Year 9-11 Structure

Years 9-11 Structure




The Curriculum Structure

Island Futures provides a rounded education with a compulsory core, complemented by a wide range of student choice in subjects and courses. These choices are made after discussion and guidance with House staff and teachers, and through consultation with parents. Students are advised of the impact that any choice may have on their future at school and beyond.

A guide to the Island Future curriculum

Island Futures is divided into four areas:

These courses comprise the bulk of the programme. Maths, English and World Literature are compulsory. Other subjects are chosen from the Arts, Humanities, Sciences and Technologies. They prepare students for GCSE or IGCSE certification.

Elements courses provide the opportunity for students to find their passion. There are over 50 courses to choose from covering a wide range of areas such as Architecture, Marine Biology, Law and Acting. Students take 10 courses over three years and these courses are internally assessed.

This compulsory course leads to the IGCSE in Global Perspectives and the IE Award in ICT. Students work in research groups to study areas such as World Conflict, Health, Poverty and Education. Leadership and collaboration skills are developed during the three years as the research groups contain students from Years 9, 10 and 11.

Island Futures Curriculum

  • develops students’ skills and knowledge and prepares them for the challenges within the IB Diploma and Careers Programme,
  • helps students to be confident, independent learners, collaborators and critical thinkers,
  • gives students new experiences and opportunities to discover their passions,
  • allows students to specialise in their areas of interest,
  • gives students the opportunity to serve others and develop compassion,
  • prepares students for life beyond school,
  • makes education engaging, inspiring and fun.

Overview:The accredited curriculum in Years 10-11 prepares students for iGCSE examinations in a range of subjects. Alongside the experience, skills and interests students pursue through the Futures Curriculum, students are well-prepared to engage with the pathways available to them in Years 12-13 and beyond.

In keeping with our aim of maintaining future pathways of study, all Island School students take the following core iGCSE subjects, which are explained below in the linked videos:

Students will select a further two optional iGCSE courses, from the list below. Further details of these courses are outlined within the subject videos on the Options tab.

  • Business Studies
  • Computer Science 
  • Drama 
  • Design Technology 
  • Economics 
  • Fine Art
  • Food Preparation and Nutrition 
  • Geography 
  • History 
  • Music 
  • Religious Studies

Students also continue to participate in Physical and Health Education, which is not externally examined. 

All Island School students study English Language in Year 10 and take the examinations for this subject in May of Year 10. All other subjects are two year courses, with the examinations taking place in May and June of Year 11. In some subjects, students will have completed assessed coursework in advance of this date, which counts towards their final grade. 


Video of Options Presentation to Parents, 27th October 2022

Year 9 Students are asked to submit their preferred two option subjects, as well as back-up options, by Friday 18th November, 2022. These option choices will be used to create the timetable. Students are able to request changes after this date, though we may not be able to accommodate these changes as the timetable will have been created based on choices.

The form for these preferences will be emailed to Year 9 students on Friday 28th October.

We will be in touch with students and parents later in the year, around March 2023, to confirm the subject blocking and students’ final choices around their two option subjects.

To support the decision making process on these two subjects, we have created the subject videos below:

Students will have structured time to review these videos during Thrive lessons and be encouraged to discuss these options with their Tutors, parents and the subject teachers and leaders of these courses.

If you have any questions and would like to discuss these with a member of staff, please see our Further Information Tab, which includes answers to frequently asked questions as well as the contact information for specific areas of the curriculum.

Further Information 

Please see our frequently asked questions (FAQ) document, which addresses a number of topics raised by students and parents.

If you cannot find what you are looking for within the FAQs, please see our contact information below.

Area or Subject Member of staff Email address
General questions about options process and iGCSEs Mark Jobling

Head of Middle Phase

Robin Williams

Deputy Head of Middle Phase 

Elements Courses and the Futures Curriculum Ross Burrough

Deputy Head of Curriculum 
A Language Other than English Martyn Najman

Head of Languages 
Business Studies  Anny Kim

Deputy Head of I&S 
Computer Science  Kevin Lester

Teacher of Computer Science 
Drama Paul McCracken

Head of Arts 
Design Technology  Steve McGill

Deputy Head of Design 
Double Science Andy Skitt

Deputy Head of Sciences 
Economics Anny Kim

Deputy Head of I&S 
English Language & Literature Teri Eves

Deputy Head of English 
Food Preparation and Nutrition Chris Lord

Teacher of Food P&N 
Geography Howard Davis

Deputy Head of I&S 
Global Perspectives.  Ross Burrough

Deputy Head of Curriculum
History Howard Davis

Deputy Head of I&S 
Mathematics Pat Stafford

Deputy Head of Mathematics 
Music Joe Travers

Deputy Head of Arts 
Religious Studies Howard Davis

Deputy Head of I&S 
Visual Art  Stephanie Cantwell

Deputy Head of Arts 

Elements courses are unique to Island School. Designed by teachers around their particular passions and fields of expertise, the Elements courses aim to ignite in students a passion and motivation to learn.

