Ashbourne prides itself on being able to offer a broad range of subjects in any combination for A-Level students and a variety of GCSE option subjects in additional to the core subjects.
The aims of this policy are:
To clarify GCSE options for non-core subjects.
To provide guidance on the level of flexibility afforded to A-Level students in terms of their subject choices.
To set out the timetabled number of hours per week for both GCSE and A-Level students.
1.2 Key definitions
Where relevant, the following terms shall mean:
HT1 - Half term 1 - 6th September 2021 - 22nd October 2021
HT2 - Half term 2 - 1st November 2021 – 17th December 2021
HT3 - Half term 3 - 4th January 2022 - 11th February 2022
HT4 - Half term 4 - 21st February 2022 - 25th March 2022
HT5 - Half term 5 - 18th April 2022 - 27th May 2022
Ashbourne offers a one-year GCSE programme, which requires no prior individual subject knowledge. In Year 11, we help steer students through the GCSE programme to achieve the best possible grade outcomes, and to ensure they are prepared thoroughly for entry into Ashbourne's Sixth Form, where they may commence a two-year A-Level programme.
2.1 Compulsory core subjects
All GCSE students must study the following subjects:
Science (IGCSE - Double Award)
Personal, Social, Health and Economic Education (PSHEE) (non-examinable)
Physical Education (non-examinable)
2.2 Optional subjects
In addition to the core subjects, GCSE students may choose up to four additional subjects. They may choose one additional subject from each of the following four categories:
Category 1: French or Spanish
Category 2: Drama or Computer Science (IGCSE)
Category 3: Economics or Music
Category 4: Art & Design or History
2.3 Teaching time allocation
Year 11 students are usually allocated 4 hours per subject per week, with the exception of:
IGCSE Science (Double Award) - 8 hours
PSHEE - 2 hours
Physical Education - 2 hours
2.4 Double award vs. single subject science
Due to the intensive nature of the one-year GCSE programme, we have taken the decision to offer Double Award IGCSE Science rather than individual science subject awards. Ashbourne's IGCSE Science course allows students to gain two qualifications by having exposure to all three sciences, rather than gaining subject awards for each individual science. Ashbourne organises a Medical School Programme (AMSP), which helps students gain entry into degree programmes in this field. The AMSP course leader, Amy Youngman, will work with students to ensure they are prepared thoroughly for their university application. If, at the end of Year 11, it is deemed that students require additional support to prepare more readily for A-Level studies in the sciences we will prepare additional work accordingly.
2.5 IGCSE vs. GCSE
Ashbourne offers GCSE qualifications to Year 11 students except in Computing and Science, where students will sit the IGCSE qualification instead. In both subjects, the IGCSE qualification does not require compulsory practical work. Due to the short length of the course we believe that students' final grades would be negatively impacted if they were also required to complete the necessary practicals in addition to the written examinations. Nevertheless, Ashbourne’s Science and Computer Science teachers very much value the importance of practical work and where possible will look to engage students in practical tasks to support the learning experience. For example, in IGCSE Computer Science students get to learn practical programming skills and they can apply this understanding to develop computer-based solutions to problems using algorithms and high-level programming language. Their understanding of programming skills is assessed in paper two through pre-released material. Learners also develop a range of technical skills, as well as being able to effectively test and evaluate computing solutions.
This is a non-examined compulsory class for all Year 11 students, which helps to develop student awareness of the world around them and teaches essential life skills such as independent and cooperative learning and presentation skills. The programme will also help to introduce key safeguarding topics and prepare students more readily for their future university applications, including supporting work experience applications.
2.7 Physical Education
This is a non-examined compulsory class for all Year 11 students. The class will take place on Thursday afternoons and students will be taken to a local sports centre to participate in a variety of sports.
Year 12 and Year 13 students are permitted to take any combination of subjects. Usually, Year 12 students will take four subjects and decide to continue with three when they enter Year 13.
3.1 Teaching time allocationYear 12 and Year 13 students are allocated 6 hours per subject per week, with the following exceptions:
Art subjects - Year 13 - 10 hours per week; Year 13 one-year students - 12 hours per week; Year 12 - 8 hours per week.
Personal tutoring - 2 hours per week (Year 12 only).
Further Mathematics - 8 hours per week for both Year 12 and 13; students complete the entire A level Maths syllabus in Year 12 then go on to the Further Maths syllabus in Year 13.
