Year 9 Options Guidance

back to year 9 options

When you are satisfied that the appropriate choices have been made, please sign the option form and return it on or before Monday 5th February 2024 to your Head of Pastoral.

Notes for Parents

Your son/ daughter is about to enter an important stage in their school life. Over the next two years they will be following a range of examination courses that will provide them with their first school certificates and, hopefully, lead to further success in the Sixth Form, college or in apprenticeships and beyond.

At Mascalls Academy we want to provide your son/ daughter with the best possible education. To do this, we set high standards and help them do the very best they can. Our students have enjoyed considerable success in their examinations in the past and we are confident your son/ daughter will maintain this tradition in the future. 

During the KS3 years from year 7 to year 9 students have been studying a wide range of subjects as part of a broad and balanced curriculum under the framework of the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme that has provided them with a firm foundation for their GCSEs. In September your son/ daughter will progress to Key Stage 4, where each of the subjects taught have a specification which takes a certain amount of lesson time to get through. This makes it impossible to study an unlimited number of subjects in Years 10 and 11; they need to make some choices. To reach the best possible solution we make sure they follow courses that they have to do to fulfil the requirements of the National Curriculum and English Baccalaureate (EBacc)and then we give a choice of subjects to take up the rest of the time in school. Therefore, some of their subjects will be compulsory (we call them the core subjects), and some are optional. 

The compulsory core subjects are English Language, English Literature, mathematics, combined science, Spanish and core PE (non-examined). The optional subjects may be traditional GCSE and/or vocational qualifications. 

What is the EBacc?

The EBacc is a set of subjects at GCSE that keeps young people’s options open for further study and future careers.

The EBacc is:

  • English language and literature
  • maths
  • the sciences
  • geography or history
  • a language

While your child may not have decided on their future career path yet, choosing the EBacc at GCSE gives them access to a full range of employment options when they leave secondary school and the broad knowledge that employers are looking for. If they are thinking of going to university, the EBacc is also recommended by Britain’s most prestigious universities. Studying a Humanities subject of history or geography or both would be advisable as an addition to the compulsory core suite of subjects.

The options process will begin in January with an assembly in school for the students. On Thursday 11th January 2024 there will be a combined options and parents evening from 4-7pm


Students will choose ONE subject from each column and complete this on the upcoming Options Google Form link. Students will also choose three reserve choices in case we cannot accommodate the initial choices.

Remember that staff are able to help including:

  • Advisor
  • Head of Pastoral
  • Subject Teachers
  • Mrs S Mahon (Vice Principal)
  • Mrs T Banks (Options Co-ordinator)
  • Mrs A Fowler ( SENCo)

Notes for Students

Choosing your options for Year 10 is an important step and the first of many you will have to make regarding GCSEs, Sixth Form and the careers you will eventually follow.

You cannot make good decisions without the information this booklet gives. It explains the courses that are available. It shows you how to go about making the decision which is right for you. Read it carefully and talk it over with your parents, teachers and advisor. 

Compulsory GCSE subjects

  • You have to study for GCSEs in English Language, English Literature, Mathematics, Combined Science and Spanish.
  • You will also have lessons in PE.

Vocational qualifications

  • You can choose from OCR Nationals and BTECs which lead on to level 3 courses.

GCSE option subjects

  • You can choose from a list of subjects, but the choice is not completely free. You should aim for a broad selection of subjects to keep your options open in the future. Choose one subject from each column and not the same subject twice!

Not every combination of subjects is possible. Check the options grid carefully before making your choices.

You will study 9 GCSE’s (or equivalent) subjects (combined science counts as two).

In most cases you will, but this cannot be guaranteed. Although every effort will be made to accommodate your wishes, it is likely that some courses do not attract enough students to go ahead. In such cases you will be asked to choose again. We will endeavour to meet your needs.

Most students in Year 9 have little idea of their career choice and even if you know about a possible career you may change your mind. You should select a balanced range of subjects.

  • English is a key subject.
  • Maths is another key subject.
  • Science helps us to understand the world around us. It is a key subject.
  • Spanish is a key subject. Foreign languages are useful for developing ever closer ties with Europe. They are helpful in widening the scope of career opportunities as Britain expands trade with our European partners.
  • Information & communication technology (ICT) provides a vital skill which is useful in all careers and important in supporting work in all your subjects
  • Visual art subjects such as art and design, technology and media studies help us to understand the world around us and communicate ideas in order to interact with it.
  • Humanities e.g. history, geography, religious education and business studies help us to understand the way people live and act.
  • Performing Arts and Vocational Studies help us explore and respond to the world around us as well as enabling us to express ourselves, grow in confidence and shape our identity. 

It will help to have a broad selection of subjects which will help give you a wider choice of courses and careers.  Employers and Further/Higher Education institutions look for a balance of subjects!

There are two key questions to ask when choosing subjects for the next two years. These are:

What am I good at? What do I like? 

  • You will be given the opportunity in advisory time to examine your strengths and weaknesses in the subjects you currently follow.
  • You should not necessarily choose only your best subjects, but it may be foolish to choose subjects in which you are not likely to be successful (discuss if you are unsure).
  • Enjoying a subject can make a big difference to how well you do, so what you like is particularly important.

Choosing what you are good at and what you like is strongly advised and much better than jumping at a career idea and working backwards

You must seek out people with whom you can discuss your choice of subject.

  • Your subject teachers
  • Your parents
  • Your Advisor
  • Family
  • Friends
  • Employer contacts
  • Mrs Mahon (Vice Principal)
  • Head of Pastoral

They may recommend certain choices knowing your strengths and weaknesses.


You cannot do any combination of subjects. You will be given an ‘Option Choice Sheet’. Read it carefully to understand how to use it.

A Word of Advice

Ten Key Do’s and Do Not’s

  • DO NOT be influenced by your friends as to what you choose. It MUST be your choice.
  • DO NOT choose subjects because you may like or dislike your present teacher.
  • DO NOT choose a subject for a certain career if you are weak at that subject.
  • DO NOT be totally influenced by any one perspective — take a range of views when you make your choice.
  • DO NOT choose a subject because it is ‘new’ and it must be ‘better’ than what you know. Make sure you check it out!
  • DO read about all the subjects on offer. Many courses are different or new. Find out whether they will suit your needs or not. 
  • DO ask questions and discuss the choices with teachers, parents and careers staff.
  • DO aim for a balanced choice to keep your career and future course options open.
  • DO look at yourself honestly and discover what sort of person you are, i.e. your interests, abilities and personality.
  • Above all, DO choose wisely and well!