KS4 courses

The Courses You Can Study

GCSE – General Certificate of Secondary Education

The General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) is an academically rigorous, internationally recognised qualification awarded in a specified subject, generally taken in a number of subjects by students in secondary education over two years or sometimes three years.

These examination courses are currently going through a period of major changes. As from September 2016 most subjects will be embarking on a new specification with a new grading system with numbers replacing the familiar letters as grades. These grades will range from 9 to 1 with 9 being the highest and 1 the lowest.

The diagram bellows shows how the new grades link to the old grading system.

Tiers of entry:   some GCSE examinations have tiers of entry (higher or foundation) and these determine the grade ranges available to a candidate.












Personal and Social Development – an ASDAN Course

The personal and social development course is an accredited course offered by the Asdan examination board. It is suitable for students who prefer a more practical approach to their work.   The course is of a vocational nature and develops important life skills, it is not a GCSE equivalent.

ECDL Foundation

ECDL Foundation is an international organisation dedicated to raising digital competence standards in the workforce, education and society. Our certification programmes, delivered through an active network in more than 100 countries, enable individuals and organisations to assess, build and certify their competence in the use of computers and digital tools to the globally-recognised ECDL standard, known as ICDL worldwide.

Subjects you must study in the Upper School

The subjects shown below are subjects which all upper school students must take. These form the core curriculum and are statutory:

  • English
  • Mathematics
  • Science
  • Physical Education
  • Citizenship/Personal, Social & Health Education
  • Information and Communication Technology
  • Religious Studies


GCSE English Language and English Literature

In English students will be studying for GCSEs in English and Literature.

The English Language and Literature courses are run together. They involve lots of reading skills already developed in key stage 3. These will be extended to include more texts written before 1900 as well as modern fiction and non-fiction, poetry and drama. The key reading skills assessed are reading to identify and interpret information and ideas; explaining and commenting on writers’ use of language; comparing writers’ ideas and techniques and evaluating texts.

In writing you will continue to improve what you learned in key stage 3 writing both creative and transactional pieces like letters, speeches, reports etc. The key areas assessed for writing are: communicating effectively and imaginatively; adapting tone to suit audience and purpose; organising ideas clearly and using sentence structure and vocabulary for effect together with accurate spelling and punctuation.

Speaking and listening is still an important part of the course and you will make a presentation about something you are interested in which will be recorded to send to the exam board for a separate mark.

English will be assessed through a final examination only.

Paper 1 includes:

  • a response to unseen 19th century fiction based on an extract printed in the exam
  • a creative writing task linked with the theme of the reading text

Paper 2 includes:

  • a comparison of two unseen modern texts
  • transactional writing such as letter / newspaper article etc.

Literature involves studying 4 texts including:

  • a 19th century novel like The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde or A Christmas Carol.
  • a modern novel or play such as Animal Farm, The Woman in Black, Blood Brothers or An Inspector Calls.
  • a selection of poetry based on the theme of Power and Conflict, or Love and Relationships.
  • and a Shakespeare play such as Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet or Twelfth Night.

Literature is assessed through examination only

Paper 1 includes questions on:

  • Shakespeare plays
  • The 19th century novel

Paper 2 includes questions on:

  • Modern texts
  • Poetry

Qualification:        GCSE English Language – 8700 (AQA)

GCSE English Literature – 8702 (AQA)

GCSE Mathematics

Students follow a linear course in GCSE Mathematics. The course is made up of three exams, two of which a calculator may be used and the other exam in which calculators cannot be used. Each paper will be 1 hour 30 minutes.

A student will be entered for either foundation or higher tier depending on their ability and the maths set that they are in. The differences between the tiers are as follows:

Tier Grades available
Foundation 1 to 5
Higher 4 to 9

The GCSE course will cover topics under three broad topic areas:

Number and Algebra:  content includes:

  • working with numbers and the number system
  • fractions, decimals and percentages
  • ratio and proportion
  • the language of algebra
  • expressions and equations
  • sequences, functions and graphs

Geometry and Measures:  content includes:

  • properties of angles and shapes
  • geometrical reasoning and calculation
  • measures and construction
  • lengths, areas, and volumes
  • vectors

Statistics and Probability:  content includes:

  • the handling data cycle
  • data collection
  • data presentation and analysis
  • data interpretation
  • probability

and will enable students to:

  • develop knowledge, skills and understanding of mathematical methods and concepts
  • acquire and use problem-solving strategies
  • select and apply mathematical techniques and methods in mathematical, everyday and real world situations
  • reason mathematically, make deductions and draw conclusions
  • interpret and communicate mathematical information in a variety of forms appropriate to the information and context.

