Sixth Forms in Cambridgeshire

(20 Posts)
Eager2B Mon 08-Jun-15 11:14:38

Dear Cambridge Mums, I would appreciate your advice on local sixth forms. My daughter will start A Levels in Sept 2016 and we plan a move to Cambridge or surrounding area just before. It's quite difficult to get information from the local authority website about sixth form education. I've spoken to a few schools directly, Impington VC, Comberton VC and Hinchingbrooke School, all of which were very helpful and sounded very good. There are a few others in the surrounding areas that don't have very good Ofsted reports, so I'm asking for parental views and experience, particularly St Ivo School, Ely College, Netherall School.

Any help or info would be much appreciated as we want to make the right choice at this important transitional stage.

ChasingSquirrelsinCambs Mon 08-Jun-15 11:19:32

Are you not considering Hills or Long Road?
I don't have any sixth form knowledge ad my children are younger but I'm surprised to see a list of sixth forms without these two.

Cantusemyusualnickname Mon 08-Jun-15 11:38:21

The full list of sixth forms/further education colleges (excluding independent schools and colleges) is on the Cambridgeshire CC website
Some of the FE colleges don't offer A Levels (e.g. Cambridgeshire Regional College).
Some of the school sixth forms are fairly recent additions to schools (e.g. Comberton).
Some may offer IB instead of A Levels (e.g. Impington)
There are two large sixth form colleges in Cambridge (City) - Hills Road (very selective) and Long Road (less selective). Students go to these from a very wide area.

Eager2B Mon 08-Jun-15 11:42:21

I have very little local knowledge, and don't know anyone in the area. It sounds as though you are saying Hills and Long Road are the best schools? If so, I will take a look at them. Thank you.

Eager2B Mon 08-Jun-15 11:46:22

That's really helpful Cantusemyusualnickname. Thanks.

CursedTea Mon 08-Jun-15 11:51:05

I went to Long Road (quite a few years ago) it was a fantastic college and I really enjoyed my time there. I also had a lot of friends at Hills Road.

It depends on the subjects but Hills Road was generally considered more academic and Long Road more artsy.

I knew a lot more people that dropped out of Hills Road. It was stricter and more school like. We had a lot more freedom at Long Road (not always a good thing).

I have friends from Long Road who have gone on to do PhDs at Cambridge and Oxford and also know a couple who did medicine.

Eager2B Mon 08-Jun-15 11:58:12

That's great info, thanks CursedTea smile. I will definitely look at Long Road. Daughter is academically able, but also enjoys Art & Design, so I want to get the balance right for her.

In terms of transport, is it easy for students to get into central Cambridge from outlying villages? It sounds as though many students travel in for sixth form?

Cantusemyusualnickname Mon 08-Jun-15 12:06:19

You have to make your own transport arrangements, as far as I know. Hills Road SFC website states:
We do not operate our own bus service and students need to plan their own transport arrangements
Most students come in via public bus or train. The fares used to be part-subsidised but I'm not sure what the current position is.

CursedTea Mon 08-Jun-15 12:16:56

We all used public transport to trek in, people came from all over.

Eager2B Mon 08-Jun-15 12:30:16

Ok, well that makes it much more accessible if we choose to live further out of town. We currently live in a very rural location with few transport links, having a regular bus service will be a novelty for our teens. Long Road website looks great. Thanks for your help so far.

ChasingSquirrelsinCambs Mon 08-Jun-15 14:29:32

Kids in our village (Near Burwell) are waiting for public transport around 7.15am to get into Hills/Long Road in time - so it does make for a long day (I grew up elsewhere and had a 5 min walk to 6th form so this is alien to me!).
Avoid Newmarket Academy (Suffolk / Cambridgeshire borders).

Cantusemyusualnickname Mon 08-Jun-15 15:54:40

7:30 for the bus that goes through Linton and Abington. Bus stops are right outside Hills Road SFC and for Long Road SFC it is a short walk from the nearest bus stop on Hills Road.

Tingalingle Mon 08-Jun-15 23:29:27

Hills Road is supposed to be the one to aim for, but doesn't suit everyone. It's huge, for a start, an some children simply prefer the idea of a more 'schooly' sixth form a fraction of the size.

I'll add Parkside 6th to your list: it's small and offers IB and BTechs rather than A-levels. DS was rather taken with it but opted for Comberton 6th in the end.

Eager2B Tue 09-Jun-15 09:32:21

Thank you Tingalingle, I will look at Parkside too. We have a village college system where we live now, sixth forms are usually smaller, and that is what she will be used to. Though of course integration into a larger school will be good preparation for Uni. I was very impressed when I spoke to Comberton, did your daughter do well there?

Tingalingle Tue 09-Jun-15 12:18:19

Son rather than daughter, and yes, he did well there (A* A* A at A-level, mainly science subjects) though obviously he's only a sample of one! When he had some health difficulties, the Comberton staff really went the extra mile to help him catch up on missed work.

My younger son is at Hills doing an entirely different set of subjects. He is enjoying the English teaching, but floundering in some of the others and possibly a bit lost in the system.

Eager2B Tue 09-Jun-15 12:31:47

Thanks for sharing that Tingalingle, apart from their academic ability their success really does depend just as much on how comfortable they are in the environment. With a set of A* grades from his older brother, I'm sure your younger son will do equally well.

Thanks so much for all the advice I'm getting on this forum, it's really helping us with our decision making.

Tingalingle Tue 09-Jun-15 13:37:25

Shouldn't think my boy at Hills will do nearly so well academically, but that's the child not the school. He is, however, really enjoying being a short bus hop or walk into central Cambridge when college is over each day, after years of school out in the sticks. My older boy didn't have that benefit and slightly regretted it.

The bus pass (Stagecoach Goldrider) was a somewhat eye-watering £650 for the year but covers weekends and county-wide travel.

Eager2B Tue 09-Jun-15 13:47:21

Ouch! That is steep, and definitely something to factor into the equation shock

MrsGrowbag Tue 16-Jun-15 18:15:20

My ds is currently at Comberton 6th form. He likes the fact that he doesn't have the long bus journey into Cambridge (over an hour in rush hour). However, because Comberton 6th form finishes its day early (3pm) he quite often goes into town to meet up with friends straight after school, as the bus journey is much quicker then.

A small 6th form like Comberton can't offer the breath of subjects and the "college" experience that Long Road or Hills Road does, but in my experience, the pastoral care is fantastic.

Eager2B Mon 22-Jun-15 16:23:58

Thank you MrsGrowbag, that's exactly the sort of advice I needed.

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