GCSE Subjects

Breadth & Flexibility

Pupils start their GCSE studies at Westbourne in Year 9, which is generally earlier than at other secondary schools in order to give them a headstart in their studies. Our students benefit from studying a wide range of subjects in Year 9, which they then refine depending on their personal choice and aptitude.

Study at this level encourages advanced communication, research and critical analysis skills, as well as a more informed understanding of the world that we live in across a range of disciplines. By the end of Year 11, pupils are well prepared to make the leap to study the rigorous IB Diploma.

Students entering PreIB, have the opportunity to study a range of subjects, with the option of sitting GCSE examinations at the end of a one year course.

Mathematics

Mathematics

Why study Maths?

Mathematics is a notoriously sought-after subject for further education and careers. As a Maths student, you will enjoy solving problems and you work well methodically, taking care with all the details. You enjoy working with numbers. You want to be able to communicate in one of the most universal languages in the world. You want to study the subject that helps unlock the world around us, and when something works, you want to find out why.

Course Content

You will investigate a range of questions, including strengthening the core concepts of calculating with numbers, and transferring this knowledge to working with unknown variables, manipulating them algebraically. You will examine the ratio and proportions between multi-variables, considering the rates at which things change. You will explore the 2D and 3D world, applying strict truths to calculate a variety of unknowns. You will come to comprehend the mathematics behind probabilities, and to understand the measure of risk in the world. You will investigate data in its many forms, both how it is represented and in the core analysis of it.

Assessment

Paper 1: non-calculator. Paper 2 and 3 both with calculator. Each paper is 90 minutes and worth 80 marks each, for a total of 240.

Computer Science

Computer Science

Why study Computer Science?

Computer Science impacts everything, from scientific research to health development transport, banking, climate change, gaming, and communications – you name it! Learn how to program your own applications, advise your friends and family on how to speed up or fix their computers, understand how to set up networks and how to stop hackers, phishers and pharmers, and dramatically increase your problem-solving skills. The study of Computer Science is relevant to most modern careers and sought after in university STEM-based courses.

Course Content

Topics include programming in Python, how computers work, networks, cyber security, binary and hexadecimal arithmetic, logic gates, social, economic, environmental and ethical use of computers in society, audio and image representation.

Assessment

Computer Systems accounts for 50%; Computational Thinking, algorithms and programming is 50%. There is also a practical programming task linked to Paper 2.

Biology

Biology

Why study Biology?

If you have an interest in the natural world or you wish to follow a career in medicine or natural sciences, then Biology is for you. You will have an interest in understanding how your body works, and be inspired by the origins and evolution of life on earth and want to find out more.

Course Content

Topics include cell biology, organisation and organ systems, infection and response, bioenergetics (respiration and photosynthesis), homeostasis and response, inheritance, variation and evolution, and ecology.

Assessment

Two exams of 1hr and 45 mins take place at the end of the year 11. Paper 1 is based on topics 1-4 and Paper 2 is based on topics 5-7.They are of equal weighting. There is no coursework element.

Physics

Physics

Why study Physics?

Physicists deal with the very small and the very big. They look for all the hidden laws that explain why everything in the known universe exists, where it comes from and how it behaves. So if you’re wondering how forces of nature, like gravity, work or how aircraft stay up in the air, you’ll need to go to a physicist like Brian Cox, Stephen Hawking or Albert Einstein for an explanation.

Physicists use the laws they uncover to develop new materials, machinery,and technology to improve our lives and help us explore the universe further, from computers to telescopes and spacecraft. Physics will help you to build up your problem-solving, research, and analytical skills. Physicists ask some big questions, but they specialise in different areas and their work can be varied. For example, nuclear physicists study the tiniest particles of matter to discover what the universe is made of, whereas astrophysicists study some of the largest things – stars,planets and celestial bodies.

Course Content

Studying Physics will allow you to improve your practical skills and learn how to work within a group, as well as develop your critical thinking skills and learn how to work independently. You will also improve your communication skills and enhance your problem solving and mathematical skills. Subjects include energy, electricity, particle model of matter, atomic structures, forces, waves, magnetism and electromagnetism, space physics.

Assessment

Assessment across two written papers, each of 100 marks and 1 hour 45 mins and each worth 50% of final grade. Questions maybe multiple choice, structured, closed short answer and open response.

Chemistry

Chemistry

Why study Chemistry?

