GCSE support for school age children

At the end of key stage 3, your child will choose their GCSE subjects for key stage 4.

On average students can take up to 9 GCSE subjects including the 3 core subjects, which are English, maths and science.

GCSE options

Alongside the 3 core subjects, students can choose to study:

  • another language - French, German, Spanish, Mandarin or Russian
  • a humanities subject - history, geography or religious education
  • an art subject - art, drama, media studies, music
  • a technical subject - design and technology, food technology, ICT
  • or PE.

Once selected, your child will study these subjects in years 10 to 11, leading up to their GCSE exams in the summer of year 11. Schools may ask their students to choose their options in year 8 instead of year 9.

For information about what options are available to your child, you must contact the school or visit their website.

Alternatives to GCSEs

BTECs allow students to gain a qualification through skills-based learning. They can be taken alongside or instead of a GCSE at school or college, or through a training provider centre.

Find out more about BTECs.

Home education and GCSEs

Educating your child at home is a big commitment and there's a lot to think about. If you are considering teaching your child at home, read our home education guidance to help you make your decision.

To discuss educating your child at home email educationathome@kent.gov.uk.

Exams and assessments

Students often take their GCSE exams in the summer of year 11.

For some of the more practical subjects such as PE, art and music, students are assessed in a controlled environment or through coursework.

If your child needs additional support during their exam or assessment, their school will arrange this. It may include:

  • a screen reader
  • a word processor
  • braille question paper
  • extra time.

If students wish to progress into key stage 5 (sixth form or college), they will need to meet criteria set by the school or college.

Exam boards

Exam boards are responsible for setting and awarding GCSE qualifications. There are 3 boards in England:

Visit their websites to find out more about all of the courses available, or contact your education setting to find out which exam boards they use.


If your child needs support in choosing their GCSEs, they can speak to:

  • their school teacher
  • their school's careers advisor
  • CXK.