Year 9 Options

Band H


Key Stage 4 covers Year 9, 10 and 11 and it is at this stage that students can start deciding which subjects they require to further their aspirations. Whilst some courses are compulsory others are optional and thus selecting the subjects to study is known as 'Options'.

Under a scheme called Raising the Participation Age (RPA) students currently in Year 8 will be required to remain in education or training until the age of 18; this can include employment with training and so does not mean that students need to remain in school to continue their training.

Choosing your option subjects is an important process as these form the passport for entry to further and higher education as well as employment.

It is important you understand the following:

  • Which subjects are compulsory
  • Which subjects are available as optional choices
  • What each of the optional courses contain, how they are assessed and where they lead to in the future
  • Option restrictions and the English Baccalaureate (E-Bacc)

Courses taken by students at Key Stage 4

All students will study the CORE CURRICULUM, which is compulsory. The subjects that make up the core are:

  • English Language
  • English Literature
  • Maths
  • Science
  • Citizenship and R.E.
  • Physical Education (P.E.)

Subjects with choice

  • You need choose one subject and a reserve subject in Option A.
  • You need to choose two subjects and a reserve subject from Option B:
Option A Option B
Art and Design
Performing Arts
Physical Education
Art and Design
Business Studies
Performing Arts
Physical Education
Religious Education
Travel and Tourism
  • The type of qualification can vary depending upon the ability of students.
  • Courses may be withdrawn if there are not sufficient numbers of students choosing that option.
  • Courses may have limits on the number of students who can take a subject. If a course is oversubscribed students will be assigned to classes on a first come first served basis.
  • You need to select an option and reserve option. You will be assigned to your reserve option if your chosen subject has exceeded the maximum number of students in the class or if the course has been withdrawn.
  • Your subject choice and your reserve cannot be the same subject.
  • Your main choice in option A and B cannot be the same subject.
  • All students in Band H will study Triple Science. This means you will have 9 lessons of science per week and be awarded individual GCSE's in Biology, Chemistry and Physics.
  • The Principal has the final say on all option choices.

The English Baccalaureate (E-Bacc)

The Government introduced the English Baccalaureate in 2011. This is not a stand-alone qualification but a set of subjects at GCSE that keeps your options open for further study and future careers. Students can meet the E-Bacc benchmark by achieving the expected level in a minimum of 5 subjects which must include all of the following:

  • English Language
  • English Literature
  • Maths
  • A Science
  • A Humanities subject (History or Geography)
  • A Foreign Language (French or Spanish)

All students in Bands H will have the opportunity to achieve the E-Bacc if they so wish.

Thinking ahead

During years 9, 10 and 11 students will start exploring and applying for their chosen route for Years 12 and 13. This could include any of the following:

  • Full-time education, such as continuing into Tollbar 6th Form or another college
  • Work-based learning such as an apprenticeship
  • Work with training

Students need to consider their chosen route when selecting their Key Stage 4 option choices. Whilst some students have made a decision on what career path they wish to follow, others are unsure on possible careers. Students who are unsure should choose a broad range of courses to 'keep their options open'.

More detailed careers information is available on the Lincs2 website.

Are you thinking of going on to study at university?

Making choices at this stage will affect the courses students can apply for at university. Students need to be aware that for a number of courses at university they need to have taken the subject at A Level and many A Levels require the subject to have been taken at Key Stage 4.

If students are considering studying at university you need to be aware of the entry requirements for the courses you may wish to study. These can be looked at using the UCAS website, in conjunction with individual university websites.

The Russell Group is an association of the top 20 universities in the country. They have produced a document called 'Informed Choices'. The document is important for both students who have a clear idea of the courses they might like to take and for those who aim to attend a good university but are unsure of their particular focus of study.

Some Further Education providers may not allow students onto an A Level course without them having studied the subject at GCSE previously. Currently, students who have studied combined science are permitted to take individual science subjects at A Level at Tollbar MAT sixth form college.

Choosing courses

When making your choices you need to find out as much information beforehand to ensure you are making the right choice. As well as exploring the website you can also talk to your Form tutor, Subject teachers, Citizenship teachers, Parents and of course Employers.

Do not make choices based on the following:

  • My friends have chosen it
  • I like my current year 8 teacher
  • It sounds easy or 'different'
  • It sounds good / cool
  • My family member took it and liked it
  • It's new and I've never done it before

Changing and Dropping courses

Students need to be aware that it is difficult to change courses once they have started a course in September. If a course is full and a child requests moving into it, this will not be possible. If a student chooses a course for the wrong reasons and later asks to swap to an alternative, this is sometimes impossible and the student has to stick with the choice they have made.

Students will not be able to swap a subject after the first 4 weeks of study in Year 9.

Students changing options will need to ensure they are still studying one of the following subjects

  • Geography
  • History
  • A language

Useful websites:


Course Content

Art, Craft and Design is about gaining knowledge of different art and craft styles, developing drawing skills, refining ideas, exploring media and producing personal artworks.

