What are the main things and people that influence a decision for your DCs to apply for 6th form college?(22 Posts)
I have a job interview at a 6th form college and have been asked to write a presentation on the title ( above).
Just wondering if you could give me the benefit of your experience / knowledge as it's not a sector I know much about and it's going to be difficult to get a group of students together before the interview as I'm away over Christmas.
And of all the things which were important - which one had the biggest influence? Please help and thanks in advance.
My dc starts Sixth Form next September.
He has taken the advice of his subject teachers and myself the most. His subject teachers have been an important source of information regarding the specifics of a course. They can advise whether he's on course for the grades needed and describe the course like what percentage is coursework or how much maths is needed. I'm not sure if he has talked to them but he seemed to be listening when I was discussing course specifics at the last couple of Parent's Evenings.
He has used my opinion to gauge if his A level choices is practical for career and uni aspirations. (I attended a RG uni)
There have been careers sessions at school so he was aware of facilitating subjects so by the time we spoke, he'd picked 3. His school's Sixth Form requires a couple of reserve subjects which he'll have to pick soon.
There are dedicated careers teachers and a Form teacher that he could talk to but I suspect that he wouldn't talk to them.
My daughter will be looking at 6th forms next year.
The things she is thinking about is subjects offered, class sizes, contact hours & performing arts provision/understanding ofvthe fact she will be training in dance outside of college alongside her academic studies & being able to fit that in.
Why my son will be attending his school's Sixth Form.
- to remain with friends.
- the school and Sixth Form have a proven track record of sending children to good universities and getting good A level results. This is because of a leafy postcode and high entry requirement but he is in top sets at the school so hopefully the right sort of candidate.
- continuity. He's not good with change
- I'm happy with the school ethos and attitude.
- teaches subjects that my son wants to study.
Not 100% sure I understand what you are asking, but....
My dcs' choices were sort of made for them, by them deciding what courses they wanted to do (A-levels vs more vocational qualifications), and then what subject, or subject combinations they wanted to do. Doesn't really leave you with a lot of choice.
Some 6th forms are selective, so obviously grade dependent.
Then the choice - for some - was about wanting to remain at their school, or deliberately wanting to leave school, and attend the different atmosphere of a separate 6th form college.
It's so very similar to "choosing" a secondary - in reality, there's not an actual choice for the vast majority of students.
My DD was fed up with the petty rules of school and wanted a fresh start. She also appreciated being treated as an adult. (She is a fairly high performer and hard worker BTW).
Sixth form colleges also offered better staff in some areas e.g. Law where they had all worked as Solicitors or Barristers.
Thanks for replies. That's interesting. Where this is, there are a few 6th form colleges within a reasonable bus journey and very few of the local schools offer A level courses.
Obviously this college wants to be top choice as I think there is s choice. Is that not the case everywhere?
Well - we have a theoretical choice - I'm in a big City - but, as I say, once you've decided what you want to take, then the choice gets narrowed down hugely - probably to the one option you then go to. Although that will depend on what it is you want to do I suppose.
Location, choice of subjects, results, reputation, style of college (independence vs more school-like), support for uni applications/careers advice, extra curricular options, rumours about funding cuts and which sixth forms were struggling.
More or less in that order of importance. And also whether he would get in of course
My DD has just put in all her sixth form applications.
Having visited several open days she made her choices on :
Perceived strength of subject departments (results)
Extra-curricula offer in another area she loves (school production, open to non-performing arts students)
Location / journey
Whether they did linear courses / AS levels / offer 4 A levels in Yr 12.
Some where turned down for demanding business suit wear, being too far away, being too religious. She visited school sixth forms which tend to be more selective here than the 6th form colleges as the schools use the sixth forms to bump up their reputation.
My daughter had a choice of 3 local sixth form colleges (there are also others further away) as well as the option of staying at her school sixth form.
She chose to leave school as she wanted a fresh start and to have a new experience. All of the colleges are similar in terms of subjects offered/grades achieved but are in different styles of buildings - one she didn't like as it was an old school and still looked and felt like a school building. She chose one in modern building but which also gave a good impression at open days that they really supported the A level students during the courses and in career/further education advice.
For me a few years back I mainly went on feel (I suppose you could call it ethos). I only had two realistic choices (no schools had 6th forms at that point, although a couple have since begun a sixth form offer).
I preferred the diversity of the students and the more relaxed adult atmosphere of the local college over the dedicated 6th form college, which felt much more like school.
Distance also played a factor, one bus/walk as opposed to walk and two buses, although had the locations been reversed the distance probably wouldn't have stopped me.
Range and choice of subjects. I've been looking at local sixth forms recently and was quite shocked at the narrow choice at some. One didn't do any MFL or tech at all. Another was very fixed about subject choice with most subjects being only in one option "block" - for example art and physics were in the same option block so you couldn't choose both. Seems to come down to numbers attending. The smaller units were pretty poor with subject range/choice.
1) Subjects! A surprising number didn't actually do DD's favourite subject (despite it being fairly mainstream)
2) Results. Generally but also specifically in subjects to be taken at A Level.
3) Following on from (2), destinations
4) Size of cohort - it ranged from 25 (a total non-starter) to 700!
5) Extra curriculars
6) General feel and tone of the place. The place that DD went for in the end didn't offer one of her preferred subjects but the overall impression outweighed that and she substituted another subject.
