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Thinkng ahead about 6th form

(32 Posts)
circular Fri 23-Sep-11 13:44:00

DD1 just started yr10.

As her current school has a sixth form, that would be the starting point. But she is increasingly moving away from the idea of staying on there. Mainly due to the Music department not being large / strong enough. Great music teachers, but < 10 in their GCSE group, and hardly any generally do A level music.

State school choices locally are limited. The local techincal college does not do Music A level. Whilst we would not rule out private, I think she may be at a disadvantage when it becomes to Uni applications, as offers may be higher, even though she had not attended private secondary school throughout.

She is looking at studying Music at Uni and wants to take Music along with 3 academic subjects (Geography, French & Maths are the latest) at A level- so not sure if a specialist music school/college woudld be appropriate. Being a late starter, she is behind the level required for any kind of music scholarship.

How far out of the area is it possible to go for state options? Does catchment ever come into it? No info on oir LA website.

Appreciate it is not until at least this time next year when the applications will go in, but would like to start considering options now. Possibly even go to some open evenings this year.

magentadreamer Fri 23-Sep-11 14:43:36

We only have 6th colleges. One has partner schools and DC from these get priority - I think 75% come from the partner schools. The DC from none partner schools come from far and wide so I don't think catchment comes into it. All DC have an interview. The other 6th Form college takes DC from out of the LA but doesn't have priority for DC attending schools in the LA.

The 6th form colleges are massive here - one has 2K students attending the other nearly 3K. DD goes to a small secondary - 825 in total and I think 150 in her year group. I'm slightly worried that DD being a shy quiet type will get "lost" so have been doing a bit of digging regarding 6th Forms attatched to schools - all are in another LA and I've not come across any thing regards catchment areas. I suspect that these schools might make higher "offers" to DC not already attending something I will raise at open evenings.

DD is in yr10 as well and we are going to have a look around a couple this year mainly to give her something to aspire to. Knowing DD she'll decide she want to go to a local 6th Form to save travelling.

cricketballs Fri 23-Sep-11 17:37:07

if you think about it if hardly anyone does A level music then this must mean a very small group which is a huge advantage

senua Fri 23-Sep-11 18:09:53

We have admission criteria for entry to Y7, as do all, but once you get to post-16 it is a free for all. Most want 5 GCSE but some want more than that, especially the Grammar. Catchment doesn't come into it.

However, that is the current system where it is voluntary. Is your DD going to be the first year where sixth form is compulsory and will that change the goalposts?

webwiz Fri 23-Sep-11 18:20:13

We live in an area that only has school sixth forms, there are some "colleges" a bit further away but they mostly offer vocational qualifications. At my DCs school the sixth form is quite small and there are often very small classes for some subjects such as music, languages and further maths but this hasn't been a problem. The problem is the standard of the teaching is influenced by the strength of the department as a whole within the school. DD2's A level chemistry teaching was hmm but that reflected the fact that there had been a run of retirements and staff changes within the school science department. It didn't seem to effect the GCSE teaching but A level was a different story.

DS is year 10 and I don't feel we really have a choice for sixth form as all the schools are very similar. When a department is strong the teaching has been absolutely fabulous. DD1's biology teacher stands out and he had a huge influence on her choosing to study it at university. DD2's maths and further maths teachers were brilliant as well. It just seems to be luck whether there happens to be good A level teachers in the subjects you want to do.

gelatinous Fri 23-Sep-11 18:34:34

dd is year 11 at a school without a sixth form so we are just starting to look. Most seem to have their open evenings for sixth form between Oct and Jan with application deadlines between Dec and Jan. There don't seem to be catchment areas in the same way as for the younger ages and you can apply anywhere, but obviously the further away you look the more problematic transport becomes.

Dd not musical, so can't advise on that side of things.

cricketballs Fri 23-Sep-11 19:00:46

where I live the majority of schools don't have a 6th form. There is 1 college that is very much in demand and their applications cut off very early as so many apply.

