Key Stage 4 Curriculum

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Year 9 Options Booklet 2020/21

GCSE Options 2020

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We keep our curriculum under constant review, using cycles of self- evaluation and development, to ensure our students benefit from the best opportunities available, whilst preserving our commitment to rigorous academic values.
We are very proud of our balanced, comprehensive curriculum which puts the needs of all students at its heart. In Year 9 students can choose which foreign language and Design and Technology subjects they want to concentrate on.
At GCSE, we use evidence from students’ achievements and parental feedback to evaluate the balance of subjects on offer. We believe students have an excellent choice from a wide variety of traditional GCSE subjects and newer vocational courses.
An extensive extracurricular programme of trips, sports and additional learning activities, from the German exchange to debating club, further enriches our curriculum. Our careers information, advice and guidance programme helps students investigate careers when deciding which subjects they will choose to study in Years 10,11 and beyond.
Our options system at GCSE and A level is student-centred, which means students have a free choice, under the guidance of our pastoral and subject teams and the curriculum is designed around them. We feel this is the best approach to meet the needs of each individual student in our care.

In Years 10 and 11 (Key Stage 4), Option Courses include:

Art; Business Studies (BTEC and GCSE); Computer Science; Drama; Food; French; Geography; German; Childcare; History; ICT; Italian; Music; Physical Education (GCSE and BTEC); Product Design; Religious Studies; Russian; Spanish; Textiles and Triple Science.

Students in Years 10 and 11 are organised into teaching groups for the core subjects English, Mathematics, Science and Humanities. Some core subjects use Sets and others are mixed ability.  Students also have a choice of up to three other subjects and are taught in mixed ability groups. The Learning Support Department helps students with particular educational needs both within lessons and outside the classroom on an individual basis.

The School believes that Independent Learning outside of the classroom (homework) is an important aid to good progress and we set pupils relevant work that consolidates, develops and extends the learning in lessons.  This work may take a variety of forms.  There is no set timetable for the setting of Independent Learning.  All work will be recorded by staff on and pupils may also choose to use a traditional planner/diary.  Each parent will receive instructions on how to use this website, but if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us. From time-to-time pupils will also be directed towards optional extension opportunities which they may find interesting and we also publish a half-termly learning opportunities newsletter.


We offer GCSE ‘Art and Design : Fine Art’ (AQA) which is a broad ‘umbrella’ and allows students to work in almost any medium and style. We do not have a ‘House Style’ and each student is encouraged to develop their own interests, discover artists that they love and experiment in materials and techniques that suit them. A coursework portfolio is produced (worth 60%) which includes a project called ‘Structures’ a mini-observational drawing project ‘Objects’ and a final project ‘Own Choice’ with the freedom to choose the theme. There are four assessment objectives; Developing, Experimenting, Recording and Presenting. An externally set assignment (worth 40%) begins in February of year 11 and consists a project developed from a choice given by the exam board and the final piece is completed in a 10 hour exam in April. Lessons are often in a tutorial style with Art teachers giving support to each individual and skills workshops where relevant. There are clear deadlines and expectations throughout the course to help pupils manage their time and work load.

The course explores the world of small business through the lens of an entrepreneur. Students will learn how to develop an idea, spot an opportunity and turn it into a successful business. They will then progress on to investigating business growth, looking at key concepts and issues including meeting customer needs, making marketing, operational, financial and human resourcing decisions as well as exploring how the wider world impacts the business as it grows. The course will enable the development of a range of skills including:
– Making decisions and developing persuasive arguments
– Creative and practical problem solving
– Understanding data, finance and communication

The GCSE (Pearson Edexcel) will be assessed in two equally weighted exam papers through a range of multiple choice, calculation, short-answer and extended-writing questions.

Cambridge National in Enterprise & Marketing – OCR
This vocational qualification will allow students to get to grips with key aspects of running small businesses with a focus on enterprise and marketing.

At Key Stage 4 students may choose to further their coding skills and understanding of how computer systems work by studying the GCSE in Computer Science.  This qualification allows students to consolidate their programming skills and investigate further the broad application and implications of computer technologies in society today.  The course includes hardware and network functionality as well as computational techniques for software development. Computer Science suits students who enjoy logical thinking and problem solving. The course particularly benefits students considering a future in engineering, computer programming or Information Technology. Alternatively, students more interested in the use of software applications may select the GCSE ICT alternative.

After School assistance is regularly offered to students at Key Stage 4.

