in these sectors and it will prepare you for work in a wide range of disciplines. Health and Social Care also involves gaining an in-depth knowledge of human growth and development, including factors which affect them. The knowledge gained will be of great advantage to anyone who would like to work and deal with people.


It consists of three units two of which are internally assessed via a written assignment and an exam. The third unit is assessed through an externally marked exam.


For more information please refer to the options booklet.


I plan on taking this in college. What is the difference in doing it now verses then. Is it the same course? Would I have to do it twice?

The BTEC course for Health and Social Care has different levels. At the GCSE equivalent stage you would be taking a level; 2 course in Health and Social Care. Should you decided to take your studies further in this area post 16 you would move on n to a Level 3 qualification.



What type of things to do you do in creative imedia?


  • Adobe Photoshop to edit / create images and then create a poster for a client.

  • Create a website using Adobe Dreamweaver that has embedded videos, maps. You would use Moviemaker to create videos to add to this site.

  • PowerPoint to create a presentation that has animations, videos and is interactive.


  • Interpret client briefs, time frames, deadlines.

  • Planning techniques e.g. visualization diagrams, mood boards, story boards etc.

  • File formats, legislation, health and safety

  • Understand what makes a quality product and carry out thorough evaluation.

Is a CNC certificate equilevant to a particular GCSE grade?

The final grades are equivalent to:

  • Pass = Grade 4

  • Merit = Grade 5.5

  • Distinction = 7

  • Distinction * = 8.5

Same again do we need to purchase any books etc before they return to school thanks

No, all resources will be provided during course. It helps to have a computer at home that connects to the internet to be able to connect to Secure Gateway to acces specialist software that we have on the school system.

Physical Education


Does the student chose the three sports or are these chosen for them?

They are scored in all of the sports we do within lesson, and that they may participate in out of school, and then we send whatever the highest grades are


 How would swimming work?

you would require video evidence. This would need to be recorded during training privately (this can present issues)

At a cost, we have In the past hired st martins pool to video performance.

 Do you have to do three sports to take GCSE physical education?

You need to play at least one sport either for the school or out of school and be willing to take part in at least two for the school. This may be sports that your child has not participated in before.

Does my child have to do an after school club for GCSE PE?


Yes they should be doing at least one after school and one outside of school club, they are assessed in three sports.


  1.        Does my child have to do an afterschool club for BTEC PE?


     Performance in btec is not (significantly) assessed on the ability to play the sport, and so improving a given sport would not improve your childs grade.


  1.        What is the difference between BTEC and GCSE PE?


BTEC sport is mostly coursework based with an exam that is worth 25% of their overall grade. GCSE is mostly exam based which is work 60% of their overall grade.


  1.        I am unsure which course my child should do.


If your child plays sport competitively outside of school and enjoys science (specifically anatomy and physiology) they should consider GCSE. If your child does not partake in sport competitively outside of school and would enjoy a more vocational course they should consider BTEC.


  1.        What is the breakdown of the GCSE PE course?


Your child will sit two 1 hour PE GCSE exams along with their other exams. Paper 1 focuses on anatomy and physiology and the effects that exercise has on the body and paper 2 focuses on socio-cultural issues. These are each worth 30% of their overall grade. They will also be assesses in 3 sports (worth 10% each) and coursework where they assess a partners performance which is also worth 10%.


  1.        What is the breakdown of BTEC sport?


Your child will complete four units that are all worth 25% of their overall grade each. The first unit is practical sports performance where they will be assessed performing and officiating two sports. The second is sport leadership where they will need to plan and lead a sports lesson. The third is personal training where they will be asked to design and carry out a 6 week personal training programme. The final unit is the exam unit which is an online exam for 1 hour 15 minutes.


  1.        How does BTEC effect college entry?


BTEC sport is the equivalent of one GCSE 1-9. It can be used for entry to college courses and apprenticeships.


  1.        How many practical’s will GCSE students get each week?


GCSE students will get 1 hour of practical a week for the first year. In their second year due to coursework and revision their practical lessons may become less often.


  1.        How many practical’s will BTEC students get each week?


There is no set number of practical’s each week for BTEC, we will try and include one practical a week however with the main focus of this course on the coursework that is the priority, this may result in three theory lessons a week.


  1.    What sports will BTEC students do?


All BTEC students will be expected to take part in Badminton, Netball and Football.


11. what sports will GCSE PE students do?

Within lessons, GCSE pupils will participate in badminton, table tennis, netball, trampolining and Athletics. The focus on these is due to the limited list the government has provided regarding the sports we can use for the 3 sports.

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