«16 1 Contents AN INTRODUCTION TO GCSEs FROM SEPTEMBER 2016 MAKING CHOICES AND DECISIONS MAKING CHOICES AND DECISIONS ENGLISH LANGUAGE (AQA) ENGLISH ...»
GCSE Options 2016
AN INTRODUCTION TO GCSEs FROM SEPTEMBER 2016
MAKING CHOICES AND DECISIONS
MAKING CHOICES AND DECISIONS
ENGLISH LANGUAGE (AQA)
ENGLISH LITERATURE (AQA)
BIOLOGY (EDEXCEL iGCSE)
CHEMISTRY (Edexcel iGCSE)
PHYSICS (Edexcel iGCSE)
ART AND DESIGN (OCR)
CLASSICAL CIVILISATION (OCR)
MODERN FOREIGN LANGUAGES – French, German, Spanish (AQA)........15 GEOGRAPHY (EDEXCEL B)
HOME ECONOMICS (FOOD AND NUTRITION) (OCR)
ICT GCSE (OCR J461)
RELIGIOUS STUDIES (AQA)
AN INTRODUCTION TO GCSEs FROM SEPTEMBER 2016You may be aware that GCSEs have undergone some changes in the last few years. All GCSEs are now linear. All formal external exams will be sat in May/June of Year 11. This is a return to the “old” system and Saint Martin’s teaching staff have experience of teaching in this format.
The reform of GCSEs continue and a new grading system has been introduced. Maths and English moved to the new 9 to 1 grading system in September 2015 and all other subjects except for ICT and Classics will move to that system from September 2016. For current Year 9 the majority of courses will be brand new and graded 9 to 1 with 9 being the higher grade, 1 being the lowest and 4 being the equivalent of the old “C” grade i.e. a “good pass”.
The government’s stated intention is that the same percentage of pupils who achieved C and above will achieve 4 and above. The same percentage who got A/A* will get 7 to 9 but only half of those who achieved A*’s will get a 9.
Some GCSEs involved controlled assessments. This means that staff teach a topic to a group which includes planning and preparation of a piece of work. That piece of work is then completed under teacher supervision in class time. It is not permissible for a girl to work on it at home once the controlled assessment begins. Subjects have different arrangements for controlled assessments and subject staff will be able to advise on these differences.
Please do not hesitate to contact Mrs Parker, Mrs Fowles or myself if you would like any further explanation about the content of this booklet.
Mrs C Smith Director of Studies Please note: it is the aim of Saint Martin’s to run all the courses listed in this booklet. In the event of a very small take up Saint Martin’s reserves the right to withdraw the course from those on offer.
This booklet has been prepared to help girls make up their minds which subjects to study at GCSE.
From next September, girls will no longer go to exactly the same lessons as everybody else throughout the day. Although much of what they do, the core subjects, will be the same as the rest of the year group, they will be able to make some choices of their own. These are referred to as the option subjects.
The core subjects are compulsory and total 6 GCSEs (or 5 if Dual Science is taken). They
English and English Literature Mathematics Biology, Chemistry, Physics (3 GCSEs) or Dual Science Award (2 GCSEs) The other 4 GCSEs that they will take are chosen by them from the list of option subjects, which are detailed later in the booklet. These include most of the subjects they have studied since joining Year 7. For most girls their choice must include a Modern Foreign Language (and it is possible to take more than one Modern Foreign Language). The 6 GCSEs in the core plus the 4 they choose gives girls a total of 10 GCSEs. More than 10 is not advisable.
Andrew Hall, Chief Executive of the AQA Examination Board said : “Some students are encouraged to think that 14 or 15 GCSEs is a good thing.... it is not.” A Department of Education spokesman said “our new ‘best eight’ measure will ensure that secondary schools focus on the progress and performance of pupils in a broad range of GCSE subjects” including core academic subjects.
In our experience at Saint Martin’s, universities are interested in the best 8 results and specifically, in how many A or A* grades a student has. After that it is a student’s personal qualities and extra curricular achievements that impress and secure university places. These are evidenced in their personal statement and reference.
How do I make my decision?
In making choices, it is important to consider the following:
Do I enjoy the subject?
There is no point in choosing a subject that you really do not enjoy. You are going to have to study it for 4 periods per week for the next 2 years!
Am I good at the subject?
If you are not sure whether you are good enough at a particular subject, talk to the person who teaches you and ask for advice. Do not rely on exam results alone to help you decide.
You may be very good at a subject but have timed the exam poorly for example.
Do I need a particular subject for the career I have in mind?
If you are unsure about the subjects needed for a particular career, ask the advice of Mrs Smith or Mrs Fowles. Helpful resource material on careers is found in the Library.
Broadly speaking there is no ‘bad choice’ at GCSE, if you have English, Maths, a Modern Foreign Language and some Science any other combination of subjects will only enrich this good base.
Have I chosen a sensible balance of subjects?
You need to consider the amount and type of work associated with your subject choices. It is also sensible to consider choosing from different categories of subjects (see overleaf).
This will give you a wide breadth of knowledge and keep as many options as possible open to you at A level. It may not be advisable to choose all 3 subjects from one category.
However if you are creative, Art, Drama and Music is a good combination and if you like words Geography, History and Religious Studies would suit you well.
The subject categories are as follows:
How will all the subjects be fitted into the timetable?