Chemistry students have a desire to gain a better understanding of the world around them, as well as the skills to help better the world into the future. Chemistry is a subject with both theoretical and practical aspects, which will help strengthen your mathematical, problem-solving and critical thinking skills. Studying the sciences is necessary for many different types of career.

Course content

Topics covered include atomic structure and the Periodic Table, bonding, structure, the properties of matter, quantitative chemistry, chemical change, energy changes, the rate and extent of chemical change, organic chemistry, chemical analysis, chemistry of the atmosphere, and using resources.

Regular practical sessions including the experiments such as making salts, temperature changes, rates of reaction, chromatography, water purification, electrolysis, neutralisation and identifying ions.

Assessment

Two written exams, 1 hour 45 minutes each. 100 marks for each paper contributing 50% each to the total grade.

English Literature

English Literature

Why study English Literature?

The study of English Literature exercises your imagination and helps develop your vocabulary and improve your own writing. It transports you to other times and places, helping you to appreciate different points of view. It supports you to understand the shaping of society, encouraging contemplation, reflection, and concentration. It will also develop your Critical Thinking skills.

Course Content

You will study a range of poems from different cultures and traditions, and will learn how to tackle unseen poetry with confidence. You will study a key work of the twentieth century and a ‘heritage text’, pre-dating 1900. You will learn how to study a play, and will also develop your research skills by exploring social and historical contexts. You will improve your essay writing skills.

Assessment

The examination is taken at the end of Year 10 and comprises 60% of your final grade. There are three sections to the examination: Section A (Unseen Poetry 22%) requires one response to the unseen poem; Section B (Anthology Poetry 33%) offers a choice between two comparative questions on the poems studied in class; Section C (Modern Prose 45%) offers a choice between two essays on the modern prose text.

Coursework accounts for 40% of your final grade: Assignment A is Modern Drama (20%) and Assignment B is Literary Heritage Text (20%). Most students study English Literature at Westbourne and in the UK; however, it is not compulsory and we understand that students who are new to the country may want to prioritise their English Language qualification.

English Language

English Language

Why study English Language?

An English Language qualification is essential to gain access to Sixth Form courses, university, and the world of work. In studying English Language, you will gain vital transferable skills in speaking, listening and written communication, and will improve your general knowledge of current affairs through the close study of contemporary non-fiction texts. You will develop an appreciation of poetry and prose fiction, and will be able to readily adapt your use of English to a range of situations.

Course Content

We begin by studying the non-fiction texts in the Anthology in preparation for the examination at the end of Year 10. You will develop your analytical skills by comparing the Anthology texts to a range of unseen materials. We then turn our attention to poetry and prose; here, you will have the opportunity to choose two pieces from the Anthology that you find particularly interesting and frame your own line of enquiry, supported by your teacher.

Over the course of the year, you will produce two or three creative writing assignments, the best of which will be submitted as coursework. We often approach texts through group work and so you will be developing your teamworking skills. You will take part in group presentations, thereby improving your speaking and listening skills and developing your confidence.

Assessment

The examination is taken at the end of Year 10 and comprises 60% of your final grade. There are two sections to the examination: Section A (Reading 30%) requires a response to one of the extracts from the Anthology in combination with an unseen text, while Section B (Writing 30%) asks you to produce an original piece of writing fitted to purpose and a specific target audience.

Coursework accounts for 40% of your final grade: Creative Writing (20%) and the essay written in response to the prose fiction and poetry texts in the Anthology (20%). We encourage all students to take English ‘A’ at the end of Year 10; however, we realise that this is not always possible and there is scope for students to take the ESL or English ‘B’ examination at the end of Year10, if this is more appropriate.

Geography

Geography

Why study Geography?

Our Geography students travel the world from their classroom, exploring case studies in the United Kingdom, higher income countries (HICs), newly emerging economies (NEEs) and lower income countries (LICs). Topics of study include climate change, poverty, deprivation, global shifts in economic power and the challenge of sustainable resource use. Students are also encouraged to understand their role in society by considering different viewpoints, values and attitudes.

Course content

Topics include the challenge of natural hazards (natural, tectonic and weather hazards, as well as climate change); the living world (ecosystems, tropical rainforests, hot or cold environments); physical landscapes in the UK (UK physical landscapes,coasts, either river or glacial landscapes); urban issues and challenges (urbanisation, urban growth in LICs/NEEs, urban change in HICs, sustainability); the changing economic world (economic development, change in LICs/ NEEs/ HICs). Students will also look at the challenge of resource management, including global patterns, resource insecurity, changing demands in the UK such as water, food or energy.

