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Year 9 Options

Welcome to the new Courses Information Microsite. This has been prepared for all Year 9 pupils as they move into Year 10 in September 2024 to start their examination courses.

There are some important and exciting decisions for pupils and parents to make. These may have a huge impact on future courses and careers. In this process, parental support is vital to ensure pupils make appropriate decisions. To this end, I hope you will find this website useful and will be able to support your child throughout this process.

What is in this Microsite?

This website contains a lot of information. The main sections are as follows:

  • Timeline and key dates for the options process
  • An explanation how to chose options online
  • Support in making the choices

The main part of the website contains a description of each of the subjects that can be studied in Year 10 and Year 11. For each subject we describe the qualifications that can be achieved as well as the course contents. We also describe some of the next steps after Swanmore that success in the course could lead to.

Our Key Stage 4 Curriculum

The College is always striving to provide a broad and balanced curriculum for its pupils. We do this with the aim of providing everybody with the subject base and skills they require to make the next steps in their learning. A number of courses are legally compulsory and must be followed. These are called The Core.

All pupils study the following compulsory, core subjects:

  • GCSE English & GCSE English Literature
  • GCSE Mathematics
  • GCSE Science (Trilogy or Separate Sciences)
  • Core RE (non-exam)
  • Core PE (non-exam)
  • Personal Development Learning including Citizenship and Careers Education (non-exam, addressed through special focus days, events or Tutor activities)

Optional Subjects

With the increasing complexity in GCSE’s over the last couple of years, Swanmore advocates achieving higher grades in a smaller number of GCSE’s. While many schools allow students to choose four optional subjects, at Swanmore we only allow pupils to study three option subjects. This allows us to schedule the most amount of study time to each subject.

Although you can choose any combination of subjects, all pupils must take a qualification in Geography or History or a Modern Foreign Language. These subject choices represent a good balance of academic subjects placing pupils, in the future, in the best position to access the widest choice of educational pathways or future employment opportunities.

In addition we may guide your child toward certain options based on their progress through Key Stage 3. For example should your child wish to take a PE option we would direct them toward either GCSE PE or Cambridge Nationals Certificate in PE.

Those hoping to go to university should think seriously about the entry requirements for specific courses. For example, some further and higher education courses require a Grade 5 or above at GCSE in Modern Foreign Languages.  Pupils are advised to investigate this carefully before completing their form.  More details can be found on the university applications (UCAS) website, and then go to ‘Find a Course’.  Form tutors can help pupils with this if necessary.

Choosing the Options

Parents will need to use the SIMs Parent App or to logon to the SIMs Options Website to select the options for their children. The final deadline for submission of the subject choices is Friday 15 March 2024.

Final Decisions on Option Choices

After subject choices have been received, they will be reviewed by the College.  Our aim will be to give every child their first choices; however, this may not always possible for the following reasons:

  • more pupils opt for a course than there are places available;
  • not enough pupils opt for a course and therefore we are unable to run it;
  • in our opinion, the pupil has made an inappropriate or unwise choice.

In these cases, parents and pupils will be kept fully informed and no change will be made to a pupil’s choices without discussion of the options available.

The Subject Choices

Each subject is described in detail in the following sections of this website. Pupils must choose one subject from each of the ‘blocks’ below.

* in Bold: for subjects that are only done in that block

Pupils must choose at least one subject from a Modern Foreign Language (e.g. French or Spanish), History and Geography. Should the pupils wish they can chose both Geography and History.

Restrictions on Choices

Pupils must choose one subject from each block.

The following subjects cannot be chosen in combination because of the limits to our resource capacity in this area or the overlap in subject content:

  • GCSE Art & Design: Art, craft and design, GCSE Art & Design: Photography and GCSE Art & Design: Textile design
  • D&T Graphics and D&T Product Design
  • GCSE Music and Tech Award Level 2 in Music Practice

How to Choose Your Options

Log in to the SIMS Parent Website. There is no College issued username and password for the website.  You need to log in with your own account details (Google, Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft or Apple – please do not click on the “SIMS” option, as this won’t work for Swanmore College parents). This must be the same account you used when you registered.

On the home page of the Parent App, you will see “SIMS Options” – click on this to enter the Options package.

This will open the screen with the blocks and subjects as per the options guide.  Simply click on one subject in each block.  Parents must then also click the “Parent/Carer Approval” box below Block C.

Finally, click on “Save” in the top left of the screen

Changes can be made while the system is in “Review” mode.  If any changes are made, the “Parent/Carer Approval” box will need to be ticked again.

When the College starts to work on class numbers etc. the screen will become read-only and any changes will need to be e-mailed to the College.

Support in Making Subject Choices

To help you and your child discuss their option choices we will be holding an Options Evening on the January 22, 2024. In addition there are two opportunities to meet with College staff at Year 9 Parents’ Evenings. These are on 22nd and the 26th February 2024.

Why Do Option Choices Matter?

You will be studying the subjects you choose for the next two years. It is no fun being stuck with a subject that you don’t really like.

It’s also worth looking ahead as decisions you make now may narrow your choices later. What do want to do after year 11? Can this help you decide which subjects to choose?

Sometimes you need a GCSE in a subject in order to study it at A-level. In the same way, university courses have set entry requirements and often require certain subjects at A-level. Check carefully as this is not always the case and you can start some subjects from scratch, both at A-level and university.

Where can I get some help with thinking though the choices?

Please do not hesitate to contact your child’s tutor, in the first instance, if you feel concerned or need clarification on any point.

If you have concerns related to your child’s special needs, please contact Miss Garaty from the SEND team for an appointment at Parents’ Evening or at another suitable time if necessary.

In addition, you might like to refer to the excellent website and in particular the pages on choosing options in Year 9 (