Careers Education Information Advice and Guidance (CEIAG)


Future Destinations

Post 16 Options

Thinking Ahead to the Sixth Form...

Destinations with our Academy Partners

Considering University

Useful Careers Advice

Career Websites

Making Choices - Advice and Guidance

Do's and Don'ts When Choosing Your Option Subjects

Making Choices - Advice for Students

Making Choices - Advice for Parents

Frequently Asked Questions

Future Destinations

The choices students make now are designed to ensure students have the necessary qualifications to move onto a range of educational destinations when they leave Year 11. Those destinations will include:


  • Sixth Form
  • College
  • Apprenticeship
  • Employment (With some training included)


  • University
  • Successful Careers


Post 16 Options

Key Stage 4 Options are the first ‘Key Decision Point’ most young people will face in their lives. The next “Key Decision Point’ will be when they choose what type of education destination to choose after Year 11. Although this may seem a long way off, the best way to make sure you can do what you want in the future, is to give it some thought now and make sure the choices you make now leave as many options open to you as possible. After Year 11 you will have four learning pathways.

These are:

  • Sixth Form
  • College
  • Apprenticeships
  • Employment with Training

During the course of Year 11 you’ll have to decide:

  • What do I want to do next?
  • Where and how can I achieve this?
  • What will be available?

It’s a good idea to begin planning early to make sure you make the right decision.

Think about some of the following:

  • How clear are you about the career you want?
  • Do you want to choose a course that leaves your options open?
  • Do you want to start training/studying for a specific job?
  • How do you learn best? In a practical, working situation or being taught in school or college?
  • Do you need specific qualifications or do you have to go to University?

People who can help you to decide

  • Careers Cooordinator
  • Form teacher/tutor
  • Subject teachers
  • Parents/Carers

There are some fantastic resources to help you make your choices now at post-16 on the Durham County website Help4Teen at


Thinking Ahead to the Sixth Form...

   nda_16logo_jpg (ID 37237)

For your post 16 education we sincerely hope that you choose to stay at North Durham Academy and continue on to become a sixth form student here with us.

North Durham Academy Sixth Form is a vibrant, committed and inclusive sixth form community within the academy that you already know well. We offer an extremely rich, diverse and varied programme of study where we aim to meet the needs of every one of our students.

If you choose to stay at NDA16+ you will be part of a sixth form that values its students and that helps them to fulfill their potential and achieve highly. Whether preparing you for University, further education or the wider world of work, we do everything we can to help you achieve the goals that you set for yourself.

There will be a place at NDA16+ for all students who achieve the required grades which are usually at least five or more C/B and above (5+ in the new system) GCSE or BTEC equivalent grades including English and Maths for A Level and BTEC level 3 courses. The entry requirements for Motor Vehicle and Hairdressing will be lower, but will still include a Maths and English requirement.

Revised entry criteria will be published in 2017 to reflect the move of most GCSEs to the 9 to 1 grading system.

Students must therefore achieve at least achieve a grade 5 in English or Maths in Year 11, otherwise they will be required to continue to study these subjects at sixth form, college or on an apprenticeship.

We look forward to seeing you in a few years’ time, fresh from your GCSE, BTEC or City and Guilds success, to continue your education at NDA 16+ - good luck with your options and we wish you the best of success until then!


Destinations with our Academy Partners

At North Durham Academy we also have a close partnership with both New College Durham and Durham County Council, the Local Authority. This means that even for students who wish to study subjects or qualifications which are not offered in our sixth form, or who fail to achieve the entry requirements, our Academy is able to ensure all student can progress to a positive destination to continue their education and achieve their full potential.


Considering University

It may seem like a long time away, but if you are considering applying to a competitive university and especially a competitive course at a competitive university, it is important that you consider all the aspects of the entrance requirements, including the GCSE requirements.

The summary below gives an idea of the GCSE requirements that you might come across for certain degree courses. Remember that these are only examples. It is important to check university websites for detailed requirements before applying.

