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Which sixth form?

(22 Posts)
circular Fri 19-Oct-12 22:24:09

Noted there are some threads going on A level choices, but what about the sixth form itself?

Finding all seem to have compulsory extras - either a 5th AS, extended project, World Challenge. How important are these when making a choice? Are any thought more of by Universities?

DD is at a school with a sixth from, an averagish comp which she quite likes. Has 2 definite AS choices (Music & Maths), but havng difficulties chosing 3rd and 4th (probably between French, Physics & RS) that don't clash. Her school also insist on the extended project, but she is weak at essay writing.

Little choice locally, one school she is keen on insist on RS as 5th AS. but although not selective, very academic school that seems to take mostly straight A*/A external students with loads of extra curricular stuff. DD is OK for the extra CA, but more an A/B student.

So need more options, but not sure how far she could realistically travel daily.

EvilTwins Fri 19-Oct-12 22:28:54

Extended project doesn't necessarily mean an essay/dissertation. If she's musical, her EP could be a performance. She would need, on a basic level, to set herself a challenge or target, to track her development and then then do perform and evaluate. The tracking could be a log, a blog or video diary- there are lots of options. From a university POV, there is no value in doing 5 AS levels. From a school POV, it raises the average points per student <<cynical>>

circular Fri 19-Oct-12 22:36:11

So she could do a (music) performance for EP even if taking Music A level?
I had the impression that the idea of it was to do something different to A level subjects.

bruffin Fri 19-Oct-12 23:47:41

One of ds friends put on an art show using her a level art for EP. Another has made a robot, and another taking A level psychology has done an EPA based around psychology. That's are all at different schools.
Ds has stayed on at his own school. He is not doing an EP, although the option is available. He is doing an extra engineering qualification instead in his own time.
They are also supposed to do finance, but the school have let them take a Latin gcse instead.

circular Sat 20-Oct-12 18:10:54

Thanks Bruffin, that's really encouraging. Must remember to ask att eh school open days what would be allowable, especially at her current school where the EP is compulsory for AS students.

So is the EP well respected by University admissions, or just an unnecessary addition to the workload?

Given the choiuce, is it better to go for a school where the EP is not compulsory, so can concentrate on AS?

EvilTwins Sat 20-Oct-12 18:13:37

EP is seen as a good thing by universities, compared to,say, General Studies, but it is in no way necessary. I would take EP over a compulsory 5th AS.

circular Sat 20-Oct-12 18:19:05

EvilTwins - Is that because the workload would be less?

On the one hand DD likes the idea of the school that has the compulsory 5th AS, as it has a better music department and subjects not clashing.

On the other hand, she would quite like to stay at her current school.

We need to find more schools to look at!

EvilTwins Sat 20-Oct-12 18:21:59

Yes, a 5th AS is unnecessary work, for no good reason other than increasing the school's average points per student for its league table place. If you look on the UCAS website, even the top universities are clear about how many A Levels they want from students, and it tends to be 3. An EP tells universities that the student has the ability to study independently.

circular Sat 20-Oct-12 18:30:04

So the EP does not give UCAS points then? I thought it was worth the same as an AS.

Not sure if the Universities she will be applying to will be the 'top' ones that ask for grades, or furhter down the scale where points are used. Depends which courses are most suitable, at the time - so possibly a mixture of both. As she wants to do a BMus, it is likely to be CUKAS as well as UKAS applications.

mumslife Sat 20-Oct-12 20:25:34

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

gelo Sat 20-Oct-12 20:43:03

A fifth AS is usually unnecessary, but there are just a few very rare occasions when it can be useful.

For example: if applying to a very, very competitive course, some universities rank people on overal UCAS points (eg medicine at Barts). Obviously an extra AS is an advantage here (as are music exams etc). Last year their cut off was high enough that without doing 4 A2s or 5ASs or extra music type things your UCAS score with perfect grades would not have been enough to get an interview.

