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Year 9 Guided Choices

This year is an important year for Year 9 students because they will be making choices for their optional courses at Key Stage 4 (Year 10 and 11).  This process starts with information, advice and guidance from their form tutor and subject teachers during the Spring Term. 

Guided Choices

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


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 students will not take exams or modules during Year 10 or 11.  All the written exams will now be at the end of Year 11. 

BTEC Courses

These courses are Level 2 qualifications equivalent to GCSE courses. The main difference between GCSE courses and BTEC courses is the way in which students learn and the way in which they are assessed. The courses are currently assessed by written assignments which are completed over the 2 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. 

Pathway Booklets

Useful Websites

Birchwood Community High School 

We recommend having a look at the following websites for help and advice with choosing Key Stage 4 options. 

If you require advice from our Careers Adviser, Mrs Morris, she can be contacted on 


For advice on choosing Key Stage 4 options: 


For advice on what to study at GCSE/BTEC  and how to make decisions: 

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 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.

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