14 January 2011
Dear Parent / Guardian,
It will soon be time for your son/daughter to make their GCSEs options. This process often requires a great deal of thought and consideration to ensure that our students make the right decision for themselves and get the best out of their education. You may like to peruse the following information which may assist you when helping your child to make an informed decision.
Information for students making GCSE options
At 14 years of age most people do not have a clear idea about the career they want to follow. Many, who think they know, change their minds as they get older. It is important, therefore, to choose a ‘BROAD AND BALANCED’ selection of option subjects. It would be a mistake to specialise too early and for a student to be denied a wide and exciting range of studies.
Students should be careful not to take a subject simply because they like their present teacher or because friends have chosen it.
QUESTIONS A STUDENT SHOULD ASK
What are my personal abilities, strengths and skills?
Will I enjoy taking a particular subject for another two years?
What am I going to do when I leave school?
What advice have I had from teachers?
What advice have I had from parents?
Do I need any more information?
Am I choosing a wide enough range of subjects?
Is it possible to study the subject at a higher level than GCSE?
MAKING THE RIGHT CHOICE
In deciding which optional subjects to pursue to GCSE level, there are many factors to consider. Questions that you should be asking yourself include:
Which subjects do I enjoy?
It is often the case that the subjects at which students do best are those which they most enjoy. Certainly, your time in Years 10 and 11 will be more enjoyable if you are studying subjects which you find interesting and stimulating. It is important to remember, however, that the material that you cover in a particular subject in Years 10 and 11 may well be quite different from that which you covered in Year 9. For this reason, it is very important that you do some research into exactly what each GCSE entails.
Which subjects am I best at?
Although life is not simply about getting good examination results, it is important that you opt for subjects at which you have a strong chance of doing well. Equally, it is likely that you will enjoy your time at school more if you are studying subjects which you do not find excessively difficult.
Do I need to study particular subjects if I wish to follow a particular career?
For entry to some professions, it is important to have the right academic qualifications. Those wishing to enter disciplines such as medicine or engineering, for example, would be strongly advised to opt for all the sciences. However, for entry to many degree courses and professions, it is not a requirement to have studied any particular subjects. Most students in Year 9 probably do not have clear ideas about the degree subject they would like to study, or the type of career they would like to enter. You certainly should not worry if, at this stage, you have little idea about what you would eventually like to do – indeed, many of those who think they know at this stage what they want to do often change their minds (sometimes several times) before finally deciding what to study at university and which career to enter. The best advice, therefore, is probably to ensure that you make a sensible choice that does not rule out particular careers that you may be considering, but which leaves you with enough flexibility to allow you to change your mind later. Above all, you should ensure that you play to your strengths by selecting subjects which you enjoy and at which you are good. Remember that the most important thing for most students is to get good GCSE grades, rather than GCSEs in particular subjects.
Who can help me make my choice?
Many people are on hand to help you decide which is the best combination of subjects for you. Your tutor, teachers and parents will all be happy to lend advice. You may also wish to talk to Connexions and Mrs Blaize, the school careers advisers. You should take the time to seek advice from as wide a range of people as possible and think through all the options. In that way, you maximise the chances of making the best choice for you. It is a mistake to choose a subject because your best friend is doing it, or to choose a GCSE because one of your parents is good at it. The choices, in the end, must be yours and made for the right reasons.
In order to allow students time to consider the options available, whilst also permitting the school time to construct next year’s timetable, the following timeline has been put in place:
January 27th 2011: Year 9 careers morning will be held where students will have the opportunity to attend different workshops and activities.
February 1st 2011: ImpAct presentation for parents 7-8pm
Spring term 2011: During February ‘GCSE Options 2010’ booklet sent to Year 9 students and parents.
March 1st 2011: Year 9 Options Evening and meeting will be held at CCS during which students and parents may discuss options with the Principal, Vice Principal, Key Stage 4 Manager, Heads of Faculty and other key staff.
March 10th 2011: Year 9 Parents Evening – 9SBE, 9JHD, 9MSR, 9AGE
March 17th 2011: Year 9 Parents Evening – 9EPE, 9RAN, 9ALA, 9DMN
April 1st 2011: deadline for submission of options
Summer term: Year 9 exams and student interview to discuss and confirm options made; option lists finalised.
After students have selected their options, it is possible to make changes. However, it is important to realise that, due to the way in which the timetable is put together, changes become progressively less possible as time goes on. This is especially true after the courses have commenced as you could find yourself getting behind on the work before you even started. To be sure of following the course you want, therefore, you should try to ensure that, as far as possible, the options you select in 2011 are the ones that you really want to follow. The best way of making the right choice first time is to research the options thoroughly, to seek as much advice as possible and to give as much thought as you can as to what is the best course for you.
Should you have any immediate queries regarding the options process please feel free to contact me at the school.
Mrs Natalie Kimberley
Head of Year 9