I would advise gelatinous that you go all the early open evenings and apply to them all - there is not set rule on preference like at secondary - they can apply for as many or as few as they want and then your dd can make a more informed decision when she gets her results

gelatinous Fri 23-Sep-11 19:07:18

Thanks cricketballs - good advice, but doesn't it cause chaos if everyone does that? At what point do you have to commit to a single one? We have six on our not-so-short list.

cricketballs Fri 23-Sep-11 19:10:34

you don't commit until the day you enrol with one college; our local ones know what we 'clued up parents do'! His second choice 9which had lower grade requirements) had his appointment set for 30 mins after his results were available, so i emailed them to say that were on holiday until the Saturday. Luckily he got his target grades and got into his my first choice college grin

sillybillies Fri 23-Sep-11 19:18:16

Maybe change schools to one with a big 6th form. I changed from 5th year (yup that old) to 6th form to a school with a 6th form of about 250 and it was one of the best decisions I ever made. For music a large 6th form could offer much more particularly in terms of bands/orchestra etc which surely you would need/be beneficial to do A level music.

lazymumofteenagesons Fri 23-Sep-11 22:12:46

There are no catchment areas for 6th form colleges because they are classed as further education. However, Ed Balls changed the rules for school 6th forms in 2008. If oversubscribed they have to use distance from school as criteria.

circular Sat 24-Sep-11 16:20:30

cricketballs - agree, a small group can be good for tuition. Although it also means less to bounce ideas off of and she will almost certainly have to bring in outside performers for her ensemble work. As long as it is not too small for the school to bother to run the course.

Senua - yes the current year 10s are the first which for which year 12 in (some form of) education is compulsory.

Sillybillies - the sixth form at her school has a 180 yr12 intake, so must be larger than 250. Just not very musical compared to the private schools. Historically stronger for singers, good choirs, just one orchestra of about 12.

DD does also attend a Saturday music school where she has tuition in her 1st instrument, musicianship, choir, and plays in ensembles. So there is other musical contact.

Will try and find out as much as we can about all other schools within commutting distance so we can whittle it down.

From what others are saying, it sounds like we are lucky that she is at a school with a reasonable sixth firm, that she will get priority for a place at. The requirements are currently 5A*-C"s, with at least B on the 4 AS subjects, A for maths or science.

One thing I nevever mentioned which gives a slight bias to her current school, is that if she leaves in yr11, we lose the guaranteed sibling place for DD2, currently in yr4. Although DD1 got her place on distance, it was only 50/50 that she would, and applications have increased in recent years.

Sidheag Sat 24-Sep-11 16:30:32

If you would otherwise consider private options, don't rule them out on the basis that she'd get higher university offers than if she went to a good state school. That's almost certainly not true. Generally, lower offers are made to students from state schools that rarely send their students to university. Students from strong state schools or sixth-form colleges will get the same offers as those from independent schools. In any case, universities get to see the whole school history, I think.

circular Sat 24-Sep-11 16:44:41

Sidheag - current school (comp in an affluent area with a good choice of selective private schools) )is slightly above average for GCSE. A levels around 20% A/A* so not exactly a top school. The sixth form do BTECs and diplomas as well as A levels, so although many do go onto further education, it is not the top courses at the top universities.

Sidheag Sat 24-Sep-11 16:51:29

You might want to pick a university or two and ring and ask. The (top) university I know well gives lower offers for students from schools that many would describe as "sink" schools, but the ones you're considering would be treated just the same as independent schools for admissions purposes.

tinkgirl Sat 24-Sep-11 22:13:24

Uni's offer places especially music / art / performance related courses not only based on grades but mainly on the audition. Your DD needs to complete music at A Level but also a course which requires more written work so that she can prove that she can cope with the theory side as well. She needs outside interests as well which backs up her choice of course.

She absolutely needs to only apply to uni's were she will meet the entry profile as this is the first thing that admission tutors check, if they don't meet the required grades they won't bother to read the personal statements or references.

It's not fair that you also want your DD to stay at 6th form to secure a place for your younger child. Attend ALL the open evenings and allow your DD to decide what she would like to do.

Why do you think that if she went to a private school then the uni offers would be higher?

I'd get an appointment with her Connexions Adviser / careers adviser in school to find out the facts. They will be able to at least tell you where she can go to study music.

jgbmum Sun 25-Sep-11 07:46:59

Op regarding the sibling rule, at DCs over-subscribed comp, this rule only applies to siblings in Y7-11, so there is no advantage in having a sibling in 6th form.

