Most children embark on a two-year GCSE course (in some schools pupils sit some GCSEs at the end of Y10). Children are usually encouraged to take a broad base of subjects including: English (usually language and literature); maths; science (biology, chemistry, physics – a combination of one, two or all three in a guise of awards: single, dual etc); a modern foreign language (no longer compulsory) – most schools offer French and often a choice of German, or Spanish but always check with a school first; a design technology subject; humanities (history Geography, RE), and the Arts (visual and performing). Often business/vocationally orientated subjects such as business studies, economics, media studies, and ICT are offered. Social sciences: psychology, sociology are popular in some schools as are Latin, Greek and Classical studies. Virtually all GCSE’s have a compulsory coursework element worth between 20% and 100% of the marks (some independent schools have opted to follow the IGCSE courses in some subjects as there isn’t a coursework element). Non-GCSE courses such as PE (which is offered at GCSE), games and Personal Social Health Education (PSHE) or similar, plus citizenship continue to be followed.
Children usually make their GCSE – option choices in Y9 following extensive consultation with the school, their parents and teachers. At this stage the proposed level of study will be discussed. Most subjects offer two tiers of entry, foundation and higher. Foundation level study is aimed at grades C-G and Higher Grades A*-D. Most schools and colleges will expect a student to have achieved at least a grade B in any subject to be studied at A level.