New College Swindon - what's it like?(23 Posts)
DD is accepted for Sixth Form place at the local Academy, but has just announced she'd prefer to go to New College in Swindon.
What's it like?
DD is quite academic, but says she fancies a change from school.
The local Sixth Form is rated outstanding by Ofsted (though always take these reports with a pinch of salt).
What standard of education does New College provide? And what is it like for extra-curricular activities?
Hi Tywy, I've moved away from Swindon now, but still have my friends there who have children of a similar age to yours. None on them thought much of it tbh (actually my best friend was horrified when she walked around at the behaviour/language of the students, but she may well have not been around that sort of enviroment for many years). All my friends have decided to travel to Cirencester College instead (if they get in).
I went to NC myself when it 1st opened way back in the day as ours was the 1st year to close all the school 6th forms and have to go there or Swindon College instead.
Am guessing you are on the outskirts of Swindon if you have a 6th form option, personally I would stay there or look at Cirencester College which has a much better reputation.
Kind of what I thought, thanks Heifer. We're in Royal Wootton BAssett so Cirencester is doable.
I'm going to push for RWB 6th form though.
It has a good reputation. I would send my children there without hesitation if we lived in Swindon.
I would choose New College over a sixth form in a school as it provides more opportunity for independent learning and is a good bridge between school and University.
I feel there is more support in a school environment, with teachers who have known the kids since year 7.
Dd says she'd like a fresh start, and I do see her point, but she's academic, and a keen musician too (tho not studying music).
For example - she plays in various music groups in school, and it would be a shame if there weren't the same opportunity at NC.
I guess it depends what you want from 6th form. Certainly, college expects students to grow up, take more responsibility for their learning, there's less hand holding. Some students are not ready for this, but others find this an excellent stepping stone to university. I used to teach at a very 'supportive' school - but every 'free period' the students had was supervised, and as a teacher I had to ensure the A level students worked in silence. Sure it was very high achieving (way beyond anything you'd get in Swindon ) and very supportive but I don't think it did the students any good at all.
I would also say that any college has the benefit of having specialist A level teachers. Therefore, we spend most of our time dealing with Ucas applications and the like so able to give more support about that. Further, I know in my faculty most depts have at least one examiner, and lots of subjects run weekly drop in support classes for students. So no, whilst college lecturers do not know the students, they do have more time and more specialism in the support they offer. (Less pastoral, more academic in my experience). I suspect Ciren would be the same in this.
As for extra curriculars, I would expect colleges to outweigh schools in this (certainly that has been my experience to date, but I've not been in a Swindon school) I know my place offer extra curricular opportunities in music, lamda, yoga, sport, creative writing, pre driving, debating, trips to Kenya, you name it, there's something on offer - that's one of the major benefits of having large concentrations of similar aged students.
On an aside, if your DD is musical but not keeping it up, but wants to - has she considered doing an EPQ? Some Russell group unis (Southampton / Warwick) give students a reduced university offer if they do well in the EPQ. It can be a good way to keep up a passion and get something for it. However, be aware other unis are only interested in them if they are directly related to the degree (in the interests of being impartial).
Yes, she has thought about EPQ. It's strongly encouraged at Sixth Form for all university applicants.
Update- we're going to look at New Coll next week, without committing to anything.
What subjects does she want to do? Maths is weak at new college, Cirencester is better. Don't know about other subjects.
Not maths - History, Philosophy, Music Tech and possibly Law at NC. Though she'd chosen other subjects for Sixth Form.
If she wants to go on to study Law I would steer clear of it at A Level. It's considered a hindrance rather than an advantage.
One of my DSC is at NC. We really wanted them to go to RWB but they made the choice with their DM. AS results were a couple of grades below what they were predicted/expected and we are concerned (History was one of the subjects). They don't seem to have very much timetabled classroom time. They dosn't do any extra-curricular activities so I can't comment on that.
The other DSC goes to RWB and we are hoping that they will stay there for 6th form.
Watching with interest. DD2 is unlikely to get in to 6th form so will have to go to NC (nearest next option)
We are the opposite - DD visited the colleges and went to taster days.
She has chosen to go to RWBA. The options they have, she thinks are great. She found the lessons at college dry and boring - too much talk at you whereas she says school teachers make more of an effort to make it interesting.
She is also young in her year so has only just turned 16 and doesn't feel ready for the full independance thing yet.
I think its very much down to the child and where they think they will thrive. Let her try it. I'm sure she can switch back if its not too far into term.