  • Applicants to study Medicine are usually required to have very good GCSE results in Maths, Science and English
  • For a degree in English, universities often look for applicants to have a GCSE in a Modern Foreign Language
  • A grade B in Maths and sometimes Science is often required for a degree in Psychology
  • What subjects at A Level give me the most options?

Many courses at university level build on knowledge which you will gain whilst studying at the Academy. Where this is the case, universities need to make sure that all the students they admit have prepared themselves in the best way to cope with their chosen course. For this reason, some of the top university courses may require students to have studied a specific subject at A level prior to entry, others may not.  

There are also a range of universities in our regions and across the country who require GCSE and BTEC grades from Year 11 and will make offers to students based on a range of A level and BTEC Level 3 courses at the end of Year 13.

For the most competitive universities and courses the following are some subjects that are required more often than others. These subjects are:

  • Maths and Further Maths
  • Physics
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • English (Literature)
  • Geography
  • History
  • Modern Foreign Language (like French or Spanish)

The information above is taken from a leaflet Informed Choices’ (2016/17) issued by the Russell Group of top universities, which provides guidance to students about how their GCSE subjects can affect their course choices at some universities. When applying to a competitive university and especially for a very competitive course at a competitive university, it is important that you consider all the aspects of the entrance requirements, including the GCSE or other standard level requirements.


Useful Careers Advice

Consider subjects you think you will be good at and will enjoy. You may wish to explore possible careers, however a balanced range of subjects will ensure as many options as possible are open to you. Ask yourself:

  • Which subjects interest me?
  • Which subjects do I like and why do I like them?
  • Which are my best subjects and how do I know?
  • What do my teachers say my strengths are?
  • Would I prefer a course with examinations or coursework?

Few employers expect specific GCSE passes with the exception of English, Maths and Science.

Your GCSE subject choices and the grades you achieve can affect your ability to study some subjects at sixth form, college or an apprenticeship, so speak to the sixth form and college staff who will be there on Options Evening. It always helps to have your questions ready before the event so you know exactly what you want to discuss.

In some subjects like History and Geography, it may be possible to study these at A Level without having first taken them at GCSE. However, this does not apply to all subjects, for example; Sciences or languages, to be sure check entry requirements with the sixth form staff.


Career Websites

You can find information on job sectors and specific careers using the ‘Career Tools’ and then ‘Job Profiles’ on the National Careers Service website. Go to

Whether you’ve got a career in mind or you haven’t got a clue, Plotr can help you discover your future and guide you to careers you'll love. Go to

An apprenticeship is where you are learning through hands on experience of a job and gaining a nationally recognised qualification. To find out more information and to view vacancies, register online at

If you are considering university or completing a degree course, then research and explore entry requirements. Go to

Local Careers advice in County Durham can be found on the website.

Making Choices - Advice and Guidance

Successful Choices

Success cannot just be measured in grade C (or grade 5), or choosing subjects which people think are the ‘best’. Success for each individual student will include:

  • Beating your goals
  • Achieving your full potential
  • Developing as a person
  • Achieving a place on the post-16 courses that will lead to your chosen future career



Do’s and Don’ts  When Choosing Your Option Subjects


  • Consider studying a broad range of subjects.
  • Consider subjects that you have enjoyed in KS3.
  • Consider which subjects you are successful at.
  • If you already have clear ideas about your career/ future take this into account.
  • Ask for advice.


  • Pick subjects to be with your friends.
  • Pick or not pick subjects because of the teacher.
  • Pick subjects because you think they are easy options – they aren’t.