Not so much. By this stage you are very aware that Headteachers / Principals / teachers can move on so it's daft to make a decision based solely on those people.
DD's school wasn't very good so it was no wrench to leave, especially as a lot of her friends also left (hence cohort of 25). On the other hand, DS at a different school had spent five years waiting to get into the First XV so he wasn't going anywhere else.
Another plus factor for sixth form colleges is that everybody is a newbie together. If you are one of a handful joining an established year-group in a school then it can be difficult to break into cliques and make friends. However, the school that DD chose doubled its cohort for sixth form so there was plenty of new blood.
Where I am: my town every school has a Sixth form, there are 3 neighbouring towns with sixth form colleges, and a couple of others with more tricky connections, there is also a technical college in town which offers some A'levels but is more vocational. For most subjects you certainly have 3 or 4 choices of where to go.
Of the sixth form colleges: one is BIG, one has a good reputation and attracts lots of private school pupils, the third is less well known but we choose because of its fabulous pastoral care (not just words, but it really cares). It is also the college with the best "value add".
My DD had a choice of two colleges, and only made the final decision after the induction days.
I live in Hants where in general schools don't have their own 6th forms.
2) Pastoral care
Unfortunately the place she chose for the course combination has had poor pastoral care and their bus changed its route from taking 35-40mins to one that takes 75 minutes.
With hindsight for DD I would have ruled the college out due to location and pastoral care, even if it meant she couldn't give her preferred combination a go.
Many kids don't need pastoral care, but the lack of access to it has been shameful.
Friends kids at another local high achieving college complain there is nowhere for them to go to work or at lunchtimes as the college has taken on so many kids it just doesn't have the space to accommodate them properly.
dd chose the sixth form college due to the wide range of subjects offered. We have a mix here with some large school sixth forms, some smaller ones and then the sixth form college which offers practically every subject it's possible to take.
It's also the only one option where pupils can take both A level and BTEC alongside each other.
The facilities on campus are also much nicer than her old school sixth form which is a rather cramped site.
Since we live a short distance away, travel isn't an issue.
I teach at a sixth form college. I would say the benefits are...
- range of subjects on offer. We offer over 50 different A levels, so students don't just choose History, they can actually choose which period they would like to study (we offer 4 choices).
- teacher specialisms. Because we only teach A levels, we become much more specialised in what we do teach. So Sociology will be taught be a Sociology graduate for example, and not a random person who has been asked to teach it (as I know happens in some local schools).
- following on from that, specialist knowledge about UCAS applications etc, because that's all we deal with day in day out. Although I'm not a personal tutor this year, I must have read over 30 different personal statements this year alone.
- examiners. Maybe this is unique to where I work, but because we don't teach in the summer (all students have gone off to do exams, and no lower years), the majority of my colleagues are also examiners. I mark 3/4 papers for example, but I can do this because I'm no longer teaching at that point in the year.
- greater freedom for students. Students are expected to be more independent, have greater responsibility and take charge of their own learning. This is good prep for uni.
- it also suits students who don't get on with the rigid formality of schools.
- A fresh start. All students are new and can reinvent themselves. Make new friendships, develop and grow in a way that's not constrained by how they have been perceived over the past 5 years.
But the downsides I would say are..
- some students are not yet ready for the greater freedom / responsibility they are given. This can go horribly wrong.
- schools tend to be much stricter and have greater contact with parents. Some students still need this.
- you don't have the pastoral knowledge of students gained from the past 5 years. (This can be a good and a bad thing)
- class sizes tend to be bigger.
- with so many students, it's less personal. Students can find it harder to make new friends, start again and to get to know new teachers.
For me I'd say the biggest difference is the advantages of specialisms in college vs the personalism of school sixth forms.
My DD will be starting 6th form next September and has chosen to stay at the 6th form that goes with her current secondary for the following reasons:
- No uniform. 'Business dress' recommended and yeah, you need to ponce around in a cheap polyester suit if you want to be head girl/boy, but you can also ignore that and come to school in jeans and with blue hair.
- A good mix of academic and vocational courses. Components of each course taught by teachers who have a special interest in that topic and really care.
- 6th form centre is separate from the secondary school - it is at the other end of the town - so you get the aspect of being at a 6th form college whilst having the benefit of the infrastructure of a bigger school
- Results. The secondary is rated good, but the 6th form is stellar in its results and pastoral care.
My ds has an offer of a place at a not-very-local 6th form college, and will also have a place at his school sixth form if he wants it/gets the grades needed. I've been interested in results etc, but what he's mostly interested in is freedom, no uniform, girls, and generally not being treated like a schoolboy. I also think he likes the idea of a fresh start, as this year's been tough for him, and he was definitely impressed by a charismatic principal. Staying at his school with teachers who know him, and a proven excellent academic record, is also appealing - he hasn't made his mind up yet, and is quite prepared to wait until results day before making his final decision.
DS chose not to apply to any 6th form b/c he hated school & anyway he had a plan he liked better (junior soldier). I suppose OP won't be interested in him, though.
DD is ultra-ambitious & cares about nothing else but whether the 6th form will get her to Oxbridge or somewhere impressive. She most respects highest count of numbers that they sent to Oxbridge. We are heading for a major showdown where she tries to demand we pay for somewhere private & boarding far away (sigh).
Younger DC might just go for the local 6th form because it's convenient & good enough.
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