Blue Coat students also take a co-curricular ‘Futures’ pathway, which offers personal development and increased breadth to extend your study beyond your 3 chosen subjects and give you the edge when it comes to higher education and professional applications. This offer includes:
Option 1: Extended Project Qualification
The Level 3 Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) gives you an opportunity to show academic commitment to your chosen subject and also to explore a topic you enjoy for its own sake. The EPQ aids the development of many key skills such as independent learning, research and critical thinking which are valued by both employers and universities. Many universities encourage students to carry out EPQs because they are excellent preparation for study in higher education.
The University of Cambridge say that:
“The EPQ is a great opportunity for students to explore something about their favourite subject in depth, to foster their own passion for that subject and to practise the kind of independent study they would be expected to undertake at university. It can also be a topic for discussion during interviews, giving us the chance to have an academic discussion with your student about a topic they are familiar with and excited about.” (https://www.pet.cam.ac.uk/information-schools)
The project process is supported by teaching which addresses the skills you will need for your project, and gives you a chance to develop your own ideas.
“Doing the Extended Project gave me the necessary skills for researching topics and producing extended essays and dissertations. In addition, it has given me much more confidence when doing presentations and when I am involved in discussions groups and in tutorials. I have appreciated that points of view should be based upon evidence rather than unsubstantiated ideas. The skills given to me by the Extended Project are of great benefit to me given the nature of some of the modules in my degree. I am really pleased that I had the opportunity to practise these skills before I came to university.“ (Pearson)
Option 2: Core Maths
Level 3 Mathematical Studies (Core Maths) is designed for students who have achieved a grade 5 or above at GCSE. What you study is not purely theoretical or abstract; it can be applied on a day-to-day basis in work, study or life.
It is highly recommended that any student studying an A Levels such as Biology, Chemistry, Geography and Psychology, but who are not studying A Level Maths, study Core Maths, as it supports the increasing mathematical demand of these subjects.
Core Maths is designed to complement other A-Level qualifications such as the Sciences, Economics, Geography and Psychology. I feel that Core Maths highlights my mathematical capabilities within other subjects as there is often content crossover. For example, within Biology and Chemistry key components rooted in the Core Maths curriculum such as standard deviation, sampling, graphical analysis and correlation are frequently examined within the sciences.
This course also provides a clear answer to the question asked by every Mathematics student- “When will I use Maths in real life?” I personally believe that Core Maths should be mandatory for all 16–19-year-olds as aspects of the course for instance National insurance, Income Tax, Student loans, RPI, APR, AER and mortgages provide an insight into financial situations students will face in the future. I would recommend Core Maths for students who value a complementary course to assist with the quantitative Mathematical content in other subjects and the real-world application of Mathematics.
Option 3: A fourth subject of study
In a small number of cases some students may opt for a fourth subject at AS level as part of their Futures programme. This would most likely be to support a university application where an understanding of an additional field would be beneficial.
AS Subjects available to study as a fourth subject in Year 12:
- Further Mathematics
I chose a forth subject to study, specifically Further Maths. This subject is all about extending your maths knowledge by expanding on topics from Maths A level as well as exploring new topics. The course is split into Pure maths and Applied maths, which consists of Discrete and Statistics.
I chose Further Maths as I wanted that extra challenge of understanding and applying trickier maths. The subject is fascinating and introduces many new and interesting concepts. As someone very interested in a degree in Physics or Engineering, Further Maths is helpful as these subjects involve a great deal of maths, since our fundamental understanding of the universe itself comes down to maths. Doing further maths has truly helped me recognise the elegance that exists only in a subject like maths. It has opened my eyes to the vast range of forms maths can take, from game theory to the Poisson distribution to matrices.
I would recommend the subject to a person who greatly enjoys maths and is looking for a challenge. The subject is difficult and requires some hard work in order to properly grasp new concepts, but it presents a great opportunity to further develop mathematical reasoning and problem-solving skills.
AS subjects are important as you still get to learn a full year worth of content of a subject and gain a lot of extra knowledge. An AS subject can also help develop your skills in organisation and time management. I have found that my AS has given me the opportunity to discover more about what aspects of STEM I like most, and has helped me use my time more effectively. And, of course, the biggest reason for doing an AS is a desire to learn, and a love for the subject you’re taking!