Key Stage 4 

Students join Key Stage 4 in year 10 and begin their selected program of study. At GCSE, students usually select a program of 9 subjects.  The GCSE programs of study are 2 years in length with formal external examinations at the end of the period in May/June of their year 11. Students will be expected to continue all subjects for the 2 years of the course. All students are entered for the GCSE courses they study and would not normally be withdrawn unless under the advice of an Educational Psychologist due to specific learning needs. All students with access arrangements are fully catered for and supported by the Learning Support Department who undertake a training program with the students to ensure they have the ability to make the best use of the arrangements they have in place. In English, Language and Literature are expected for all students except those where there is a significant risk of not passing Language, essential for University applications. The reasons for this are varied and can include EAL issues, SEN or late entry into the school. Each case is dealt with individually and parents will be made aware when Language only is the course offered and the reasons for this choice.

A level selections begin in Yr11 which provide the necessary preparation for University applications. The grades achieved at GCSE determine the ability to progress to the next stage in the academic journey. The school has very clear expectations both academically and pastorally regarding what a 6th form student as BISR should be. Yr 11 students are guided through this important period by the Careers Advisor, form tutors and the Head of Year, to ensure they make the best choices for their future aspirations whilst also ensuring a degree of flexibility.

Subjects offered at GCSE:

Core subjects - all students must take the following

Mathematics, English Language, English literature (the exceptions mentioned above), Modern Foreign Language (French, Spanish and Arabic), a selection of Science resulting in the minimum of equivalent to 2 GCSE grades ( 2 or 3 Single award Sciences - Biology, Chemistry, Physics OR Trilogy - combination of Biology, Chemistry and Physics leading to 2 GCSE grades.)

Additional optional subjects offered at GCSE: 

Business Studies, Economics, Food and Nutrition, Design Technology Product Design, Physical Education, Music, History, Geography, ICT, Computer Studies, Combines ICT/Computing(leading to 2 GCSE grades), Drama

The general GCSE program therefore looks like

Maths, English Language, English Literature , Language, 2 single Sciences/Trilogy, 3 free options


Maths, English Language, English Literature , Language, 3  single Sciences, 2 free options

Additional compulsory non-examined subjects:

Ministry Arabic and Culture, Core PE, Life Skills(PSHE) 

Whilst all subjects are offered at GCSE during the selection window, there are minimum numbers required for subjects to run – 10 at GCSE. If a subject is not viable at the first selection point, an alternative is offered to those few who have selected the subjects involved. Where the school has staffing available, and a subject that falls below the required numbers, we would aim to offer it but there is no guarantee this will occur as staffing demands fluctuate each year.

In KS4, as part of the Pastoral program, we look at Life Skills to help to develop skills and understanding of topics that will assist students as they become young adults. This includes study skills to support their academic progress but also looks at more challenging topics faced by society as a whole. Some of these lessons will fall within the normal curriculum time but for some of the more detailed topics, a year group (10 or 11) is taken off timetable for 2-3 lessons once each half term. These sessions are always on a theme but depending on the content could be delivered as a whole group, split by gender or with a main presentation with smaller discussion groups afterwards. Every effort is made to ensure these sessions do not impact on the same subject areas.

Whilst there is a great emphasis on academic studies, students are encouraged to continue their personal growth through the additional activities they can engage in beyond the classroom. Some will continue their journey of self discovery with the Silver International Duke of Edinburgh Award while others continue their sporting interests by engaging in the many team sports available, often representing the school in sporting events. Included in this are international trips. In KS4 these tend to have a more specific purpose but we still try to ensure there is a variety of subjects that benefit from the experiences offered.

For more details about the GCSE’s we offer please click below