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Sixth form - same school or college?

(21 Posts)
Travelban Sun 19-Apr-20 10:00:07

DD1 is in year 10 in a small, non selective independent school. It isn't academic particularly but she liked it for the very small class sizes.

She has started thinking about sixth form - wants to do maths, biology and chemistry.. Aiming for medicine. Choices are staying at the same school... Only advantage is very small class sizes (6-10 girls) or college (there are a couple round here).

She would prefer a change of scenery and a bigger set up, but I am also worried about any ramifications./complications...any experience of this? Will lab work be more limited/difficult to follow at the college because of bigger numbers? (this was her main concern).

I know it's a personal decision ultimately, but we are all very undecided at the moment...

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JemilyJ Sun 19-Apr-20 10:16:39

I didn’t do those subjects but A’level classes don’t tend to be huge. Everyone I know who swapped to college from our all girls (state) school managed the transition to uni better than those who stayed to sixth form.

Travelban Sun 19-Apr-20 10:30:32

That's really great to know, thank you.

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BubblesBuddy Sun 19-Apr-20 10:30:48

I would go where there is a track record of high results in these subjects AND they get pupils into med school. You need very high calibre teaching and small classes is not really relevant in my view.

All school moves carry a degree of risk but if she’s in a tiny minority of scientists at her school, is this the best place to be? What are their results like in these subjects? Do they ever get DC into medical school? Do they know the time of day with this very competitive course? This is what I would want to know above all else!

It friends what you mean by college. A high achieving 6th form college or a less academic one. What would be wrong looking for a high achieving academic school?

BubblesBuddy Sun 19-Apr-20 10:31:54

Aaah! It depends what you mean by college....

FluffyEarMuffs Sun 19-Apr-20 10:35:29

Stay put. If there is any sort of future periods of remote learning, far far better to be in the pastoral care set up of a school that has known you for years, and has data tracking for you academically.

So many students I know regret the move to a sixth form College this year.

Pipandmum Sun 19-Apr-20 10:50:50

Sixth form classes do tend to be a lot smaller. And it all depends on the school.
I'm moving my daughter from a medium sized non selective mixed school for sixth form. Initially it was because she wanted an all girls school with more academic rigour. We looked at sixth form colleges but as we would be new to the area and they tend to have a bigger population in general and the kids go in for classes but don't stay at the school, it would be hard for my introvert child to get involved and feel part of the college community. So we are looking at similar sized schools that have a sixth form. Be sure to visit each one as theres nothing like being there to understand the environment. For example Wimbledon High School and Putney High look very similar on paper (similar cohort, size, standard and area) but we were very disappointed in WHS but loved PHS.

titchy Sun 19-Apr-20 11:33:13

Not sure why labs would be more difficult in a larger college confused presumably if there are 100 kids doing chemistry they'll be taught in different classes not all at the same time. Check the results of the college but bear in mind it's intake - one requiring 5 x grade 5s will have very different results from one needing 8 x grade 8s, have a look round once it's opened, does it have a track record of medicine applications etc etc.

Xylophonics Sun 19-Apr-20 11:51:07

My DDs 6th form college has around 18 in the classes. Agree it is worth looking at the strengths of the college vs school. In her practicals they actually each get a tray of the equipment needed, making it easier to do the work.
I personally went to a small school 6th form and found the step up to doing practicals at uni ( in a massive lab, 100 on the course) a tough step up... so worth bearing that in mind.

In general the students at 6th form college are expected to get on with it, be independent, with far less parental involvement than school.

Travelban Sun 19-Apr-20 17:24:52

Thank you so much for all the input. The college we were thinking of has a medicine track but I don't know how many kids they put through that. I think it is supposed to be a way to give them more support.we we're going to look around it after Easter but clearly that is not possible. We will do this as sson as we can.

Thanks also for the lab comment, I will pass that on.

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mumsneedwine Sun 19-Apr-20 17:53:20

She'll be fine at college. My DD did those subjects and is now a 2nd year medic. Her college had 600+ taking some subjects but classes tended to be between 18-22. Labs were Uni sized.

Travelban Sun 19-Apr-20 18:12:17

Thanks mumneedswine, it sounds promising!

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BubblesBuddy Sun 19-Apr-20 19:13:15

There are colleges and colleges! They really are not all the same. If you cannot visit, ask the Head of Science for stats. How many on the medic programme and how many are successful? What universities do they go to? I can certainly think of some colleges where few get the A levels that would be good enough or have any idea about advising on work/observation experience, the differing requirements of the universities and how to prepare for the tests and interviews. Others will be spot on. So ask what they really offer.

Decorhate Sun 19-Apr-20 19:51:25

I agree that you really have to do your research & colleges vary. Where we live, most schools have 6th forms and whilst the one college does do A Levels it is more a Further Education college so most students are doing vocational subjects.

If your Dd would like to change, have you considered going to a different school’s 6th Form? My dd changed from an all-girls school to a boys school that takes girls in the 6th form. She wanted somewhere that was very strong on Maths & Science whereas her old school was stronger on Humanities - she also applied for Medicine.

Travelban Sun 19-Apr-20 20:13:56

We live in a low performing area, which is why dd ended up in an independent school.. Neither colleges or schools have really high results and there aren't any grammar schools either. There are Hugh achieving schools with sixth forms but there are all about an hour away.

The college in question has en 'excellece orogramme' for kids with a high gcse average who wish to study medicine or go to oxbridge and on thr website they say they support them with that. I do know they send some to oxbridge every year, which is quite impressive considering the catchment and the results overall.

It doesn't sound like a great choice, does it?! 😆

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BubblesBuddy Sun 19-Apr-20 22:40:40

You don’t have a great choice but if they do get some to Oxbridge then they are not hopeless!! It does mean they have a cohort of bright DC. That’s positive. I would ask specifically about medicine though because that can be tougher than some subjects at Oxbridge in terms of applicant/place ratio.

Travelban Mon 20-Apr-20 09:44:33

Thanks, I definitely will. So glad I posted, lots of great advice here!!

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Decorhate Wed 22-Apr-20 08:23:46

To be honest, although dd’s school was supportive they did not do anything specifically to help her with her application (maybe arranged one mock interview). I did a lot of the research with her in terms of which unis she had the best chance of getting an interview at. They generally have to prepare for the UKCAT and BMAT themselves (though BMAT is sat at school).

So if the 6th form college is strong academically the rest she can do herself.

Travelban Wed 22-Apr-20 09:27:02

That's what I am thinking...there is so much information online and there are even online courses to prepare for thr BMat.. I know the independent school she attends doesn't really prepare them either..

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BubblesBuddy Wed 22-Apr-20 10:08:31

I would assume the support from school would be reminders such as early application, work experience, getting DC to check the entry requirements at universities and matching students to the courses that suit them best. I would think 1:1 meetings with the tutor responsible for this should happen to check on progress. As they have to write a reference they should know if DCs are doing what they need to do to enhance their suitability for the course. Lots of the interviews have 10 components. Is there info on these? Any prep/visit that can be done? I’m sure you need to do a lot yourself but if a school says it has support, I think it’s fair to know what this is.

Travelban Wed 22-Apr-20 10:37:49

Yes, it's on my list of things to ask now... Bubbles I think I will lift yours here :-)

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