Students following one-year A-Level programmes
Students following 18-month A-Level programme
3.2 Art subjects
For HT1 and HT2, Year 12 students will be allocated 4 hours per week for their chosen art subject (Fine Art, Graphics communication or Textile design) and they will also join the art carousel for 4 hours per week, which will expose them to each of the other art subjects areas. After HT2 students will decide which art subject they wish to specialise in, and carousel hours will then become normal subject hours. This will continue for the remainder of the students’ art course at Ashbourne.
Art students will also have the chance to attend life drawing classes that take place from 6 pm to 8 pm on Wednesday and portfolio classes (Year 13 students). Students wishing to follow Ashbourne’s Art Programme post A-Level study are required to attend these portfolio classes.
3.3 Personal Tutor sessions
This is a non-examined compulsory class for all Year 12 students. All students in Year 12 will have a Personal Tutor who is responsible for their academic development and pastoral support. Students will meet in a group for 2 hours per week where they will be taught the Year 12 Personal Tutoring Scheme of Work. This will help to develop student awareness of the world around them and teaches essential life skills such as independent and cooperative learning and presentation skills. The programme will also help to introduce key safeguarding topics and prepare students more readily for their future university applications, including supporting work experience applications.
3.4 Mathematics and Further Mathematics
Students undertaking the two-year A-Level Mathematics programme will have 6 hours of Mathematics in both Year 12 and Year 13. Those students who wish to take Further Mathematics will complete A-Level Mathematics in Year 12, and then take a one-year Further Mathematics programme in Year 13. These students will also join an additional Further Mathematics preparation class in Year 12 which will introduce them to some of the advanced topics in the Further Mathematics specification; this class also consolidates the students' learning of A-Level Mathematics. For further information about Mathematics at Ashbourne, please refer to the Mathematics and Physics Faculty Policy.
3.5 One-year A-Level students
In addition to joining Year 13 classes, these students are often provided with additional hours to cover Year 12 material. This is especially true for those students who are either taking the subject for the first time or who are retaking the A-Level but previously studied a different examination board.
3.6 18-month A-Level students
Due to the intensive nature of the 18-month A-Level programme, Ashbourne provides students with additional hours for each subject. Dependent on the subject and academic year, Ashbourne will either organise separate groups (usually 8 hours per subject per week?) or will provide additional hours (usually 2 per week) to supplement the students Year 12 classes. For January entry, please contact our Admissions team.
4. Confirmation of timetable
All timetable choices must be communicated to the Head of Administration, Hien Nguyen before 6pm, 30th June. Any changes after this date require agreement from the Director of Studies.
5. Changing subjects during term time
Students are permitted to change their subjects during the first two weeks of HT1. If a student wishes to change a subject, they must book a meeting to see the Director of Studies.
Prior to the meeting we advise all students to consult with their Personal Tutor and subject tutors. The Director of Studies will only permit changes where:
The new subject fits the student’s timetable.
The class that the student wishes to join is not full.
The condition of the student’s place is not breached as a result of the change.
The decision makes academic sense. For Year 13 students subject changes may be declined where the Director of Studies feels it is unrealistic for the student to attain a B grade or above.
The student satisfies the relevant academic requirements for the subject they wish to switch to (e.g. Music theory test for Music A-Level).
6. Special requests
Ashbourne always endeavours to offer as much flexibility as possible for its students as part of its commitment to offering an individually tailored education programme and will consider student feedback in order to do so.
Any timetable restrictions, such as religious observance times, will be considered by the Director of Studies on a case-by-case basis. However, any special requests that limit a students' availability must be communicated to the timetable team before 6pm, 30th June. Any changes after this date are unlikely to be accepted.
Certain requests that will not be accepted include:
Changing teachers within the same subject.
Change classes for convenience reasons (e.g. leaving early on Fridays to travel). In general, only where a safeguarding concern has been raised will Ashbourne allow group changes and/or timetable amendments later within the calendar year.
7. Timetable flexibility
Ashbourne offers A level students the flexibility to study any combination of subjects, as long as requests are submitted before the 30th June deadline. However, in order to facilitate this the College requires students to be available from 9 am to 6 pm, Monday to Friday. Students are therefore responsible for ensuring that they have no conflicts of time during hours where they may have lessons.
The school reserves the right to alter the students’ timetable in certain circumstances.
Effective date of the policy
Teaching staff / all staff / parents / Students on request