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Schools Sixth Form Grown-up


The sixth form opens up a wealth of opportunities to pupils: the chance to try boarding in preparation for university life, study a bespoke course or to simply expand their vision of the world. By Patricia Carswell


he road to GCSEs is a long and often wearisome one; reams of coursework and endless rote


can’t give that same reach.” At UWC Atlantic College in


learning can leave pupils longing for something new and exciting. Some students consider moving to sixth form college, or at least to another school for sixth form, and although most stay where they are, a signifi cant minority do decide to make the change. Moving schools can be a major


south Wales – an international, independent school for 16 to 18 year- olds – students are drawn from all over the world, and from all socio- economic groups. Eighteen year-old Rosario Freire,


upheaval though, so what is the lure of switching at this stage? For some, the chance to move


into, or away, from boarding is the principal motivation. Robert Taylor, registrar at Harrow School, explains: “One of the major reasons would


be to experience boarding prior to going on to university. Often boys will be coming from a smaller school with perhaps limited opportunities, at a stage in their life when they feel ready to cope with it. I think they get a lot out of those two years.” Boarding can expose pupils to a


more sophisticated, international world than any they have previously experienced. This is the motivation for many new sixth formers at Roedean, says Director of Admissions, Zoë Marlow. “Roedean has had international


girls for some time and we’re very proud of them. The goal of the school is to have women that are as comfortable living or working here in the UK as they are in Dubai or Australia. Some provincial schools


24 FirstEleven Autumn 2011


joined UWC Atlantic College from Chile. “My main reasons [for coming to the college] were the opportunity to experience something completely diff erent, to share my culture and to expand my vision of the world.” Acting Principal Paul Motte


adds that for its British students, the International Baccalaureate taught there is a factor. “It is an attraction, particularly for those with aspirations to go to university


school T


outside the UK,” he says. Boarding isn’t for everyone,


though, and at DLD College – an independent sixth form college in London – it can be the thought of escaping from boarding that attracts some of its students. According to Principal David Lowe, “We have


Important questions to consider What do you want to get out of


sixth form? ● First off , is your priority good A level results and being able to get into the university of your choice? ● Are you looking for broader experiences, e.g. mixing with international students/community activities/work experience? ● How important are extra-curricular activities such as music and sport? ● Are you keen to take responsibility for younger students?


How self-motivated are you? ● Are you organised and good at


structuring your study time? ● Do you get your GCSE coursework done on time and without help or do you rely on teachers/parents/or other students? ● How would you cope in a less- structured environment where you were left to your own devices?


Are there aspects of your current school with which you are currently


less than happy with? ● If so, can they be solved by discussion /negotiation/the diff erent regime of sixth form at your present school? ● What do current sixth formers in your school have to say about these issues? ● Are you sure that these issues would be any diff erent in a new school or sixth form college?


What have you achieved at your current school e.g. in terms of responsibilities/extra-curricular activities/relationships with


students and staff ? ● Are you prepared to leave these behind?


How ready are you for the


intellectual leap to A levels? ● Would you be able to cope with adapting to a new school alongside getting used to the rigours of A-levels? ● How does your chosen school assist sixth formers with the transition?


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