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Choices at Years 8 and 9

In Year 9, you will have to choose which courses you want to study in Years 10 and 11. The choices you make will affect how you spend your time during the next two years at school, and may also help you decide which college course or career you want to do in the future. Speak to your parents/carers, teachers and careers adviser to help you decide. Don’t choose courses just because your friends are choosing them.

Here are some things to think about.

  • What are your favourite subjects?

  • What do you enjoy and find interesting?

  • What do you do well at?

  • Do you like writing projects, working things out, or designing and creating things?

  • Do you have hobbies or do things at home which have given you new skills?



Choosing a subject at GCSE level, depending on the grade you obtain, will give you more opportunity to study it at a higher level, such as AS and A Level, an apprenticeship, and/or find a job in that subject. You will have more choices in the future if you have GCSEs at grade C and above in English, maths and science.

Your school will have compulsory courses, including English, maths and science, which you will have to study as they cover essential knowledge that everyone needs for the future. There will also be a wide range of subjects that you can choose from, and your school will be able to give you a list.  

Most learning is in the classroom, including both theory and practical work, and exams are based on a mixture written exams and on-going assessment, depending on the subject.

Other qualifications at Year 10

Other qualifications to GCSEs are available and may be offered by your school or to you as an alternative route. These include the following.

English Baccalaureate

Some schools are now offer the English Baccalaureate, sometimes known as the EB or the E-Bac. This is made up of a range of GCSEs, including English, maths, science, a foreign language, and either history or geography.

14–19 Diploma

The 14–19 Diploma may be offered by some schools. This is a more practical and hands-on way of gaining a qualification that is recognised by employers, colleges and universities.

Personalised/foundation working

If you are not ready for a full GCSE programme, perhaps due to additional needs or personal situations, you could be provided with the opportunity to study a personalised curriculum. Your school would discuss this with you and your parents/carers in greater detail.

Key Skills, such as English and maths

Certificates in Key Skills cover things such as communication, application of numbers and ICT. There are additional subjects, including working with others, problem solving and improving own learning. These are often offered alongside other qualifications. If this route would be suitable for you, your school or college would discuss this further with you and your parents/carers.


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