Help your child choose a Sixth Form
How to help your child choose the right Sixth Form for them
As parents you’re used to making the big education decisions with your son or daughter. But now they’ve finished their GCSEs and may be looking for Sixth Form or college to study A Levels, T Levels or BTECs. They may have a clear idea about where they want to go – perhaps based on location, friends’ preferences, courses, or their own research. But what happens if your fifteen or sixteen year old is still undecided? How can you support them in making the right decision? We’re here to help.
1. Understand the data
As in any industry, there’s a lot to decipher in education. Attainment 8, FFT scores, Progress 8 – this year we’ve even had CAGs to contend with (Centre Assessment Grades, if you’re still wondering). But which are the numbers that really matter when supporting your child in getting their best grades?
The Government holds schools accountable through a range of ‘value added’ measures – or scores on how much progress each student makes. This is outlined in full here and all state-funded schools report on this data annually. But the numbers can be confusing, so lots of schools use a performance measurement tool called ALPS to give parents a clearer idea of how they’re doing. ALPS is a system that allows schools to measure the value they add to a student’s A Level performance compared with what might be expected of them – i.e. how their full potential has been unlocked.
So if you’re wondering how your son or daughter might do at one sixth form or college versus another, take a look at their relative ALPS scores. Using a simple 1-9 scale (1 being the best), you’ll be able to see at a glance how the school performs where it really matters (on an individual basis). And yes, you’ve guessed it – Sexey’s Sixth is a 1, placing us in the top 5% of schools nationally (since you asked!).
2. Think long term with subject choices
When it comes to subject courses, there’s more choice than ever now. It’s easy to be seduced by the latest Criminology A Level for example (who doesn’t love a bit of Luther or Criminal Minds) but bear in mind that by sticking to a suite of core academic subjects, students are keeping their options wide open for choosing a broader range of subjects at university or in further education. This will really help if their career aspirations or preferences change over the coming years. Encourage them to talk to their Careers Advisor or tutor about how different subject choices might affect their future decisions.
And in the meantime – perhaps your son or daughter could attend or start a club related to their preferred vocation? That would look great on their personal statement.
3. Look beyond the classroom
Does your son or daughter’s preferred Sixth Form or College offer a robust HE+ programme? Can they complete an Extended Project Qualification, or EPQ, for valuable extra UCAS points? Are there plenty of trips (outside of lockdown)? What about careers and university/apprenticeship application support? Is the pastoral team up to scratch? Will they have a dedicated Sixth Form area for work and meeting friends? Often these things are as important or more so than their subject courses in giving them the best experience.
4. What do the existing Sixth Formers say?
Don’t be afraid to ask the Sixth Formers what they think. After all, they’re the ones who will be able to tell you what it’s really like! You can hear from our Sexey’s Sixth Formers in the video here, or request to speak to one personally. We’re always happy to help you to make your choice!
5. Try to get a feel for the place
We’re very aware that during lockdown, it’s really hard to get a sense of how your son or daughter will feel in a new space. Do they want to get lost in a crowd, or feel safe in a smaller setting, for example? Will they flourish best with more freedom, or set timetables and the rigour of a school day? Think about dress code – perhaps they would prefer not to have one, or they might find that wearing smart casual dress enhances their learning and prepares them for their future working life. Take a look at virtual tours online and try to get a sense of what would work best for your child, with these questions in mind.
Feel free to view our Sixth Form pages to find out more or call us on +44 (0)1749 813393. We’d love to help you if you are still struggling to help your child choose a Sixth Form!
Head of Sixth Form