Making Choices – Advice for Students

  1. Take time – Don’t choose your courses straight away. Take time to consider your options and discuss these with the people who can advise you.
  2. Collect information and advice – Do some research into the jobs you may be interested in when you leave education, and which qualifications and subjects you may need to study. You need to follow this up with conversations with your subject teachers to find out even more. Teachers, tutors and Year 10 or 11 students you know who are already studying the courses will all be able to help you. Through the Academy Learning Resource Centre and your weekly Ethics lessons, you can also access a range of resources to help you find out more about future careers, sixth forms, colleges and university.
  3. Look back and reflect - Think about what you have done already and about your strengths and areas for development. Build on your strengths but do not ignore your areas for development. You will need to work on these too.
  4. Choose for yourself - Do not be influenced by what your friends are choosing or by which teacher has taught you this year. Next year will be different and you will have your lessons in different teaching groups.
  5. Work Hard - It is important that whatever options you choose for Key Stage 4, that you do your best during the rest of this year. You need to work hard in all your subjects now so that you make good progress when you start your GCSE or BTEC courses. This will provide you with a firm foundation for the beginning of Key Stage 4 and will help you make the best start possible.
  6. What to do next - You will need to complete the Options Choice Form 2017 included with this booklet by Wednesday 1st February 2017. This should be returned to your Year Manager or Achievement Leader in the Year Team office as soon as possible after making your choices.  Don’t forget this must be signed by your parent/carer.


Making Choices – Advice for Parents and Carers

At North Durham Academy, our aim is that all students should receive the best advice they can when choosing their subjects for Key Stage 4. They should have a guided choice from within the pathway that the Academy will recommend, that best matches their abilities, achievements and ambitions, with the benefit of guidance and information from Academy staff.

You as parents/carers also play a vital role in this decision making process and at North Durham Academy we hope to support you as best we can. We hope therefore that you will find the questions below helpful when discussing options for next year with your son/daughter:

Your child

  1. How does your child see him/herself?
  2. How does your child see the future?
  3. What ambitions does he/she have for the future?
  4. Are these ideas influencing his/her choices now?
  5. What are your child’s interests and abilities?
  6. Which subjects would best use and develop these?

Your child’s future

  1. What careers and courses will be available if your child follows the subjects he/she likes and learns well?
  2. Is this a limited range of opportunities?
  3. What courses and careers will not be available?
  4. For the careers your child has in mind, which subjects are necessary or useful?
  5. Which subjects or qualifications will give them the best chance of success at the highest grades to support their progression to post-16 or university destinations in the future?


  1. What ambitions do you have for your child?
  2. How are your ideas influencing your child?
  3. Are you encouraging your child to choose the right subjects for him or her?
  4. Do you know whether academic or vocational courses are most appropriate for your son/daughter’s talents and aspirations and which will lead to their choice post-16 course or future career.


Frequently Asked Questions

1. How do I choose which subjects to take?

We recommend that you study subjects that you enjoy and feel that you will be successful in. If you have a career in mind you should think about and research which subjects you may need to pursue that career. However, we would recommend you study a wide range of subjects rather than specialising if you are not sure because you may change your mind in the future. Make sure that you talk to your subject teachers if you are thinking of studying their subject at GCSE or BTEC so that they can answer your questions further.

2. What GCSE or BTECs will I need to get a good job in the future?

All employers/universities require you to have taken GCSE English and Maths and have demonstrated good personal skills. To study an A level or similar course you will need five GCSEs at grade C or above as a minimum. Many A Level courses require a grade B or above. To find out about specific career entry requirements go to the Academy Sixth Form website for advice on A Level and BTEC Level 3 entry criteria, or New College Durham’s website for information about vocational college courses and apprenticeships.

3. What if I change my mind?

Once you have completed your option form you can still change your mind, but the latest this should happen will be May as the new timetable will be starting in June before the summer. Once you have started the course you may still be allowed to change your option if you have a good reason up until half term in October. Changes will be discussed with students and parents/carers and will only be made after we have considered your future progression destinations, and students have shown that they have tried to make the subject work. The increase in difficulty of courses in Key Stage 4 sometimes means that students want to drop a subject without really trying, and with a little support and encouragement, they can settle in quickly and succeed.

4. Will I be in the same group as my friend?

Not necessarily. It is a bad idea to choose a subject just because a friend will be choosing it too. It is quite common for there to be more than one class of each subject and therefore it is very unlikely that you will be in the same group as your friend.

5. Does my GCSE choice affect my A level or sixth form choices?

All the pathways and courses offered at NDA will lead you into our sixth form, or a college course/apprenticeship that will then lead to university or a range of careers. Even if you haven’t studied a subject at GCSE, it may still be possible to take that subject in the sixth form if your other results show that you have the ability and attitude to work required to be successful. These issues will be discussed as part of the application process to sixth form in Year 11, but you can ask any questions you have about 16+ study from the sixth form team who will be at the Key Stage 4 Options evening.

6. How many lessons do I have a week for my option subjects?

The majority of students’ timetables will be made up of Maths, English, Science and the statutory core curriculum subjects of ICT, PE and Philosophy & Ethics. Optional GCSE and BTECs are studied for two hours per week throughout Years 9, 10 and 11.

7. Are there things I can’t study?

All students are placed onto pathways that contain the subjects which provide the best opportunity for students to achieve the best grades they can and have the widest range of options available to them in the future. These pathways have proven effective in the past and the Year 13 students who have just left the Academy were able to enter university from all of the pathways we have in Key Stage 4. We strongly recommend students take the Pathway recommended for them but if you have any questions, your child’s Year Manager or Achievement Leader can discuss details of your personal pathway with you.

8. If I want to be a teacher what should I take?

Primary Teaching needs specific GCSEs at Grade C. These include English, Maths, ICT, Science and Modern Foreign Languages is recommended.

9. What is a BTEC?

BTECs are vocationally related qualifications, where learners develop knowledge and understanding by applying their learning and skills in a work-related context. They engage young learners in taking responsibility for their own learning, and develop essential work-related skills, such as working to deadlines and presenting information effectively.

BTECs are mainly assessed through project/coursework which is marked and moderated internally, before being sent off for external moderation. All new BTEC courses are required to have at least one examined unit.

A BTEC First Award is equivalent to one GCSE.

BTEC qualifications may suit students who are organised, driven and like working independently. It may suit students who prefer coursework to exams.

N.B. Too many coursework/project based subjects can create workload problems at certain crunch points especially in Year 11.

10. What is the English Baccalaureate (EBacc)?

The English Baccalaureate was introduced as a performance measure by the current Government in the 2010 performance tables. It is not a qualification in itself. The measure recognises where pupils have secured a C grade or better across a core of academic subjects – English, Mathematics, History or Geography, the Sciences and a language.

The subjects with the EBacc are designed to ensure that all pupils have the opportunity to study a broad core of subjects, ensuring that doors are not closed off to them in terms of future progression. Some universities have voiced support. More details can be found at here.

The Ebacc is not compulsory, but it is being strongly pushed by the current Government and so it may be a disadvantage for some universities or careers not to have it in the future.

Many top universities would prefer students to have studied the EBacc subjects, and this may be a factor when applying to highly competitive degree subjects or employment opportunities.

11. Who can I ask advice?

There are a wide range of people you could ask for advice to help you make your choices including:

  • Form Tutor
  • Subject Teachers
  • Year Manager
  • Achievement Leader
  • Parents/Carers

Don’t wait until the options evening to have these conversations, you can start asking questions and thinking every day to help you make the right choice.

12. When will my Key Stage 4 courses start?

Students move up a year group and began their new courses in June once the summer exams have finished. This reduces both the ‘settling-in’ period in September, and the ‘slowing-down’ for summer’ time in July. Enrichment activities will still be happening during the summer term. Students start examined courses therefore get extra time (GCSE and A Level). It is therefore vital that students do not miss any time at the end of the summer term.

13. Who can I talk to with any question I may have?

The best place to ask questions will be the Key Stage 4 Options Evening where there will be all subject staff, Year Team, sixth form, college available to deal with any queries you may have, all in one place. Otherwise the first point of contact to discuss any Options-related questions should be your child’s Year Manager or Achievement Manager.