As your child is currently in Year 8, they have reached the time when they will be able to choose what qualifications they would like to study in Year 9, 10 and 11. We are aware that for the last year students have had a very disrupted experience of school. Mrs Roberts, the Senior Leadership Team and Heads of Faculty have carefully considered how we move forward with options this year. It was not an easy decision and there are many points of merit in both delaying and continuing with options in Year 8. On balance we think that giving students three clear, full years of their new options subjects is wise and the best way forward. We have conceded that this year, unlike others, it is more likely that some students will want to swap and change their options during the year in Year 9 and we will support them if and when this arises.

We are delighted to confirm that although there have been national school closures our options process will be as full and supportive as ever, including a virtual options evening, taster sessions and options interviews. Your child will still receive the same level of support and guidance when it comes to making their choices, and we are always available to answer any questions you might have.

At Heartlands High School, we believe in the importance of teaching a broad and balanced curriculum. Our aim is to develop students who have both the academic skills and the personal attributes to succeed. In the lower school (Years 7 & 8), students study a core academic curriculum in Maths, English, Science, Humanities and Languages alongside foundation subjects, such as Art, Drama, Music, Design Technology, Food Technology and Computing. All students have two hours of Physical Education each week. Personal, Social, Health and Careers Education is taught through a series of SEARCH days (specialist curriculum days) throughout the year. These days are complemented by the teaching of Character and Citizenship through tutor time on a weekly basis. We enrich our curriculum by providing regular educational trips and a wide programme of after-school societies and activities.

During Year 8, students select their GCSE Options and embark on a three year programme of study in Year 9 which leads to public examinations in Year 11. By choosing options in Year 8, students are able to specialise in subjects they enjoy and excel in and crucially, have more time to develop the depth of knowledge needed to achieve in their GCSE examinations. The new GCSE qualifications are more challenging for students and the standards for a β€˜good pass’ are significantly higher. We have a responsibility to prepare students fully for the demands of these courses and to provide them with the time to master the skills and content. However, our curriculum remains broad and balanced in the Upper School, with the vast majority of students taking the English Baccalaureate suite of subjects. A small number of students follow a reduced number of courses to allow them to spend more time on English and Maths.

We have a pathways curriculum model from Year 9 onwards. We offer a pathways curriculum at Key Stage 4 which gives us the flexibility to offer a tailored package of subjects which suits each child’s needs and abilities. We use attainment and progress data to identify which pathway will ensure they have the best opportunity to succeed academically and will provide them with the widest range of educational and career opportunities when they leave Heartlands High School in Year 11.

Extended Pathway
The most able students in the school will follow the Extended Pathway which includes study of the English Baccalaureate (English, Maths, Science, History or Geography and a language) plus one chosen option. Students in this pathway will take Biology, Chemistry and Physics as separate subjects (worth 3 GCSEs). Students will also study Statistics and Citizenship at GCSE level, meaning they will be entered for 11 GCSEs.

Heartlands Pathway
Most students in the school will follow the Heartlands pathway. Students who are best suited to the Heartlands pathway study English, English Literature, Maths, Statistics, Citizenship and Combined Science, one Ebacc subject (from Geography, History, French, Spanish or Computing) plus two additional options. Students will study for 10 GCSE qualifications. The subject selection in this pathway will ensure students study the academic subjects which will best prepare them for A-Levels and hopefully university.

Bespoke Pathway
The Bespoke pathway is designed for students who require extra support in order to reach their full potential. Students following the Bespoke Pathway will study English Literature and Language (2 GCSEs), Maths and Combined Science (worth 2 GCSEs). Students will also take part in core PE, Statistics and Citizenship. Bespoke Pathway students will then take part in three of the following four courses; Entry Level History, Land, Horticulture and Catering.
These courses are specifically designed to be accessible and engaging for our learners who require extra support. Students on this pathway will be entered for 7 GCSEs and will complete 3 additional qualifications, vocational or entry level.

As this pathway suggests there is an element of tailoring this pathway to the individual needs of students. All students on the Bespoke Pathway will meet with our SENDCo to discuss their choices and any further adaptations to the course that they might require.