Assessment

Fieldwork includes two geographical enquiries demonstrating cartographic skills (atlases, OS maps, photographs, graphical skills, numerical skills, statistical skills, qualitative and quantitative data). All assessments will take place at the end of Year 11.

History

History

Why study History?

History is a rigorously academic programme, highly esteemed by universities. History teaches students to research, analyse, synthesise and debate. These are key skills needed for many future careers. Students develop essay writing and source analysis skills. The course is rich, diverse, engaging and challenging, and students gain wide and deep knowledge via engaging historical enquiry.

Course Content

The People’s Health, Living Under Nazi Rule,The Elizabethans, The Making of America, History Around us (Cardiff Castle).

Assessment

Paper 1: The People’s Health and The Elizabethans, 1 hour & 45 minutes (40%); Paper 2: History Around Us, 1 hour (20%); Paper 3: The Making of America, 1 hour & 45 minutes (40%).

Business Studies

Business Studies

Why study Business Studies?

The study of Business is a rewarding exploration of how human endeavour adds value to achieve profit. Profit is the reward for enterprise, which involves taking calculated risks to deliver a winning product or service to the market. In that transaction, the Customer Rules because they decide what is worth buying but they are not the only stakeholder.

Understanding the dynamics of the marketplace involves more than just an appreciation of the political, economic, social and technological factors that affect business. It is about having an instinct for a deal, a keen sense of value and a competitive instinct that is not easily defeated by obstacles; in short, resilience.

In this course you will learn the value of synergies or team achievement. Increasingly we are ‘gamifying’ the syllabus but some terminology needs to be learned. You will develop skills in constructing ‘chains of reasoning’ and convincing your peers on the right course of action.

Course content

The course is presented in six clear and distinct topic areas: business activity, influences on business, business operations, finance, marketing, human resources. The other side of the course is skill development. Students will develop their capacity to define a business issue, to analyse it within a business context and then to evaluate the implications of possible solutions, with a view to recommending one.The course is replete with real life examples both inthe textbook and on the internet. We use real life case studies, simulations and debates as well as developing our own purpose-built learning games. Students are encouraged to develop an Eco-business throughout the course that they may use as a basis for application of theory to a particular context. Students make presentations and have fun evaluating each other’s work.

Assessment

Exams are held in the Summer of Year 11 and students are given a real life opportunity to write a Mock Exam in the early part of their terminal year of the course. This serves to motivate their revision and to provide use with an assessment of their progress to date

Art & Design

Art & Design

What will I study?

The GCSE in Art and Design will encourage learners to actively engage in the creative process of art, craft and design in order to develop as effective and independent learners.

Assessment

Unit 1: Portfolio of work 60%. A student’s portfolio will consist of several projects of coursework. This will be undertaken both in class andas homework. It will be assessed holistically. Initially, there will be a theme set by the teacher and the focus is primarily on building fundamental skills such as drawing and painting through exploring the formal elements such as line, tone and colour. Students will work on paper for this and present their work on large sheets.

After this, students will work in an A3 sketchbook and will get to choose from a list of themes to base a project on. It is here that students will gain even more independence and be allowed to make more individual decisions about which avenue they wish to explore. These can include a variety of endorsements such as mixed media, painting, printmaking, drawing, photography and graphic design. In addition to this, students will investigate the work of a variety of artists in order to develop their own work and personal outcomes.

Question papers featuring a selection of themes will be issued in the January of Year 11. Candidates choose a theme to respond to as a project in a sketchbook. These themes are open and allow students to tailor their responses in line with their interests. All assessment objectives will be covered just as they are in the Portfolio of Work unit. This is a more concise unit of work lasting approximately 8 weeks in total. Students plan and prepare for an outcome of their choosing which they will undertake in a sustained 10 hour controlled assessment (spread over two days). This will be done in exam conditions. It is a combination of the preparatory work and the outcome produced in the exam conditions, which denote the mark for this 40% of the course.

Latin

Latin

Why study Latin?

Have you ever considered how words in English started out? Wanted to know more about how the Romans lived? Wondered what the Ancient Romans found funny? Latin GCSE is both stimulating and interesting as it allows you a chance to delve into the exciting world of Gladiators and fantastic storytellers. You will be introduced to vocabulary and grammar that will help you to understand how English has developed. It’s also a fantastic choice to complement study of a Modern Foreign Language. You will have opportunities to study magic and superstitions in Ancient Rome and will enrich your understanding of language structures.

