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St Thomas Aquinas

Year 6 Transition

Vocational Studies

About the faculty

The faculty of Vocational Studies is situated on the 2nd floor of the Newman block.

There are 6 specialist classrooms equipped with all of the necessary equipment and software needed to enable students to become competent in their chosen area of study.

Business at Key Stage 4

For our current year 8 students choosing their options, there are two courses available within Business at KS4. Students can choose to study either the BTEC Tech Award in Enterprise or the OCR GCSE in Business.

BTEC Tech Award in Enterprise is a course designed to develop the entrepreneurs of the future through a vocational context. The students will study the knowledge, behaviours and skills related to researching, planning, pitching and reviewing an enterprise idea as part of their Key Stage 4 learning. Within this course students will examine two different local enterprises and their purpose. This will provide the students with the knowledge to begin to create and operate their own enterprise using a range of skills such as market research skills, planning, promotional and financial skills. There is one examined unit and two coursework units in the BTEC Tech Award.

OCR GCSE Business is a course that will allow students to develop a range of skills and understanding of current business issues and developments in different industries that are shaping our economy. The course is designed to actively engage students in the skills required within different businesses. To create confident decision makers; critical and reflective thinkers with enquiring minds. Students will study a multitude of topics such as marketing, business ownership & activity and internal and external influences on a business. Examples of the materials used and topics studies can be found on the exam board website.


Business at Key Stage 5

Business at KS5 has a number of different options available to students. There are two courses available; A-Level Business and Cambridge Technical Level 3 in Business. To study A-Level Business students must have completed the course at KS4. For the other course there is no need to have studied the courses previously.

AQA A-Level Business is a course in which students will develop the knowledge and skills needed to analyse data, think critically about issues and make informed decisions – all skills that are needed for further study and employment. It is also designed to engage students through topics and issues that are relevant in today’s society – they will study key contemporary developments such as digital technology and business ethics, and globalisation using a range of business models and theorists view to examine these in depth. The A Level looks at a number of key functional areas within a business such as; Managers, leadership and decisions making, Marketing, Operational Performance, Financial Performance and Human Resources. The course assessment is linear examinations which are completed at the end of Year 13.

The Cambridge Technical Level 3 Extended Certificate in Business allows students the opportunity to develop the core specialist knowledge, skills and understanding required in the business sector. It has been developed to meet the changing needs of the sector, and will enable us to prepare students for the challenges they’ll face in Higher Education or employment. Students study 5 units in total; two are externally assessed through examinations and three are internally assessed coursework units. Topics covered include; the business environment, working in business and customers and communication; within these topics students will research current, real businesses and how they operate to give them a true perspective and engage them further in the activities of the workplace.

Should you require any more information then please do not hesitate to contact Mrs Eden, Head of Vocational Studies Faculty - edens@stacs.bham.sch.uk

Alternatively, if you require any additional support with learning material then please see the following sites;


Computing at Key Stage 3:

At KS3, students have the opportunity to study Computing an hour every week. We offer a mix curriculum throughout the academic year. The curriculum or program of teaching is made up of 2 topics on Computer Science and 2 topics of IT (Information Technology) for year 7 and year 8. The idea of a mix curriculum will give learner a feel of both the IT route and the Computing route at KS4 so that they can take up the best option in year 9. The students will use a range of applications to covers Project Life Cycle, Computing Programming, PC Basics, Data Management, Systems Architecture, Web Prototyping and some basic Office software. At KS3 Computing, there are 4 assessment points throughout the academic year. Students are required to actively use their knowledge organisers to facilitate their learning both in school and at home. Rather than plan for now we want our students to be the computer users of the future, they will be able to build computers and the programs rather than just use them.
Some useful website for KS3 Computing:


Key Stage 4 Computing:

We are currently following the OCR Computer Science course which is graded GCSE 9-1.  The course consists of two exams in the summer of year 11 and a NEA (Non examined assessment).  The course is challenging and interesting for learners who will study Computer Systems, Computational thinking, algorithms and programming.


KS4 BTEC Tech Award in Health & Social Care

The BTEC Tech Award in Health & Social Care consists of three components, two are course work units worth 30% each and the final one is an externally assessed exam.  Students will learn about Human Lifespan Development, Care Values, Services in Health & Social Care and finally Health and Wellbeing which is the external assessed exam. 


KS5 BTEC Health & Social Care

The BTEC qualifications in this specification are QCF level 3 qualifications designed to provide highly specialist, work-related qualifications in a range of vocational sectors.

We offer the following qualifications at Key Stage 5

  • BTEC Level 2 Health & Social Care and Workskills
  • Pearson BTEC Level 3 Subsidiary Diploma in Health and Social Care is Equivalent in size to one A Level.   
  • Pearson BTEC Level 3 Diploma in Health and Social Care is Equivalent in size to two A Levels.  
  • Pearson BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma in Health and Social Care is Equivalent in size to three A Level’s.  

There are a variety of mandatory and optional units, which are internally assessed and subject to External Verification. Apart from the one A level option, all other courses require students to attend placement in the Health & Social Care Setting.
All qualifications at level 3 carry UCAS points.


Key Stage 4 IT:

Students in year 9, 10, 11 will follow the KS4 curriculum set by the exam board. At KS4, students will follow the  Pearson BTEC Level 1/Level 2 Tech Award in Digital Information Technology.  

What does the qualification cover? 

In this qualification, you will develop important technical skills in data interpretation, data presentation and data protection. You will cover aspects of user interface (UI) design and development, and learn how to develop a project plan for your own UI designs. Cybercrime is an increasing threat – understanding the different types of threats and how to mitigate against them is vital to any business that uses and retains sensitive data. You will develop an understanding of what cyber security is and the importance of legal and ethical considerations when using modern technologies. Organisations often implement technological improvements by rolling out change projects, so understanding how projects are structured is of vital importance. This qualification will enable you to use project-planning tools, models and techniques within a digital context. Digital projects today often involve working with diverse teams across different locations. You will develop an understanding of what a virtual work environment is and how cloud technologies allow remote teams to work together more effectively.

How will you be assessed? 

The qualification has three components. In Components 1 and 2 you will carry out tasks or  assignments that your teacher will mark. The internal grading and quality assurance of these two components will give you a clear idea of how well you are progressing in your qualification. Component 3 is externally assessed by Pearson and assesses the knowledge and skills you have developed across all three components. The external assessment will test your ability to recall the knowledge you have gained and allow you to demonstrate that you can apply that knowledge in realistic scenarios and situations. 

Useful Websites


Key Stage 5 IT:

At KS5, students will follow the OCR Cambridge Technical level 3 in Information Technology (IT). Studying this qualification will prepare students  for employment in the IT sector and it will support those who want to progress into IT related apprenticeships. Students who successfully complete this qualification will gain a level 3 qualification that will prepare them for further studies or Further Education (FE) or to progress to Higher Education (HE) in IT. Students  must achieve a total of 5 units consisting of 2 mandatory examined units and 3 further units. The units are graded as Pass, Merit and Distinction. Students  can have a resist opportunity on examined units.
Some useful website for KS5 IT:


BTEC Level 3 Travel and Tourism

The Edexcel Level 3 BTEC Travel and Tourism is a course which allows students to develop their understanding of the current global events that are impacting tourism and businesses within the travel and tourism industry. It develops their understanding of different cultural, religious, age and disability requirement and needs when using facilities within this sector. The course is also designed to develop the student’s skills to enable them to become more employable in the future. This includes becoming creative and reflective thinkers, self-assertiveness, team working and also self-management.