Each exam will contain at least three questions which assess the quality of written communication as well as the answer, meaning that there is more emphasis on the quality of communication than ever before.

An important change to GCSE Maths is that pupils will now be expected to memorise many more formulae including Pythagoras Theorem, Quadratic Formula, Trigonometric Identities and Area of Trapezium, whereas previously these were given in the exam.

Qualification:         GCSE Mathematics – 8300 (AQA)

GCSE (9-1) Combined Science

(Double Award)

Science sets 2, 3, 4 and 5 will continue to follow the GCSE Combined Science course, started in Year 9 and which will be completed at the end of Year 11. The content across Biology, Chemistry and Physics has been split into a number of topics:


  • Key concepts in Biology
  • Cells and control
  • Genetics
  • Natural selection and genetic modification
  • Health, disease and the development of medicines
  • Plant structures and their functions
  • Animal coordination, control and homeostasis
  • Exchange and transport in animals
  • Ecosystems and material cycles


  • Key concepts in Chemistry
  • States of matter
  • Methods of separating and purifying substances
  • Atomic Structure
  • The Periodic Table
  • Ionic Bonding
  • Covalent Bonding
  • Types of substance
  • Acids and alkalis
  • Calculations involving masses
  • Obtaining and using metals
  • Electrolysis processes
  • Reversible reactions and equilibria
  • Groups in the Periodic Table
  • Rates of reaction
  • Fuels
  • Heat energy changes in chemical reactions
  • Earth and atmospheric science


  • Key concepts of Physics
  • Motion
  • Forces of motion
  • Conservation of energy
  • Waves
  • Light and the electromagnetic spectrum
  • Radioactivity
  • Energy – forces doing work
  • Forces and their effects
  • Electricity and circuits
  • Magnetism and the motor effect
  • Electromagnetic induction
  • Particle model
  • Forces and matter

How you will be assessed

The Biology, Chemistry and Physics content of the GCSE (9-1) Combined Science course will be tested through six exams:

·        2 Biology papers

·        2 Chemistry papers

·        2 Physics papers

All papers contribute equally to the final mark leading to double award GCSE (9-1) Combined Science qualification

Each paper has six structured questions totalling 60 marks, with the questions starting easier and finishing at a more difficult level. Each paper will be 1 hour 10 minutes long.

There will not be any controlled practical assessments. There will be 18 core practicals that will be completed in class, during the duration of the GCSE Combined Science course. Understanding of practical work will be tested within the six Biology, Chemistry or Physics papers.

The qualification you will gain.

There will be a new 9-1 grading system.

Students entered for the:

  • Foundation tier will be awarded between grades 1 – 5 (highest)
  • Higher tier will be awarded between grades 4 – 9 (highest)

For Combined Science there is a 17 point grading scale, so the highest grade is 9,9, followed by a 9,8, continuing with grades in between and ending with 1,1.

The award will be a suitable qualification for students wishing to take any of the Science subjects at ‘A’ Level, or to follow NVQ based Science courses.

Qualification: GCSE (9-1) Combined Science (Double Award) 1SC0 – (Pearson Edexcel)

GCSE (9-1) separate Sciences

Biology, Chemistry and Physics

Triple Award

Students in set 1 will continue to follow GCSEs in the separate sciences, which will be completed at the end of Year 11.

The separate sciences course completes all the content of the GCSE (9-1) combined science course, as well as additional content in some topics and the completion of additional topics not taught to students following the GCSE (9-1) combined science course.


Additional content in all nine Biology topics, compared to the content taught to students following the GCSE (9-1) combined science course.


Additional content in some chemistry topics, compared to the content taught to students following the GCSE (9-1) combined science course.