Future Pathways and Careers

  • Animator
  • Architect
  • Costume Designer
  • Graphic Designer
  • Make-up Artist
  • Photographer
  • Set Designer
  • Tattooist
  • Web Designer


Course Content

In ICT, you will learn how to use a computer correctly, developing the skills required to create professional business documents, manage your time, create graphic artwork and develop websites. You'll develop an understanding of how to plan digital media products and how these planning stages are an important factor in the development of any digital product such as DVD covers, comic books, games and websites.

Future Pathways and Careers

After studying ICT, you might want to move on to more advanced study in ICT or related subjects such as computer science, media studies and games development. Careers related to the subject are graphic designers, web developers, games developers and TV producers.


Course Content

Topics include physiology, diet and nutrition, and analysing sporting performance. Sporting competence across a number of sports is required with dedication and commitment to sport and physical activities outside of the curriculum being vital. The ability to lead, coach and potentially officiate various sports will also be a necessity.

Future Pathways and Careers

  • P.E. Teacher
  • Sports Coach
  • Physiotherapy
  • Sports Management
  • Sporting Career


Course Content

GCSE Mathematics is taught to all students in KS4. Students study a range of topics from Number, Algebra, Geometry and Measure and Statistics and Probability. All students will sit their GCSE Mathematics examination at the end of Year 11. There are two tiers that can be taken; Foundation and Higher and for each tier there are 3 papers. All three papers must be at the same tier of entry and must be completed in the same assessment series.

Future Pathways and Careers

The reason why so many employers highly value mathematics qualifications is that mathematics students become better at thinking logically and analytically. Mathematics skills are very appealing to a variety of employers and are highly valued by university admissions tutors and further education establishments. Many careers use maths without you actually realising, it is not just for scientists and engineers.

GCSE English Language

Course Content

Exploration of a range of fiction and non-fiction texts from the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries. The main focus is on understanding how writers create meaning and analysing the impact of this on the reader.

Assessment is at the end of Year 11, through two examination papers.

Future Pathways and Careers

English lends itself to a wide variety of future careers including journalism, working within the media, writing professionally, law and teaching.

GCSE English Literature

Course Content

Study of four set texts. Analysis of the language, form and structures used in writing, along with exploration of the writer's intentions and relevance of the historical context.

Assessment is at the end of Year 11, through two examination papers.

Future Pathways and Careers

Similar to English Language, English literature can open doors to a wide variety of future careers including journalism, working within the media, writing professionally, law and teaching.


Course Content

Students will be able to understand a wide variety of language. They will also be able to talk and write in at least three different tenses about a variety of topics including: media, relationships, future plans, education, environment, voluntary work and travel. The course is divided into four skills: listening, speaking, reading and writing.

Future Pathways and Careers

Qualifications in languages can lead to jobs in travel and tourism, business and enterprise, fashion, translation and education.


Course Content

The course will look at how Germany has changed from the rule of Kaiser Wilhelm through to the Nazi regime. You then study British migration, empires and the people from 790AD and the Viking invasion, to the present day and the EU. Finally, the Norman conquest and its impact on England. This will also cover a site study that is directly related to the Norman invasion. You will develop a wide variety of skills, including: constructing a supported argument, investigation and problem-solving and how to interpret and analyse sources.

Future Pathways and Careers

Studying GCSE History can lead to a variety of career options, including:

  • Journalism
  • Law
  • Business
  • Politics
  • Archaeology
  • Marketing
  • Teaching

Qualification in Design and Technology focussing on Textiles

Course Content

The course will allow pupils to develop a range of designing, developing and making skills.

40% Folder/ portfolio work and designing and developing products using a selection of methods including drawing, CAD and modelling.

10% practical, making products using various textiles materials and techniques.

50% written exam, based on all areas of Design and Technology looking at how materials are made, their different properties and uses. Product analysis, designers and design eras. (15% Maths).

Students require good drawing skills, good at coming up with ideas, have an interest in design and designers and be able to reason and problem solve.

Future Pathways and Careers

  • Fashion design
  • Illustration
  • Alterations
  • Costume design
  • Manufacturing
  • Teaching
  • Pattern cutting
  • Upholstery
  • Interior design


Course Content

The course is 10% practical, making products using various materials including woods, metals and plastics.

40% Folder/ portfolio work and designing and developing products using a selection of methods including drawing, CAD and modelling.

50% written exam, based on all areas of Design and Technology looking at how materials are made, their different properties and uses. Product analysis, designers and design eras. (15% Maths).

Future Pathways and Careers

  • Engineering / apprenticeships
  • Joinery
  • Manufacturing
  • Teaching
  • Graphic design
  • CAD/CAM design
  • Interior design
  • Product design
  • Technician

Religious Education

Course Content

Religious Education explores the complex moral and ethical dilemmas faced in the modern world. Students will consider their own beliefs, alongside studying the beliefs of modern religions on a range of issues, such as terrorism, euthanasia and relationships.

