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Notre Dame High School

Notre Dame
High School

GCSE Preferences Advice and Form


Choosing your GCSE Preferences is an important process. 

This section of our website has key information about each of the available subjects.

You will also receive additional information over a period of time via a preferences booklet, assemblies and PSHEE lessons and a parents evening. 

See the schedule below of the support we are providing over the next few weeks and how to access it.

The Online Preferences Form

To access the Online Form you will click here.  The form will go 'live' to enable you to submit your preferences from date 2022 tbc.  We recommend that you wait until after the Y9 Parents Evening before submitting your preferences.  The deadline for submitting is to be confirmed.

Y9 Preferences Schedule 

Dates to be added by start of Spring Term 2022. 

Date Event
  Online PSHEE Lesson: My Personality
  Online PSHEE Lesson: My Interests
  Apprenticeships Zoom Meeting 3:30pm.  Find out about possible Post-16 courses.
  Dual Linguist Zoom Drop in for any students thinking of taking more than one foreign language.  11:00am.  Zoom Link. Passcode: 381590.  Different MFL staff will also drop into your MFL Zoom lessons in the next couple of weeks to answer any questions that you have.
  Half Term Holiday
  Video Presentation: Intro to Y9 Preferences Process and Blocks (see 'How To' videos below)
  Video Presentation: How to complete the online preferences form. (see below)
Video Presentation: How to use UniFrog (see below)
Link to the Online Form added to this page.
  PSHEE Lesson: My Subjects
  Y9 Review Grades to Parents/Carers
  Y9 Online Parents Evening.  The online preference form goes LIVE.
  Deadline for submitting your online preferences form

How To Videos: Each step of the process


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 Course Structure

The majority of students are likely to take 9 - 11 GCSE subjects.  Your Key Stage 4 Programme of Study will comprise of:

  • Compulsory GCSE subjects
  • Preference GCSE subjects (selected from blocks)
  • Non Examined SubjectsPE (if not taken as a GCSE Subject) and PSHEE

Compulsory GCSE Subjects 

The following GCSE subjects are compulsory at NDHS:

  • English Language
  • English Literature
  • Mathematics
  • a Modern Foreign Language
  • Religious Studies
  • Science (Combined or Triple pathways – the Head of Science will assess which course is appropriate)
  • Physical Education (GCSE or non-examined – to be decided by the Head of PE)

Modern Foreign Languages 

As Notre Dame is committed to languages, you will continue to study your current language, French or Spanish, at GCSE. 

If you wish to study two languages you will see them listed in Preference Block 2.

French, Spanish and Japanese come in the first set of language preferences and then there is the chance in ‘Preference Block 2’ to pick up a second language (French, Spanish or German)   The decision whether to run the group will depend on the numbers who choose this as an option.   When second language groups are viable, they tend to be small groups.   This is a huge advantage as it means you get more individual attention and opportunities for feedback as well as increased participation on your part.

You may wish to be considered eligible to study a GCSE in Japanese.  Your application will be based on factors such as having achieved a Grade 6 in French or Spanish by the Summer Term of Y9 and your overall attitude to learning and progress in other subjects.

Preference Blocks

In the Online Form, you will be asked to choose a first preference and a reserve from each Block.  Please note the blocks below are examples from 2021. These will be updated for Spring 2022.

Within the Design and Technology subject areas there are what the exam board calls “forbidden combinations”. This means students are not allowed to study the following combinations:

  • Product Design with Fashion & Textiles
  • Graphics with Fashion & Textiles
  • Product Design with Graphics.
Advice on How to Research Your Subjects

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 Preferences Booklet

Each year we produce a booklet to make it easy for you to have all the info at your finger tips. If you would like to download a printed copy of our Preferences Booklet,  CLICK HERE (note this is the 2021 booklet, so will be updated for Spring 2022).


 Unifrog is an online platform that we use to help you search for qualifications and career pathways.

For advise on how to log in and use the site watch the video below. 

To access the site, click on Unifrog Sign In.


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Further advice on making informed decisions 

Choose for the right reasons

Choosing a subject just to be with friends is an unsound reason.  Friends who choose identical subjects will not necessarily be in the same class.  For example, if you choose History in one block, there is no guarantee you will end up in the same class as your friend who also chooses History, because we run several groups in each block.