Studying a Design and Technology subject at GCSE will enable pupils, to build up their problem solving, planning, and evaluation skills.   Often projects are done via group work, which helps to gain good communication and team working skills. Popular careers for people with design and technology qualifications include fashion designer, product designer, architect, software engineer, civil engineer, carpenter and chef.  GCSE examination groups include:
Year 10 – AQA Design and Technology; Materials Technology; Textiles Technology and EDUQAS specification in Food preparation and Nutrition.
Year 11 – AQA Design and Technology: Materials Technology; Textiles Technology and EDUQAS specification in Food preparation and Nutrition.

Drama GCSE is perfect for those who don’t like to sit still! The majority of lessons are practical, though there is a lot of hard work involved. Life skills such as communication, team work and reflection are key, but what we look for most is a love of Drama and theatre.  We follow the Eduqas GCSE Drama course which has three components:

Component 1 is devising theatre- students develop and perform their own play, working in a group. They use the influence of a practitioner or genre/style and start with a stimulus set by the board.
Component 2 involves a scripted performance of an extract from a play. Students work in small groups and perform to an examiner. We choose extracts from a huge range of plays, tailored to suit the preferences and skills of individual students.
Component 3 is the written examination where students study the set text ‘DNA’ from the point of view of an actor, director and designer. They also review live theatre that they have seen during the course.

A key part of the course is to visit the theatre and we run regular trips to a wide range of plays. Year 10 Drama students also run their own Christmas Showcase to a paying audience.

At Key Stage 4, students begin to diversify and study distinctly the two GCSE examined subjects: Language and Literature. In Literature, students are required to work comfortably with a range of fiction, including Shakespeare, modern drama, prose and poetry. Students are pushed to make connections across literary texts in terms of themes, and to consider the context of when the text was written and received. As well as this, they examine these texts critically and consider how meaning has been shaped by language, structure and form. Part of the course requirement is that students study Shakespeare (‘Macbeth’) and 19th Century fiction (‘The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde’, ‘Frankenstein’ or ‘A Christmas Carol’). All texts provide endless challenge in drawing out the nuances of language and allow students to consider different social and historical contexts.

In Language, students get the chance to write, both non-fiction and fiction, and are encouraged to craft their writing with a view to achieving the desired effect on their audience. To achieve this, they must have a sound knowledge of language devices and their potential impact on readers. Technical accuracy underpins all work and students aren’t just explicitly taught the rules of spelling, grammar and punctuation but how these can be used to clarify meaning for a reader. Students’ own writing is often borne out of and inspired by their close reading of a range of extracts from fiction and high quality non-fiction. The requirement to student 19th century non-fiction sees students often learning about the evolution of language into how we now use it in the 21st century, as well as learning about the Victorian Era.

In Geography we follow the AQA specification at GCSE, with three exams all taken at the end of year 11 (One based around physical Geography, one based on human Geography and the third focusing on fieldwork skills and issues evaluation). The course covers a balance of human and physical aspects of the subject in a rigorous way, considering the interconnections within and between units as well as focusing on issues of sustainability, data handling, data manipulation and softer skills such as problem solving and lateral thinking. The GCSE Geography course requires that students take part in two days of fieldwork where students experience the practical application of the theory covered within the classroom and apply data collection skills in the field.

Cambridge National in Child Development
This qualification is for learners aged 14-16 who wish to develop applied knowledge and practical skills in child development. It is designed with both practical and theoretical elements, which will prepare students for further qualifications in Child Care, Health and Social Care, Psychology, Sociology and Biology. Many pupils who choose this course have an interest in careers related to children. It may be useful for those wishing to pursue careers in nursing, social work, teaching, midwifery, health visitor, health education, caring for children with special needs, speech therapy and physiotherapy.
Year 10 (1 hour and 15 min 80 mark exam paper externally assessed) 50% final grade Unit 1: Health and well-being for child development
Year 11 (internally assessed course work) 50% final grade
Unit 2: Understand the equipment and nutritional needs of children from birth to five years
Unit 3: Understand the development norms of a child from birth to five years.

We study the AQA GCSE History course.

Students have to complete two exam papers in year 11 which cover Elizabethan England 1558-1603, Health and the People c1000AD to the present, Germany 1890-1945 and Asia during the Cold War 1950-1975. These topics provide students with both depth and breadth of historical study across a wide and varied curriculum. Over the course of the two years, pupils develop a wide range of skills with a focus on source and historical interpretation analysis, developed explanation, the use of detailed evidence, evaluation and the creation of sustained argument.

Exam board: Edexcel
At GCSE we currently offer German, Spanish, French, Italian and Russian
Students of German, Spanish and French begin GCSE in year 9. They develop their speaking, listening, reading, writing and translation skills throughout the three years. The five themes that are covered include:
Local Area, holiday and travel, School, Identity and culture, Future aspirations, study and work and International and global dimension

We currently offer Italian and Russian as a Twilight GCSE to students wishing to further expand their language studies.

