Success Tips
for KS3 –Y9, Y8 & Y7

  1. Making a good start at the beginning of KS3 is important, as it helps to lay a solid foundation for later years of secondary school. Since the government abolished KS3 SATS a while ago, the focus is now on GCSE right from the start of secondary school. This has made some schools a little complacent and not so demanding of students at this stage, as the first external examination is not until GCSE. Sadly, many students fall behind and it is too late to catch up.


  1. Although the official position is that GCSEs start fully in Year 10 and finish in Year 11, the reality is that all high performing schools start GCSE much earlier, in Year 9 and in some cases in Year 8 or even Year 7.


  1. As early as the start of KS3, teachers begin to use their observations in the class and assessment results to make up their mind about the academic potential of a child and how they are likely to perform at GCSE. Many able young people are labelled as academically weak at KS3 and are put in a lower set, where they will likely remain as they go into KS4 (GCSE years).


  1. There are two tiers of entry for GCSE examinations. If a student is entered to do the Foundation Tier at GCSE the maximum the student can achieve is a Grade C (grade 5 under the new number system). It is more difficult to achieve Grade 5 with the Foundation Tier than with the Higher Tier.


  1. It is usually too late to move a student from the Foundation to Higher Tier groups by the time they get to Year 10.


  1. Since the government introduced the EBacc (English Baccalaureate), which is more demanding, it has become the yardstick by top institutions for measuring success at the end of secondary education. This is a departure from what used to be, which was achieving five grades, A* to C, at GCSE (grades 5 to 9) in any set of subjects. The EBacc requires a student to achieve a Grade 5 or higher in English, Maths, two Sciences, either History or Geography and one modern or ancient language at GCSE level. It is important that your child does well in all these subjects, so begin to ask questions during KS3 about the chances of your child being entered for EBacc subjects when he or she gets to KS4. Do not leave it too late.


  1. Entering a student for GCSE Foundation Tier, or BTEC (a vocational course/qualification) will limit his or her options for A-level and may prevent them from having a good chance of securing admission to a top university. If a vocational course is the best option for your child and they have been put into a set to do BTEC, then that’s fine, but make sure it is the best he or she can do!


  1. The new number grading system is designed to make some GCSE subjects a lot more challenging, so make sure your child ends KS3 with a solid foundation for GCSE.


Watch out

Many parents contact us every year to express their disappointment that their son and daughter has been put into the Foundation Tier of GCSE or entered for a BTec course and they feel that their child is capable of more.  As we have discovered, most parents are right and, in many cases, we are able to help, but, sadly, in some cases, it is too late…. Start asking questions early and don’t leave things too late!


Be demanding but at the same time encourage your son or daughter to celebrate their successes – including little progress made. Be mindful of their strengths and weaknesses and show them you are proud of whatever they achieve; as long as they have tried hard. Excel in Key Subjects offers helpful and impartial advice on matters relating to secondary education, achieving exam success and gaining admission to university. We offer free face-to-face or telephone consultation on all areas of primary and secondary education, including advice on sixth form study. More information is available to assist parents while making key decisions about their children’s education.

Good teachers are expensive but bad teachers cost you your child more

There are links below from where you can download mp3s or watch the video version  of KS3 Success Tips

mp3 download of KS3 Success Tips:

video of KS3 Success Tips:


Some of the websites we recommend for research into examination league tables and EBacc are: