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GCSE Choices

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We offer a wide range of subjects and qualifications to students in Year 10 and 11. There are the core subjects of English, maths, combined science, and half course religious studies, which are complemented by a robust skills for life and careers programme, supporting learning and help students prepare for the next stages in their lives. We also strongly advise students to continue a modern foreign language or Latin, Otherwise, students have a free choice of the subjects, choosing between three and five additional subjects. We pride ourselves in building a personalised curriculum around the choices of the students.  

Choices should reflect breadth and strengths and will be informed by discussion with tutors and teachers and conversations at home, choosing subjects based on passion and interest will encourage you to develop motivation for study and maximise your enjoyment over the next two years. Try to keep selections as broad and balanced as possible, and consider the skills developed as part of the course as well as the way they are assessed to ensure variety in your selections. You should also be realistic about your extra-curricular commitments when considering the number of courses to study. 

Below follows information about each subject, allowing you to learn more about the courses and help make decisions.  

Westonbirt offers a wide choice and a flexible timetable, but please note we reserve the right not offer courses if there is insufficient demand. 

GCSE English Literature and Language - Core

Exam Board - EDEXCEL

What can I expect from this subject? 

Both English literature and language are prestigious and highly valued GCSEs for all universities and employers. English language and English literature are compulsory GCSE subjects at Westonbirt. They are taught as an integrated course but lead to two qualifications. You will study in depth a range of texts from different genres, eras and cultures, enabling you to learn more about the world and the variety of ways in which language and literature can shape society and your life. You will also acquire the vital ability to structure your thoughts and ideas cohesively and sophisticatedly, both on paper and orally

What can I do to prepare for this course? 

Read – anything and everything! Reading a variety of texts is really useful to building a better understanding of how literature and language are shaping society. Reading will also boost vocabulary, understanding of language choices and the ability to write with formality and creativity. Ideas of what to read to stretch and get ready for the course are available by emailing the head of department. 

What will my next steps be?

English is one of the most popular A-Level choices at Westonbirt, which has led many of our students into careers and university study such as law, journalism, history, politics, international relations, marketing, computer coding, business management and teaching. A-Levels in English literature and English language help all students become better critical thinkers, communicators and leaders, making UCAS and work applications much easier and more effective. 

GCSE Mathematics - Core

Exam Board - EDEXCEL

What can I expect from this subject? 

Maths is extremely marketable and amongst the most highly respected GCSEs. The course has been designed to provide a solid foundation in the basics of mathematics, it covers a broad spectrum of mathematical topics with an emphasis on developing confidence and perseverance through increased problem-solving.

The areas are: 

  1. Numbers and the number system  
  2. Equations, formulae and identities
  3. Sequences, functions and graphs  
  4. Geometry and trigonometry 
  5. Vectors and transformation geometry  
  6. Statistics and probability 

All students will be prepared for the EDEXCEL specification Linear GCSE from Year 9, which may be taken at either Foundation or Higher Tier level. The grades will run from 9 – 4 in Higher Tier and 5 – 1 in Foundation Tier.  

The GCSE tier options will be evidence-based drawing from tracked past and current performance, our professional judgement, current confidence levels and external benchmarking measures. 

The qualification consists of two, equally weighted, terminal papers of two hours and 100 marks. 

What can I do to prepare for this course? 

Resilience is a vital quality when it comes to preparing for the subject. Students experience some questions that are challenging or unfamiliar and these will often be worth three, four or more marks. Although students may not always be able to get these questions fully correct, they can pick up some of the marks by making a start and showing some worthwhile work towards an answer.  

Practise questions, don’t just read notes or watch videos. Confidence in maths is increased by doing maths!

What will my next steps be? 

Students will be well prepared if they wish to continue to study mathematics at A-Level and beyond. 

Candidates with an undergraduate degree in maths are looked on favourably for a wide range of jobs – including Masters and PhD courses. The analytical skills acquired are highly prized across all industries. Maths can be used to solve real-world problems, which is the essence of mathematics. As such, it can lead to many different careers including: 

  • Cryptographer 
  • Economist 
  • Actuary 
  • Teacher 
  • Financial Planner 
  • Investment Analyst 
  • Statistician 

Students who make a career out of maths reportedly have some of the highest levels of job satisfaction. In addition to enjoying some of the best salaries. 

However, if key stage 4 (GCSE) is the end of your mathematical journey we pride ourselves on creating mathematicians that are able to have an awareness of mathematics in the wider world and are equipped with transferable skills such as problem solving, lateral & logical thinking and high levels of numeracy. 

GCSE Combined Science - Core

Exam Board - OCR Gateway A 

What can I expect from this subject? 

Science seeks to explain how the universe works, from the smallest objects (atoms, elements, and amoeba), to the largest (blue whales, industrial chemical processes, and galaxies). The GCSE Sciences seek to develop an understanding of the works of some of the greatest scientific minds history has known, for instance, Newton, Curie, Mendeleev, Rutherford, Franklin and Bell. They build on the foundations of the skills and content which are laid at KS3, namely: recalling concepts, laws and principles, and applying them to new and unfamiliar situations; working methodically and problem solving; planning, making, recording, analysing and evaluating data. The course covers, amongst other topics:  

  • Biology: cells, genes and the human body.  
  • Chemistry: elements, reactions and quantitative chemistry.  
  • Physics: matter, magnetism and radioactivity.

The assessment of combined science GCSE consists of 6 examination papers which are sat at the end of Year 11. There are two biology papers, two chemistry papers and two physics papers. 

What can I do to prepare for this course? 

  • Watch programmes such as ‘Bang Goes the Theory’, ‘Wonders of the Solar System’, ‘Blue Planet’, ‘Rough Science’ and ‘Horizon’. 
  • Listen to ‘Dara O’Briain’s Science Club’ and ‘Brainwaves’. 
  • Visit the popular science section of a bookshop and choose a publication to read. 
  • Visit museums e.g. We The Curious, The Science Museum, The Natural History Museum, aquariums 
  • Keep asking ”How does this work?”, “Why?” and “What if…?” 

What will my next steps be? 

GCSE Combined Sciences provide a sound basis for continuing to study the various combinations of A-Level Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Maths. Studying sciences at KS5 blends well with A-Level Economics, or BTEC Animal Management, as well as geography and product design. The sciences facilitate careers in medicine, engineering, the armed forces, conservation and forensics, and many, many more. 

GCSE Religious Studies (Short course) - Core

Exam Board - EDUQAS
 

What can I expect from this subject? 

Religious belief affects millions of people around the world and each day the media contains stories about religion. This GCSE considers the impact of this belief on the lives of its followers. It also considers how religious groups aim to influence legislation on areas such as abortion, euthanasia, same sex relationships and many other issues. We will consider whether religious groups have a right to comment on these areas of secular law.  

Students start the two year course in Year 9, and will cover:

  • Issues of families and relationships.  
  • Issues of life and death.  
  • Christianity - beliefs and teachings 
  • Islam - beliefs and teachings  

The GCSE consists of two, 2 hour exam papers sat in the summer of Year 10. 

What can I do to prepare for this course? 

  • Watch the news to engage in current stories about religion in the media.  
  • Research religious views about topics such as same sex marriage, abortion, and euthanasia

What will my next steps be? 

Either the short course or the full course GCSE can then lead into the A-Level Philosophy and Ethics. Both the A-Level and the GCSE encourage critical thinking skills and therefore are excellent for a wide range of degree courses and careers.  All students sit the short course GCSE.

GCSE Modern Foreign Languages

Exam Board - AQA 

What can I expect from this subject? 

Take on the challenge of modern languages! French and Spanish at GCSE will open doors to infinite possibilities for work, travel or even just your family holiday. On a personal level, students’ confidence will grow, while their ability to navigate the continents will propel them forward, opening mind and heart to exciting new cultures. Students will take their first steps on your personal road to discovery and learn the skills to communicate successfully with people, making your mark in a constantly evolving world. French and Spanish at GCSE offer the chance to explore how people communicate, interact, socialise, and how they have developed culturally in the history of mankind. The two-year course covers three main themes:  

  • Theme 1: identity and culture.  
  • Theme 2: local, national, international and global areas of interest.  
  • Theme 3: current and future study and employment.  

The GCSE consists of 4 exams: listening, speaking, reading and writing. 

What can I do to prepare for this course? 

  • Immerse in the language in the summer holidays. 
  • Speak the language abroad. Don’t be shy, take the lead and ask questions. 
  • Read in the foreign language as much as possible – books, magazines, comics and more. 
  • Watch foreign films, cartoons or series. Listen to their music! 

What will my next steps be? 

Modern languages are an excellent A-Level option. At university, they can be studied for a deeper knowledge and appreciation of one’s chosen speciality language. They are often combined with the introduction of one or more new languages. They can be very successfully combined with the study of most other subjects, the arts, politics, journalism, philosophy, economics, business, law, history, environment; making them a useful option to choose as a basis to support a wide range of A-Level and vocational courses. 

Modern languages give a diverse range of skills for life which are useful in many future careers in the UK and abroad. 

GCSE Latin

Exam Board - OCR

What can I expect from this subject? 

Latin lies at the root of many European languages, and has also exerted a huge influence on English. As students progress in the subject, they will begin to see how much Latin ties in with the world around you, not just in the field of language, but more generally too. At GCSE you will also explore some of the literature from this period, studying the actual words of the ancient writers themselves, such as Caesar and Pliny. It is well recognised that the study of Latin develops mental skills which are of great value, both at school and in later life. It will help you to:  

  • Think logically and analyse problems. 
  • Present arguments persuasively.  
  • Think and write clearly. 
  • Develop an eye for detail. 

The GCSE consists of 3 exam papers which you will sit in the summer of Year 11. 

What can I do to prepare for this course? 

  • Build and consolidate knowledge of the core vocabulary and the associated grammar.  
  • Read around the subject of ancient Greece and Rome.  
  • Watch any documentaries that are about the ancient Greek and Roman world. 

What will my next steps be? 

Latin GCSE certainly opens the way to studying it at A-Level, which is a challenging and stimulating course, well respected at university. Students might also consider the related course of A-Level Classical Civilisation. People who study Latin find that it can be useful in the world of journalism, law, politics and further studies in languages and literature. 

BTEC Children's Play, Learning and Development

Exam Board - Pearson

What can I expect from this subject?

Children’s play, learning and development, level 2, gives students an insight into working with children. The course has three units which allows you to develop a broad and comprehensive understanding of the early years sector, including the importance of: 

  • Child development for the 0 to 7 age range – which is reflected in the birth up to eight years focus in this qualification, particularly in Unit 1: Patterns of Child Development.  
  • Play as a route of children’s learning, which forms the basis of early years frameworks, such as the Early Years Foundation Stage (England) and Foundation Phase (Wales) – which is covered in Unit 2: Promoting Children’s Development Through Play.  
  • Inclusive practice and empowering children, as well as the key person within early years settings – which is covered in Unit 3: The Principles of Early Years Practice. 

Assessment for unit 1 is an external exam which will be taken in year 10, assessment for units 2 and 3 are through coursework assignments set by the teacher and moderated by the exam board, Pearson. 

What can I do to prepare for this course? 

In order to be prepared to take BTEC children's play, learning and development, having an interest in working with children is important. Undertaking work experience, actively getting involved with Westonbirt Prep School during term time or babysitting will give students a really good insight into working with young children. 

What will my next steps be? 

The aims of BTEC First in Children’s Play, Learning and Development suite are to:  

  • Inspire and enthuse students to consider a career in early years, or related sectors, where knowledge of child development is relevant.  
  • Give you the opportunity to gain a broad knowledge and understanding of, and develop skills in, the early years sector, for example, of child development and using play to promote child development.  
  • Support progression to a more specialised level 3 vocational or academic course, such as in early years, health and social care or psychology, or an apprenticeship. 

BTEC Dance

Exam Board - Pearson

What can I expect from this subject? 

Dance is a powerful and expressive subject which encourages students to develop their creative, physical, emotional and intellectual capacity, whatever their previous experience in the subject. This two year course recognises the role of dance in young people’s lives and students will study a range of dance styles and style fusions. Apart from the solo performance, they can choose any style in which to perform and choreograph. This GCSE is 60% practical (Performance & Choreography) and 40% written exam (Dance Appreciation). 

What can I do to prepare for this course? 

  • Get up and dance! 
  • Watch different styles of movement & dance. 
  • Go and experience some live dance, attend a live show, watch a musical, a ballet performance or visit a local dance company show 

What will my next steps be? 

Dance combines physical and expressive skills, making it a useful option to choose as a basis to support a wide range of A-Level and BTEC courses. Dance develops creative, imaginative, physical, emotional and intellectual capacities which gives you a diverse range of skills that are useful in many future careers. Common roles include: a performer, dancing or acting, a performing arts, dance or physical education teacher or lecturer, a choreographer/director for television and film, a writer, or a dance development officer.  

GCSE Art

Exam Board - AQA

What can I expect from this subject? 

Art and design allows students to think creatively and to produce work which will develop your skills and challenge your thinking. This subject stimulates curiosity and enables us to make comments about the world around us. Throughout the two-year course, you will produce a portfolio of work which includes an extended project and which counts for 60% of the GCSE. During the course you will visit major galleries and exhibitions and take part in workshops such as The Royal Academy Outreach Life Drawing, enabling you to produce a variety of exciting work. The other 40% of the GCSE is an examination paper which arrives in school in January of Year 11. Ten hours of studio time is allocated at the end of a preparation period to produce a personal informed response under examination conditions. 

What can I do to prepare for this course? 

  • Draw as often as possible, even just doodling will help develop skills as an artist. 
  • Become familiar using a camera and its functions.  
  • Join one of the art activities after school. 
  • Visit exhibitions whenever possible.

What will my next steps be? 

Art gives a good balance to other subjects and allows the development of the ability to work independently in the studio or cooperatively with peers. Many of our students go on to art school and university since art offers a wide range of exciting career opportunities. 

Almost everything around us starts life in the design studio. Even if an art route is not pursued, later on, it is important to show that art students are able to think creatively. 

GCSE Computer Science

Exam Board - OCR 

what can I expect from this subject? 

In GCSE Computer Science students will learn how to combine a theoretical understanding of the subject with the ability to think logically and creatively to solve problems. Students will develop a good understanding of how computers work, how the internet works, cybersecurity attacks and prevention, and the ethical and environmental impacts of computers. Students will learn to write code, and be able to read and understand small coding problems. Computer science is also very interesting and highly satisfying! 

Students will be assessed through two 90-minute exams, worth 50% of the final mark each. They will also be given the opportunity to undertake programming tasks during the course of study which allows them to develop your skills to design, write, test and refine programs. 

What can I do to prepare for this course? 

  • Seek out activities such as BEBRAS, Cyber Discovery or The National Cipher Challenge. 
  • Try coding puzzles and games from websites such as Hour of Code, Blockly, Microsoft’s Makecode or Google’s CS First. 
  • Try tutorials on websites such as Khan Academy or Code Academy. 
  • Find out how to make a website.  
  • Listen to podcasts or read articles about new technology such as driverless cars, the internet of things, autonomous weapons or planned obsolescence.

What will my next steps be? 

A computer science qualification makes a student very employable. Computer science graduates, along with engineers typically earn the highest starting salaries of all graduates. Computer science gives many transferable skills such as thinking logically, resilience and problem-solving. Many non-computing jobs will require some use of code.  

Computer Science A-Level and BTEC courses are available to study in the Sixth Form at Westonbirt. 

GCSE Drama

Exam Board - AQA 

What can I expect from this subject? 

This course gives students the opportunity to do what students like best – to participate in performance!  

  • All students devise drama.  
  • All students explore texts practically and work on two text-based performances.  
  • You can choose to develop as a performer, designer (lighting, sound, costume, set, puppetry) or a performer and designer. 

Whatever option you choose, you can be sure to gather many invaluable skills, both theatrical and transferable, to expand your horizons. 

Drama students learn to collaborate with others, think analytically and evaluate effectively. They gain the confidence to pursue their own ideas, reflect and refine their efforts. Whatever the future holds, students of GCSE drama emerge with a toolkit of transferable skills, applicable both in further studies and in the workplace. 

What can I do to prepare for this course? 

  • Make independent live theatre visits. If possible see a version of the set play.  
  • Familiarise yourself with the set play and make time to read the other set plays. 