The subjects will be timetabled into 4 groups called option blocks, each taking up 4 periods in the timetable. In some schools, pupils are presented with 4 groups of subjects and told to choose one subject from each. This does not always allow all the combinations of subjects that everybody wants. At Saint Martin’s, we ask girls what they want to do and then write the timetable to accommodate these choices in the best way possible. Experience has shown us that far more pupils are able to do their preferred combinations this way. As almost every girl chooses a different combination of subjects, it is not always possible to write a timetable that allows every set of choices. We therefore ask girls to choose 5 subjects, in order of preference, so we are able to produce the best option blocks possible. This means that some might be timetabled for their first, second and fourth choices. It is therefore crucial that individuals think carefully about all of their choices.
Will I lose out by dropping some subjects now?
No. The 6 core GCSEs (or 5 with Dual Science) that are taken give a broad educational base.
We will ensure that the 4 chosen give a balanced curriculum.
Is it risky to drop subjects at this stage?
If you decide to discontinue a subject because you don’t like it now, it is extremely unlikely that the career that you finally embark upon will involve that subject. You will almost certainly find that those subjects that you like now are also the subjects that you are good at and these will be the ones that you will continue to study in the future. It is possible to take e.g. History, Geography, Religious Studies, Art Drama or Classics at A Level even if you have not taken them at GCSE.
This specification should encourage students to:
Read fluently and write effectively. They should be able to demonstrate a confident control of Standard English and they should be able to write grammatically correct sentences, deploy figurative language and analyse texts.
Courses based on this specification should enable students to:
Read a wide range of texts, fluently with good understanding Read critically, and use knowledge gained from wide reading to inform and improve their own writing Write effectively and coherently using Standard English appropriately Use grammar correctly, punctuate and spell accurately Acquire and apply a wide range of vocabulary, alongside a knowledge and understanding of grammatical terminology, and linguistic conventions for reading, writing and spoken language.
In addition, they must enable students to:
Listen and understand spoken language, and use spoken Standard English effectively.
The Spoken Language endorsement will be reported as part of the qualification, but it will not form part of the final mark and grade. Course is assessed on numerical 1 to 9 system.
Assessment Written Examination 100% at the end of two years Paper 1 : Explorations in Creative Reading and Writing
Course This specification should encourage students to develop knowledge and skills in reading, writing and critical thinking. Through literature, students have a chance to develop culturally and acquire knowledge of the best that has been thought and written. Studying GCSE English Literature should encourage students to ready widely for pleasure, and as a preparation for studying literature at a higher level.
Courses based on this specification should also encourage students to:
Read a wide range of classic literature fluently with good understanding, and make connections across their reading Read in depth, critically and evaluatively, so that they are able to discuss and explain their understanding and ideas Develop the habit of reading widely and often Appreciate the depth and power of the English literacy heritage.
Write accurately, effectively and analytically about their reading, using Standard English Acquire and use a wide vocabulary, including the grammatical terminology and other literacy Course is assessed on numerical 1 to 9 system.
Assessment Written Examination 100% at the end of two years
This GCSE course has more content than the current course which finishes in 2015; there has been an increased in the breadth and depth of content to be covered for both tiers of entry.
Additional content has been included at higher tier to stretch and challenge the most able students and to help prepare them for A-level Mathematics. Some content that was previously only assessed in higher tier is now included in foundation tier. While the assessment objectives are roughly the same as before the balance has changed meaning there is now a much greater emphasis on mathematical problem solving, and on mathematical reasoning and communication. Very few formulae are now given as part of the exam paper which means much more learning.
Year 9 have been working towards the GCSE since the beginning of the year; some of the new topics have already been covered and internal assessments have used a greater proportion of more demanding questions.
Additional Mathematics (OCR Free-Standing Mathematics Qualification) is offered as an extra to the most able mathematicians. This course develops GCSE skills by working on much more complicated problems as well as introducing some of the big ideas from A-level Mathematics including calculus and trigonometric identities. The course is covered through one lunchtime lesson each week in Year 10 and two lessons, often taught after school, in Year 11.
Assessment measures the pupils’ ability to:
Use and apply standard techniques Reason, interpret and communicate mathematically Solve problems within mathematics and in other contexts Assessment is 100% exam based with pupils sitting three 1½ hour papers, one without a calculator and two with calculator allowed.
The GCSE has been reformed since 2015 so grades will be awarded on the 9-1 scale.
There are two tiers of entry: higher covers grades 9-4, foundation covers grades 5-1. All pupils will cover a curriculum largely based on the higher tier content until at least the end of Year 10 when a decision may be made, based on internal assessments, whether the foundation tier is more appropriate for some pupils.
Course The Edexcel Biology iGCSE covers biological facts, concepts, principles, and experimental
skills. There are five sections of content as outlined below:
Section 1: The nature and variety of living organisms - This covers topics from Cells to Classification Section 2: Structures and functions in living organisms - Biological Molecules and their importance in living systems Section 3: Reproduction and inheritance - How organisms reproduce and the passing on of genetic material Section 4: Ecology and the environment - From food webs to natural selection Section 5: Use of biological resources - Application of techniques applied to sustainability and pollution In all units, the focus is on developing practical skills across the course, and these are then applied to real-life situations to demonstrate the relevance of the content in everyday life.
Assessment The Edexcel International GCSE in Biology is assessed through two exams with no coursework.
Both papers are untiered and cover the range of grades from A* to G (Biology IGCSE is currently unreformed). All questions on both papers are structured and compulsory – there is no choice of questions.
Paper 1 is a 2 hour examination (120 marks) and carries 66.7% of the final grade. All content from the specification is examined apart from bold print content.
Paper 2 is a 1 hour examination (60 marks) and carries 33.3% of the final grade. All content from the specification is examined (bold and those not in bold).