Please watch a short video presentation explaining the option process.


You can view the subject option videos made by the Heads of Subject here.

You can also read more about our different pathways in the Parent Leaflet and Options Booklets below.​​

Options Leaflet & Booklets


Parent Leaflet
View and download (pdf)

Year 9 Options Booklet
Extended Pathway

View and download (pdf)
Year 9 Options Booklet
Heartlands Pathway

View and download (pdf)
Year 9 Options Booklet
Bespoke Pathway

View and download (pdf)

Options Evening

Year 8 parents will be invited to a virtual Year 8 GCSE Options Evening on Tuesday 2nd March 2021. The purpose of this evening will be to give you the opportunity to speak to subject teachers regarding option choices, discuss ways to maximise achievement and to ask any questions you may have regarding GCSEs. The evening will enable you to speak to the Head of each subject, view all the opportunities each course provides and see how your child will be assessed.

Before Options Evening, please read the above option pathway booklets and watch the subject videos here.

After the Options Evening, the virtual option form will be sent to your child via email. An example of the Heartlands option form which must not be sent or delivered to the School can be found here.

Options Evening Powerpoint Presentation
View and download (pdf)

Support & what happens next

From Monday 25th January

  • The option pathway booklets and the Head of Subject video detailing each subject will be available to view and download from the schools website. Each video outlines:
    – The course structure (exam board, controlled assessments/exams, etc…)
    – Useful skills to have and skills the course will develop over the 3 years
    – Career opportunities
    – Extracurricular activities or trips
    – Support provided
  • One-to-one telephone careers interviews will commence
  • Your child will be invited to attend an online GCSE taster sessions on Monday 8th February that will showcase new subjects that have not been previously taught in Year 7 & 8

Tuesday 2nd March

  • A Virtual Options Evening will be held on Tuesday 2nd March. The purpose of this evening will be to give you the opportunity to ask any questions to the Head of subject about your possible future subjects.
  • Before Options Evening, please read the option pathway booklets and watch the subject videos on the HHS website.
  • After the Options Evening, the virtual option form will be sent to your child via email. This can only be submitted once, so it is important that you take your time when completing it. An example of the Heartlands option form, which must not be sent or delivered to the School can be found here.

Wednesday 24th March

  • The virtual option form deadline is Wednesday 24th March

Common Mistakes

  • Selecting subjects on the basis of what your friends have chosen
  • Missing the deadline – you run the risk of being assigned to subjects
  • Trying to change your pathway – Trust our judgement on this
  • Not involving your parents/carers in your decision making
  • Not looking ahead to the future, only thinking short term
  • Filling the form in wrong. Read the instructions carefully

Frequently Asked Questions

Where can I get my option form?
The option form will be sent via email after the virtual option evening on 2nd March.

How do I fill in my option form?
You will need to sign into your Heartlands account before you fill it in. Simply click on the form in the email, carefully complete it and then submit it.

What happens if we accidently submit the wrong options?
Please email me with the correct choices.

Can I do a fourth option?
Unfortunately students cannot do a 4th option, as there is no time within the timetable and we feel that GCSEs are very demanding.

Will my child get all of their choices?
97% of students were allocated their 1st – 3rd choices last year, so it is highly likely they will get all of their choices. Please be aware that some subjects have a maximum number of students due to the workspace (for example, only 20 students can study Food Technology).

Can my child change their options in Year 9?
In order to change their option choice they must get a written letter from you explaining that they would like to change from one subject to another. Your child must then get this signed by the Head of the Department of the subject they wish to leave or join. The majority of the time, there is no problem with moving, however if the subject they wish to join is at its maximum number in the class, or there is option block clashes, the move cannot happen.

Do I get my option choices if I send my form in early?
No, all of the option forms will be collated on 24th March.
If you however submit your form after 24th March you may not get your option choices.

How will I know whether my child will study triple Science?
Students on the extended pathway will study combined Science from September 2021. A decision by Science teachers and Head of Science will be made at Easter 2022 on which students will be selected to study Triple Science. This is approximately 50–60 students.

If you have any questions or queries relating to the Options process then please do not hesitate to email me on