Timetable Policy

Timetable Policy

1.   Statement
2.   GCSE
3.   A level
4.   Confirmation of timetable
5.   Changing subjects during term time
6.   Special requests
7.   Timetable flexibility

1. Statement
Ashbourne offers a broad range of subjects and course lengths for A level students. At GCSE our  flexible programmes are designed to take students to A level.

1.1 Aim
This policy aims to provide guidance on how the College manages and implements the timetables for A level and GCSE.

1.2 Key definitions
Where relevant, the following terms shall mean:

  • HT1 – Half term 1 (Sept–Oct)
  • HT2 – Half term 2  (Nov–Dec)
  • HT3 – Half term 3  (Jan–Feb)
  • HT4 – Half term 4  (Feb–Mar)
  • HT5 – Half term 5  (Apr–May)

(Back to menu)

All GCSE subjects are taught over one year. Students are required to take the compulsory core subjects below and then may choose optional subjects.

In almost all cases, students joining Year 10 will study the compulsory core GCSE subjects in that first year. If their progress indicates they are very likely to attain at least a grade 7 they will be eligible to sit the examination at the end of that year. In their second year, they have the opportunity to take up optional GCSE subjects alongside any remaining core subjects they will sit for at examination at the end of that year. Depending on circumstances, GCSE students in their second year may also take one or two AS or A level subjects.

Students may also join in Year 11 and take all core and optional subjects in that one year.

2.1 Compulsory core subjects
All GCSE students must study the following core subjects in their first year of study:

  • English Language
  • English Literature
  • Mathematics
  • Science (IGCSE – Double Award)
  • Personal, Social, Health and Economic Education (PSHEE) (non-examinable)
  • Physical Education (non-examinable)

2.2 Optional subjects
GCSE students may choose up to four additional subjects from each of the following categories:

  • Category 1: French or Spanish
  • Category 2: Drama or Computer Science (IGCSE)
  • Category 3: Economics or Music
  • Category 4: History or Art & Design

Note that these categories may change from one academic year to the next. Due to the extensive time required for GCSE Art & Design, students may not be able to take this course in combination with certain other optional subjects.

2.3 Teaching time allocation
GCSE students are typically allocated 4 hours per subject per week, with the exception of:

  • IGCSE Science (Double Award): 8 hours
  • PSHEE: 2 hours
  • Physical Education: 2 hours
  • Subjects undertaken with individual tuition: 2 hours
  • IELTS support classes: up to 4 hours

2.4 Double award science
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.

Students planning to apply for medicine-related degrees are invited to join Ashbourne’s Medical School Programme (AMSP), which helps students gain entry into degree programmes in this field. The AMSP course leader 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 the College will arrange additional work accordingly.

On a case-by-case basis, the College will also offer further academic support to capable students who wish to pursue individual Science subjects at A level.

This is a non-examined compulsory class for all GCSE students, which aims 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.

2.6 Physical Education
This is a non-examined compulsory class for all GCSE 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.

(Back to menu)

3. A level
Year 12 students have the opportunity to take 4 A level subjects even though most universities require only 3 A level subjects to satisfy their entry requirements. In Year 13, students are generally encouraged to focus on the 3 subjects.

3.1 Teaching time allocation: Year 12 and Year 13 students are allocated 6 hours per subject per week, with the following exceptions:

  • Art subjects, Year 12: 8 hours per week; Year 13: 10 hours per week.
  • Personal tutoring: 2 hours per week (Year 12 only).
  • Further Mathematics: 8 hours per week; 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 (see 3.5 below).
  • Students following 18-month A level programmes (see 3.6 below).

3.2 Art subjects
Year 13 students will have the chance to attend life drawing classes that take place on a regular basis either in the evening or on Saturdays.  They are also offered weekly portfolio classes to prepare them for their university applications.

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 (PT) who is responsible for their academic development and pastoral support. Students will meet with the PT in a group for 2 hours per week and follow  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 (8 hours per week), and then take a one-year Further Mathematics programme in Year 13 (8 hours per week).

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. Depending on the subject and academic year, Ashbourne will either organise separate groups or will provide additional hours to supplement Year 12 classes these students will join.

(Back to menu)

4. Confirmation of timetable
For September entry, all timetable choices must be communicated to the Timetable Team before 6pm, 30th June. Any changes after this date must be agreed with  the Timetable Team. After this date it may not be possible to accommodate some changes. For students who start after September, changes will be managed on a case-by-case basis.

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 first consult their Personal Tutor. If this is agreed in principle, parental confirmation of the change via email will also be required. The Timetable Team will then consider the request and 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 Timetable Team 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).

(Back to menu)

6. Special requests
Ashbourne always endeavours to offer as much flexibility as possible as part of its commitment to offering an individually tailored education programme.

Any timetable restrictions arising because of, for example, religious observance requirements, will be considered by the Timetable Team 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.

(Back to menu)

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 are free during these times..

The school reserves the right to alter the students’ timetable in certain circumstances.

(Back to menu)

Authorised by The Principal
Date September 2023
Effective date of the policy September 2023
Circulation Teaching staff / all staff / parents / students on request
Review date September 2026
Menu ☰