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6th form choices - Help Please

(16 Posts)
minesawine Mon 30-Nov-15 21:52:18

Hello. My DS1 is in Year 10 and I am starting to think about what he will do for 6th form. Can you let me know what the application process is. Is it the same as applying for secondary schools, where you list your top 6 preferences and then cross your fingers and hope for the best.

Also, what is the difference between a 6th form college and the 6th form in a school. I can understand if the school doesn't offer the subjects the child is intrested in, but apart from that why would you move your DC.

All advice most welcome. grin

Millymollymama Mon 30-Nov-15 22:27:42

Usually 6th form colleges offer more variety of courses and are bigger. Some schools do not have 6th forms, so pupils move on to a 6th form college. The difference is somewhat subjective and really down to you to find out what will suit your child. You can apply to school 6th forms in schools other than yours and there will probably be an educational requirement to get in, eg Grade A or B GCSE in the A levels your DS wants to take. Each school will probably have the application info on their web sites. They will also have the subjects taught on their web sites too. Last but not least, check the destinations of the pupils for the course your DS wants to take and the grades obtained. You want to go where the best teachers are and the best outcomes, whatever the subjects and aspirations of your DS.

YeOldeTrout Mon 30-Nov-15 23:00:45

Typically early applications are accepted in October-Nov of yr11. Most 6th forms have some places on some courses still available as late as August just before the start of yr12. If you like the school your DS1 is at, then why change indeed.

AtiaoftheJulii Mon 30-Nov-15 23:05:22

You can apply to as many or as few places as you like. My eldest was always keen to stay at her school, and we didn't look anywhere else. Next one looked at a couple of sixth form colleges, which have a hugely different feel to them than a school - one was about 3000 students and had a real buzz to it. She ended up staying at her school though as she decided that teachers who know her and really look after her was going to be more important to her.

aginghippy Tue 01-Dec-15 09:04:44

It's not the same as applying to secondary school - they apply to each school/college individually. Some sixth form applications are like mini university applications, they have to do a short personal statement saying why they chose their subjects, have to attend an interview. Many dc will get more than one offer. For example, my dd received 3 offers. One she declined straight away in April. The other 2 she held onto and didn't finally decide until enrollment at the end of August.

Colleges are generally bigger and have a more 'grown up' feel. Many have students who are over 18. School would potentially look after them more, have better pastoral care. Staying on at the same school means there is less of an adjustment and they can get stuck in with the work. And yes it is more work grin

Icouldbeknitting Tue 01-Dec-15 11:38:55

My DS is applying now to start September 2016. As others have said, he applied to each one individually and he can apply to as many as he likes and hold all the offers until enrolment day. Most we saw were "open access" which means that if you meet the minimum course requirements then you will be offered a place. The interview is to make sure that their course choices are in line with what they want to do next or if they don't have a clue then they are picking subjects that will give them access to a wide range of subject choices further down the line. We had one selective school sneak into our shortlist (not that they said they were selective in their prospectus but that's another story) and they would also have been looking at the most recent school report for past attendance and attitude to learning, their interview allowed prospective students to explain things on their report that might otherwise count against them.

DS is moving because he wants to do an A level that his current school don't offer. I think if his school magically came up with his A level he would still move now because he liked the feel of the sixth form college.

BackforGood Wed 02-Dec-15 20:35:06

No, it's not like applying for secondary - there is no "system". You go and look at each school / college you are thinking about (here, they all hold the open evening at the end of October / beginning of November) and you apply, individually for as few or as many as you like. You can also 'hold' as many as you like, should you get offered places - there is no LA overview saying your dc has a place here or there.

IME (we've done this twice) you need to be aware that, although a school has offered your dc a (conditional) place, and knows which A-levels they want to do, apparently this does not actually mean they can do their choice of A-level there, if the school decides on a different timetable. I was shock the first time this happened. To be fair, this might be a foible particular to my dcs' school, as everyone else I've spoken to has been shocked that in September of Yr12 (in ds's case) and July of Yr11 (in dd's case) the school decided neither of them could do the A-levels they' agreed to back in the Spring - despite good grades.

Hopefully - this is a problem just at their school and not nationally, but might e worth asking?