  • Additional topics to be taught are:
  • Transition metals
  • Quantitative analysis
  • Dynamic equilibria
  • Chemical cells and fuel cells
  • Qualitative analysis
  • Hydrocarbons
  • Polymers
  • Alcohols and carboxylic acids
  • Bulk and surface properties & matter including nanoparticles


Additional content in some Physics topics compared to the content taught to students following the GCSE (9-1) Combined Science course.

Additional topics to be taught are:

  • Astronomy
  • Static electricity

How you will be assessed.

The separate sciences will be examined through six exams. The exams will have the same content as the GCSE (9-1) Combined Science papers, with extra questions on the separate science topics.

  • 2 Biology papers – leading to a GCSE Biology qualification
  • 2 Chemistry papers – leading to a GCSE Chemistry qualification
  • 2 Physics papers – leading to a GCSE Physics qualification

Each paper has 10 structured questions totalling 100 marks. Each paper will be 1 hour 45 mins long.

There will not be any controlled practical assessments, but there will be 8 core practicals in Biology, 8 core practicals in Chemistry and 8 core practicals in Physics, that will be completed in class, during the duration of the GCSE separate sciences courses. Understanding of practical work will be tested within the six Biology, Chemistry and Physics papers.

The qualification you will gain.

There will be a new 9-1 grading system.

Students entered for the:

  • Foundation tier will be awarded between grades 1 – 5 (highest)
  • Higher tier will be awarded between grades 4 – 9 (highest)

Students studying the separate sciences will be awarded one separate GCSE grade for each subject.

The award will be a suitable qualification for students wishing to take any of the Science subjects at ‘A Level, or to follow NVQ based Science courses.


  • GCSE (9-1) Biology – 1BI0 (Pearson Edexcel)
  • GCSE (9-1) Chemistry -1CH0 (Pearson Edexcel)
  • GCSE (9-1) Physics – 1PH0 (Pearson Edexcel)


BCS Level 2 ECDL Award in IT Application Skills (QCF)


 Who is the qualification for?

The qualification is aimed at students with limited knowledge of the most popular IT Applications. This qualification develops the students skills in the following areas:

  • Word Processing Software
  • Spreadsheet Software
  • Presentation Software
  • Improving Productivity using IT

What will the student study as part of this qualification and what knowledge and skills will they learn?

BCS Level 2 ECDL Certificate in IT Application Skills is a fixed unit qualification that covers the core skills in the use of the most popular IT Applications. Students enrolling on this qualification will complete the following units:

Word Processing Software  

  • Develops the learners ability to create word-processed documents: entering text, editing and formatting work, using graphs, tables and pictures for a professional finish, and effectively using tools such as the spell-checker and mail merge.

 Spreadsheet Software

  • Helps the learner develop a working knowledge of spreadsheets, from entering data and formatting worksheets, to creating charts and producing high-quality documents.

Presentation Software

  • Shows the learner how to produce high-quality presentations using a variety of tools including charts, graphs and drawn objects.

Improving Productivity using IT

  • Enables the learner to work more effectively with IT. This unit looks at using tools to save time and effort when producing word processed documents, presentations and spreadsheets.

Each unit is assessed by a short examination taken on a computer.

Qualifications:  BCS Level 2 ECDL Award in IT Application Skills (QCF)




What is GCSE Art and Design?

It’s about having an adventurous and enquiring approach to art and design and developing the skills to express it.   You will develop an understanding of past and contemporary art and design and be able to produce a personal response embracing a range of ideas.

The skills you will develop doing GCSE Art will be varied.   Among them, you will develop a working knowledge of the materials, practices and technology of art and design.   You will develop the skills to investigate, analyse and experiment using art, craft and design.   You will develop your imaginative powers and the skills to express your ideas, feelings and meanings.   You will also develop an understanding of the language and conventions of art and design and an understanding of the place of art, craft and design in history and in society.

How does it follow on from what I have learned before?

The GCSE Art and Design follows on from what you have been doing at key stage 3 (Years 7 – 9).   The emphasis in this GCSE is on the process of developing both ideas and work.   Central to this is the personal portfolio.

You will have some experience of using art materials and processes, together with some knowledge of contemporary and historical design. More importantly, you should have a commitment to, and love of the subject and feel motivated to develop your visual skills and express your ideas in working through projects and assignments.

