It is widely acknowledged amongst both researchers and practitioners, that the choices that young people make in school, both at 16 and at the end of Key Stage 3, can have a significant impact upon their future educational and occupational opportunities, choices and directions.

In order to better understand decision-making at Key Stage 3, in 2005 the DfES commissioned a brief literature review of pupil choices. The report reviews recent key studies in the UK on the ways in which young people, at age 14, choose their optional subjects or study pathways.


  • Introduction
  • Search strategy and methods
  • Recent trends in optional GCSEs
  • Structural dimensions of young people’s choice
  • Individual aspects of young people’s choice
  • Key messages and implications
  • Appendices