Come results day (and usually the day after, on the Friday) lots of places become available as people who didn't get grades free up places, and also people who had been holding two or three places, 'free up' the ones they aren't going to use. My experience here is that some schools have a massive reserve list so won't accept new applicants at this point, and others will. this is where it is similar to secondary - it depends on market forces and how popular the school is.

Icouldbeknitting Wed 02-Dec-15 21:00:37

Backforgood we went to four open evenings and all of them made it clear that they run courses subject to numbers. As we were looking for a minority A level (music) this was an issue for us, one of my standard questions was how many students do you need to run it and how many do you have this year. DS is going to the huge sixth form college that happily admitted that they never have enough students to make it viable but run it anyway.

mummytime Wed 02-Dec-15 21:56:11

DD had had enough of her school and wanted a more grown up environment.
She held two offers until pretty much enrolment day. She choose the right college for her.
The school sixth form does suggest having a plan B. I have also heard of the school sixth form having to drop some subjects due to budget issues.

BackforGood Wed 02-Dec-15 23:20:11

That's what I'd have expected with a minority subject, Icouldbe.
However, neither ds nor dd, were asking to do minority subjects.

It's not the fact that they couldn't accommodate the combination (in dd's case) or the fact he was a boy and the subject was very popular (in ds's case) that made me so angry (well, OK, the sex discrimination did but that's a whol other story) - it was the fact that at no point had the school ever given any indication that, once it was decided they were offering a subject, there was a possibility that a pupil with the right grades might not then be able to do that subject, after they had been offered a place in the Spring Term.

I was just pointing out, it's worth holding a 'Plan B' even if you think you will be alright with Plan A. It's also worth asking the questions about when you will know what subjects are being blocked against each other, etc.

Holstein Wed 02-Dec-15 23:30:07

Back- are you saying he couldn't do a subject because he is male? shock

What on earth was it?

BackforGood Wed 02-Dec-15 23:58:12

Didn't want to derail the thread, but, briefly.....
2 schools within 1/4 mile of each other (state, comprehensive) one is girls' school, other is boys' school. 6th form is supposed to be a joint 6th form, and you can do combinations where you are taught some subjects at each school or all at either one of them.

ds applied for subjects he wanted - all accepted subject to getting 5 or more GCSEs and at least Bs in the subjects they wanted to do for AS... all fine so far. When they started in Sept of Yr 12, he (and the 13 other boys who had been accepted to do this subject which was only being taught at the girls' school) were told they could no longer do it as they'd filled up all the places with girls !!! shock They claimed that, as it was a girls school, they had the right to make offers to the girls first (even those who changed their minds after GCSE results, and even those who didn't get as good grades), and then boys could only have a place if there were any left after that.

So, it wasn't the subject he was banned from, because it was that subject, it was a rule that was disclosed when it was far too late to do anything abut it.

Sorry OP - this is nothing to do with your question, other than a confession from me I went in to it all a bit innocently without enough cynicism and I didn't ask enough searching questions.

Holstein Thu 03-Dec-15 00:24:42

That's terrible. Surely if 14 extra people want to do a subject, you put on an extra class? Isn't that how it works?

Millymollymama Thu 03-Dec-15 01:34:46

Sounds like a priority system for existing pupils. Perhaps they could not get another teacher in September at short notice if changes were made after GCSE results. These things should be pointed out though. Very annoying.

BackforGood Thu 03-Dec-15 22:32:50

That's my point MillyMM - if 'giving priority to existing pupils' is a criteria, then incoming pupils need to know that, which we were never told.

However, if they gave priority to their own pupils in January / February, when he had his interview and there weren't enough places, then fair enough, but, what they did was just sweep aside the people who had been offered places after the GCSE results were out to give them to existing pupils who clearly hadn't said they were going to do that subject back in January / February. If they knew back when they made their choices, that there were enough applicants for 2 groups, then they could have either created two groups, or, if that wasn't possible, let everyone know that only half would get a place and what the criteria was.

Holstein - that's what the wonderful RE dept at the boys school did - gave up all their non-contact time to put on an extra course for the boys. They were WONDERFUL, but shouldn't have had to do it.

So, my tip for the OP is to ask how firm any offer is, and to get a back up even if there is one place they clearly want to be.

Holstein Thu 03-Dec-15 23:08:47

Wow- RE is very popular then!

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