KS3 & KS4 - allocation and setting arrangements

In Y 7 & 8, the settings are as follows:

  • Key Stage 2 levels are used to initially decide Mathematics and English sets from September of year 7.
  • Students can move groups if they need more support or extension. Students are in the same set for Science and Mathematics due to the numeracy required in Science.
  • Students are placed in the same sets for: English, History, Philosophy and Belief and Geography. These sets are determined primarily by their level of literacy.
  • Students are in the same set for Languages, PSHE, Art, IT and Music, with the language studied determining the group.
  • Design Technology is mixed ability and operates a carousel to ensure all aspects of Technology are experienced by each student throughout the year, students will be in the same technology groups for PE

In Y9, the settings are as follows:

  • Students are in the same set for Science and Mathematics
  • Students are placed in the same sets for: English, Art, Drama, Games, History, Philosophy and Belief, IT, Geography and Music
  • Students are in the same set for Languages, PSHE and Design Technology, with the language studied determining the group

In Key Stage 4:

  • Students spend time preparing to choose their options early in year 9 with options evening in January. Students are given guidance on which pathway would be best for their future based on interviewing each student. Further details of these subjects and the options process can be found under options on the website
  • In year 10 & 11, ALL students study English, Maths, Science, Philosophy and Belief, IT, Games, PSHE (including Citizenship, Careers & Guidance and SRE)
  • In year 10 & 11, students can opt to study a maximum of 4 of the following; Art, BTEC Business, Catering, Dance, Drama, French, Geography, Graphics, History, BTEC Creative Media Production, Music, PE, Resistant Materials, Spanish and Textiles.
  • As a small school we are able to offer a wide variety of option choices by working in partnership with Norton Hill School. Some Key Stage 4 courses are offered across the federation with courses on both sites.

Changes coming up to grading systems at KS4

Over the next years, the Department for Education is introducing changes to the grading of exams at KS4. They are swapping the A* - G at GCSE, and the Distinction*- Pass in BTECs, with a number from 1 to 9. Students sitting their Maths and English exams in 2017 will be graded from 1-9, other subjects will be graded from 1-9 for those sitting exams from 2018 onwards. As more details emerge, we will keep you informed.

Progress 8: The new school measure
The new measure that the Department for Education will use to judge the success of schools is called the Progress 8. This will replace the present measure which looks at how many students get a C or above. Instead, the Progress 8 will track how much progress students make from KS2 to their results at the end of Y11.This will not affect how the students are taught or which topics they cover in their exams. However, it will mean that schools will need to ensure that all students are making progress, rather than just focus on those at the D/C border line. At Somervale School we have always looked at the ‘value added’ to each student, rather than whether they have just achieved a C. We are pleased to welcome a government measure that allows us to continue with this best practice, and focus on the needs of each student, not just those of certain ability.

The Progress 8 will be used to report results in 2016.

The EBACC: Valuing the academic, and encouraging the vocational
Since the introduction of the English baccalaureate in 2010, there has been an increased focus on ‘facilitating’ subjects such as History, Geography, Modern Foreign Languages and computing, as well as the Core subjects of English, Maths and Science. These are seen as ‘facilitating’ as they are recognised by colleges, universities and employers as robust courses which help reflect the ability of the student. Students who take a range of these courses have a wider range of colleges and universities who are interested in offering them places.At Somervale School, academic qualifications have always been highly valued, alongside subjects which prepare students for vocational courses and careers. The EBACC and the Progress 8 now encourage all schools to offer a curriculum similar to the one we have successfully offered over the past decade.

KS4 & Options

Guided Choices at KS4 for Year 9 into Year 10

In order to access our OPTIONS WEBSITE (see link below, parents and students will need to login with a Midsomer Norton Partnership email account. This can be your child's Somervale School email address / login.

Options Website

Students in Y9 start to consider their future GCSE choices for Y10 in both tutor time and PSHE from September.

In December, students and their parents / carers receive access to online Guided Choices information, via the website above, which provides comprehensive detail on all the courses available, whether core subjects, or ones they can opt for.

Unfortunately, the Guided Choices evening on Thursday 6th January will now be cancelled. Instead, all the presentations usually given will be included in the website as videos, along with detailed explanations about each subject.

An ONLINE GOOGLE OPTION FORM will be released at the start of January, and emailed to all students.

On Thursday 20th January, there will be a VIRTUAL PARENTS’ EVENING, giving you the opportunity to find out in more detail about the progress made by your child from their teachers. You will also have received a report on student progress by this time.

The deadline for completing the Google Options Form for Guided Choices is Monday 24th January.


We have developed the options process into three clear pathways. These pathways are part of a careers programme that engage students in considering future education and careers, based on their present attainment and future aspirations. The pathways are a guide, and students often request to move between them as part of the decision making process. They also allow students to access appropriate subjects, and provide recommendations on which may best suit students aspirations and present attainment across the curriculum.

All students continue with the CORE subjects of English Language, English Literature, Science, Maths, as well as non examined subjects of Games and Ethics (a P&B, and PSHE programme of study).

Pathway 1
The first pathway caters for students where careful choices of subjects will mean they are best supported:

  • They do not study French, but have a choice of 3 subjects that suit them better.
  • They still choose one subject from History or Geography.
  • Students are recommended not to choose subjects taken at Norton Hill school, as we will be less able to support them pastorally or academically.

Pathway 2
This pathway caters for students who may decide to take the challenge of a modern Foreign Language, or continue with a wider range of subjects:
Students choose between Geography, History

  • Students can opt to take a Modern Foreign Language (French or Spanish or both)
  • If they decide to take a Language, they will have a range of choices like Pathway 3.
  • Students may consider a subject run at Norton Hill school
  • Students have 3 further choices - which may include a further Humanities subject

Pathway 3
This pathway caters for students who have already attained highly in a broad range of academic subjects. Taking Languages and a Humanities will place them with the top students nationally, in terms of achievement in more academic subjects.

Students have access to all subjects, although they are encouraged to consider taking a wider range of academic subjects such as both Humanities.

  • Students automatically take a Modern Foreign Language (French or Spanish or both)
  • Students choose between Geography and History
  • Students may consider a subject run at Norton Hill school
  • Students have 2 further choices