What do I need to know before I start?
At Lambeth Academy, we want you to be in the best possible position to prepare you for your future. You may have a very clear idea of what you want that future to look like, but most students in Year 9 are not completely sure what direction they want to take yet. This is usual at this stage, so it is important to keep your options open to give you the widest range of opportunities later on.
You will know which subjects you achieve well in, and those you enjoy – these should be the main factors when choosing your options.
You should also be aware that most universities require three or more good A-Level grades. In order to get onto most A-Level courses (or equivalent), you will need five or more good GCSE grades (which means Grade 9-6 under the new grading system), including English, Maths and Science.
You should also take into account that studying a language is highly valued, as are History and Geography. These subjects demonstrate that you are a student with broad interests, and the skills you develop are considered to help your overall learning. They are well-respected qualifications which can open doors and opportunities in the future. These subjects appeal to universities and colleges, and many more students are taking them now.
It is also important to remember that both universities and employers value a range of subjects and that you should seek to balance the courses you study. Practical and Arts subjects can help you develop in a wide range of valuable areas and skills.
What is the difference between EBacc and GCSE? What will students get at the end?
GCSEs are individual qualifications that are available in many subjects. The EBacc is a group of 5 specific GCSEs that are recognised by employers and universities as giving a broad and balanced curriculum. You do not get a separate qualification or certificate to say you have the EBacc but you will be able to say you have this award if you achieve a grade C or above in the following subjects: English, Mathematics, Science, MFL (French or Spanish or Chinese or a community language) and a Humanities subject from Geography or History
What is the difference between a GCSE and a BTEC or vocational course?
GCSE (General Certificate of Secondary Education)
With a GCSE you gain a grade from 9 - 1 (with 9 being the highest grade).
The course consists of mostly examinations but there are some elements of coursework or controlled assessment in some subjects.
BTEC (Business and Technology Education Council award) and other vocational awards.
With a BTEC you learn about a subject in a more practical, work related manner. These courses are for those who prefer to have the chance to be assessed on coursework, and who enjoy independent learning and practical activity. There will also be an examination and you must pass this in order to pass the course.
You can achieve Pass, Merit or Distinction. These courses are the equivalent to one GCSE. All level grades are GCSE equivalent, with Level 2 grades being equivalent to GCSE grades 4-9.
What should you consider when choosing options subjects?
- Which subjects are you successful in?
- Which subjects do you enjoy (as you’ll be studying them for the next two years)?
- What skills do you want to learn?
- What might you want to study afterwards? Do you need a GCSE in a subject if you want to take it at A-Level?
- What do you study in the subject, and is it right for you? Can you find out more from the teacher(s)?
- Are there any entry requirements for the subjects you want to study?
What are common mistakes made when choosing options subjects?
- Choosing an option because all your friends are doing it.
- Choosing based on the teacher(s).
- Choosing because you’ve never done the subject before, so it must be good.
- Deciding without reading this booklet, asking questions, and speaking to teachers.
- Deciding without discussing it with your family.
- Deciding against a subject because you don’t want a career in it.
How long do GCSEs take to complete?
GCSE courses are designed to be taught over 2 years (Years 10 and 11) with final exams in May/June of the second year.
How many options can you choose? How many are compulsory?
You can choose 3 options – one from each block. The core curriculum that every student studies includes all the compulsory subjects.
Are my A-Level choices affected by the choices I have now?
If there is a subject you know you definitely want to study for A-levels, then we would advise you to take it for GCSE. Please speak to your subject teachers for further advice before making your options choices.
How many GCSEs from English Literature/Language?
You will study for two separate GCSEs in your English lessons. One GCSE in English Language and one GCSE in English Literature.
When you have made your choices, can you change your mind after the deadline?
Every student has the opportunity to change courses. They will have a two-week window at the start of September. The student will need to speak with their Head of Year and the Subject Leaders of the two subjects they wish to move between. They will, in the first instance need to discuss the move with their tutor, who will liaise with their Head of Year.