What will my next steps be? 

This course offers clear progression and continuity to AS and A-Level Drama and Theatre. Students who go on to study AS or A-Level are already familiar with studying a whole set text for the written paper. They have built solid foundations in reviewing a live theatre production and interpreting key extracts. All these aspects feature in the AS and A-Level as well as the GCSE. 

GCSE Food Preparation and Nutrition

Exam Board - OCR

What can I expect from this course? 

Through this course, students will gain the knowledge, understanding and skills to be able to feed themselves and others better. They will develop a wide range of practical cookery skills and be able to work confidently with many different commodities including meat and fish. Students will learn all the basic techniques of sauces, cake, bread, pasta and pastry making. They will explore the principles of food science, nutrition, food traditions and provenance and food safety. Students will learn about healthy eating in the context of the government’s current nutrition guidelines and learn about the cuisines of at least two other countries. The GCSE is assessed through one theory exam in the summer of Year 11 (worth 50%) and two non-examined assessments which will be completed earlier in Year 11 (worth 15% - food science task, and 35% - food preparation task). 

What can I do to prepare for this course? 

  • Take an active interest in the food that you eat.  
  • Be aware of how to plan a good diet. 
  • Think how your food is prepared, where it comes from and how it is produced. 
  • Think what factors affect the cost and availability of food products available to you.  
  • Look at what is available in the shops and markets at different times of the year.  
  • Practise your basic skills, try to make more than one dish at a time and try to ‘dove-tail’ tasks, using your time and energies effectively and clean and tidy as you go.

What will my next steps be? 

This course is a perfect preparation for the Leiths Food and Wine course available in the Sixth Form at Westonbirt, (We are a Leiths Academy school) which now includes CTH (Confederation of Tourism and Hospitality) Level 3 Extended Certificate in Professional Cookery, as well as a Level 2 food hygiene qualification. “Whatever else you do in your life, you need to be able to cook!”

GCSE Geography

Exam Board - AQA

What can I expect from this subject?

This subject has never been more relevant. It helps you to understand many of the global issues that face the planet today, such as environmental responsibility and global interdependence. You will become skilled in research, data analysis and report writing. Fieldwork is also a central component of the course, with two enquires undertaken: one with a physical focus, such as investigating the formation of a river or a coastline, the other human focused, exploring the development of a city such as Bristol. The three units covered are:  

Paper 1: Living with the Physical Environment: the challenge of natural hazards, physical landscapes in the UK and the living word.  

Paper 2: Challenges in the Human Environment: urban issues and challenges, the changing economic world and the challenge of resource management. 

Paper 3: Geographical Applications: issues evaluation, fieldwork and geographical skills. The GCSE consists of 3 exam papers, four hours in total, which you will sit in the summer of  Year 11. 

What can I do to prepare for this course? 

  • Watch the news and consider the many links to geography in the events taking place around the world every day.  
  • Read and research around the subject, for example, follow the UN Sustainable Development goals on Twitter. 
  • Watch any documentaries that are about human interaction with each other and the world, such as 'Blue Planet' and ‘Cities’.  
  • Practise skills in the field, such as using OS maps and taking photos of geographical importance.

What will my next steps be? 

Geography GCSE is a sound foundation to studying A-Level Geography, as well as a broad range of other subjects at Sixth Form. Drawing on both skills from the arts and the sciences, it is an excellent route into a range of different fields, from GIS and climatology, medicine to architecture and teaching.  

GCSE History

Exam Board - Cambridge 

What can I expect from this subject? 

“History gives answers only to those who know how to ask questions.” – Hajo Holborn. Other subjects teach you the answers, history teaches you to ask the questions. It enables you to learn lessons from the past so that we can understand the present and improve the future. You will develop skills such as analysing information, forming substantiated judgements, evaluating sources of information and assessing the significance of specific events or individuals. The following units are looked at under the Cambridge IGCSE specification:  

  • Core content: International Relations since 1919 (specifically looking at the events after WWI, the collapse of peace, the Cold War and events in the Gulf).  
  • Depth Study: Germany 1918-1945.

The GCSE consists of 2 exam papers worth 73% sat in the summer of Year 11, and coursework worth 27%. 