Course Content

Throughout the course everyone will study Latin Language and Literature. For Language you will read Latin stories and be able to translate into and from English.You’ll also learn to identify a wide range of linguistic features and be able to pick these out of Latin texts. For the Literature and sources element, you will study a range of texts and pictures fitting into themes. These themes change every three years. The third element is a further study of Latin literature. This literature option involves the study of one set text in Latin and English. These change every two years.

What skills will I develop?

Latin is a great subject to develop a number of transferable skills for further education, work and life. As well as gaining an understanding of formative Latin texts – texts that have influenced works of literature and art ever since – you will also develop the ability to interpret information, engage creatively with texts and narratives, and improve your analytical skills.

Assessment
Examination 1: Latin Language, written examination: 1 hour 30 minutes = 50% of qualification. This paper will be in two sections. Section A: A range of short comprehension questions testing understanding of the storyline (55% of the marks for this component). Translation of a passage from Latin into English, with a gradation of difficulty (35% of the marks for this component). Section B: Either Translation from English into Latin or the permitted alternative, i.e. recognise, analyse and explain items of syntax and accidence (10% of the marks for this component).

Examination 2: Latin Literature and Sources (Themes), written examination:1 hour 15 minutes = 30% of qualification. A prescription of Roman artefacts and Latin literature, both prose and verse, on a theme together with prescribed ancient source materials on the same theme. This is an open-book assessment.

Examination 3: Latin Literature (Narratives), examination: 1 hour = 20% of qualification. A prescription of Latin literature forming a narrative, accompanied by adjacent passage(s) in English. A choice of one of two narratives (one verse, one prose) is offered. This is an open-book assessment.

French

French

Why study French?

If you decide to choose to study GCSE French, you’ll typically enjoy travelling, meeting new people, discovering a new culture and developing a deeper understanding of the world. Speaking more than one language increases your brain capacity and is an impressive achievement, giving you better and brighter options for your future.

Course Content

Over the two years of your GCSE course, you will study three big themes, which are broken down into numerous subthemes. Theme 1 is identity and culture; Theme 2 is local, national, international and global areasof interest; and Theme 3 is current and future study and employment.

Assessment

You will be assessed by four exams at the end of the course in Listening,Speaking, Reading and Writing. Each exam is worth 25%of your overall grade.

Mandarin Chinese

Mandarin Chinese

Why study Mandarin Chinese?

The aims of the Mandarin Chinese syllabus are to enable students to develop the ability to communicate effectively using the language; offer insights into the culture and society of countries where the language is spoken; develop awareness of the nature of language and language learning; encourage positive attitudes towards speakers of other languages and a sympathetic approach to other cultures and civilisations; provide enjoyment and intellectual stimulation; and develop transferable skills (eg analysis, memorising, drawing of inferences) to complement other areas of the curriculum, form a sound base of the skills, language and attitudes required for progression to work or further study, either in the target language or another subject area.

Course Content

The GCSE in Mandarin Chinese will give learners opportunities to develop practical communication skills in listening, speaking, reading and writing. The subject content is organised around five broad topic areas that provide contexts for the acquisition of vocabulary and the study of grammar and structures. Through the study of these topic areas, candidates gain insight into target language countries and communities.

The topic areas are: everyday activities; personal and social life; the world around us; the world of work; the international world.

Assessment

All candidates take four components. Paper 1 is Listening 25% (30 marks) in which candidates listen to a number of recordings and answer questions testing comprehension. Paper 2 is Reading 25% (36 marks) in which candidates read a number of texts and answer questions testing comprehension. Paper 3 is Speaking 25% (100 marks), where candidates complete two role plays, a topic presentation or conversation, and a general conversation. Paper 4 is Writing 25% (45 marks), where candidates respond in the target language to three tasks.

Spanish

Spanish

Why study Spanish?

Thinking of choosing Spanish? Language students enjoy communicating with people.You might often go on holiday abroad or enjoy travelling, and you enjoy exploring other cultures and traditions. You enjoy manipulating language and understanding how languages work. You appreciate that languages develop your communication skills and are highly valued by employers.You recognise that languages can easily be combined with other subjects at university level, and are an asset for future success.

Course Content

During your studies, you will have fun learning new topics to build your confidence in everyday situations, covering three broad themes: Identity and Culture (eg family, free time, festivals); Local,National, International and Global Areas of Interest (eg travel, healthy living); Current and Future Study and Employment (eg school and career). You will develop your skills in listening by studying conversations and songs, alongside enhancing your reading skills through the study of articles and texts. You will also work on improving your speaking skills in conversation and presentation, develop your grammar skills, and learn to write in a more sophisticated way.

