We are delighted to begin this exciting process for our Year 9 students as they begin to take their next steps at Leeds City Academy by choosing the subjects they wish to study for their GCSEs.
This a very important time for our students as they begin to identify the routes they wish to take that will help shape their future careers. Throughout this process we will be providing an extensive range of subject information, career guidance and experiences to ensure all stakeholders are able to learn more about the subjects on offer.
By ensuring our students can make informed choices regarding the opportunities that the subjects can lead to at further and higher education and how they will prepare them for future employment we will be able to guide our students onto a pathway of harnessing their potential in their chosen career pathway.
Options Callback Request
What do you need to do?
- Review all the information on this webpage and the options process booklet including the information about each subject, ensuring you have a clear understanding of what each subject involves and where it can lead.
- Year 9 students should speak to their subject teachers and parents/carers if they have any specific questions.
- The academy will review all option choices for all students and confirm final choices with students and their parent/carer by June.
The Curriculum and Option choices
Our curriculum at Key Stage 4 is broad and balanced: it provides ‘a wide range of opportunities, subjects and courses [to help] pupils acquire knowledge, understanding and skills in all aspects of their education, including the humanities and linguistic, mathematical, scientific, technical, social, physical and artistic learning’.
All students will follow a similar compulsory core curriculum consisting of five academic GCSE subjects:
English Language, English Literature, Maths and Combined Science (which is worth 2 GCSE grades)
In addition to this, students will continue to study core PE and DNA (PSHCE and Religious Education as part of our commitment to students’ health and wellbeing).
To ensure all students benefit from a highly challenging and aspirational education, all students at Leeds City Academy will need to select at least one subject from the EBacc suite of subjects (Geography, History, Computer Science, Spanish) as one of their options.
We would also strongly recommend that students opt to take a Spanish or a Heritage Language in order to allow them to be able to benefit from the value that a language will add to their future education, career opportunities and life experiences.Further to this, students will make three option choices.
Take a look at our Subjects
Health and Social Care
Travel and Tourism
Hospitality and Catering
Monday 19th February: Options booklet and subject information available on website
Thursday 22nd February: Career and Options Information Evening (Live)
What this is
An opportunity for students and parents/carers to discuss the subject in greater detail with subject leaders (and other relevant staff) and potential employers / career sectors where the subject will be useful, if studied.
5:00 – 6:30pm
Leeds City Academy
Wednesday 28th February: Parents Evening (Live)
What this is
An opportunity to review your child’s progress within the subject and help inform future choices to be studied at GCSE
4:00 – 7:00pm
Leeds City Academy
Friday 15th March: Options form to be completed on Forms
What this is
Final submission of your chosen options
Your child will be given an options form which should be returned to Ms Escobar
June: Final option choices shared with students and parents
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is Key Stage 4?
Key Stage 4 begins at the start of Year 10 and is two years of study leading to GCSE or equivalent qualifications. Many students go on from Key Stage 4 to study A-Levels or equivalent in 6th Form and others may go to college or begin employment coupled with training. Whatever our students decide to do, the choices they make now are very important.
Why do students have to choose?
There is not enough time in the curriculum to enable students to continue studying all of their Year 9 subjects to GCSE level therefore, they must opt and reduce the number of subjects studied.
Why do students only have up to 3 choices out of the subjects they study in Key Stage 4?
Some subjects are classed as core which means it is a statutory requirement to study them up to GCSE level; this includes English, Maths, Science, PE, PSHCE and non-examined aspects of Religious Education. Schools are also encouraged by the government to ensure students take another subject from the English Baccalaureate to ensure a broad, balanced and challenging curriculum.
What is the English Baccalaureate?
This is a set group of subjects which are measured by the Government, who report on how many students have achieved a good pass (grade 5 or better) in 5 specific subject areas. Those subjects are as follows: English, Maths, 2 Sciences, Computer Science, History or Geography and a foreign language.
Does this mean option subjects and those not included in the English Baccalaureate are less important?
Absolutely not. We value all subjects as highly as each other and are particularly proud of our high achieving practical subjects. Students are strongly recommended to use their other option(s) to pursue their passions and the subjects they are most interested in. The core curriculum ensures students have a solid foundation for further study so they should not be afraid to choose a combination of Music and Drama (for example) if that is where their interests lie.
What are Vocational Awards?