DD1 went to RWBA Sixth Form, and we can't fault it.
Both DDs have been there since year 7, and have enjoyed their time there. I was pleased DD2 wanted to do A Levels there too, and disappointed that she has changed her mind.
Been watching this thread with interest. Have to declare my interests as I work at New College, but also a mum!
Some students will thrive within the familiarity of their school sixth form; others do better in the relatively more independent College environment. The latter does provide a good stepping stone between school and work/university, especially in terms of developing students' self-discipline and motivation in planning and doing their own work. Inevitably College will also offer more subjects, qualifications and choices, enrichment, access to employers etc than schools because there are more students.
Some specific question/points to respond to here:-
Cirencester and New College are actually fairly similar in terms of quality and pass rates. Maths at New College is strong - a 99% pass rate at A Level this Summer, with 56% of entries getting grade A*, A or B. WIth History, a 100% pass rate and 32% of students getting A*, A or B. New College release a Student Success leaflet at their Open Day in October which lists all entries by subject and level and the numbers achieving each grade so you can see exactlly what the quality is like. I don't think many other providers release their individual results like this. Music at New College is really well catered for both in terms of courses - GCSE, AS and A Level Music, A Level Music Technology, Digital Music Production and a partnership with the Academy of Music and Sound - and enrichment.
My recommendation (for what it's worth and I appreciate that some people may think I'm biased) is that Year 11s do check out and visit all options open to them and not rule anything out until they've had a look and done their research. It's not in anyone's interest - schools, Colleges etc - if a student isn't happy to be there and motivated to work hard at the subjects they have chosen, so it's really all about the student making the best choice for their own particular needs - that could be school or College. At the end of the day, we're all united in wanting to provide the best possible teaching and learning environment for students and to help develop the wider skills that will help them in future.
This college has offered the worst experience of my child's education so far. My child is bright, motivated and ambitious. New College has failed her she, yet she was exceeding in primary and secondary. We have had to pay for a lot of private tuition. My child and some of her peers had to drop subjects and are performing poorly particularly in sciences due to lack of tutor planning attendance and clarity of information. Her chances at getting into university may be thwarted. Worse than that though is the arrogant, cavalier attitude plus lack of evidence of teaching input. I will not be sending any of my other children there. I dread to think what will happen when new college run the planned new secondary school in North Swindon that they bid for. I will be persuing a formal complaint against the college because of one particular lecturer who wrote a scandalous Report which was so far off the mark and devoid of substance. He could not account for himself at a parents evening (he was absent for last years one) Rather than trying to address the questions we asked us to agree to a date after Easter to chat more fully so as not to delay other parents. The next day he canceled the meeting and failed to do the other actions he agreed to which was has refused to help us agree a Success plan for my child. I would say send your child elsewhere if they want to Human Biology or Chemistry.
I went to Swindon college I. The dats when all my peers went to new college, our school didn't have a sixth form, and I would never encourage anyone to go to new college. All of those who went to Swindon college out did those who went to new college. I would suggest Cirencester or 6th form but steer her away if possible
Thank you for sharing your view. Yours is one of many similar views expressed to me. I have a feeling it is ok for night classes for adults but not for young people aspiring to go to uni.
Does anyone know who the principal is at New College as I can't find their name on their website?
My daughter went to New College and studied A levels in Law, Maths, Biology, Government and Politics and Music AS and got A*AABb and is studying law at a RG uni. A level Law wasn't hindrance but it wasnt necessary. She wanted to do it to be sure she liked Law. She wasn't very impressed with the Music Dept (and that's why she dropped it at AS), to be honest the Law Dept wasnt great. They were all put in for a module too early and all got C/D and lower. That was my daughter's only resit and I had to buy independent study guides to ensure a good grade. She was happy with the maths dept though and supposed to be very good for sciences. Her friend got A*A*A*B from New College. However, we looked at Wootton Bassett for 6th form and were only put off by my daughter wanting to do A level music and there being so few children studying music (like literally a handful) and not enough for bands. We really liked everything about it and I certainly wouldn't travel to New College when you have that 6th form closer. My daughter also found that because the college is so big, that she wasn't in any classes with her friends (even those studying the same subject) and she literally just went in for lessons and then came home. Her school didnt have a 6th form but it wasn't the social affair school was. I would never suggest Cirencester over new college and know loads of children who dropped out and wished they'd have gone to their closer college. I think they are academically very similar. However I would certainly suggest Wootton Bassett 6th Form over New College in your circumstances.
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