What can I do to prepare for this course? 

  • Read and research from a range of different sources: letters, historical novels, newspapers, historical documentaries. 
  • Develop an inquisitive mind: ask questions about the events in the news and the people around you. 

What will my next steps be? 

The skills that are developed throughout GCSE History are highly valued beyond school life and this is why history is specifically highlighted by the Russell Group universities as one of a handful of subjects that ‘open a wide range of options’. As such, the analytical and critical reasoning that studying history helps you develop and can help open doors to careers such as law, forensic medicine, journalism or a future in politics. 

GCSE Music

Exam Board - OCR

What can I expect from this subject? 

Music is constantly evolving, inspiring creativity and expression in a unique way, unlike any other subject. GCSE Music offers pupils a relevant and contemporary GCSE qualification which incorporates a wide range of musical genres with more opportunities for practical learning. GCSE Music brings theory, listening and composition to life in a new and engaging way and links to the world around us like never before. Throughout the two-year course, pupils will study three units: 

  1. Understanding music 
  2. Performing music  
  3. Composing music 

Understanding music focuses on listening and contextual understanding which is assessed by a written 1 hour 30 minute exam. Within this topic, pupils will study 4 key areas: Western Classical Music 1690-1910, Popular Music, Traditional Music and Classical Music since 1910. 

For the performance unit, students prepare two performances pieces (one solo and one ensemble piece) which are both internally assessed. 

For the composition unit, students compose two compositions; one to a brief provided by the exam board and the other a free composition. 

What can I do to prepare for this course? 

Pupils should already be learning an instrument or having singing lessons with an aim to be playing repertoire at Grade 4 standard by Year 11.  

Pupils should listen to a variety of music from different genres and think about what music they enjoy listening to and who inspires their music making.  

  • Find pieces of music you enjoy playing or singing.  
  • Note down any initial ideas for a free composition. Little melodies, rhythms and chord progressions are all great places to start.  

What will my next steps be? 

Students may choose to continue with music, by studying A-Level or BTEC Music/Performing Arts; equally, they may want to study other subjects. Either way, choosing Music GCSE will be of benefit as it provides transferable skills and can open doors to a range of education and employment pathways in: 

  • Music (as a teacher, music therapist, sound technician, or working in a music venue). 
  • Arts/creative industries (working in television, media, film, production, theatre, radio or arts administration). 

Music is also highly regarded as an academic subject and would complement other studies in leading to a professional career. 

GCSE Physical Education

Exam Board - AQA

What can I expect from this subject? 

Physical education is a subject that equips students with the knowledge, understanding and skills to develop their own performance in sport. They develop their understanding of socio-cultural influences on participation in sport, and the benefits of physical activity to health, fitness and well-being. Throughout the two-year course students will cover:  

  • Applied anatomy and physiology.  
  • Movement analysis.  
  • Physical training.  
  • Sports psychology.  
  • Socio-cultural influences.  
  • Health fitness and wellbeing.

The GCSE consists of 2 exam papers which are sat in the summer of Year 11. In addition, each candidate chooses three sports to be assessed in. 

What can I do to prepare for this course? 

All students are set a series of tasks to complete during the summer prior to the start of the course. This involves some reading, creating a small presentation and creating some quiz questions. 

What will my next steps be? 

  • Physical education includes both elements from arts and the sciences making it a useful option to choose as a basis to support a wide range of A-Level and BTEC courses.  
  • BTEC Sport is offered at Westonbirt, this equates to the same UCAS points as one A-Level.  

Physical Education gives you a diverse range of skills which are useful in many future careers. Common roles include: physiotherapy, military careers, teaching and lecturing, sports coaching, personal trainer and sports journalism. 

GCSE Product Design

Exam Board - AQA Art & Design (Three Dimensional Design) 

What can I expect from this subject? 

Students that choose to study product design at GCSE will be introduced to a variety of activities that explore a range of three-dimensional products, processes and techniques. The beginning of the course is focussed on skills building, so that each student is able to demonstrate these in each of the projects that follow. Creative design briefs are set to challenge students to consider the user of a product. Technical drawing and 3D software will be used to present initial design ideas. This will then lead on to developing designs by model-making, construction and assembly. Consideration of aesthetics and function will be refined through prototyping, testing and evaluating. Resources such as hand tools, laser cutter and 3D printer will be used to make final products.   

