KS4 Options Guidance


Additional guidance for students and families

Experience shows that when students play to their strengths, they succeed. Because of this, some subjects have entry requirements. You may also be restricted from some subjects in which you have not demonstrated a required minimum skill level, since starting at the Academy in Year 7.  Examples of these subjects include Computer Science, Psychology and Separate Sciences.

The Department for Education have created a measure called Progress 8, to judge schools and students based on your attainment level when you start at the Academy.
We use this measure to develop a target grade for students and make sure that target is stretching. It should be noted that this is not your destiny, targets can be raised. It will take dedication and hard work to reach your target and how hard you study will be the determining factor at GCSE.

In the information provided on the sheet alongside this booklet, you will see your target grade. These are based on government predictions and whether staff think that you are performing in a way which is above, below or at this standard. For academic subjects, these targets are based on the 9-1 methodology which has replaced the old A*-G grading system in the last few years. Please seek guidance from staff if you would like the 9-1 system to be explained to you. You have also been assessed on your progress against competencies in Literacy for Life.
Departments will have different ways of determining if students are currently on track to achieve these grades, based on test data, classwork, end of year examinations and staff professional judgement.

Some students who have a low English and/or Mathematics level and are
not performing well in relation to already-low targets in a number of subjects, may be asked to consider specific programmes which will allow them the best chance to be successful. 
Further discussions have taken place with Heads of Department, the Special Educational Needs department, the L4L team and senior staff to determine if this guidance is necessary.  Students will be supported with their choices if they are in this group.

the key stage 4 curriculum

curriculum compulsory qualifications

The following qualifications are compulsory, and all students will take
them as part of their KS4 curriculum.  

  • English Language
  • English Literature
  • Maths
  • A minimum of Combined Science (students may opt for Separate Sciences instead of this)

No matter which subjects you take, you should gain the equivalent of five GCSE grades purely from the core offering. You also have an hour of non-examined Physical Education, and PSHE and RE in Personal Development Form Time Sessions.
‘Core time’ will take up around 15 hours per week.

Students are set by ability in Mathematics, English and Science; PE is taught in mixed ability groups.

tiers of entry

Most subjects have one tier of entry.

Science, Maths and Language have Higher and Foundation Tiers.

Please note that teaching staff will decide on the most appropriate tier or entry and this does not form part of the choices that students make.

the English baccalaureate

The English Baccalaureate comprises the core subjects above of English Language and Literature, Mathematics and at least Combined Science. In addition, students must study one of Geography or History and a language, this will be German for most students.

The Government aims to have 75% of all students studying the English Baccalaureate this year, rising to 95% in 2024. This is to encourage students to have a strong academic base and because it may be an advantage when applying to some universities. The English Baccalaureate also gives a good spread of subjects to ensure students do not lock off career paths too early.

Most of our students will be entered for the English Baccalaureate which means they will study History OR Georgraphy AND German (or a community language). 

Options and careers

It is important to think carefully about the career field that you are considering entering when you are older. If you had to choose three A level qualifications to study tomorrow, what would they be? Are they available as options you can take today?  If they are, then it may well be worth considering them as your options.  

Consider carefully what you are talented in. What is your best subject? Often the subject that you are best at is the one that you will enjoy the most.  

It is important to consider which subjects you can get the best grades in; it is also important to consider if any subjects have a coursework element so you can bank some of the qualifications before the final examinations.

There are a number of subjects that you have not studied before. If you are considering one of those subjects, then check the website carefully. Consider talking to staff if you are unsure. 

Key Tips


  • VISIT the options website and look carefully over each subject.  
  • ASK subject teachers, your L4L teacher or Heads of Department if there is anything you are not sure about or if you would like more information.  
  • THINK about all the subjects open to you.  
  • THINK carefully about your possible educational and career future.  
  • TALK about your ideas and choices with your parents/carers.  
  • TALK about subjects you are choosing with teachers of that subject.  
  • CHECK you are definite about your choices before sending in your final form.  
  • MAKE SURE that if you want to do a subject and are unsure of whether you meet the entry requirements you see the Head of Department and get them to agree. 



  • DON’T choose a subject simply because your friends are choosing it. Their needs may be totally different from yours and you probably will not be in the same teaching group anyway.  
  • DON’T choose a subject just because you like the teacher; you may have a different teacher next year.  
  • DON’T choose a subject just because it is new or because it sounds glamorous. Check it out carefully.