Welcome to the Year 9 guide to Key Stage 4 Specialisms

The aim of our Key Stage 4 curriculum is to provide a broad and balanced curriculum with a strong academic core. We want to ensure that every student is able to gain qualifications that build on their strengths, interests and talents, and provide a strong foundation for future study and employment.

Our students are all individuals so we offer a broad range of subjects – what is important is for students to carefully choose the specialisms subjects that are most suitable for them. While most of the courses we offer are GCSE courses, we also offer a number of vocational qualifications. These are all approved by the Department for Education as being the equivalent of a GCSE and they are recognised by colleges, universities and employers. It is important for students and parents to understand the similarities and differences between GCSEs and vocational qualifications. Most GCSEs are assessed by exam only at the end of the 2 year course, although practical subjects will also include a practical assessment or portfolio. Vocational courses may also include coursework, with a smaller percentage of the final grade assessed in an exam.

It is hard for young people to know exactly what they want to do in the future when they are in Year 9, and we want to avoid closing doors for them in the future. Most students will gain 9 qualifications – we offer 9 rather than 8 to maintain the breadth of the curriculum. Students are placed on one of 3 pathways which guide their choice of subjects, although the pathways offer many of the same subjects and choices.

All students will complete GCSE courses in Maths, English Language, English Literature and Combined or Triple Science (worth 2 or 3 GCSEs).

Our blue pathway is for students who are likely to go on to do A levels and apply for Russell Group universities. We want to avoid limiting their choices in the future and to support them to choose “enabling subjects” at A level which tend to be core academic subjects. These students may well find themselves working in an international environment in the future with colleagues from around the world who speak more than one language. We feel it is essential that these students take at least one Languages subject to at least GCSE level to avoid limiting their options in the future. We also expect them to choose at least one Humanities subject (RE, Geography or History GCSE). Students then choose 2 further subjects – this can include Triple Science or another Humanities or Languages GCSE. We advise that at least one choice should be a practical subject.

Our green pathway is designed to provide a broad foundation for future study or training at Level 3 and beyond. Students on green pathway can opt to take a Humanities and a Languages subject as two of their choices. One subject has to be an academic choice – a Language, Humanities subject, Triple Science or Computer Science.

Our purple pathway provides a more personalised and flexible choice for students who will benefit from this. Their Key Stage 4 curriculum will be discussed and planned on an individual basis, although they will have access to the majority of the same subjects as students on the other pathways.

I hope you find this information a helpful starting point, along with the guide published below. This is the start of this process; I look forward to seeing you at the presentation in January, and hope that you and your child will find the programme of activities planned for the first half of the spring term useful in making their specialism choices.

Please enjoy the video presentations put together by each department below, and don't hesitate to contact us with any queries.

Mrs A Mellors

Key Dates

  • Christmas Break 2021
    Specialism booklet available on the school website and emailed to parents. There will be some hard copies available in reception.
  • From 5th January 2022
    Subject Specialists information sessions: Students will identify key aspects of different subjects. Subject teachers will also discuss their subject at GCSE as part of Lessons.
  • Thursday 13th January 2022
    Online presentation for students and parents / carers detailing the process and different routes:
    Green/Purple Route: 6:30pm
    Blue Route: 7:15pm
  • Thursday 20th January 2022
    1. Meet the Professionals: Students will have the opportunity to meet professionals in industry and ask questions in school.
    2. Year 9 Parents Evening for all subjects, 4:00pm – 6:30pm
  • Tuesday 25th January 2022
    Specialisms Taster Morning: Students will participate in three 50-minute taster sessions to give them the opportunity to experience ‘new’ subjects and make an informed decision about whether or not they wish to specialise in them.
  • Monday 21st February 2022 
    Deadline for Specialisms choices.
  • Summer 2022
    Confirmation of selected Specialisms will be sent to Students and Parents/Carers.

Our Pathways

Information on the Purple pathway is included within the presentation on the Green pathway

Our Subjects