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Comprehensive Choices

Curriculum Provision: which courses should I choose?

This is a very important decision; indeed, it could be the most important you have yet made. Research course options carefully and take the opportunities offered by the school to find out more. Your GCSE results and other Level 2 results will determine which of the following qualifications you can choose to take. There are three types of qualification offered at Gosforth Academy Sixth Form.

1.   A levels (Level 3)

  • You need at least four GCSE passes at grade 4 - 9 to study at this level.
  • Check individual course entry requirements carefully, as your GCSE grades will determine the courses you may select.
  • If you are on a Level 3 programme and have not passed GCSE English and/or GCSE Mathematics with at least a grade 4, then you need to re-sit these qualifications. They are vital for entry to university and employment.
  • Most A Level courses are delivered during 13 lessons per fortnight. This has recently been increased to allow a greater contact time with teachers.
  • You will normally study three A Level subjects in Sixth Form at Gosforth Academy.
  • If you have a chosen career, or a degree you wish to take, please check that your A Level choices are appropriate for entry.
  • They can be combined with vocational choices if you have met the entry requirements for these courses.

2.  Vocational Qualifications (Level 3)

  • You need at least four GCSE passes at grade 4 - 9 to study at this level.
  • In Business, IT, Sport, and Travel & Tourism you will be studying BTEC National (QCF) Subsidiary Diploma, this is equivalent to one A Level.
  • Health & Social Care and CPLD you will be studying the BTEC National (NQF) Extended Certificate, this  is equivalent to one A Level.
  • In Applied Science you will be studying the AQA Extended Certificate.
  • They give you UCAS tariff points for many university courses in the same way as A Levels.
  • They can be combined with A Level choices if you have met the entry requirements for these courses.

3.  Access for A level (Level 2/3)

This is a unique one year programme offered at Gosforth Academy for those students who have had some success at Level 2, but have not gained sufficient grades to access a full Level 3 Programme. Students complete the following elements as part of their studies:

  • BTEC Level 3 Certificate (QCF) in Business.
  • BTEC Level 2 Certificate in Retail Knowledge. This is based on two work experience placements (one day per week) completed in a retail environment such as John Lewis, Debenhams or WH Smith.
  • Resit English Language and resit Maths where necessary.

Extended Project Qualification (EPQ)

At the end of Year 12, students are offered the opportunity to apply to complete the EPQ, a qualification that runs alongside your A Levels. If you are accepted, select an area of interest (possibly related to one of your A Level choices) and carry out independent research to produce a substantial project, using all the skills valued by Higher Education Institutions. Acceptance to the EPQ is subject to the quality of your research proposal and performance in your other A Level subjects.

GCSE Average Points Scores - How are they calculated?

Students achieving their GCSE results in August 2019 will be the first cohort with all subjects having numbered grades.
Your average points score is simply the sum of all of your GCSE grade points divided by the number of GCSE courses taken. For example a student who achieves two grade - 7s, four grade - 6s and three grade - 5s would have an average point score of 7+7+6+6+6+6+5+5+5 = 53 divided by 9 = 5.89.

Grades achieved from KS4 BTEC or other vocational courses are not included in the calculation.

Critical Thinking

Should we uncritically accept what political campaigners tell us? Can we always rely on journalists and bloggers to tell us the truth? The answer is surely “no”, and therefore one important educational goal we have in Gosforth Academy Sixth Form is to prepare you to accept one of the greatest responsibilities you will have as a citizen – exercising your right to vote at the age of 18. 

It is really important for you to have a sound knowledge of the most significant and controversial issues which are debated today; these will be political, social, cultural and scientific, or very often cover a combination of two or more. However, in relation to these issues you also need the critical thinking skills which will enable you to analyse and evaluate information and arguments. This will help you to reach your own clear, logical and coherent judgements and opinions. This critical thinking and reflective reasoning involves learning how to ask the right questions and developing a set of skills which will stand you in good stead when establishing what your position is on a certain issue or how to vote. 

You will have one lesson of critical thinking per week in Year 12, with a wide range of issues of current importance studied to provide context for your skills development over the course of the year. There will necessarily be some teaching of content in order to establish an understanding of key facts, but the emphasis in lessons will be on discussion and debate rather than writing, and on building skills rather than making notes. There will be no examinations, and homework will not be set as in other subjects – instead, we will be constantly encouraging you to extend your knowledge and practise your critical thinking skills by watching the news and reading about current affairs on a regular basis, and then sharing your discoveries and ideas with others in the class. 

Critical thinking skills should benefit you in your other chosen subjects, where analysis, evaluation and effective communication are required. It will also help those students who may have to take entrance tests for certain universities or courses, in which a critical thinking element is often present. We also hope that you will be able to make use of these skills in your future career as well as in your role as a well informed and critically aware citizen.


China’s influence in the world is growing year by year and its economic influence is beginning to rival the USA and Europe. In Year 12 students are given the opportunity to learn more about Chinese language and culture, preparing you to visit the country yourself or as a basis for further study at university.

Students often opt to study Chinese for two reasons, either because they have an interest in far eastern culture or because they are a linguist looking to investigate a very different language. Anyone who has an interest in either of these things is a perfect candidate to learn Chinese. During the course you will get the opportunity to learn to speak, read and write Chinese alongside cultural discussions about the differences between east and west.

At the end of the year you will have covered everything you need to sit Level 1 HSK (the Chinese Government’s official exam). The exam is not compulsory and but it will definitely add weight to your personal statement in UCAS applications, should you choose to do it. Whether you take the final exam or not, we hope that you will enjoy the exciting opportunity to learn a new language.

Sixth Form Tutorial Programme

Within the Sixth Form we are not only committed to supporting students in achieving the best grades possible, but supporting you on your transition to adulthood. As such, all students within the Sixth Form will take part in a tutorial programme; a series of weekly tutorials, delivered by their tutor, as well as attending half-termly meetings for individual one-to-one sessions.

The group tutorials focus on three key areas: Progression, Academic Skills and Health & Wellbeing. Sessions are a combination of individual work and group tasks, looking to help you tackle the challenges of Sixth Form, both within and outside the classroom. One-to-one meetings are an opportunity for tutors to provide individual support and guidance for students, from help with time-management to discussing on-going pastoral issues. Tutors will get to know students very well over the two years, eventually providing references for university or job applications, and will be the first point of call for any problems in the Sixth Form.


The Sixth Form Assembly Programme offers students the opportunity to hear from a number of guest speakers. These range from sessions on Gap Years to Student Finance, to representatives from the Teenage Cancer Trust and the Armed Forces. We also have a number of training providers, most recently hosting a representative from Ernest & Young, to talk about both work experience and apprenticeships.