Another example is scholarships offering fee discounts/complete remission in some cases. Maths at Southampton, for example, offers to pay all tuition fees if you have 5As or better at full A level on entry to their maths courses (obviously you need 5 AS and A2 and at A or above for this). I think this is very rare, not heard of anything else similar and there's a risk they could change the requirements to eg 4A* between you starting A levels and applying, but it does show 5 isn't always a waste of time, especially if the 5th subject is of particular interest.

gelo Sat 20-Oct-12 20:44:58

EP is worth the same as an AS circular - in fact if you get an A* it can be worth slightly more as its not possible to get an A* with EP.

gelo Sat 20-Oct-12 20:46:17

not poss to get A* at AS sorry, but it is possible with an EP. And it was UCAS points I was refering to when I said 'worth more'.

LadyLetch Sat 20-Oct-12 21:09:50

Where I work, we have just had an email from Sputhampton Uni stating if students do the EPQ and get an A, they will lower the offer on their actual A levels ( so AAB to ABB for example). They justified this by saying they valued and encouraged the EPQ.

circular Sat 20-Oct-12 22:27:16

Mumslife - Difficult isn't it. Especially if there is some flexbility on the subjects they want to do. We are feeling that the environment is as important as the subjects, if not more so.

Sounds like you are ahead of us, as we have no open days until early next month for the state schools. The superselectives and very oversubscribed comps do not have open evenings at all as they have 15 to 20 applicants for every place.

DD does not even have predicted grades yet. We suspect (and hope) it will be A*/A for Music & Maths, A/B for French, B for Eng Lit & Geog, A* for Physics, A for Chem & Biology. Already taken Eng Lang and got a B.

So possibly not good enough for the superselectives, and she does not want an all girls school.

mumslife Sat 20-Oct-12 22:46:55

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

circular Sat 20-Oct-12 23:14:53

mumslife - yes it's awful not being able to visit first. That's mainly schools in the neighbouring LA . Comps, but hugely oversubscribed as local colleges so. dire. Will apply to some blind, am told they offer visits to the 300 or so they shortlist. For DD, the Music department is a big issue, so she would want to see that before committing.

We are not in a grammar school area, but there are some that are reachable, but think we have already ruled them out either on distance or for being single sex.

Applications for most in our LA not till end of Jan, neighbouring LA even later.

Can relate to the changing subjects to fit school bit though - can see DD doing that depending on how much she likes the music department lol.

I think it's complicated because there is so much choice. you can go further afield and also apply for schools that you may not have met the entry criteria for in yr7.

Glad DD2 is only yr5, so we don't need to seriously do the secondary school rounds for her until next year. But to add to the mix, if DD1 leaves her current school we lose the sibling link and it is only 50/50 that DD2 would get in on distance.

mumslife Sat 20-Oct-12 23:43:23

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

circular Sun 21-Oct-12 13:42:58

Mumslife - I heard something similar in our area on the dip in birthrate for current year 5 and 6 age groups. And as you say 1996/97 was higher.

The travel is not too much of a problem here. One possible school further out, but stil in our LA, has a bus that goes but it's a 15 min drive to pick up the bus at around 7am. Guess she would have to organise herself better, as the current 8:5 leaving allows homework in the morning. There's also the problem withe travel after any extra CA stuff.

She has also been recommended an ideal school outside of our LA that she has a a particularly good chance of getting into. But over an hour travel, 3 separate trains, in an extremely rough area, so DH and I not too keen on that.

Still googling like mad for schools we may not have thought of as reachable,. There is a local catholic school that does not have the faith criteria for 6th form. But they have to chose 3A2 and 1As from the outset, so cannto make a decision which to drop later, And the only subject on the AS list of DD's possible choices is Maths, which is one she would more likely want to take to A2.

circular Sun 21-Oct-12 15:24:41

gelo - I suspect DD wil be applying for some competitive courses, but not to the extent of requiring 4 A2's or more. More like AAA to ABB for the RG Unis. and BB to DD for the Conservatoires. The tiebreakers will always be the audition.

She still has the school that wants 5As at the top of her list though.

mumslife Sun 21-Oct-12 19:38:54

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

gelo Sun 21-Oct-12 21:55:38

In her case, and in the vast majority of cases, I'm sure 5 ASs is completely unnecessary and quite possibly counter-productive circular. I just feel when people state 5ASs have no merit (except for school league tables) that the rare occasions when they might be useful need to be pointed out. It really is very few instances though, so perhaps I shouldn't bother.

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