Frequently Asked Questions

How many GCSEs should my son/daughter take?
There is no single right answer to this question and you should consider all the information above as well as taking advice from the school before coming to this decision

How are GCSEs graded and what is a pass?
In the past few years, GCSEs have shifted from an alphabetic grading system A*,A,B,C,D,E,F,G,U, to a numerical one 9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1 where 9 is high. The old A* is considered to be equivalent to a grade 8 and a good pass (formerly a C) is now somewhere in the region of a 4 or 5.

What percentage do I need to get an A?
It really doesn’t work in this way. Grade boundaries are very fluid based on the previous attainment of the cohort being examined and the overall performance of all the pupils that year.

How many pupils do you need to run a subject?
There is no hard and fast rule on this. We will need to consider factors like the cost of resources and recruitment. In some cases we may run a course with just one pupil however a good rule of thumb is likely to be 3-5 pupils to make a course run.

Will my son/daughter get his/her first preference?
With 24 pupils in year 9 each taking an average of 9 or 10 subjects each and this number of optional subjects, it may be difficult to give everyone exactly what they want. However, as a small school we can offer more flexible than a larger one and we hope to be able to offer every pupil a subject combination they will be happy with.

What are the easiest subjects?
There are no easy subjects. Some people find physics easy and drama impossible, whereas others are good at Art but can’t catch a ball! It is important to select preferences based on individual talents and interests rather than trying to cheat the system by looking for allegedly ‘soft’ or ‘easy’ options.

I’ve heard about the EBacc, what is that and how do I get it?
The EBacc is not a qualification in its own right but is a performance measure for schools allowing for comparison in league tables. Pupils are considered to have taken the EBacc if they have sat for GCSEs in English (lit and lang), Maths, Science (including Computer Science), a modern language and History or Geography.

My son/daughter is fluent in another language can they take the GCSE?
Probably yes, but it may not be as easy as your think. In some language GCSEs there is a literature paper as well as language paper which can make the qualification much more difficult. Also the papers will test all four language skills (speaking, reading, writing and listening) so if pupils can speak fluently but are not able to write, they may need support to pass the GCSE.

Do GCSEs have coursework or module exams?
Almost all GCSEs are now examined by terminal examinations (that is final exams at the end of the course). Modular testing and continuous assessment are mostly a thing of the past with the exception of certain applied subjects such as Music and Art.

I’ve heard the GCSEs are easy?
Don’t be fooled! They were never easy and they recently got a lot harder. Most pupils will notice a step up in difficulty as they move from year 9 to year 10. Rising grades over the years reflects improved standards, familiarity with requirements, improvements in the quality of education provision and increased emphasis on academic routes post-16 as much as anything else.

I’ve heard that GCSEs aren’t that important?
Whatever your opinion on whether there is still a place for a universal exam at age 16 when everyone these days has to stay in school or training until they are 18, the fact is that GCSEs are with us and here to stay for a long time yet. GCSEs are perhaps more important now than they were even just three or four years ago. Choices that young people make now will define their future path for years to come. By ‘dropping’ a subject now, it probably means that the opportunity to study that subject has gone for good. By choosing a particular combination now eg ‘the sciences’ that pupil is making a decision that is likely to affect A level choices, degree choice and perhaps even employment opportunities in the future.