Year 9 Options - Frequently Asked Questions by Students/Parents/Carers

Frequently Asked Questions by Students/Parents/Carers


How many BTECs can a student take?

You can choose to take one BTEC qualification as one of your option choices – either BTEC Health and Social Care or BTEC Business.  Some students may also be entered for BTEC Science instead of GCSEs in Science if their teacher feels they are more suited to studying Science without having to take lots of examinations.

Is there any qualification between BTEC and GCSE?

These are the two types of qualifications that lead to a GCSE or equivalent that we offer.  GCSEs are available in traditional “academic” subjects and as work related/applied courses such as Child Development.  BTECs are vocational, work-related courses.

What about BTEC Health and Social Care?

BTEC Health and Social Care is one of two BTEC courses we offer as an option subject.  It is equivalent to 2 GCSEs.

What about Universities and BTECs?

BTECs are vocational, work-related qualifications and are recognised qualifications by universities for vocational, work-related courses.  If you are thinking of working in Health and Social Care or Business, studying the BTEC First followed by the BTEC National Diploma (equivalent to 3 A-levels) is one route to studying these at university.  You do not have to take a BTEC First in a subject to take the BTEC National Diploma in the Sixth Form.

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 (If you do three single sciences (Biology, Chemistry and Physics)  you’ll need to achieve grades A*-C in two of them or achieve grades
  • A*A*-CC in GCSE Science and GCSE Additional Science [Double Science])
  • MFL (French or German or a community language)
  • Humanities (Geography or History)

Is Double Science 2 GCSEs or 1?

“Double Science” is made up of two separate GCSE qualifications: GCSE Science and GCSE Additional Science.

No on-going exams – What will the impact of only having exams at the end of Year 11 be?

For many years all GCSE courses only had exams at the end of Year 11 and students were very successful in these qualifications.  For many subjects this has never changed.  Your teachers will ensure that you are fully prepared for these examinations and help you revise.

What about coursework and Controlled Assessment?

Coursework or Controlled Assessments remain part of all qualifications.  These are pieces of work that are completed during lesson time and are internally assessed as part of the GCSE/BTEC qualification.  Please see individual subject descriptions for more information on the requirements for each subject.

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.  For GCSE RE, the teaching of the GCSE course has already begun in Year 9 lessons as it is taught, very successfully, on one lesson a week for 3 years.


What is the difference between the Sciences – Triple, Double or BTEC?

  • Triple Science is made up of 3 GCSEs. Higher ability students will be entered onto the Triple Science GCSE route. This is where students are awarded a separate GCSE in Biology, Chemistry and Physics. If you are to be entered onto this course you/parents will be informed in writing. Typically these students are targeted to achieve level 6 or above at the end year 9 in Science, English and Mathematics. 
  • Double Science is made up of 2 GCSEs – GCSE Science and Additional Science. The majority of students will take both these courses. Both courses are available at Foundation and Higher Tier.
  • BTEC First Extended Science is an alternative pathway leading to a Level 2 qualification equivalent to 2 GCSEs. The course offers active learning in a vocational context, aiming to build confidence, competence and motivation. There are no exams; rather the course is assessed as students’ progress. The BTEC pathway is not suitable for all but is provided for students who will achieve more on a course with an assessment based on school-based work.

Who decides which Science qualification you do?

Most students will be expected to achieve two GCSEs or equivalents in science by the end of Year 11.  The decision to enter a student for two (“Double Science”) or three (“Triple Science”) GCSEs in Science or to enter the student for BTEC Science is made by the Science teachers and is based upon the student’s attainment in examinations and other key assessments during Year 9.

How many spaces are in the Triple Science group?

There is currently one Triple Science class with a maximum of 30 places. However, this is reviewed each year.

How many GCSEs do you get from the Triple Sciences?

Triple Science is made up of 3 GCSEs.  One in Biology, one in Chemistry and one in Physics.

When do you do the exams, and how many are there?

All your GCSE exams will be in May/June of Year 11 in 2014.  You will sit 2 or 3 exams in each GCSE subject you are taking.  The exact number depends on which subjects you are taking. 

How does science contribute to the Ebacc?

You need to achieve a grade C or above in Double Science (both GCSE Science and GCSE Additional Science) or a grade C or above in two of the three separate Sciences if you take Triple Science.

What about the BTEC science?

BTEC Science cannot be counted towards the Ebacc. 


What happens with clashes?

We will do our best to try to give every student their first choices for the options and will amend the options blocks if possible.  However, this is not always possible and in these situations we will discuss suitable alternative courses at the one-to-one interview you and your parents have with a senior member of staff in March.

Can students study outside and take the exams here?

This is possible and many students sit the examinations for a GCSE in their home language in school.  Please discuss this at the one-to-one interview you and your parents will have with a senior member of staff in March.

Are deadlines for returning forms important – will this affect whether I get my choices?

Having everyone’s form by the deadline enables us to do our very best to give everyone the subject choices they have asked for. 

How many GCSEs can you get per subject?

Most subjects are worth 1 GCSE. The exceptions are:

  • English is made up of English Language (1 GCSE) and English Literature (1 GCSE)
  • Science is either Double (2 GCSEs) or Triple (3 GCSEs)
  • All BTEC qualifications offered are equivalent to 2 GCSEs.

How many GCSEs and BTECs will be counted in my 5 A*-C?

Achieving 5 GCSEs (or equivalent) at grade A*-C is seen as the magic number to progress onto further education, training and employment.  This needs to be in 5 different subjects.  This means that BTEC Science/Health and Social Care/Business will each only count as one subject (although they are equivalent to 2 GCSEs).

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.

If you want the Ebacc, what will this mean for your choices?

This means that you need to choose French or German and Geography or History as two of your options.  It is possible to choose to study both Geography and History or French and German if you wish. Your third option can be your own choice from any in the remaining option block. 

What happens with core ICT in Year 10 when you move to Year 11? How is this different to ICT as an option?

In Year 10 all students will take the Functional Skills ICT qualification. Students who pass at Level 1 or Level 2 will receive a certificate; Level 2 is equivalent to half a GCSE at a grade B.  Functional Skills focuses on developing students’ ICT skills and helps them to apply and transfer their skills to situations in their lives and at work.  ICT as an option is a traditional GCSE course in the subject, and is available as one of your choices.

In Year 11 core ICT is replaced by a lesson of Academic Mentoring per week to support students as they prepare for their GCSE exams in the summer of Year 11.  Students taking Triple Science have an additional Science lesson instead.

How does the school use end of Year 9 Levels to decide who can do what?

Levels are used to help your teachers to advise you on the most suitable qualifications for you to take.  In Science, your level and examination results are used to decide whether you are going to be entered for Triple or Double Science.  In general, we advise that students who achieved a level 4 in their Key Stage 2 SATs in English, Mathematics and Science should seriously consider studying the subjects with the Ebacc for their options.

Which subjects (core) are not counted as GCSEs, and, why are we doing them?

The non-GCSE subjects that you must study are PE, PSHCEE and core ICT.  PE and PSHCEE are part of the National Curriculum that we have to provide to all students.  They ensure that you have a broad learning experience to prepare you for the world beyond school.  The core ICT qualification helps to develop your ICT skills that you will need for future education and employment.

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 Lit/Lang?

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 is invited, with their parents, to an interview with a senior member of staff in March to discuss your option choices.  This is to ensure that you have chosen the options you will be successful in.

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