The course consists of one coursework project 60% and one exam project 40%.

What can I do to prepare for this course?

  • Explore contemporary design, designers and current design themes online.   
  • Follow design galleries on social media e.g. The Design Museum: London, Bauhaus Archive: Berlin, Museum of Modern Art: New York, Vitra Design Museum: Germany, Red Hot Design Museum: Singapore. 
  • Take photographs of interesting products and design.  
  • Set up a Pinterest account and use this to research contemporary design.  
  • Practice technical drawing such as isometric drawing. 

What will my next steps be? 

Product design is suitable for anyone considering a future in a variety of areas of design, including animation, architecture, interior design, special effects for film and television, product design or engineering.  

Within product design and engineering, there is such a wide variety of extremely interesting career possibilities such as the design of medical instruments, naval architect, sports engineer, from designing specialist equipment for activities such a diving, to designing products that we use every day. 

GCSE Religious Studies (Full Course)

Exam Board - EDUQAS

What can I expect from this subject? 

Full course RS is the opportunity to study religion and philosophical themes in greater depth and really develop your critical thinking skills. The additional units of Good and Evil and Human Rights offer really engaging study into topics such as why people commit crimes, is it ever right to forgive?, is the death penalty ethical? RS stands out from other GCSE subjects in its ability to study topical issues and to consider these from both our own view and the views of religions. It is also unique in its ability to develop evaluation and analytical skills which arguably are important for all students whatever career path they ultimately choose to follow.   

You will also study religious practices which arguably is the most interesting part of religion to understand what motivates people to live in a particular way. 

Students have already begun studying content for this GCSE, and during Year 9 to 11 will cover:: 

  • Issues of families and relationships.  
  • Issues of life and death 
  • Issues of good and evil 
  • Issues of human rights 
  • Christianity - beliefs, teachings and practices 
  • Islam - beliefs, teachings and practices 

Assessment will take place in Year 10 and Year 11 to complete the full course GCSE. 

What can I do to prepare for this course? 

Look at real life case examples such as Harold Shipman. Should he have received the death penalty for what he did? Also research Archbishop Desmond Tutu and John Sentamu. How effective do you think that their work for human rights is? Why?  

Also, watch the news to engage in current stories about religion in the media.  

Research religious views about topics such as same sex marriage, abortion, and euthanasia. 

What will my steps be? 

The full course offers an in depth preparation for the A-Level course. Both the A-Level and the GCSE encourage critical thinking skills and therefore are excellent for a wide range of degree courses and careers. 

GCSE Textile Design

Exam Board - OCR 

What can I expect from this subject? 

Textile design is part of an art and design course which focuses on the creation of designs and products for woven, knitted, stitched or printed fabrics and involves an understanding of fibres, yarns and fabrics. Students will explore and develop skills in one or more of the practical textiles design processes and techniques: weaving, surface printing, pattern making, pattern cutting, embroidery (machine or hand), knitting, batik, appliqué and collage. They will also examine relevant sources such as the work of historical and contemporary textile designers. The course is assessed via two main components:  

  • Component 1: A portfolio of practical work worth 60%.  
  • Component 2: An externally set task in which students respond to one of five themes and includes 10 supervised hours. 

What can I do to prepare for this course? 

  • Read and research around the subject, for example, reading craft and fashion magazines, following art, textile and fashion blogs and galleries online e.g. The Fashion and Textiles Museum, The V&A. 
  • Practice skills in different types of textiles design, including learning how to use a sewing machine. 
  • Visit exhibitions, such as at the V&A museum in London or attend an introductory course in a type of textiles design, such as at the Brewery Arts Centre. 

What will my next steps be? 

Textile Design GCSE is a sound foundation to studying A-Level Art and Design or Textiles and Fashion. It could also lead to further study at university and to a range of careers including: fashion design, costume design, fashion buying, fashion marketing, jewellery making, print design, interior design, stylists, fashion journalism and clothing technologists. 

GCSE Separate Science

Exam Board - OCR Gateway A 

What can I expect from this subject? 

