For Year 9 students, the transition from Key Stage 3 to Key Stage 4 is an important time in a child’s education. In Key Stage 3, all students follow a common course in education that is guided by the National Curriculum, whereas in Key Stage 4, students are allowed more choice in the courses they study. Our Key Stage 4 curriculum lays the foundations for Post-16 education, life-long learning and the world of work, and has been designed to enable students to study a balanced range of subjects that develop a range of skills and abilities.

At such an important stage in their education, students need to think carefully about the choices available to them; they need to discuss how their choices will meet their individual needs and career aspirations, as well as their aptitude and interest in those subjects. You may be aware that, in the past, we would now be starting the ‘options process’ for Year 9 students. As part of this process, students have the opportunity to consult with teachers, parents/carers and the careers service, and they have assemblies and workshops that outline the choices available to them. At any stage of the process, teachers are available for individual consultations. It is extremely important that students are guided to select courses that suit their academic strengths thus maximising success.

As a result of the current lockdown and students being educated remotely, there has been limited chance for Year 9 students to get the vital support from their teachers that they would have had if they had been in school. In addition, we are still waiting for more information from the Government regarding when students will be able to return to school, which impacts plans for a timetable changeover. Therefore, as we did with our current Year 10 students last September, we have taken the decision to implement the timetable changeover in September 2021 instead of June 2021, with students finalising their option choices in May – i.e. all students move up to their next year group in September.

With the options process starting in March, it may still involve some remote support, but hopefully students will also be back in school soon to have face to face discussions. Starting Key Stage 4 in September will still provide students with appropriate time to complete their courses. I am also looking at how students will be able to start to prepare in the summer term.

The current situation requires us to adapt and respond to the constraints of the current pandemic and once we have more detail from the Government, I will be able to finalise and share with you a more detailed plan.