key stage 4 overview

On entering Years 10 and 11 pupils join the Upper School and what is known nationally as Key Stage 4 (KS4). We aim to build on the knowledge and understanding the pupils have developed over the first 3 years at St Joseph’s.

What makes us different?
There are numerous features of our school that make this stage of a pupils education stand out at St Joseph’s Catholic School:


At this point the pupils have undertaken the personalised curriculum (options) process and focus on the key subjects they have chosen to take at GCSE level.

  • English Language
  • English Literature
  • Mathematics
  • Religious Education
  • Combined Science
  • Physical Education (Core) (Non examined subject)
  • Personal Social, Health & Education (PSHE) (Non examined subject)

Pupils then choose up to three further courses to study. Recently, choices have included:

  • Art
  • BTEC Creative Media Production
  • Computing
  • Dance
  • Drama
  • Food Preparation & Nutrition
  • French
  • Geography
  • History
  • Music
  • NCFE Health & Fitness
  • PE (GCSE)
  • Product Design
  • Sociology
  • Spanish
  • Triple Science

We use the national examining bodies for our subjects including AQA, OCR, WJEC and Edexcel. Some of these courses include modular work and may have milestone examinations through the 2 years. Controlled Assessment, coursework and examination results account for differing percentages of the overall GCSE or Btec, depending on the subject.

Challenging targets and intensive tracking:

Pupils are set challenging targets in relation to their academic starting points upon entry at our school. These are tracked regularly and thoroughly throughout this key stage. The purpose of this is to identify underperformance quickly and implement suitable intervention rapidly to ensure progress. As a result, St Joseph’s has consistently met and exceeded challenging targets for Key Stage 4 academic performance when measured against national benchmarks.


Visitors to our school, including our most recent Ofsted inspectors, regularly comment on the outstanding behaviour of our pupils. This is achieved through mutual respect being a key element throughout our school community and maintained by setting high expectations of all pupils.

Small classes:

As a small school, once pupils reach KS4 they benefit from smaller classes with staff being able to provide vital feedback upon learning.

Leadership opportunities:

These are a common feature with pupils having the opportunity to represent their school, house, form, pupil parliament or sport in this Key Stage.

Flexibility of the curriculum:

We are a school that adapts to what is best for the pupils. Where appropriate we aim to be as flexible as possible when it comes to curriculum provision. Each year the curriculum is discussed and amended as appropriate in the best interests of the relevant year group. If we are unable to provide a subject area that a group of pupils are interested in, we have, in the past, teamed up with neighbouring schools to create provision for our pupils.

One-to-one tuition and small group intervention:

This has played a significant role in the successful outcomes of our pupils and is a key feature of life at St Joseph’s enabling pupils to meet and exceed the challenging targets they are set.

Career Mark:

Alongside academic work, pupils are provided with Career guidance that has led to us being one of the few schools to be awarded the Career Mark Award.

Personalised Curriculum:

Yearly, we hold an options open evening. Pupils and their parents/guardians are invited to visit all the subject areas available for study in KS4. This allows pupils and their parents/guardians to speak with teaching staff and older pupils that already take these subjects. Following this evening each pupil is invited, along with their parents/guardians, to attend a meeting with a Senior Leader to discuss and choose which subjects they want to pursue in KS4. In inspections this process has been classed as thorough and exemplary.