‘As a Catholic school, our mission is to show love through our respect for others.  We value our God-given gifts, talents and abilities. Our aim is to bring out the best in everyone, within a safe and happy environment.  Everyone should know that we are followers of God by what we do, not just by what we say.’

The Mission Statement of The Barlow expresses our intention to ensure that all pupils, regardless of their academic ability, are given the opportunity to fulfil their potential – not only academically but spiritually, morally, socially, emotionally and physically.  So that all pupils may: “have life and have it to the full”.  (John 10:10). It is important that the curriculum offered inspires; challenges and safeguards all of our students, and prepares them for life in modern Britain.


Students at The Barlow RC High School select their KS4 Options in Year 8. This allows students to secure and embed a deeper understanding of the knowledge acquired through the course.  Additionally, students have voiced their enjoyment at selecting their chosen subjects at an earlier age.  As a general guide, students are directed to select subjects which they enjoy, are good at and which will help them secure the kind of employment they are considering in the future.  Students are encouraged to discuss their option choices with parents and carers in addition to Faculty Leaders, who are best placed to give subject specific advice.

Options Timeline

Options Booklet 2020        Help with Option Choices

English Language
English Literature
Combined Science
Triple Science
Religious Studies
Art, Craft & Design
Business and Enterprise – Technical Award NCFE Level 1/2
Child Development
Computer Science
3D Design
Engineering Manufacture
Graphic Communication
Hospitality & Catering
Music BTEC
Music GCSE
Physical Education
Spanish GCSE

Qualification Types

GCSE – General Certificate of Secondary Education

The GCSE is the chief examination that will be taken by students in Years 10 and 11. With the 2015/16 examination reforms, there is an increasing emphasis on linear examinations which have now come into effect.  This means as your child begins his/her studies in Key Stage Four (Years 9-11), a greater percentage of his/her final grade, will be determined by the final examination.

We have undertaken a huge amount of planning for the new GCSE syllabuses and fully aware of the importance of preparing our students for these changes. We test students regularly to prepare them for the increasing demands of the new national success criteria as well as to help them develop examination resilience.

BTEC – Business and Technology Council

BTEC offer different and practical ways of working for the student. Courses are evidenced-based and the student’s success is not determined by a final examination but on the satisfactory completion of a number of units. These are specialist qualifications that focus on particular aspects of employment within a range of work areas. The quality of a student’s work and the extent to which it addresses the module requirements determines the grade awarded. Grades at Level 2 include: Pass, Merit and Distinction and Distinction*. Student’s work is internally assessed and externally verified by the examination board.

However, there is an increasing emphasis on externally set online tests with regards to the BTEC reforms, which are now in place.  This means as your child begins his/her studies in Key Stage Four (Year 9-11), a greater percentage of his/her final grade, will be determined by the external test performance as well as the completion of the set units.

OCR National

The OCR Nationals are attractive, practically-based qualifications intended to stimulate and interest candidates. They support achievement of Key Skills and relate to national occupational standards thereby providing an ideal progression to National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs) once individuals are in suitable employment.


ASDAN is an educational awarding organisation.  They provide flexible and engaging programmes and qualifications that help young people develop skills for learning, work and life.  ASDAN offers a range of nationally approved qualifications based around the development of personal, social and employability skills.

Entry Level Certificates (ELC)

Entry Level Certificates provide basic and relevant curriculum skills and are suitable for students of all ages.  It is pitched just below GCSE level, however, is teachable alongside GCSE and is a way of building the confidence of students in developing key skills.

Salford Diocesan Certificate in Religious Education

This offers students an opportunity to focus on religious and moral issues that are outlined in the Religious Education Curriculum Directory and prepares students to respond to religious and moral issues of everyday life.  There is no terminal examination, instead it is assessed through tasks that are assessed internally and externally moderated.  Successful participants are presented with their certificate by the Right Reverend Bishop John Arnold.

The English Baccalaureate

The Government believes that schools should offer a broad range of academic subjects that will promote achievement of a broad academic core and have introduced a new award called the  English Baccalaureate. Any pupil who secures 9-5 GCSE passes in English Language, Mathematics, two Sciences, a Modern Foreign Language and a Humanity subject (History or Geography) will receive this additional certificate recording their achievement.  The government has set a target for 75% of Year 10 pupils to study GCSEs, in the EBacc combination of subjects, by 2022.  Whilst we remain aspirational for all our pupils, and recognise it is important for pupils to have access to study these subjects, our driving factor in determining the curriculum our pupils follow is what best meets their needs.



Academic YearAttendance at Options Evening% pupils receiving their preferred choices for options