For their first three years at King Richard School all pupils take essentially the same broad and balanced curriculum offering a wide range of subjects. Each curriculum area has a curriculum intent ensuring students make progress in their; academic curiosity, social and personal skills and become positive citizens of their local and global communities. This is intended both to lay the foundations of a broad general education and to give pupils some experience on which to base their option choice of courses in the upper school or in other schools from year 10 onward.
During year 9 pupils decide, from a range of subjects they will study in year 10 and 11, which together with English, Mathematics and Science will form their KS4 examination courses. Some of these are traditional GCSE’s and others BTEC’s or Technical qualifications. In our small school setting we able to take a straw poll of student preferences before we make fixed option blocks each year, meaning we can maximise students’ chances of taking subjects they are motivated to take.
Options are very much a matter for the individual student, supported and challenged by appropriate stakeholders at school and of course parents. We will never restrict as students’ choices but we do ensure through discussions with students and parents they are aware of keeping their options open and that they are following or at the least aware of national advice on educational pathways. This combined with our straw poll blocks allows students to pick four subjects which keeps as many doors open for them in their next educational and work-related next steps.
The English Baccalaureate (EBacc)
Since 2010 the Government has measured schools on their English Baccalaureate (EBacc) entry rate and pass rate as well as recently an average GCSE score. A student will achieve the EBacc if they achieve a grade 5 or above in English, Mathematics, 2 Sciences (including Computer Science), a Modern Foreign Language and History or Geography (6 specific GCSE qualifications in total).
There is no certificate for students attaining this measure, but the Department for Education (DfE) believes strongly that it is attainment in these subjects that are vital for most student’s future success. They have set a target for 90% of students to take this pathway by 2025. At King Richard School, our curriculum provision includes the EBacc subjects; all of which are very popular subjects by free choice.
We would expect most students to choose subjects that will allow them to gain the EBacc as the DfE states this offers a solid academic foundation for future study and success. For some students this is not academically appropriate or may not be opening specific career pathways of interest and after discussion with them and parents we would collectively decide if the EBacc pathway was for them.