How is the course structured?

The GCSE Art and Design contains two papers.

Unit 1 Personal portfolio

This is divided into separate units, each with its own theme (60% of total marks).

Unit 2 is the externally set assignment – the 10 hours (2 days) timed test (40% of total marks).

What about exams?

The exam board sets a theme – for example, ‘Identity’ or ‘Work, rest and play’.   The externally set exam paper contains suggestions for possible starting points to help you develop your response to the theme.   You are given eight weeks to prepare for the timed test.   During this time work, journals/sketchbooks should be filled with your ideas in the form of preparatory studies.

At the end of this period you will sit a 10 hour timed examination, during which you will produce your final piece of work.   Your preparatory and developmental work, along with your final piece, will then be submitted for assessment.

How will I be assessed?

Unit 1 Personal portfolio

Internally-set and marked; assessed through controlled assessment.

Unit 2 externally-set assignment in art and design

Externally set theme and internally marked.

Each unit is assessed separately out of 80 marks. You will be assessed using four assessment objectives of refine, experiment, record and present.

What will I learn?

The GCSE covers a range of activities and in-depth assignments. You will have the opportunity to experiment with different media in order to explore your strengths and preferences.   There are a wide range of options and you may choose to work in several areas. Whatever you choose, the main aim of the course is to develop your visual language skills and for you to build a comprehensive portfolio of work to progress to further courses or employment.

What could I do next with a GCSE – Art and Design?

A GCSE in Art and Design can be a first step towards a career as a graphic designer, illustrator, sculptor, painter, photographer, garden designer or animator. If you are unsure about what to do next, the best thing to do is to speak to Mrs Adams who will know about the choices on offer.

What can I do after I’ve completed the course?

On completion of your GCSE Art and Design course, you could progress to post16 education.

Courses at level 3 include:

  • GCSE Advanced level in art and design
  • BTEC National in art and design

You may wish to do a GCSE in Art and Design for its own sake, perhaps to form the basis of a future interest.   Or you might wish to go into a job where it is useful to have had experience of art, craft and design, or where you will need to use some of the skills developed during this course.   These might include careers in such fields as advertising, marketing, design, architecture, teaching, publishing and the media.

Whichever you choose, the study of art can help you develop transferable skills which you can take into any career or job.

Qualification:  GCSE (9-1) Art, Craft and Design – 2AD0 (Pearson Edexcel)


Computer Science

Computing compliments ICT, but is a very different subject to study. Students have had exposure to computing since Year 7. ICT is studied by all KS4 students, and is about the use of computers and their applications. Computing is about computer coding, networks, general computer architecture and their implementation in society.

The continual growth of mobile computing and web-based technologies requires skilled personnel to implement the developments, resulting in challenges for employers and individuals alike. However, the job prospects for students with computing knowledge are excellent, with many jobs today, requiring a technical appreciation of computer systems.

This is particularly true with gaming technologies, and the course goes some way to provide a platform for students who may wish to choose a career in the technical field.

The new OCR Computer Science curriculum from 2016 encompasses:

























Qualification:  GCSE (9-1) Computer Science – J276 (OCR)


GCSE Design and Technology

The design and technology department offers three distinct GCSE subjects, building on experiences at key stage 3: food, resistant materials and textiles.

All technology subjects will enable you to develop important life skills required in many walks of life, including:

  • time-management
  • problem-solving
  • working in teams
  • project management
  • fine practical skills

All these GCSE specifications offer a single entry tier for the exam, allowing students access to all grades and require the completion of controlled assessment tasks.

Food Preparation & Nutrition GCSE

Students are given the opportunity to make a huge variety of products over the course of two years in a well-structured environment. This course will give you valuable key life skills enabling you to cook and make informed choices about what and how well you are eating.

What will I study?

  • Food Preparation Skills
  • Food Nutrition and Health
  • Food Safety
  • Food Science
  • Food Provenance
  • Food Choice

During the course you will be given the opportunity to practise a wide range of skills along with having a greater understanding of nutrition, the science behind food as a material and wider environmental aspects associated with food.

In Year 10 students will usually cook once a week as well as completing a series of modules involving written work and food experiments. This is supported with regular homework tasks and end of module tests.

