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GCSE Options 2023-2024

As you look ahead to making the transition to (I)GCSE programmes of study, you have an exciting opportunity to personalise your curriculum and develop the knowledge, skills and understanding to best prepare for the next stage of your learning, in the Sixth Form here at King Edward’s, and career pathways that lie beyond. (I)GCSE choices do need very careful thought, so the subject guides in this booklet seek to help you make informed choices, but we would also recommend that you discuss your choices with subject teachers, tutors, and parents/guardians. Further information about all of these courses is available from the relevant Head of Department and our Head of Careers and Higher Education is available to discuss more general queries, with regard to career pathways, with pupils and parents.


When will we find out more about GCSE options? Who should we contact?

We will be delivering a presentation on the GCSE options process at the Parent’s Conference this Friday 20th January. Given the length of the evening we will be running this at both 16:10 and 17:30 in Piccadilly Café. Our GCSE options booklet is also available on our website. We are offering the same GCSE and IGCSE courses as last year. Please also feel free to review GCSE and IGCSE specifications and information on the Subject Resource pages on Firefly, which are accessible to all pupils and parents. If you do have questions about (I)GCSE options, please contact your child’s tutor in the first instance, and you may wish to contact subject teachers and Heads of Department.

What is the deadline for submitting GCSE/IGCSE option choices?

You can access the GCSE/IGCSE Options Form on Firefly. This will need to be submitted no later than Tuesday 24th January. It is possible to make changes, subsequently, however these initial choices are used to design the curriculum and ensure that as many pupils as possible are able to study their chosen subjects.

How many GCSEs can our children study and how many options do they have?

Our pupils take a maximum of nine GCSE/IGCSE subjects. Our core subjects are English Language and Literature (two qualifications), Maths, Double Science (or Chemistry and Physics Triple Science courses) and a Modern Foreign Language (MFL). This leaves three optional choices. If pupils wish to be considered for Triple Science (which is available for up to 20 pupils by invitation), they must indicate and select ‘Triple Science’ as one of their option choices. All pupils are asked to choose three options and one reserve subject in case there are any timetable clashes.

Why is Latin not included in the Modern Foreign Language Options?

The school policy has been to encourage all pupils to pursue their study of an MFL (French, Spanish, German as taught courses, languages such as Russian, Chinese and Italian as self-taught courses). Some non-native speaker pupils may struggle with a third language if they have not previously studied French, Spanish or German, and for these pupils we do offer English as an Additional Language. Latin is not considered to be an MFL, hence it has been included as an option, rather than as a core subject.

How much coursework is there for practical subjects, such as art?

This varies from subject to subject. Art, for example, is moderated and examined based on a complete portfolio which counts for 60% and a practical exam which counts for 40%, and other subjects require portfolios or practical elements that are worth between 40-60% of the final grade.

What is Additional Maths?

We offer the Additional Maths course to our most able pupils in top set Maths based on their performance during the 4th Form. Pupils study for both the Maths IGCSE taken by all pupils and Additional Maths which is a separate qualification.

Now that so many pupils are using laptops extensively, will they be able to sit public exams using laptops?

There are some schools where all pupils sit their public examinations using laptops. This is a whole-school decision, and we feel it needs to be supported by a targeted course to ensure that all pupils can touch type effectively. Currently, we do not have plans to take this route, and we do ask pupils to maintain their handwriting, particularly as we are aware of research which suggests that pupils who take handwritten notes perform better in public exams. We aim to continue balancing use of laptops with ensuring that pupils can write well by hand.

Additional Information

All GCSE and IGCSE subjects are now graded 9-1 with 8-9 equivalent to A*. In Maths, Science and English Language, there are different tiers of entry which will give access to a limited range of grades. The Higher Tier covers grades 9-4, whilst the Foundation Tier has a maximum of a grade 5. In order to promote an aspirational approach, decisions on tiers of entry are usually left until the 5th Form.

The following points provide some additional factors to take into consideration when selecting your (I)GCSE subjects:

  1. Try to choose a balance of subjects and pick subjects that you are good at, and enjoy, because you are more likely to succeed in them.
  2. Be aware of the career implications of your choices; our Head of Careers and Higher Education is available to discuss this further.
  3. Be realistic; do not choose subjects that you find difficult just because you have heard that they may be useful.
  4. Think carefully for yourself; do not choose a subject only because your friends have opted for it or because your favourite teacher takes it.


i) If the numbers on any course are very small, the School reserves the right to withdraw the subject option. Similarly, if you wish to study a subject that is not currently offered, please do reach out to Mr Davies, Deputy Head Academic, to discuss this.

ii) It may not be possible to provide everyone’s chosen combination of subjects because of clashes between timetable option blocks. We do make every effort to accommodate all requests, but you will be informed at the earliest possible opportunity, if this is the case.


These are to be taken by all pupils:

  1. English Language, with most pupils also taking English Literature.
  2. Mathematics
  3. A Modern Foreign Language – (French, German or Spanish; keen linguists may also opt for French as a second Modern Foreign Language in order to take 2 Foreign Languages).
  4. Science – a double award in IGCSE

Pupils who achieve excellent results in Science in the Third Form, may be invited to apply for the Triple Science GCSE, subject to discussions with the Science department and final agreement by the Head of Departments in Science and Deputy Head, Academic.


Students should choose THREE subjects in total:

Classical Civilisation
Computer Science
Design Technology
French (if German or Spanish have been chosen in the core)
Food Science
Physical Education
Religious Studies
Triple Science

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