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Notre Dame High School

Notre Dame
High School

GCSE Preferences Advice and Form

Preferences is an important process.  This section of our website has key information about the structure and demands of subjects at GCSE level.  You will also receive additional information via a preferences booklet, assemblies and PSHEE lessons.

Y9 Preferences Schedule

Date Event
25/1/21 Online PSHEE Lesson: My Personality
01/02/21 Online PSHEE Lesson: My Interests
15-19/02/21 Half Term Holiday
22/02/21 Video Presentation: Intro to Y9 Preferences Process and Blocks.
01/03/21 Video Presentation: How to complete the online preferences form.  Link to form goes live on this page.
01/03/21 PSHEE Lesson: My Subjects
by 15/03/21 Y9 Review Grades to Parents/Carers
18/03/21 Y9 Online Parents Evening
26/03/21 Deadline for submitting your online preferences form

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.

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.

You may wish to be considered eligible to study an additional 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 GCSE Subject Blocks 

The Preference Blocks will be published on this page after they have been explained in an assembly led by your Head of Year.

There are 2 blocks of subjects.

You will be asked to choose a first preference and a reserve from each Block.

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 make informed decisions about your preferences 

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 the Government's Find A Course and Russell Group Subject Choices for University.

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 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 on the day of the Y9 Preferences Assembly. 

The deadline for submitting your form will be 26th March 2021.

Advice on completing your form 

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 undersubscribed, 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.

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