The separate science courses augment the combined science course. Each separate GCSE in Biology, Chemistry and Physics consists of the same units as in the combined science GCSE, but with additional content embedded within the combined science units. The separate science courses are ideally suited to those students who have a passion for science and who have demonstrated an aptitude for coping with the rigours of these disciplines. Indeed, it is particularly appropriate for those who are thinking that a science might be something which they would like to continue to study at A-Level.

The additional content covers, amongst other things:

  • Biology: homeostasis.
  • Chemistry: industrial chemical processes.
  • Physics: life-cycle of stars.

The separate science GCSEs also consist of, in total, 6 examination papers, which are sat at the end of Year 11; two papers in biology, two in chemistry and two in physics. 

What can I do to prepare for this course? 

  • Watch programmes such as ‘The Royal Institution Christmas Lectures’, ‘The Sky at Night’, various programs by Sir David Attenborough or Brian Cox and ‘Horizon’. 
  • Listen to ‘The Infinite Monkey Cage’, ‘The Curious Cases of Rutherford & Fry’ and ‘Brainwaves’. 
  • Visit the popular science section of a bookshop and choose a publication to read. 
  • Visit museums e.g. We The Curious, The Science Museum, The Natural History Museum, aquariums Keep asking ”How does this work?”, “Why?” and “What if…?” 

What will the next steps be? 

GCSE Seperate Science provides a firm foundation for continuing to study the various combinations of A-Level Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Maths. Studying sciences at KS5 also blends well with A-Level Economics, Geography and Product Design. The sciences facilitate careers in medicine, engineering, the armed forces, conservation and forensics, and many more. 

Cambridge National Business Studies

Exam Board - Cambridge National

What can I expect from this subject? 

An aspiration for many young people is to be self-employed and start their own business. The skills required for this, such as being able to work collaboratively and creatively, solve problems and have awareness of businesses and customers, are also those requested by employers. Students will develop these during the course.

The level 2 business course allows you to get to grips with key aspects of running small businesses with a focus on enterprise and marketing. Students will gain the right combination of knowledge, understanding and skills required for the 21st century.  

The final grading of the course is – Distinction* (*2), Distinction (D2), Merit (M2), Pass (P2). 

You complete three mandatory units:  

  • Enterprise and marketing concepts,  
  • Design a business proposal,  
  • Market and pitch a business proposal. 

What can I do to prepare or this course? 

Having a good understanding of the world we live in is a fantastic step towards understanding business. Being aware of current affairs, listening to the news on the radio and watching it on TV as well as newspapers will help with business language and concepts. 

What will my next steps be? 

Students will have gained knowledge and practical skills in enterprise and marketing that you will be able to apply in other contexts in life outside of academic studies. In academic studies, students can progress to A-Level or other, level 3 qualifications, or on to an apprenticeship or work. 

Cambridge National Creative Imedia

Exam Board - Cambridge National

What can I expect from this subject? 

Students will plan, design, create and project manage a variety of digital products.  

This course is geared towards those who wish to develop a range of digital and IT skills and those who enjoy creativity and design work. 

Students will study two core units: 

  • Pre-Production Skills (exam) 
  • Creating Digital Graphics (coursework) 

Then an additional two from the following options: 

  • Creating a Multipage Website (coursework) 
  • Creating a Digital Animation (coursework) 
  • Creating Interactive Multimedia Products (coursework) 
  • Creating a Digital Sound Sequence (coursework) 
  • Creating a Digital Video Sequence (coursework) 
  • Designing a Game Concept (coursework) 
  • Developing Digital Games (coursework) 

IT skills are essential for most employment opportunities, and the ability to use IT effectively will be of great benefit for future study and generally as a life skill. 

What can I do to prepare for this course? 

  • Find tutorials with creative elements, such as, making websites, animations, graphics, game making, working with video and sound. 
  • Become involved in computing competitions and activities at school. 
  • Use spare prep time to expand and develop work began in lessons.  
  • Attend computing clubs. 

What will my next steps be?

Study Computer Science, BTEC Computing, Media Studies or Photography at Westonbirt in the Sixth Form.

Students will find the skills needed to be successful in this course are transferable and will make you more effective in your work for all other subjects, and in your future employment opportunities. 

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