I am not saying your school is/will be the same, but it might be worth double checking, and of course, admissions rules are tweaked over time.

circular Sun 25-Sep-11 11:46:06

tinkgirl - not sure what you mean by 'written course' - music related or chosing an essay based subject at A level. If the latter, unless French or Geography would count this would not be possible for her. English is her worse subject and she will be lucky to scrape a B at GCSE.

<< It's not fair that you also want your DD to stay at 6th form to secure a place for your younger child. Attend ALL the open evenings and allow your DD to decide what she would like to do.>>

Of course the decision will be hers, providing if it for the right reasons.- ie. she has already said she likes the environment of the local technical college better than her school, until i pointed out the did not do A'level Music at all there. BUT if there is little to choose between hers and another school, then the sibling link will be a deciding factor. We are also considering other options for DD2. 11+ could be possible for grammar in a neighbouring area but it is highly competitive.

jgbmum - definitely yr7 to 12 at DDs school. Of course it could change though.

ellisbell Sun 25-Sep-11 16:01:59

have a look at the websites of each of the possible options and e-mail them to ask how many did A level music in each of the last 3 years. You'll probably find it's a pretty small number anywhere but that isn't necessarily a bad thing as she may get more personal attention. She needs to look beyond any school to see what musical opportunities there are in your county. If she's a late starter she needs to work very hard on catching up as the audition will possibly be more important that any academic qualification.

I know of children who travel considerable distances for state provision, if there are catchment areas they are probably only for a few places. However travelling is certainly an issue, they can get very tired/ have little other life.

GnomeDePlume Sun 25-Sep-11 17:11:52

Circular I think you are wise to start thinking about this now. Our local schools offer a consortium college which means bussing from one school to another if A levels are diverse.

Instead DD1 is looking at a big sixth form just over the county border. I have checked and there are no catchment area issues. We are off to the 6th form next week for the open evening. Applications have to be in before Christmas so you need to be doing your researches during year 10.

DD1 will be able to take the bus there which is fine for us.

Look at all the options in your area. This one wasnt obvious to us as I had assumed we were restricted by the county border.

mumslife Sun 25-Sep-11 20:04:56

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

GnomeDePlume Sun 25-Sep-11 21:55:13

mumslife I think it does no harm to start checking out the runners and riders. Where we are you have to have applications in early in year 11 so you need to know what the choices are. If possible can you go along to a few open evenings this year? This will give your daughter a flavour of what is on offer rathar than excluding particular choices on the basis of misconception.

Theas18 Mon 26-Sep-11 08:15:51

Don't "diss" small groups for A level music as long as the school will continue to run the course for that number. DD1 got A* in music (with full marks for performance and the loss of just a couple of marks for composition) where there were only 3 in the class plus one who took music as a 4th A level so didn't really come to class much due to clashes. The teachers are/were brilliant and of course her performance was worked on with her instrumental teacher too.

Mumslife if you want to transfer to state grammer for 6th form you need to look in year 10 and apply early in yr 11. Good luck!

lazymumofteenagesons Mon 26-Sep-11 13:51:10

mumslife, applications for sixth forms are as early as november in yr 11. So it is easier if you have made up your mind or narrowed your choices during yr 10. I went to open evenings in yr 10 without DS (he was at boarding school) to narrow the choice. Then he came to a couple in year 11 which he applied to. This also meant I could rule out ones I didn't even want him making a decision on!

cricketballs Mon 26-Sep-11 15:44:04

just got back from an Inset regarding 6th form provision in schools....

in order to have all providers on an even playing field school 6th form funding is being cut to match that of colleges (at the moment, schools receive far more per head than colleges do). Whilst subject which have a large intake e.g. maths, english etc should run as normal, other subjects could be hit with not being run or students taking those courses at a different location. For example, a student may take maths, english, biology at their school but might have to travel to the local college to take music.

I implore all parents attending 'school 6th form open evenings' to ask about the future as these cuts have already started (3% cut this year) and will have an impact on student's choices

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