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KS4 Options

KS4 within The Cottesloe School Curriculum

A robust and rigorous core curriculum, enriched with additional personalisation that is progressive, deep and knowledge-rich, developing skills to create well-rounded, resilient, confident young adults

As students move from KS3 into KS4, they will continue to study a set of key subjects largely built around the English Baccalaureate (English, Maths, Science, History or Geography and/or a Language).  This is enriched and balanced by core PE and PSHCE, as well as the opportunity to study two or three additional subjects. 

Our aim is simple; we want to ensure that every student enjoys a successful learning journey at The Cottesloe School, during which they develop a robust understanding of core academic subjects, whilst also enjoying the opportunity to personalise their experience through additional deep learning in studying their option subjects.  Ultimately we want every student to leave The Cottesloe School as a well-qualified young adult who, through thorough preparation, focussed on challenging aspirations, has achieved success and is ready to move onto the next part of their learning journey.

Choosing the Right Subjects | Mrs Baldwin - Head of School (Video)

Choosing your GCSE options (YouTube Video)


In recent years, education at all levels has undergone considerable change and renewal. GCSEs and other Level 2 qualifications have been fully reformed and are more demanding in content. They have been designed so students take the vast majority of their exams at the end of the course (usually Year 11) while non-exam assessment has been removed or reduced in all but the practical based subjects. In essence, GCSEs and Level 2 Technical qualifications are more challenging to better prepare students for further academic or vocational study, or for work.

To help students through the options process, we have developed three coloured pathways. There are small differences between the pathways linked to the number and style of qualifications achieved. Our experience has shown that some students are able to cope with the demands of up to 10 GSCEs whilst for others it can be better to undertake fewer GCSEs and be more successful in these than to attempt many GCSEs and not meet their potential in all subject areas.

The three pathways are Blue, Purple and Green:

Where the pathways do not suit a student’s learning needs, it may be possible to adapt parts of the curriculum; we know that much of a student’s success comes from getting them on ‘the right course.

Where our pathway system does not suit a student’s learning needs, the curriculum can often be adapted to suit. We know that a student's success comes from getting ‘the right student on the right course’.  Please discuss your child’s individual needs with Mrs Baldwin (Head of School) or Ms Hibbert (SENDCO).

Key Dates

Tuesday 23 January 2024 | Electronic Options Booklet issued to families and assembly.

Tuesday 23 January 2024 | PSHCE time assembly for Year 9 students. Focus on making the right choices and learning more about specific subjects.

Wednesday 24 January 2024 PM | Colour pathway details and electronic Options Form issued to families. 

Thursday 25 January 2024 PM | Options Process Online information evening. All families will receive a link to a pre-recorded presentation explaining the colour pathways and key information about the study at KS4. The link will be published at 3 pm. This will be accompanied by a FAQ document to replace the opportunity to ask questions as would have occurred with a face-to-face presentation.

Thursday 1 February 2024 PM | Year 9 Parents’ Evening. This is an online virtual Parents’ Evening with a chance to speak to current subject teachers to aid the decision-making process.

Monday 19 February 2024 | Deadline for online options forms to be submitted. Subjects are not allocated on a first-come, first-served basis so there is no need to rush a decision. We would rather that students take their time and make the right decision for them than rush.

Key Stage 4 Options Booklet 2024

Option Blocks 2024 to 2026


KS4 Options Frequently Asked Questions

What is the EBacc and why should my child take EBacc subjects?

The EBacc or English Baccalaureate is a set of subjects at GCSE that keeps young people’s options open for further study and future careers. The EBacc is made up of subjects which are considered essential to many degrees and open up lots of doors.

The EBacc is:

  • English Language and Literature
  • Maths
  • Sciences
  • Geography or History
  • A language 

Research shows that a pupil’s socio-economic background impacts the subjects they choose at GCSE and that this determines their opportunities beyond school. A study by the UCL Institute of Education shows that studying subjects included in the EBacc provides students with greater opportunities for further education and increases the likelihood that a pupil will stay on in full-time education. Sutton Trust research reveals that studying the EBacc can help improve a young person’s performance in English and maths.

Can my child switch colour routes?

We are open to discussion about changing routes if appropriate for individual children because of specific reasons why their current route will not meet their needs or future career aspirations. The key difference between the colour routes is the opportunity to take some subjects and not others, for example, we ask students on Blue to select a humanities subject and a language and students on the Green Route study Prepare Aspire Succeed Leadership in Block B. Regardless of the colour route, students will be taught in the same mixed ability classes for their option block subjects, so an Art group in block C will have students from all three routes in.  

Option blocks are taught in mixed ability groups, will my child’s colour route affect their Core sets?

Maths, English and Science are set according to ability and are timetabled in a different way to the option blocks. This means that your child’s set for any of the core subjects is not affected by their colour route. 

Why are Separate Sciences and Computer Science only on Blue route?

Separate Sciences and Computer Science are only offered in Blue as they are challenging subjects in terms of both knowledge and skills. Computer Science is very technical and involves writing and understanding computer code. Separate Sciences are challenging due to the amount of Science covered, with 13 hours of study across the fortnight timetable. In order to take either subject students should be showing an aptitude and enthusiasm for the subject and be working at a 3+. 

Can my child take History and Geography?

Yes, this is possible on all colour routes. It could impact other choices and whether they can fit with both subjects, but students can take both if they would like to. 

My child has been studying both French and German in Year 9, can they take both languages at GCSE? 

Yes, this is possible. It could impact other choices and whether they can fit with both subjects, but students can take both if they would like to.  The only restriction is that a student could not study French, German, Geography and History because the option blocks don’t permit this combination and we feel that this combination of subjects narrows a student’s curriculum too much.

My child has specific SEND and I am not sure about what subjects they should choose. What should I do?

Please contact Ms Hibbert, SENDCO with specific SEN queries, she will be happy to advise and consider with you the best route or combination of subjects for your child. 

We have looked through the booklet, talked about it at home, and spoken to teachers and we are stuck on the final choice. What can we do?

Email with the options and blocks that your son or daughter would like to choose and the possible subjects for the final block. We will be happy to look at possibilities and work with you and your child to reach a decision. 

My child is on Blue Route, do they have to take a language?

Ideally, we want as many of our students as possible to choose a language, whichever colour route they are on. Choosing a language as part of a student's KS4 options will also add depth and support TCS’ expectations that students follow a broad and balanced curriculum beyond KS3 when the number of subjects naturally narrows. 

Continuing to study the language they are taking in Year 9 is open to all TCS students; we don’t limit opportunities for any student. For some students this expectation is no problem; they want to continue learning French or German at KS4. We also know that some students would rather not do this and there is some flexibility in this decision, but we suggest that those on Blue route should choose one as part of their option choices. We ask that students really consider everything surrounding this decision by watching the video clips from Miss Goddard, Head of MFL about why choosing a language is a good thing.

When will my child find out about their options?

We inform students of their confirmed choices in June of Year 9. This seems like a long time from when they submit their form however, it takes time to coordinate the option block groups to fit into the whole school timetable for the following academic year, making sure specialist teachers can be timetabled to teach the groups. There are lots going on behind the scenes before we are able to confirm options.