Key Stage 4
What are they? These are subject based qualifications that focus on in-depth study of particular subjects.
How are they assessed? The assessment for GCSEs will mainly be done through exams at the end of 2 years of study with other assessments (such as practical activities) only for testing essential skills.
Grading: Grading scale for GCSE is 9 to 1 (9 being the top grade and U for performance below the minimum pass mark).
BTEC Firsts (Business and Technology Education Council)
What are they? BTECs are skills-based qualifications that balance theory with practical work. They provide study in a vocational area.
How are they assessed? They are mostly assessed by coursework rather than just exams.
Grading: Pass, Merit or Distinction
Subjects: There are a range of BTEC subjects available but the most popular subjects include Business, Sport, Performing Arts and Engineering.
GCSE equivalent: BTEC First (level 1-2) is equivalent to 4 GCSEs.
What are they? These provide practical skills in English, maths and ICT to help students to develop confidence and fluency in those subjects. The courses focus on real-life problem solving and applying the knowledge and skills to everyday situations.
How are they assessed? Assessment for functional skills are through exams.
Grading: Pass or Fail
Subjects: English, maths and ICT from Entry levels to Level 2.
GCSE equivalent: Functional skills are available from Entry level to Level 2 with the Level 2 being equivalent to one GCSE.