Studies will focus on the Christian and Hindu perspectives, but due consideration is given to a range of views including non-religious and humanist.

Future Pathways and Careers

Careers that particularly value this include the law, journalism, politics and teaching. However, GCSE R.E. teaches tolerance, debate and self-reflection which are important in a range of careers.


Course Content

By learning this course you will increase your ability to perform and compose music with understanding. You will listen and appraise set works of various styles and genres. You will also have to compose pieces of music from two of the areas of study.

You will:

  • Be given the opportunity to rehearse and refine performances on your chosen instrument or voice, developing control, expression and interpretative skills
  • Take part in practical workshops to understand stylistic features and characteristics
  • Learn about the different products of the music industry
  • Perform to a given brief, in front of an audience

Future Pathways and Careers

This course gives you all the necessary skills to move on to progress to other vocational and academic study at level 3, and also to progress to employment in the music and Performing Arts industries.

Performing Arts

Course Content

By studying this subject you will learn to develop your skills in a variety of performing arts disciplines, and will plan and deliver a performance to an audience.

You will:

  • Learn how to use a variety of techniques when performing, experiment with ideas and practical skills
  • Develop rehearsal schedules and rehearse effectively
  • Explore the processes used to create a performance
  • Perform to a given brief, in front of an audience

Future Pathways and Careers

This course gives you all the necessary skills to move on to progress to other vocational and academic study at level 3, and also to progress to employment in the Performing Arts industry.


Course Content

You will study natural hazards such as tropical storms, volcanoes, earthquakes and climate change along with aspects of the living world relating to rainforests and tundra. The course looks at urban issues and challenges, energy and resource management, whilst considering the impact of trade and aid around the world.

Future Pathways and Careers

  • Hydrologist
  • Disaster & Emergency Planner
  • Climate Change Analyst
  • Meteorologist
  • Sustainable energy development
  • Geography Teacher
  • Nature Conservation Officer
  • Leisure Centre Coordinator
  • Charity Fundraiser
  • Human Rights Officer
  • Coastal Engineer
  • Environmental Lawyer
  • Air Pollution Analyst
  • Water Conservation Officer
  • Town planner

Triple Science

Course Content

GCSE Biology covers the major animal and plant systems in a traditional way, but also introduces the students to important breakthroughs of recent years, such as cloning and genetic engineering. Topics include: food and ecosystems, life on Earth, the human body, using food and controlling growth and genes.

GCSE Chemistry aims to give students a sound knowledge base, as well as industrial and practical applications of chemistry. Topics include: air and water, chemical patterns, chemicals of the natural environment, material choices, chemical analysis and making useful chemicals.

GCSE Physics provides students with a thorough knowledge of the subject, and develops their understanding through the use of examples taken from a modern everyday context. Topics include: forces and motion, electricity and electrostatics, the electromagnetic spectrum, light and sound, and radioactivity.

Future Pathways and Careers

  • Doctor
  • Vet
  • Teacher
  • Research scientist
  • Nuclear engineer
  • Renewables engineer (wind turbines)
  • Geophysicist
  • Radiation protection practitioner
  • Nuclear power
  • Radiographer
  • Meteorologist
  • Software engineer
  • Manufacturing
  • Oil and gas
  • Science and telecommunications

Travel & Tourism

Course Content

In this course you will explore the travel and tourism industry. You will look at the different organisations involved in the industry and the role they play within the economy.

You will look at tourism trends and the destinations which people travel to.

This course will investigate the impact that tourism has on the environment and how market research is used to respond to market trends to meet customer needs.

Future Pathways and Careers

You can continue to study travel and tourism at college, as well as apprenticeships and traineeships.

You will develop skills such as self-reflection, communication, teamwork and problem solving.

Future careers include:

  • Management in the leisure and tourism industry
  • A variety of roles with airlines and transport companies
  • Tour manager
  • Airline cabin crew
  • Air traffic controller
  • Transport scheduler
  • Tourism officer
  • Tour guides

Business Studies

Course Content

You don't have to want to be the next Alan Sugar to study Business. But, Business Studies will give you an insight into the business world which is essential, regardless of your career choice! In addition, you will develop your team working skills, analytical skills, ICT skills, communication skills and decision making skills - all of which make you a more attractive employee when you leave the Academy.

Business Studies covers:

  • The purpose of business activity, the role of business enterprise and entrepreneurship, and the dynamic nature of business.
  • The importance of external influences on business and how businesses change in response to these influences.
  • The purpose of the finance, marketing and human resources in a business.

Future Pathways and Careers

The study of Business is highly regarded by colleges, universities and employers. The knowledge and skills you will learn have such breadth they are also essential in a wide variety of professions, some of these include: business adviser, data analyst, retail manager, events manager, teacher or social media manager.

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Tollbar Academy Principal

Caroline L Yates
BA (Hons).

Tollbar MAT Chief Executive

David J Hampson