Vocational awards are alternative qualifications to GCSEs that are equally as challenging but offer a different approach to learning. The final qualification (if passed at Level 2) is equivalent to a pass at GCSE with gradings of pass, merit, distinction and distinction*. These courses are available in Drama, Music, Sports Studies, Health and Social Care, Hospitality and Catering, Engineering Design, Travel and Tourism, Enterprise and Construct.
Why do I have to rank order subjects on the options form?
Despite our best efforts, we cannot offer infinite combinations of subjects. Sometimes, students’ option choices will not be able to be provided e.g. if there are insufficient numbers to make the course viable.
We will always endeavor to meet as many 1st, 2nd and 3rd priority choices as possible, however, we ask students to rank order their top 10 in order to provide us with the opportunity to meet as many preferences as possible. With this in mind, we advise students to put as much thought into their additional choices.
What if students change their mind?
If students change their mind before the end of Year 9, they should see their Year Manager. Once the course has started, students will have to have a very strong reason for changing and no requests will be considered after the end of September. Again, queries should be directed to the Year Manager or the Assistant Principal. In either case, course swaps are sometimes impossible due to timetable blocking and/or student numbers.
Why do students only study 9 GCSEs?
As GCSEs have been reformed to be more challenging with more scope for top grades (only the top 25% of those who previously achieved an A* will achieve a 9) and to have all the exams at the end of Year 11, we believe it would be too demanding for students to study more courses. It is better that they study fewer courses and achieve more highly than spread themselves too thin. No colleges, employers or universities stipulate more than 9 GCSEs as an entry requirement but they do stipulate specific grades.
What about students who will struggle with GCSEs or equivalents?
Any student that has followed a bespoke curriculum at Leeds City Academy will continue to do so during Key Stage 4. We tailor our curriculum to the needs of our students and will speak directly with the students and families affected.
Why are GCSEs graded 9-1 now instead of A*-G?
The government has reformed all GCSE and A-Level qualifications. Reformed qualifications at GCSE are now graded from 9-1 as well as being more challenging and having most of their assessment at the end of the 2-year course (see individual subject pages for more information). The new grade 9 is highly aspirational and will only be achieved by a small percentage of pupils across the country.
Please see the figure on the right to understand how the new grading system relates to the previous letter grades.
How do GCSE choices affect students going to 6th Form, College and University?
To enter most 6th Forms, students will be required to achieve 5 good GCSEs, including Maths and English. A-level and equivalent subject courses also have subject specific criteria. Consequently, it is important that you follow an appropriate pathway and choose a combination of subjects which will maximise your chances of success.
For some subjects, students will need to have studied the subject at GCSE level, for others they will not. In terms of university, some ask for students to have studied at least 2 ‘facilitating subjects’ at A-Level and students will need to have studied these subjects at GCSE too. Google ‘Russell Group universities’ for more information or ask our Head of Careers: Mrs Molloy. Facilitating subjects at A-level are essentially the same as English Baccalaureate subjects at GCSE.
How can students ensure they are matching their GCSEs to their chosen career?
Students should do as much research and take as much advice as they can. We have excellent careers advice within school and both students and parents can make an appointment with the career’s advisor.
What if students don’t know what they want to do when they leave school?
They do not need to worry about this! Our options process ensures a solid foundation for further study so we recommend that students focus on choosing the subjects they enjoy and do well at as that should ultimately lead to success.
Points to consider
Final suggestions for students to consider when making their choices:
- What do I enjoy studying?
- What are my strengths?
- What way do I learn best and will the course suit me?
- If I choose this option now, will it keep more options open for me later for further study, training or work?
- What have I found about possible careers that I would enjoy and the subjects that will me harness my potential in them.
Some things for parents/carers to consider with students:
- Some students might say they like a subject but really they believe it is an easier option. This isn’t true – all subjects will be demanding at GCSE level and students will have to work hard to gain a good qualification.
- Some choose a subject to stay in the same class as friends but due to the size of our school and complex timetable, it is highly unlikely that this will happen anyway.
- Some students may be inclined to choose a subject because of the teacher but, again, due to the timetabling and potential staff changes, a specific teacher cannot be guaranteed.
- Remember, GCSEs have changed a lot since your day! Your experience may be totally different to what theirs will be; share your knowledge and experience but keep in mind as well that our students are preparing for a totally different world!
Finding out my career opportunities
Start helps you discover and explore jobs, industries and employers.
The website can be accessed by clicking the start logo below:
For further information on all aspects regarding you future career opportunities (or resetting your START profile password) please do not hesitate to speak with Ms Escobar.