Year 9 Guided Choices

This year is an important year for Year 8 and 9 learners because they will be making their choices for their optional courses at Key Stage 4.  This process starts with information, advice and guidance from their form tutor during the first term.  Learners will also have the opportunity to use an online programme called LaunchPad which will ask them to complete a questionnaire about themselves and the way they like to work. This programme will look at possible pathways and career choices for them to investigate.  Each learner will get an individual password so they can access this at school or at home.  We would encourage parents/carers to use this programme with their child.

Guided Choices 

There are a number of types of qualifications available at Key Stage 4. 

BTEC Courses

These courses are Level 2 qualifications in a specific subject.  Currently they are assessed by examination only or by a combination of examination, controlled assessment and practical work.  All subjects will be graded on the new grading of 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8 and 9 with 1 the lowest and 9 the highest. All GCSE courses are now linear.  This means that learners will not take exams or modules during Year 9, 10 or 11.  All the written exams will now be at the end of Year 11. 

These courses are Level 2 qualifications equivalent to GCSE courses. The main difference between GCSE courses and BTEC courses is the way in which learners learn and the way in which they are assessed. The courses are currently assessed by written assignments which are completed over the 2/3 years with some form of written exam or assessment at the end of the course.  They are graded Distinction*, Distinction, Merit, Pass or Fail.These are Level 2 qualifications equivalent to a GCSE. These courses are currently assessed by written assignments which are completed over the two years.  There is an examination at some point in Year 11.  They are graded Distinction*, Distinction, Merit, Pass or Fail.

English Baccalaureate

The English Baccalaureate (E-Bacc) is a combination of subjects that must be achieved together at GCSE. It is not a qualification and it is not a subject. The subjects which must all be achieved are English Language or English, Mathematics, Combined Science or Separate Sciences, either History or Geography and a language (French or Spanish). For more information on this click here.

The Government are currently reviewing all of these qualifications and there are some changes for courses taught from 2016.  A significant change will be the way that GCSEs will be marked. Going forward all GCSEs will be graded 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8 and 9 where 1 is the lowest and 9 is the highest. Click here for more about this. 

Pathway Booklets
Useful Websites

Birchwood Community High School - Careers

There is a careers section on our website which contains useful websites, careers information and guidance, and details of all the Key Stage 4 courses that we offer currently. Kudos  

Kudos is an innovative program that introduces Key Stage 3 learners to their options and supports their subject choice and career path.  It features skills profiling and development, GCSE subject choices and careers exploration.  


The National Careers Service -

The National Careers Service is the publicly funded careers service for adults and young people (aged 13 or over) in England.  You can find information on over 750 careers as well as information on understanding the job market, interview techniques, searching and applying for jobs, identifying key strengths and skills as well as developing a plan for career goals. 

UCAS -  

UCAS stands for the 'Universities and Colleges Admissions Service'.  The website has lots of information to help students make informed choices by guiding them, as well as their parents and advisers, through the entire higher education application process.


Careersbox (sponsored by employers) is an online careers film and video library which features real people doing real jobs.  This can help young people to understand the different employment sectors.