In Year 11 students will concentrate on completing two Non Examination Assessments (NEA) using a variety of research and investigation methods. Students will respond to one of three specified tasks set by the exam board. Students will not cook as much in Year 11 due to NEA and preparing for their exam in the summer term. In addition, Year 11 students will practise past exam questions and complete revision activities as independent study

Students will enjoy Food Technology if they are organised and enjoy experimenting with food. It is more important for students choosing the course to enjoy a large variety of foods than have a natural flair for cooking; we will teach you how to cook!

The course is taught in a “hands on”” practical way and consequently the weekly purchase of ingredients is essential.   Time will also need to be allocated to visiting the supermarket. If cost is a concern please ensure a confidential discussion is arranged with Mrs Upton prior to selecting Food Preparation and Nutrition as an option choice.

Students are also encouraged to do their own ingredients shopping (not parents!) and be prepared for lessons, having familiarised themselves with their recipes prior to attending class.

How will my course be assessed?

All assessments take place in Year 11

September – December. NEA Task 1 Food – Science Investigation (10 hours) = 15% of GCSE

December – February. NEA Task 2 – Food Preparation Assessment (20 hours including a 3 hour assessment) = 35% of GCSE

May – June. 1 hour 45 minute exam = 50% of GCSE

How will it help me in the future?

Food Technology is one of the worlds fastest growing industries. In fact over 20% of the top 100 British Companies are in food manufacturing.

The food and drink industry is booming, with employment reaching the heights of 650,000 people and an annual turnover of £66 billion. The opportunities to work within the food industry really are endless. The food industry contains many multinational companies and opportunities for travel or work abroad exist for those who wish to spread their wings.

Some examples of careers in food are:

Dietician / Nutritionist, Food Sales and Promotion, Product Development, Consumer Technologist (Sensory Analysis and Product Tasting), Chef / Baker / Caterer, Food Journalist / Food Critic, Environmental Health Officer, Health & Safety Inspector, Food Service Management, Delicatessen / Restaurateur, Food Wholesaler, Production & Manufacturing, Quality Assurance / Standardisation, Purchaser (buys and sells food from around the world), Store Manager – Supermarket or Fast Food Chains, Packaging Technologist, Teacher (clearly the best career…)

Qualification:   GCSE Food Preparation and Nutrition – 8585 (AQA)

Design and Technology

(specialism in Textiles or Wood)

Central to the content of this GCSE course is the requirement for learners to understand and apply processes of design development which demonstrate; exploring needs, creating solutions and evaluating how well needs have been met.

Design and technology is a subject which brings learning to life; requiring learners to use thinking and understanding from maths, science, art, computing with the practical and technical knowledge of Design and Technology, to design and make prototypes, which solve real and relevant problems.

The course builds on skills and knowledge from Key Stage 3, while having the freedom to focus in more depth on areas of Design and Technology which interest them.

When opting for this subject learners need to decide what material they wish to specialise in. This course is different to what current Year 10/11 are currently following, as it is the final GCSE to be reformed and updated. We are planning on offering specialism in textiles and woods, but with options to include other materials if relevant to their design development.

Lessons with be delivered through skill based tasks and challenges which explore materials, processes and techniques. We will use testing and evaluative techniques to learn about the properties and suitability for materials to meet a need. Consideration of environmental, sustainable and economic issues will be taken into account as a designers’ responsibility. Students will become skilled at developing a range of solutions to real and varied problems, while being able to underpin decision making with clear theoretical reasoning.

All students study a core content of Design and Technology principals and then develop deeper specialist knowledge of their chosen material. The topics for study are:

  • Identifying user needs
  • Learning from existing products and practices
  • Design thinking and communication
  • Material knowledge
  • Technical understanding
  • Manufacturing processes and techniques
  • Viability of design solutions


Design Challenge – approximately 40 school hours – 50% of final grade.

This challenge is released by the exam board in June, so will be predominately completed in the first term of year 11.

2 hour written paper – 50% of final grade – taken at end of year 11

The exam has two sections; the first examining the core content and the second section looking at specialist material knowledge in more depth.

Qualification:    Design Technology (9-1) – J310 (OCR)