At Key Stage 4 (GCSE) we follow the Pearson Edexcel Level 1/Level 2 GCSE (9–1) in Mathematics. The qualification consists of three equally-weighted written examination papers at either Foundation tier or Higher tier. Paper 1 is a non-calculator assessment and a calculator is allowed for Paper 2 and Paper 3, with all three papers being taken at the end of year 11. Each paper has a range of question types; some questions will be set in both mathematical and non-mathematical contexts. The department is extremely proud of its achievements and the progress pupils make during their time at the school. Last year’s success stories include:
87% of pupils gained a C or above in GCSE Mathematics 33% of those marks were A or A*
Pupils enjoy mathematics at The Cotswold School and they are encouraged to set themselves high standards and to strive to achieve the best that they can.

We study the Eduqas syllabus. Performance: 30%: Multiple performances recorded over your course with a total over 4 and a half minutes. This must include at least one ensemble piece. Composition: 30%: Made up from two compositions in styles of your choice. One is completely free and the other is to one of four set briefs from the exam board. Listening and Appraising exam: one hour and 15 minute exam at the end of year 11. You will look at a variety of musical styles, music theory and how to listen to and discuss these features of music. We cover four main areas of study: Structure and Theory, Music for ensembles, Popular music and Music for film.

Students will participate once per week in a range of activities (please refer to attached Curriculum_Map_2017-18).

Theory Options
GCSE Sports Science (AQA Syllabus 8582)
Paper 1: The human body and movement in physical activity and sport
What’s assessed? Applied anatomy and physiology, Movement analysis, Physical training and use of data.
Written exam: 1 hour 15 minutes – 78 marks – 30% of GCSE
Paper 2: Socio-cultural influences and well-being in physical activity and sport
What’s assessed? Sports psychology, Socio-cultural influences, Health, fitness and well-being, Use of data
Written exam: 1 hour 15 minutes – 78 marks – 30% of GCSE
Non-exam assessment: Practical performance in physical activity and sport
What’s assessed? Practical performance in three different physical activities in the role of player/performer (one in a team activity, one in an individual activity and a third in either a team or in an individual activity). Analysis and evaluation of performance to bring about improvement in one activity.
How it’s assessed? Assessed by teachers
Moderated by AQA – 100 marks – 40% of GCSE

Level 1/2 Technical Award in Sport (AQA Syllabus 3750)

Unit 1: Practical player performance (internally assessed) 30%
Unit 2: Coaching and officiating or organising a sports event/activity (internally assessed) 30%
Unit 3: The sports industry (externally assessed examination) 40%

GCSE (Eduqas Exam Board) Religious Studies develops learners’ knowledge and understanding of religions and non-religious beliefs, such as atheism and humanism. It aims to develop knowledge and understanding of religious beliefs, teachings, practices, and sources of wisdom and authority, including through their reading of key religious texts, other texts, and scriptures of the religions they are studying. 50% of the course is on Beliefs, teachings and practices of two religions (Christianity and Islam). 50% of the course is on Religion, philosophy and ethics in the modern world from a religious perspective. This includes; Human Relationships, Good and Evil, Life and Death and Human Rights. Students these themes, developing critical thinking and analysis skills as well as nurturing an understanding of different viewpoints.

Students follow either AQA Trilogy Combined Science for GCSE, or, if they have chosen to take Triple Science as an option, AQA Trilogy Biology, Physics and Chemistry. These are both traditional, rigorous courses with a high standard of Scientific understanding required. Students carry out and write-up a series of ‘required’ practicals and will be tested on these in their exams, of which there are 6 for all students, taken at the end of Year 11. To give our students the best chance possible, we spend 3 years on the course, covering all topics in the detail and depth they require. Close to the exams we then extensively revise the material covered back in Year 9 to ensure it is fresh in students’ minds as they take their exams.

DSC09030Students who enjoy developing their skills in general business software and multimedia should consider a qualification in ICT.  The GCSE equivalent course, OCR’s National Certificate in Information Technologies, consists of a theory examination and a practical assessment unit.  The course begins with the consolidation of practical skills across a broad spectrum of applications. Students will then be expected to build on their practical skills to design and create an integrated solution for a scenario provided by OCR. Knowledge of project management, software applications, legislation & security is tested with an examination in either January or June. The course suits students who enjoy practical application and favour continuous assessment. Students looking to work in hospitals, PR, advertising, council services or general business would find this qualification extremely useful. Alternatively, students who would like to refine their programming skills should consider the GCSE in Computer Science.

After School assistance is regularly offered to students at Key Stage 4.


Spiritual, Moral, Social, Cultural


British Values


International Status