Welcome to Options 2021
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Welcome to Options 2021
The exciting time has arrived where Year 9 pupils consider their next steps in their academy life and select their option choices for Key Stage 4 study. This is an important time for pupils and parents/carers as students begin to really consider what their future holds and the subjects that will best assist them reach their potential. We sincerely hope you enjoy the process of learning about the different courses and subjects we offer as well as having conversations about the future – including further education choices and possible employment routes.
We aim to ensure that the information and guidance provided will support your child through the options process. It is important that each pupil, with support from their parents/carers, understands their own strengths so that they can optimise their chances of success.
What do you need to do?
- Review all the information on this webpage including the information about each subject ensuring you have a clear understanding of what each subject involves and where it can lead
- Year 9 pupils should speak to their teachers and guardians in school if they have any specific questions
- On 26th March pupils and parents/carers will complete an option preference form online, and this will close 1st April
- The academy will review all option choices for all pupils and confirm final choices with pupils and their parent/carer by 17th May
Take a look at our Subjects
What are my options?
All students will complete core curriculum of English, Maths, Science. Students will then have the opportunity to continue their studies in History or Geography (it is possible to complete both if a student wishes to, this will be shown on the options preference form). Following this, students will have the opportunity to continue Spanish, something that parents/carers and students should really consider due to great value this adds to future education, careers and life experiences – you will be able to see this further in the Spanish options page. Students will then be able to select their top preferences for the options shown on the diagram below. Options will be selected in preference order on the form to try and ensure students are able to take the options that they would really like to study.
Academic and Vocational Qualifications
Academic subjects offer GCSE qualification. In general, subjects offering a GCSE qualification will help you develop new knowledge, skills and understanding through theory, developing your ability to use and apply your knowledge in a variety of contexts. GCSEs are assessed at the end of the 2 years through written exam and in some subjects, controlled assessments too. Vocational courses are equivalent to GCSEs but there is a greater focus on a real-world approach to learning that is more work-related and practical. They are also a good choice for pupils who wish to have a mix of assessment not just final written exams.
Frequently Asked Questions
- What is Key Stage 4?
Key Stage 4 begins at the start of Year 10 and is two years of study leading to GCSE or equivalent qualifications. Many pupils go on from Key Stage 4 to study A-Levels in King James’s School Sixth Form and others may go to college or begin employment coupled with training. Whatever our pupils decide to do, the choices they make now are very important.
- Why do pupils have to choose?
There is not enough time in the curriculum to enable pupils to continue studying all of their Year 9 subjects to GCSE level therefore, they must opt and reduce the number of subjects studied.
- Why do pupils only have 3 choices out of the subjects they study in Key Stage 4?
Some subjects are classed as core which means it is a statutory requirement to study them up to GCSE
level; this includes English, Maths, Science, PE and PSHCEE (studied during form time). Schools are also encouraged by the Government to ensure pupils take at least one other subject from the English Baccalaureate to ensure a broad and balanced curriculum.
What is the English Baccalaureate? This is a performance measure for schools that reports on how many pupils have achieved a good pass in 5 specific subject areas. Those subjects are as follows:
- 2 Sciences (including Computer Science)
- History or Geography
- A foreign language
- Does this mean subjects not included in the English Baccalaureate are less important?
Absolutely not. We value all subjects as highly as each other and are particularly proud of our high achieving practical subjects. Pupils are strongly recommended to use their options to pursue their passions and the subjects they are most interested in. The core and core options ensure pupils have a solid foundation for further study.
As part of our commitment to strong CEIAG (Careers Education, Information, Advice Guidance) at LEA we will ensure that the year Pastoral Leader, SENCO, and Senior Leadership Team work with pupils to guide them towards the right choices.
- Why are GCSEs graded 9-1 now instead of A*-G?
The government has reformed all GCSE and A-Level qualifications. Reformed qualifications at GCSE are now graded from 9-1 as well as being more challenging and having most of their assessment at the end of the 2-year course (see individual subject pages for more information). The new grade 9 is highly aspirational and will only be achieved by a small percentage of pupils across the country.
Please see the figure on the right to understand how the new grading system relates to the previous letter grades.
Click here to read the parent information provided by Ofqual
- What is a BTEC and a Technical Award?
BTECs and Technical Awards are alternative qualifications to GCSE that are equally as challenging but offer a different approach to learning. The final qualification (if passed at Level 2) is equivalent to a pass at GCSE.
- Why is there a reserve option on the options form?
Despite our best efforts, we cannot offer an infinite combination of subjects. Sometimes, pupils’ option choices will clash and we will have to ask them to study their reserve instead. With this thought in mind, we advise pupils to put as much thought into their reserve choice as they do into their other 4.
- What if pupils change their mind?
We would hope this doesn’t happen! Pupils will all have received high quality guidance and input as part of IAG with the aim of reducing anxiety or questioning choices. If pupils change their mind before the end of Year 9, they should see Mr Bullock (Vice Principal; Quality of Education).
Once the course has started, pupils will have to have a very strong reason for changing and no requests will be considered after the end of September. Again, queries should be directed to Mr Bullock. In either case, course swaps are sometimes impossible due to timetable blocking and/or pupil numbers.
- Why don’t pupils study more GCSEs?
As GCSEs have been reformed to be more challenging with more scope for top grades (only the top 25% of those who previously achieved an A* will achieve a 9) and to have all the exams at the end of Year 11, we believe it would be too demanding for pupils to study more courses. It is better that they study fewer courses and achieve more highly than spread themselves too thin. No colleges, employers or universities stipulate more than 8 GCSEs as an entry requirement but they do stipulate specific grades.
- What about pupils who will struggle with GCSEs or equivalents?
Any pupil that has followed a bespoke curriculum at Leeds East Academy will continue to do so during Key Stage 4. We tailor our curriculum to the needs of our pupils and will speak directly with the pupils and families that this affects.
- How can pupils ensure they are matching their GCSEs to their chosen career?
Pupils should do as much research and take as much advice as they can. We have excellent careers advice within school and both pupils and parents can make an appointment with Lucy Hazelton via the school reception.
- What if pupils don’t know what they want to do when they leave school?
They do not need to worry about this! Our options process ensures a solid foundation for further study so we recommend that pupils focus on choosing the subjects they enjoy and do well at as that should ultimately lead to success.
- Final suggestions for pupils to consider when making their choices:
What do I enjoy studying? What are my strengths?
What way do I learn best, and will the course suit me?
If I choose this option now, will it keep more options open for me later for further study, training or work?
- If I have questions about the Year 9 Options?
You can fill out this form here if you would like a call back from the academy about the Year 9 Options process.
For parents/carers to consider
Some pupils might say they like a subject but really, they believe it is an easier option. This isn’t true, all subjects will be demanding at GCSE level and pupils will have to work hard to gain a good qualification.
- Some choose a subject to stay in the same class as friends but due to the size of our school and complex timetable, it is highly unlikely that this will happen.
- Some pupils may be inclined to choose a subject because of the teacher but, again, due to the timetabling and potential staff changes, a specific teacher cannot be guaranteed.
- Remember, GCSEs have changed a lot since your day! Your experience may be totally different to your son or daughter’s. Share your knowledge and experience but keep in mind as well that our pupils are preparing for a totally different world!