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Key Stage 4 Guided Options

At KS4 the curriculum builds upon the foundation work undertaken at KS3. We do this by ensuring that students develop a deeper and more insightful understanding of the core knowledge underpinning their subjects. Whilst academic rigour is at the heart of our curriculum, we also recognise the importance of students continuing to access the wider curriculum beyond the restraints of the GCSE specifications. As a result, we offer a wide range of extra-curricular activities which enables us to foster a love for learning outside the classroom. We recognise that each student has different educational needs and so we offer a guided choice of different pathways which provide breadth and balance while seeking to meet each student’s learning needs.

 

Our students begin their KS4 courses at the beginning of Year 9. The primary reasons for this are:

  • We value the creative arts subjects and are proud of the fact that all students leave the school with a GCSE in this area. Offering a three year KS4 curriculum allows us to ensure that students have the maximum possible exposure to creative subjects. As we know that our community tends to favour more scientific-based subjects, this is an important consideration in ensuring that students have a broad and balanced subject portfolio.
  • Unlike many schools locally, students still have a choice of four GCSE option subjects. Therefore, students maintain the breadth of curriculum for longer; we do not narrow or homogenise our KS4 offer to accommodate extra time for repeated exam practice.
  • A greater proportion of our students are taking the EBacc at KS4, and the government have identified languages and humanities as being more difficult than other GCSE option subjects. The three-year KS4 model enables us to achieve outstanding outcomes at grades 9-5 for students who study the full EBacc.
  • Our careers programme across KS3 is fully personalised, enabling students to make informed choices when picking their options subjects at the end of year 8.
  • Feedback from our key stakeholders, particularly parents, indicates they would prefer for children to continue to pick their option subjects at the end of year 8 to allow their children to specialise early.
  • Since the introduction of the new, more rigorous GCSE specification, we have seen a significant rise in referrals from doctors for students suffering from stress and anxiety. Whilst we have put into place numerous strategies to support students with dealing with exam pressure, we believe that delivering KS4 over a three year period allows our students to feel more secure when sitting their terminal examinations at the end of year 11.
  • Our wider curriculum offer is being taken up by the vast majority of students to develop their cultural capital.

Options are structured in such a way to allow students a free choice.  This ensures equity of delivery, with all pupils having equal access to subjects. The options are designed to stretch and challenge pupils and to meet the demands of the local labour market. Students are offered a mixture of practical and academic subjects from all areas of the curriculum. Within the option subjects, the school offers a range of different accreditation routes including academic and vocational options.  This gives every pupil a broad and balanced curriculum, but still offers a flexibility to maximise the outcomes achieved by each individual. This model also maintains the widest possible choice for progression routes post 16 as every pupil will have a greater range of subjects on which to choose future opportunities for education and training.‚Äč

At KS4 all students follow a core curriculum which includes: English, Mathematics, Science, Ethics and Philosophy, Core Physical Education, PSCHE and a Visual Art subject of their choice.

The following option subjects are also available for students to select: Business Studies, Computer Science, Food Technology, Health and Social Care, Sports Studies, French, German, Spanish, History, Geography, Music and Design Technology.

The hours allocated for these is as follows:

Subject

Lessons per fortnightly cycle in Years 9, 10 and 11

Mathematics and English

8 hours

Science

6 hours in Year 9;  8 hours in Year 10 and 11

Visual Art

5 hours

Options x3

5 hours

Core Physical Education

4 hours in Year 9 and 10;  3 hours in Year 11

PSCHE

2 hours in Year 9;  1 hour in Year 11

Ethics and Philosophy

2 hours

 

 

English Baccalaureate (EBACC) Pathway

The English Baccalaureate is a set of subjects at GCSE that keeps young people’s options open for further study and future careers. The English Baccalaureate is comprised of the following subjects’ English language and literature, maths, science, geography or history and a language. When your son/daughter applies to college or university, they will be able to write on their application that they gained the English Baccalaureate. The English Baccalaureate pathway is available to all students regardless of ability and all are encouraged to take up the English Baccalaureate.

English Baccalaureate impact

  • The English Baccalaureate is made up of the subjects which are considered essential to many degrees and open up lots of doors.
  • Research shows that a pupil’s socio-economic background impacts the subjects they choose at GCSE, and that this determines their opportunities beyond school.
  • A study by the UCL Institute of Education shows that studying subjects included in the English Baccalaureate provides students with greater opportunities in further education and increases the likelihood that a pupil will stay on in full-time education. Sutton Trust research reveals that studying the English Baccalaureate can help improve a young person’s performance in English and maths.
  • The government’s ambition is to see 75% of pupils studying the English Baccalaureate subject combination at GCSE by 2022, and 90% by 2025.

 

A copy of our KS4 Options booklet can be found here, which includes details of what is taught at KS4, including assessments and key revision websites. If you require any further information on our Key Stage 4 curriculum, please contact Mr K Ahmed Deputy Headteacher via kahmed@icknield.beds.sch.uk.