Sixth Form should be a gateway to truly fantastic life experiences – and by that I mean amazing academic discoveries, making and strengthening friendships and also uncovering new sides of yourself through leadership and trying out new things.
But all of this depends on making the right choices over where you study and what you study.
If you are in Year 10 or 11 and have already started thinking about this, you might want to consider the following so that you feel confident that you are making decisions that will work for you.
1. Choose subjects which you enjoy.
There is no two ways about it – A-levels are tough. They are designed to challenge you to think for yourself. They are not just about learning material but also applying it in new and often challenging ways. You will also be asked to demonstrate a depth of understanding that goes way beyond what you have done at GCSE. Given all of this, it is really important to take subjects that you want to study and that you can offer your best in. Make sure you are not taking a subject for any of the following reasons:
- Mum and dad have told me to do it
- My best friend’s doing it
- I think that I ‘should’ do it
Successful study at A-level is about passion and commitment. If you have these things in your chosen subjects then you are likely to make a success of them. Good reasons to take a subject are:
- I love it
- I’m good at it
- I want to know more about it
2. Check out the support that is on offer.
There will be times when you ‘wobble’ and ‘get stuck’, no matter which subjects you choose. This is entirely normal. A-levels are, after all, deliberately set up to take you out of your learning comfort zone. The way to navigate through these subject challenges is to make sure that the right level of academic support is on offer. At Queen’s for example we are fortunate to be able to offer:
- Small class sizes
- Lots of opportunity for one-to-one / small group help from teachers at subject clinics, revision workshops etc
- Superb academic resources both online and through the school library
3. Think about where you are headed.
Many girls in Year 11 have very clear ideas about the university subject they want to study or the profession they want to follow. This could be medicine, engineering, an academic subject such as Classics or a Modern Foreign Language etc. Alternatively, you may be much less certain about the path ahead and wanting to find out more about the options in front of you. Individualised support in these areas is hugely important. Queen’s has lots of experience helping both types of candidate. We have a full-time Head of Careers and offer extensive UCAS application support that puts you in touch with representatives and speakers from the Universities themselves. We have a dedicated Oxbridge and Medics / Dentists / Vets programme that makes sure all of these candidates are fully ready for interviews and entry tests. Finally, we can connect you with ‘real-world’ mentors who have relevant academic or study experience through our strong network of former students. Our alumni regularly come into school to meet with students and pass on their experience and advice.
4. Think about who you want to be.
Sixth Form should be about growing and developing the person you are. At Queen’s we think that this should involve leadership and ‘making your mark’ either within the school environment or out in the world outside. The school’s Quest programme offers great opportunities for extra-curricular involvement, community work, volunteering, gaining new qualifications and a host of other fun and worthwhile activities and experiences. All girls at Queen’s are also offered a position of responsibility through the prefect system if they want it. We believe this is the most effective way to make the best of yourself and we love to listen to your ideas for new events and projects and watch them grow.
Whatever else you do, take time to discuss your A-level and Sixth Form choices. Subject teachers should be able to help with this but also talk to friends, big brothers / sisters, parents etc.
If you need any further help or guidance, feel free to speak to me (Mr Wilson) or Mrs Tunnicliffe who are in charge of Sixth Form delivery at Queen's.
Head of Sixth Form