The Year 8 Pathways process is the first real opportunity for students and their parents to personalise their learning. It is designed to support each individual in choosing the style of courses that match their interests, abilities and preferred way of working so that everyone can achieve the very best quality of results. This, in turn, will support future aspirations.

Students and their parents require clear information, advice and guidance when making these choices. These introductory pages are designed to provide that clarity.

A pathway will be recommended for each student, based on their progress throughout Year 7 and 8. Opinions have been sought from subject teachers and tutors in making this recommendation. Students and parents will then be asked to use this as a guide to determine their pathway from which they will select their courses.

To support this process all students will receive support through PSHE lessons, assemblies and in subject lessons.

To complement the Parents' Information Evening we have created a series of videos to explain the process and rationale, which can be found in this area of the school website. The 'remote' parents evening on 1st and 2nd February will give parents and students more specific advice from their subject teachers.

We encourage all students to seek advice from their tutors, teachers and parents to ensure that they make the best possible choices to ensure future success.

Key Stage 4 Curriculum

All students will study the 5-GCSE core curriculum of:

  • English Language
  • English Literature
  • Mathematics
  • Science (double award)

All will also have 'core' lessons in the following non-examined subjects:

  • Religion and World Views (RWV)
  • Personal and Social Development (PSD)
  • PE

A three-year programme enables students to develop a deeper understanding of the subject that they study and to broaden their knowledge. It also enables the development of skills such as independent enquiry, teamwork, problem solving and reflection that are essential for future academic and workplace success, but that are so often sidelined due to the pressure of a two-year KS4 curriculum.

The amount of content in the new GCSE specifications has increased from that in the current GCSEs and examinations are more rigorous. Having three years to complete KS4 courses and develop the necessary skills will mean that students can retain more of the breadth (number) of courses that they currently enjoy. They also develop background knowledge and skills in the context of that subject. If courses were taught over just two years we may have to reduce the number of courses to give each course more lesson time.


Pathway ‘GE’ : GCSE with EBacc

The ‘English Baccalaureate’ is not an actual qualification, but is a collection of traditional, academic subjects that demonstrates a broad curriculum and therefore ‘opens doors’ for students in their futures. The government’s target is for 75% of students to follow an EBacc pathway, in which they take a language GCSE and a humanities GCSE in addition to their maths, English and science. At HCHS students then take three other courses of their choice.

Pathway ‘GV’ : GCSE with vocational courses

Students on this pathway choose one ‘EBacc’ subject (a language or humanities GCSE) plus four other courses, including GCSEs and one or two vocational courses. These have been chosen to be equivalent to GCSEs but are assessed in a different way. They have a more practical ‘workplace’ focus and tend to have 60% of the assessment through coursework rather than exams.

Pathway ‘B’ : Booster

Some students have been receiving additional support in English and maths through our Aspire department, and this will continue for students on this pathway. In addition to their GCSEs in maths, English and science from the core curriculum students on this pathway will leave Year 11 with 3 vocational or GCSE qualifications and a vocational ASDAN qualification in workplace skills.



15th January 2024

Email sent home, recommending a pathway for your son/daughter.

 16 January 2024

Y8 assembly: overview of the process.

18th January 2024

Pathways / options information evening for parents and students. Guide available online, including videos explaining the process and rationale.

January/February 2024
PSD lessons looking at Pathways and how to make informed choices.

Videos available on Teams for students: courses for subjects not previously studied and/or those subjects offering vocational courses as well as GCSE courses - explained by Heads of Departments

Online information available about each course. Facility to ask questions of subject leaders and the Key Stage Team via an online form which will be emailed to the appropriate staff. Questions will be addressed by staff on a weekly basis.

30th January 2024
Y8 Parents Evening (in school), an opportunity to discuss possible options with subject teachers.

7th February 2024
Y8 Pathways option forms deadline

May/June 2024
Students and parents will be informed after the Easter break if a reserve choice needs to be used. A further discussion will take place to confirm a final selection of courses.

July 2024
Mr Johnston to send out letters to parents and students confirming pathway/option choices that will start in September 2024.

General Advice & Guidance

Students should

  • Research the information about the type of courses they wish to study, as well as the subjects.
  • Discuss their ideas with their parents/carers, subject teachers, form tutor and Key Stage 3 team.
  • Choose subjects that they enjoy and that support progression to subjects/careers in the future.
  • Choose subjects that give them the opportunity to study a broad range of subjects. In doing so we hope they will develop a wide range of skills. Since most students will change their minds about career a number of times before (and after) leaving school, they would be wise to leave their options open.
  • Should give careful consideration to the balance of work in Key Stage 4 courses and other school activities.
  • Be realistic about the courses that will bring them the greatest success.

Students should not

  • Choose subjects because a particular friend has chosen them
  • Make a choice based on their like or dislike of a particular teacher

Pathways Advice and Guidance

There are a number of useful websites that may help students and their parents/carers when selecting their options:

Excellent information around careers can be found through Unifrog. Students all have their own login, and have had PSD sessions to support their use of the platform.

Students can also obtain impartial advice and guidance from Mrs. Louise Price in the careers office.

Students can complete the various online questionnaires available to help identify their preferred way of working, interests and future aspirations.
The National Qualification Framework


Please click here or use the link at the bottom of the menu to access the appropriate pathway form. Instructions for completion are given on the form.