KS4 Options

The selection of courses at Key Stage 4 is one of the key moments in your secondary education. Selecting the right courses is not always a straightforward decision. However, we aim to ensure that the information and guidance provided will alleviate some of these issues. It is important that you understand your own strengths and weaknesses so that you can optimise your chances of success. Equally, we trust that you will select courses in which you have a real interest.

It is important that you listen to the advice of teachers, parents and friends but ultimately you must arrive at your own decision and accept the responsibility of giving your best efforts to achieve success. You should avoid making a decision based upon poor information. Responding to pressures from others or doing the same as a friend is not recommended (even if your friend has picked the same courses, you may well be in different teaching groups). Please read the information on this web page and watch the videos produced for some of our options subjects. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact the school.

Click here for the Explore Your Options presentation

You will follow a curriculum comprising of four key elements:

  • The core curriculum
  • An EBacc (English Baccalaureate) choice
  • Optional subjects

The curriculum at The Suthers School has been designed to enable you to realise your potential in every subject. The changing landscape in education means that the quantity of GCSEs taken is no longer the priority; grade 9–1 GCSEs are very challenging and benefit from extra classroom learning time if you are to be able to access the highest grades.

The core curriculum

When you enter Year 10 in September, you will be studying the following core subjects:

  • English and English Literature (two GCSE courses)
  • Mathematics
  • Science (Separate Sciences or Combined Science: Trilogy)
  • Physical Education
  • PSHE and RE will be delivered through Personal Development lessons, off-timetable days and assemblies as well as through Form Time

An EBacc (English Baccalaureate) choice

You must choose at least one of the following EBacc subjects to study at GCSE.

  • Geography
  • History

Most students will also study French, some will study another course instead (e.g. iMedia).

Optional subjects

You must choose two subjects from those listed below. We will also ask that you choose reserve subjects in the situation where a subject is over-subscribed.

  • Art (GCSE)
  • Business Studies (Vocational)
  • Children’s learning and development (Vocational)
  • Design and Technology (GCSE)
  • Drama (GCSE)
  • Music (GCSE)
  • PE (Vocational)

The difference between GCSEs and Vocational options

GCSEs – The main characteristic of these qualifications is that they focus on gaining knowledge and are mainly assessed by exams, some subjects like Art, Music and Drama also have coursework elements.

Vocational subjects – These are more focused on skills and therefore not so much on what you know but on what you can do. Rather than covering a general subject, they are relevant to a specific job sector and focus on the practical abilities you need to get a job in that sector. They are mainly coursework based but have some exams.

A new grading system of 9–1 was introduced for all GCSE courses from summer 2018. This new grading system replaced the previous A*–G system. A grade 7 on the new system is roughly equivalent in standard to the current A grade and a grade 4 is roughly equivalent in standard to the current C grade. Grade 5 will become the standard considered nationally to be a ‘good pass’.

Raising of Participation Age (RPA)

In 2013 the Government changed the age that young people can leave education or training. You now need to remain in education or training until you are 18 years old. However, this does not mean you will be required to stay in school. There will be three ways in which you can participate post16:

  • Full time education in a school or college;
  • An apprenticeship;
  • Part-time accredited learning if you are in full-time employment or volunteering.

How are the Vocational qualifications viewed in Higher Education?

Universities accept all courses with an equivalence to GCSE when considering UCAS applications from students at The Suthers School.

Is there the opportunity to gain qualifications before the end of Year 11?

Due to the implementation of new and more challenging specifications, the loss of controlled assessments, the introduction of terminal, linear examinations and a new grading system that differentiates more at the top end, it is unlikely that you will be ready to sit examinations early. Completion of the courses in Year 11 will enable the highest ability learners to achieve the new grade 9, a grade only achieved by approximately 3 % of students nationally.

If I want to go on to study A-Levels after Year 11, which subjects would be best?

There are no ‘best’ options to prepare you for further study. Keep your options broad and balanced. If you wish to study A Level subjects at most Sixth Forms, you will need to secure at least a grade 5 in GCSE English Language and a grade 5 in GCSE Mathematics. In addition, each student must achieve at least three 5 grades and two 6 grades overall. There are also subject-specific entry requirements to gain entry to a college course, with the vast majority of courses requiring a grade 6 in the matching course being studied at GCSE.

If I can’t decide between two subjects, who should I talk to?

Email your teachers or tutor and talk to an adult at home. Remember to consider your own strengths, interests, needs and career plans in making your final choice.

Can The Suthers School guarantee that all optional courses listed on this web page will run next year for Year 10 students?

At The Suthers School we design a curriculum that caters for the needs and choices of as many students as possible. However, in extreme cases where the number of students opting for a certain course is unusually low, we cannot guarantee that this course will run.

Please click on the subject buttons below to see information about the courses.

Humanities Choice



Pathways subjects

Creative iMedia


Optional GCSE Courses

Art and Design