Year 9 Elements Prospectus
Year 10 – 11 Elements Prospectus

The wide range of courses, taught in longer time slots, allow students to learn more deeply and often in a collaborative way. They go well beyond the standard examination syllabus. The key focus of these courses is not on learning content, but rather developing core competencies (or skills) vital for the real world. They challenge, provoke, stimulate, and celebrate learning. This we recognise as a process of deep learning and will involve the acquisition of  global competencies: character, citizenship, communication, collaboration and critical thinking.

Elements courses are available to students in Years 9, 10 and 11. Students can choose from a wide variety of these courses and engage in these over the three years. Students can either choose options that allow them to dig deeper into areas that already interest them or sample a range of topics to discover their passions.

How long is an Elements course?
In Year 9, students will have one block of Elements a week: most of the courses run for half a year, and so they can pick two courses in the year. In Years 10 and 11, students will have two elements blocks, leading to 4 courses every year.

What are they?
Elements courses come from teachers themselves. Each one has been proposed by a teacher wanting to share their interest in something they really love. Each course will have aspects where students can make choices about the course direction. They will be encouraged and allowed to follow their interest within the scope of the course. Many courses will have a real-world impact and will involve students leaving the campus to experience and to learn. Students often engage with professionals from outside Island School to discover what each area of discipline entails in the really world.

How will students be assessed?
Students will not be assessed by their level of knowledge, but rather by their growth in the core competencies (skills). Through a continual process of reflection and goal setting, students will recognise their development in the competencies and will be able to clearly express these formally and informally.

Organized in more extended blocks of time, the Explorations course will develop students’ understanding of world issues and their capacity to be self-aware, to think critically and to serve others. This will be fostered through themed units focused on global perspectives but also relevant to the students’ lives, including personal and social education and the safe and effective use of technologies.

Explorations is a course that students will take throughout Years 9, 10 and 11.

What will students learn in Explorations?

Global Perspectives

Several of the units that students study over the three years are be drawn from the content of the Cambridge Global Perspectives IGCSE course. They are split into three parts:

  1. Students are required to complete two individual research reports on a question that they have chosen. These two pieces are worth 40% combined.
  2. Students complete a group project where they have to research, plan, deliver and review a project. It is different to the individual piece in that it requires the students to have to actually do something about an issue. The examined work is focused on how the students collaborate, plan and review their work. This is worth 30% of the qualification.
  3. The final part of the course is an exam that involves students being presented with stimuli before answering questions based around it. This is a skills based assessment and although we will spend time preparing for it, there is no content to revise. This is completed in May and is also worth 30%.

All of the topics for these pieces are based around events that are happening within the world and include areas such as poverty, health, sport and recreation or climate change, there are 20 topics in total.

Over the entire Explorations program students will complete a combination of the group and individual tasks allowing them to produce a variety of outcomes. From these completed tasks, students will be able to choose which pieces they wish to submit in Year 11 for their final assessment.

Should you require more information about the course then please find the Cambridge syllabus here:


Part of the aim of the Global Perspectives IGCSE requires action on the issues being studied. This fits in perfectly with the demands of the Creativity Action Service (CAS) element of the IB Diploma. As a result, some of the work done in the Explorations units will lead to action that cultivates these skills and prepares the students for this mandatory part of the IB Diploma.

Digital Literacy

Students will be required to learn a variety of ICT skills throughout the course and demonstrate these in their responses to the questions posed in the various Explorations units. There will be opportunities for them to learn the various skills and the emphasis is for students to choose the appropriate ones to demonstrate for their response to each issue. If students can show adequate use of a wide enough variety of skills they will be eligible for the IE Award, which is a Diploma in Applied ICT accredited by ASDAN in the UK.

Critical Thinking

Analysing claims of knowledge is at the heart of the IB Theory of Knowledge course. Students will develop skills to help them tell knowledge from opinion and propaganda. They will question the basis of claims of truth from a wide variety of areas. These will include the sciences, politics and advertising. They will compare and contrast academic papers, newspaper articles and web sites. One of the key questions we all face is which sources of knowledge are reliable and why?

How will students learn in Explorations?

There are several aspects to this course that makes it different from others. The key skills that we will focus on will be in the areas of research, analysis and presentation of results. Students work in groups on broad areas of the curriculum, defining their research questions, and planning the way in which they will be addressed. They use a wide variety of materials made available to them, and research others. They then need to decide which is the best way to present the results of their research. This may be an academic paper, a delivered presentation, a web site, a film, a collection of newspaper articles or one of any number of alternatives.

The teacher will be there to guide and support them through the decision making processes, and to make sure they keep an eye on the various requirements of Global Perspectives IGCSE. The students will also learn from each other as the groups are set up for younger students to learn from the older ones as the older ones take on more responsibility and leadership.