Likewise avoid choosing a subject based upon who is teaching that subject.  We cannot forecast who will be teaching the various groups in the next academic year.


Our Key Stage 4 Curriculum is designed to offer you a broad education.  This will give you flexibility for future qualifications in post-16 education and career pathways.  Our Key Stage 4 subject pages include links to our relevant A level courses.  This will give you an idea of how the subject progresses and what pathways this can lead to. 

Enjoyment and Success

Enjoyment and interest encourage and motivate us to make the most of our abilities and can be a springboard to success in adult life - so what you enjoy must count.  Likewise, where you have been experiencing sustained success up until now will count.  So, check your attainment and attitude to learning grades in your Spring Term Report.

New Subjects

If you are interested in a subject that you haven't been taught before, speak to the relevant teacher/Head of Subject to find out more about the course.

Future Qualifications

Certain Post-16 courses, university courses and professions require qualifications in specific subjects.  We would encourage you to research Post-16 courses that may interest you via Russell Group Informed Choices

Full discussion between student, parent/carer, Form Tutor and subject staff will allow you to consider all the advice, and to make an informed decision. To find a list of the teachers in each subject visit our Teaching Staff Contacts page.

Future Jobs

Many of the jobs that you will apply for in your career don't even exist yet!  It is now common to have a number of very different jobs within your career.  Therefore, transferable skills such as communication, teamwork, research and analysis, being creative and enterprising are highly valued.

Make a Difference!

Career pathway in which you are able to improve the lives of others and/or our world are in particular demand.  They also have a high level of job satisfaction.

Online Parents Evening

We plan to hold our Y9 Parents Evening virtually.  We will provide instructions on this page for you to book appointments with your current core subject teachers.  You will also be able to book slots to talk to preference subject teachers to ask any questions that you have about their course.

The Online Preferences Form

To access the Online Form CLICK HERE.  The form will go 'live' to enable you to submit your preferences from Thursday 18th March.  We recommend that you wait until after the Y9 Parents Evening before submitting your preferences.  The deadline for submitting is to be confirmed for Spring 2022.

Advice on completing your Online Preferences Form 

You will submit your choice of Preference subjects via an online form.  The link to the form will be made accessible on this page from 1st March 2021. 

The deadline for submitting your form will be to be confirmed for Spring 2022

Select the language you have been studying in Y7- Y9 – you will continue to study this at GCSE

Your 1st Preference, in each block, is the subject you most wish to study alongside the compulsory subjects.

It is important you understand that your Reserve, in each block, is the subject that you would wish to study should your 1st Preference be unavailable.

Sometimes subjects are oversubscribed, in which case a limit on the numbers may be imposed and you will be allocated to your Reserve subject. 

Sometimes subjects are under subscribed, in which case the subject may not run at all and you will be allocated your Reserve subject. 

In addition, you might have selected a subject for which historical performance, grades in Yr7-9, demonstrate limited progress. In this instance we may make the decision to allocate you to your Reserve, or an alternative, more suitable subject; ultimately we want you to be successful in your GCSE courses. 

So THINK CAREFULLY about your 1st Preference and your Reserve subject in each block.

 Thinking Ahead to Post-16

We provide a broad curriculum which provides students with a diverse choice of options after their GCSEs.  However, you may wish to think about possible qualifications and career pathways that you may wish to take in the future.  Some of these routes require qualifications in specific subjects.

To help guide you through this process visit our Y10/11 Careers Advice page.

Post 16 Apprenticeships 

An apprenticeship is a real job where you learn, gain experience and get paid. You’re an employee with a contract of employment and holiday leave.

By the end of an apprenticeship, you'll have the right skills and knowledge needed for your chosen career.

We recently ran Zoom event on apprenticeships.  To watch a video of the event and to find out more visit our Apprenticeships page.

Want to explore some more?

Find out what a variety of former students did after they left Notre Dame by watching these videos.

We have special pages for career sectors that are particularly popular for our students and are in high demand in our region.

Book an Appointment

If you would like an appointment with our Careers Advisor, Siobhan Whiddett, to discuss future options and progression routes, click here.

For additional advice and guidance, contact our Careers Team

To view our latest Career Newsletter click here.