WELCOME TO Key Stage 4

Your child is now embarking on one of the most important periods of their educational life by selecting the option courses they will study in years 10 and 11. The choices they make and their achievements in these courses will influence the future of their further education and career pathways. We recognise that it can be difficult for students to know which courses would benefit them most and therefore we have prepared lots of information and guidance available to support them with their decisions.

take a look at the Key Stage 4 subjects


Our vision at The Leigh UTC is ‘developing STEM professionals for the future global market’. Therefore, it shouldn’t be a surprise that our KS4 curriculum is STEM focused. The core curriculum and the option courses on offer will provide excellent preparation for students to progress on to our sixth form, or to continue into a STEM related apprenticeship.

Whilst there will be subjects that students may no longer study after year 9, other elements of the IB Middle Years Programme that make us an IB World School will continue including a focus on the IB Learner Profile and development of the Approaches to Learning.

Throughout KS4, students will study the equivalent of 8 GCSEs – the vocational subjects listed below are all equivalent to one GCSE each. For students that are fluent in an additional language, we will also support them with completing the examinations to achieve a GCSE in this language too.

The information on this section of the website will provide you with important information about the core components of the KS4 curriculum and the option courses that will allow students to tailor their studies. There are pages dedicated to each course where you will be able to learn more about how the course is assessed and the content it covers.

Kieran O’Donnell | Assistant Principal

Key Stage 4 Curriculum

Core (compulsory) courses

Students will study all of the following:

  • GCSE English Language
  • GCSE English Literature
  • GCSE Mathematics
  • GCSE Biology
  • GCSE Chemistry
  • GCSE Physics
  • Physical Education (non-examined)
  • Personal, social and health education (non-examined)

Optional courses

Students will study two from the following:

  • GCSE Art
  • GCSE Computer Science
  • GCSE Design Technology
  • GCSE Electronics
  • GCSE German
  • GCSE History
  • GCSE Statistics
  • L1/2 Cambridge National in Creative iMedia
  • L1/2 Vocational Award in Engineering
  • L1/2 Technical Award in Enterprise (Business Studies)
  • L1/2 Technical Award in Health & Fitness
  • L1/2 Technical Award in Hospitality & Catering
Some Leigh UTC students are shown sitting at a desk in a classroom, writing with pens in their hands.

How do Academic and Vocational courses compare?

All core courses at KS4 are academic qualifications. However, for the option courses, students have the opportunity to complete one or two vocational courses. The table in this section summarises the differences between academic and vocational courses in terms of assessment and grading.

Whilst vocational courses have a greater focus on NEA (coursework) which can benefit some students, it is important that students recognise that they will need to keep on track with these projects and portfolios so they can meet deadlines for submission.





L1/2 Technical Awards


9 to 1

Pass / Merit / Distinction


A greater focus on exams – many courses are 100% exam.

A greater focus on NEA (coursework).


All exams take place at the end of year 11. Exam resits are only possible in English and Maths after year 11.

Exams can take place at different points throughout the course. Exam resits are possible but limited.


Academic and Vocational courses both allow great progression on to our Post-16 and then University and Apprenticeships.

The KS4 Options Selection Process

The process takes place during module 4 and will launch with an information evening on Tuesday 12th March 2024.  In the weeks that follow, students will receive plenty of additional support and guidance to ensure that they make the most suitable course choice for their KS4 studies.  This will involve:

  • Taster lessons for subjects that they do not already study so they have a better idea what that subject entails.
  • Completion of an ‘interests’ survey where students share their current career aspirations and which subjects they are more interested in and are performing well in based on those that they currently study.
  • Personal guidance meetings with a member of the senior leadership team (SLT). During this meeting we will work with the student to help them make the most suitable course choices. For students with SEND needs, these conversations will be supported by a member of the SEND team.

During the guidance meeting, students will choose two option courses plus one reserve. Once all students have had their guidance meeting, we will review the course selections and do our best to make the course combinations work. We will make every effort to ensure students get their first choice and in the vast majority of cases we will usually be able to accommodate this. In the event we cannot, we refer to the student’s reserve.

Final allocations will be confirmed and shared by the end of April 2024.

Course suitability

In your personal guidance meeting, we will help you to select the courses that are most suitable for you. Before your meeting, you may have already started thinking about which courses may be best.

The most suitable options are likely to be those that…

You should not favour a particular course because…

  • You are passionate about and enjoy
  • You believe you are good at
  • You would like to continue in sixth form
  • You want to achieve and excel in
  • Would support your career aspirations (although these change over time)
  • Your friends are likely to do the same course
  • You think it will be easy
  • You like a particular teacher (you may have a different teacher)

Our Subjects

Click on the individual subjects below to learn more about what you study at Key Stage 4.

Core Subjects (Compulsory)

Academic Options

GCSE Art and Design

Vocational Options