GCSE Options

At Ormiston Denes Academy, we are passionate about ensuring students leave us having fulfilled their potential in a broad range of subjects and have the opportunity to succeed at the highest level. As such, the curriculum we offer gives the balance of a wide curriculum base in KS3 before allowing students to specialise in the subjects they enjoy the most in Year 10. PSHE, RE and PE are ingrained throughout the five year curriculum. 

Key Stage 4 courses require a considerable amount of commitment of all aspects of study both in school and at home. It is therefore important to be fully aware of the expectations of each course when making a choice.

The Options Choice Booklet for 2024 can be downloaded below:

All students will need to select their choices for the courses they will study throughout the whole of Year 10 and Year 11.  Each student will study:

  • The core curriculum,
  • Four option subjects which include a) A minimum of one subject from the EBacc options and b) Up to three subjects from the Option Choices.
Core Curriculum (hours per fortnight)
English Language and Literature (8)Non- Examined
Mathematics (8)Physical Education (4)
Combined Science (8)PSHE/ Religious Education (2)
EBacc Options (hours per fortnight)
French (5)Spanish (5)German (5)
History (5)Geography (5)
Option Choices (hours per fortnight)
Art and Design (5) Graphics (5)
Creative iMedia (5)Dance (5)
Photography (5)Music (5)
Drama (5)Health and Social Care (5)
Religious Education (5)Travel and Tourism (5)
Sports Studies (5)
Hospitality and Catering (5)

In November 2010 the Department for Education launched the government’s ‘The Importance of Teaching – The Schools White Paper 2010’. This document set out the future strategic vision for education in this country and one key aspect of this vision was the introduction of a new certification for students at 16 years called the ‘English Baccalaureate.’ This is not a qualification, but recognition of students attaining the set of requirements.

The English Baccalaureate is designed to encourage schools to offer a broad set of academic subjects and recognises students who secure good GCSE passes in English, mathematics, the sciences, a modern or ancient foreign language and a humanity such as history or geography.

According to the DFE’s website:

The EBacc 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 EBacc 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 EBacc can help improve a young person’s performance in English and maths.

Ormiston Denes Academy will ensure that the curriculum suits the needs of all students and offers a personalised curriculum enabling them to achieve success. We recognise that the English Baccalaureate is an important part of students’ progression to higher education and have ensured our curriculum provides the opportunity to achieve this qualification set.

We also want to give all students access to a broad and balanced curriculum. We continue to value creative and technical subjects and have ensured our curriculum continues to allow opportunities for students to develop a wide range of interests and talents. We remain committed to enabling a range of clubs and opportunities for those who choose not to pursue creative options at KS4 but have an interest in these that they wish to continue to develop.

Selecting your options is an important part of your journey at the academy. When choosing your subjects you should seek advice from a range of people including your subject teachers, your form tutor, the SEN team (if relevant), your parents/carers and any careers advice you may need from Mrs Richings and career and guidance websites.

As part of the options process, we aim to give all students a breadth of knowledge and support, providing: 

  • Dedicated form time sessions looking at options choices and career pathways;
  • Prior to the Parent’s/Options Evening, a PSHE lesson where they will be taught how to seek advice and given guidance around choosing their options;
  • Ongoing PSHE lessons which will continue to offer support around options choices;
  • Lunchtime drop-in sessions with various local colleges and universities throughout the end of January and February; 
  • Ongoing assemblies and taster sessions on new option subjects and pathways;
  • 1:1 progress meetings for students with key staff.

This time is an opportunity for you to explore your interests, prepare for your future and explore potential study paths and careers that are your ticket to the next stage in your life. 

You should pick subjects based on your interests and passions and think about how you can use that subject in the future, remember the KS4 taster sessions will give you an idea of where the subject can take you in the future.

  1. We will launch the options process in school during the spring term, this will be through an assembly with your year team and during the Year 9 Parents’/Options Evening.
  2. Students will receive their personal copy of the options booklet at the Year 9 Parents’/Options Evening. Once students have received this, they will participate in a range of activities to get to know all the different courses on offer.
  3. After February half term, we will run a series of workshops where you will experience some of the option subjects not on offer at KS3. 
  4. Once you have completed your Options Passport (in your options booklet) which details all the steps you have completed to ensure you have engaged in thoughtful reflection throughout the process, you will need to meet with a member of the Year 9 and careers teams to submit your options requests by the Monday 25th March 2024.
  5. Following the Easter holidays, the academy will arrange the options groups. Where possible we will endeavour to give you your first choice in each option block. However, please bear in mind that there are limits on specialist staff availability and specialist classrooms that may limit numbers on certain courses. Equally, if there is a lack of students then a course may not run. You will be informed of your options after the May half term holiday. 

Make sure you read through the options booklet thoroughly with your parents/carers and make informed decisions about your future.

Who can help me with careers?

Mrs Richings will support you with information regarding careers:

[email protected]

Who should I ask about the course I want to take?

You should ask the subject leader (found on each subject page) or your class teacher for that subject.

Who should I ask for more information about the options process?

Ask your form tutor or your head of year.

1. Research

▪ Read about all the courses that you could choose from in this booklet.

▪ Explore careers and what qualifications you will need.

You can start here where you can chat online to an impartial career advisor.

Think about:

▪ Which subjects particularly interest you?

▪ Where do your strengths and weaknesses lie?

▪ What study skills might you need for some subjects?

▪ Which subjects do your teachers recommend that you take?

▪ What ideas about your future career do you have at present?

2. Deciding

When you have gathered all your information and discussed your thoughts with your parents/carer, your form tutor and the appropriate staff, you are ready to make your decision.

Some tips: Some subjects may have special requirements: e.g. Hospitality and catering you will need ingredients. In performing arts you may need to take part in rehearsals and performances outside of the academy day and will need to perform in front of your peers and larger audiences.

Don’t choose a subject just because you like the teacher: it may be that you will not have the same teacher next year. Likewise do not be put off a subject because you do not get on well with your present teacher.

Make your own choices; don’t just follow a friend.

3. Preferences

We ask you to select preferences; we will use this information alongside your current grades and discussion with your teachers to place you in suitable subjects to help you achieve your best. 

Your choices need to fit into the following option blocks. Remember, you will need to take at least one EBacc.  Subject (these have an * beside their name), but it does not matter which block it appears in. 

Making Subject Choices

For parents, but students can read it too. View here.

GCSEs Explained

Informative website GCSEs explained.

GCSE Options Advice

Useful articles, especially ’GCSE or equivalent’
which offers advice on choosing GCSE options. View here.

Find Your Future Career

Use the site here to help you find your future

Explore Job Profiles

Explore the job profiles here to find out what
a job involves and if it will suit you.

Choosing Subjects

Unifrog can help you make important
decisions based on what you like and
dislike. You can discover what careers
your subjects can lead to, and what
subjects would be beneficial for a chosen career.

Parents’ Toolkit

A Parents’ Toolkit for Career Conversations, follow the link here.

A resource for young people

The website offers a variety of information for students, including careers, tips, advice, wellbeing information.

UEA Resource Centre

UEA Have you ever wondered, a website with supportive information for all year groups.

Options Advice

Read advice on choosing your options here.

Watch videos on how to make
choices at 14 here.

Match Skills to Jobs

The website offers a variety of information for
parents and students alike, including a number of quizzes to help match your skills and
interests to jobs.

Free Online Resource

Read advice on choosing your options here.