Assessment

Speaking accounts for 25%: 10-12 minutes, plus preparation time. Writing 25%: 1 hour examination. Reading 25%: 1 hour examination. Listening 25%:1 hour examination.

Welsh

Welsh

Why study Welsh?

A GCSE in Welsh second language will enable candidates to understand and use the language for a variety of purposes and audiences, as well as develop language learning skills and strategies in order to communicate and interact confidently and spontaneously in different situations. You will develop advanced listening, speaking, reading and writing, and will feel confident about using Welsh in further studies, in the workplace and in communities.

Course Content

You will study three broad themes: Employment; Wales and the world and Youth. Students are required to demonstrate excellent listening skills, as well as being able to understand and respond to different types of spoken language, and communicate and interact effectively in speech. You will also work on understanding and responding to different types of written language and feel confident to communicate in written Welsh.

Assessment

This qualification has two external assessment units, which are weighted equally, and two internal assessment units. The two external assessment units test reading and writing skills while the two internal assessment units test oral and listening skills.

Music

Music

Why study Music?

Music GCSE is available at Westbourne to all students who are following the music grading system in their chosen instrument. A GCSE in Music will show your future interviewers for higher education or employment that you have a broadness of mind, skill and intellectual capacity much wider than just your specialist area. It will also encourage you to listen to music with a deeper understanding and teach you to use your ears critically to make informed options and judgements about whatever kind of music you listen to.

Course Content

Listening to music and learning about its history and development is important, and you will need to listen widely to all kinds of music during the course. Listening is only part of the work though.The life cycle of a piece of music has three stages: it originates with the composer, comes to life with the performer and is received by the listener. For GCSE you must acquire a measure of competence in each of these three areas: composing, performing and appraising. The composer must have a good knowledge of theory, the performer must be able to play or sing, and the listener must be able to evaluate the work of both composer and performer. Many people who say they listen to music really do little more than just hear it; for GCSE you will learn how to listen.

Topics include Musical Forms and Devices; Music for Ensemble; Film Music; Popular Music.

Assessment

Performing 35%: total duration of performances 4-6 mins. Section A: Performing (30%) – a minimum of two pieces, one of which must be an ensemble performance of at least one minute duration.The other piece(s) may be either solo and/or ensemble. One of the pieces performed must link to an area of study of the learner’s choice. Section B: Programme Notes (5%) – a programme note for one of the pieces chosen for performance, linked to an area of study. Composing 35%: total duration of compositions 3-6 mins. Section A: Composing (30%) – two compositions, one of which must be in response to a set brief. The second composition is a free composition for which learners set their own brief. Section B: Evaluating (5%) – an evaluation of the piece composed in response to a set brief. Appraising 30% – written listening examination, 1hour.

Physical Education

Physical Education

Why study PE?

The GCSE in Physical Educationwill enable students to engage in a practical course, designed to encourage them to be inspired, motivated and challenged by sport. Students will acquire the knowledge, understanding, skills and values to develop and maintain their performance in physical activities and understand the benefits to health, fitness and wellbeing. They will also develop theoretical knowledge and understanding of the factors that underpin physical activity and sport and use this knowledge to improve performance.

Course Content

There are two elements to the course: the theory and the practical. Unit 1 is the theoretical unit, which focuses on five key areas: Health, training and exercise; Exercise physiology; Movement analysis; Psychology of sport and physical activity; Socio-cultural issues in sport and physical activity. Unit 2 is the practical and coursework unit. Practically, learners will be assessed in three different practical activities in the role of performer in at least one individual sport, one team sport and one other team or individual sport. For the coursework learners must also choose one activity and design a personal fitness programme linked to that activity. The programme will help to improve fitness and performance and will be a minimum of 8 weeks in duration. Lessons will focus on the theoretical and coursework elements of the course. Games sessions, after school clubs and inter-school fixtures will provide opportunities for students to improve their practical skills and sporting performances. Student are also encouraged to join local sports clubs to further enhance their skills, knowledge and performance.

Assessment

Written exam (50%), in which students are assessed through a range of short and extended questions. The active participant in physical education is a non-exam assessment that makes up the other 50% of the qualification. Students will be assessed in three different practical activities and in a piece of written coursework in which they design, carry out and produce written evidence of a personal fitness programme.

‘Students have extremely high levels of well-being and positive attitudes to their learning.’ National Inspectorate, Estyn Report