Leehurst Swan maximises choice with new GCSE options

The independent school’s range of GCSE options are not limited by “inflexible blocking of subjects”

An independent day school in Wiltshire has taken a new approach to GCSE options to maximise choice for pupils.

At Leehurst Swan School, on top of compulsory subjects of English language, English literature and mathematics, pupils can select seven from 17 optional GCSE subjects that are not limited by “inflexible blocking of subjects”, said the school’s director of studies, Bridget Wright.

This enables pupils to choose any combination from four sciences (computer science, physics, biology and chemistry); four creatives (music, drama, photography and art); three modern foreign languages (German, French and Spanish); three humanities (history, geography and religious studies); alongside additional choices of business studies, design and technology, and PE.

“Choosing GCSE options should be an exciting stage in a teenager’s life: a time when they get to, perhaps for the first time, make decisions about their future. Yet, if teenagers are to be given genuine choice, shouldn’t it mean more than selecting from a narrow list of options?” said Wright.

If teenagers are to be given genuine choice, shouldn’t it mean more than selecting from a narrow list of options? – Bridget Wright, Leehurst Swan

Wright said with many schools insisting that their pupils take two or three sciences, a language and a humanity at GCSE, students are often left with a choice of only two or three subjects, which even then are limited by option blocks.

She continued: “Research has shown that motivation and wellbeing in young people is related to whether or not they have opportunities to be autonomous and have a say in the direction their life is taking when making important academic choices.

“Having genuine choices allows young people to feel empowered and to have ownership over their own learning which boosts their drive, ambition and achievement.

“We believe that our bespoke, ‘find your voice’ approach to GCSE empowers pupils to take ownership of their education and control of their future, increasing their chances of success and enabling them to realise their potential and fulfil their dreams.”

You might also like: Andrew Johnson, headmaster of St Benedict’s School, explains why GCSE needs to evolve

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9 March 2021, 2pm GMT