Key Stage 4
At St Michael’s, we provide our students with a curriculum which is suitable for them, which enables them to open doors to career pathways in the future and which provides them with a broad and balanced range of subjects. Undeniably, GCSEs are part of a career pathway – but we recognise that the learning process is not about gaining paper qualifications, it is about enriching our lives and providing an education in the wider sense.
As a relatively small secondary school, we are not able to provide all possible subjects at GCSE, however, our GCSE offer is surprisingly wide considering our size. Our curriculum is not static – over time it responds to the requests, interests and preferences of our students.
As a Catholic school, the Bishops of England and Wales require us to enable our students to study for a GCSE in Religious Education (with Catholic content). Our Catholic faith is central to our life as a school and therefore central to our curriculum at GCSE with all students taking the GCSE and the results are amongst the best of any subject in the school.
All of our students are able – they achieved their place at this fully selective school by competitive entry and all are capable of going on to A Levels and securing places in the most prestigious universities and on the most challenging courses – for this reason we provide an academic curriculum offer to all our students. In addition, we provide creative, technological and artistic options at GCSE as we recognise that all our students are individuals and some will follow their interests and abilities in subjects other than the purely academic.
Our curriculum offer is an academic one - the compulsory subjects all students study for GCSE ensures this. In addition, students are encouraged to choose those options which relate to their interests and which facilitate their future career aspirations.
A number of years ago, the government introduced a measure called the English Baccalaureate (EBacc.), this is not a qualification (unlike the European Baccalaureate), but simply a measure of how academic the range of GCSEs are that are taken by students at GCSE. It is a measure of a school rather than an individual student. The EBacc. is not compulsory, nevertheless, the government hopes that in the future 75% of all students in the country will follow courses which ‘qualify’ for the EBacc. In response to this measure, some schools force their students to study only subjects which qualify for this measure – for example by ensuring that all students study either History or Geography and all students study a language. At St Michael’s we do not require this – the governors have decided that to do so would result in an unnecessary restriction on student choice and students would be denied access to some GCSEs that they would rather study. In addition, this would restrict access to the range of creative, technological and artistic subjects that currently exist, potentially stopping them running due to low numbers – and so restricting our curriculum offer.
We find that most of our students do choose subjects which qualify for the EBacc., numbers are in excess of the government’s target. As a school which puts emphasis upon supporting the individual, we feel that enabling our students to have a free choice for their options sits well with our ethos.
Please find our full information booklet for Year 9 subject options below: