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Higham Lane School

Higham Lane School

Types of Qualifications & E Baccalaureate Explained

Types of qualifications

There are two main types of qualification which you may find yourself studying in Year 9, 10 and 11; GCSEs and vocational qualifications.

GCSE stands for General Certificate in Secondary Education. It is a nationally-recognised qualification. GCSEs are graded using the 9-1 grading system (with 9 being the highest grade and grade 5 described as a “strong pass” and grade 4 described as a ’standard pass’ by the Department for Education). Most GCSEs are assessed only through written examination papers although some, mainly the practical subjects, do include some coursework (known as controlled assessment). Some subjects, such as Mathematics, enter candidates at different tiers based on students’ ability, with only certain grades being available for each tier. Other subjects only have one tier, and all grades are then available. The different arrangements for the different subjects are explained on that particular subject’s information page.

Vocational courses aim to help you learn about a specific industry or area of work. They are assessed through a combination of coursework and written examinations. We are offering vocational courses in Business and Enterprise, Health and Social Care, Creative iMedia (ICT), Engineering and Sport. Most students will be entered for the Level 2 qualification (equivalent to 1 GCSE at grades 9-4) although some may be entered for the Level 1 qualification (equivalent to 1 GCSE at grades 3-1). Please note that you are not allowed to study more than 2 vocational qualifications in Years 9, 10 and 11.


The English Baccalaureate (EBacc)

The English Baccalaureate (EBacc) is not a qualification in its own right, rather a collection of GCSE qualifications which together are called the English Baccalaureate. To achieve the EBacc you need to obtain GCSE grades 9-4 in:-

  • English Language
  • Maths
  • two Sciences (which can include Computer Science)
  • a Modern Foreign Language
  • a Humanity (History or Geography).

All students must choose a Modern Foreign Language (French or German) or a Humanity (History or Geography) as one of their option choices. To achieve the English Baccalaureate, you need to study both a language and a humanity as two of your option choices. We strongly recommend that you do this as we believe that it offers a broad, balanced curriculum. Many employers are also looking for applicants who can speak a language and who have had a broad education which the EBacc offers.