Sixth form applications and choices

What are your options at Sixth Form?

Stephen Spriggs
March 13th 2020

For many pupils and parents, there are two major decisions to make on the education journey: which senior school to attend, and which university. Sixth form – those vital two years that bridge the gap between adolescence and adulthood – are crucial to determine your next steps, and finding the right option for you is therefore just as important a decision as secondary school and university.  Sixth form applications and choices when it comes to the establishment are just as important as what to study, so if you’re working out where to take A Levels – or their equivalent – here’s what you need to know:

Don’t think staying on at your current school is your only choice

It can be difficult to leave, especially if you’re happy there, but it might be best for the next stage of your education. School sixth forms can be small, and even though yours may be renowned for its academic excellence, it may not have the variety of subjects you want to explore. Equally, if your school only offers A Level and you want to explore the breadth of the international baccalaureate (IB) (typically, three subjects are studied at A Level and six with IB), then consider moving. If you feel a more vocational route would suit you better, consider a school that offers BTEC qualifications.  

Your school may be single sex and you might feel that in order to prepare for adult life, it’s time to move to a mixed setting (many parents choose the ‘diamond formation’ of co-ed at primary, single sex at senior and co-ed again at sixth form). Similarly, you might want to leave the boarding environment and switch to day school, or the independent sector and switch to state (or vice versa – paying fees for two years at sixth form can be more manageable than five years at secondary). Maybe you just want a change. Whatever it is, moving at age 16 is now common, and pupils have a wide range of options.

A lot of your sixth form applications and choices will depend on where you hope to be afterwards. If it’s a Russell Group university, you may be guided by your GCSE results, the subjects in which you thrive and your hopes for a future career. Some sixth form colleges specialise in certain subjects and are good choices if you want to focus on a particular area before studying it in greater depth at university. For example, The Fine Arts College in Hampstead in London specialises in arts whereas the Cardiff Sixth Form College, which sits at the apex of the league tables, is expert in STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths).

So, when it comes to your sixth form applications and choices, it ultimately depends on what you want to study, whether you want to continue into higher education or employment. Like any stage in education, one size doesn’t fit all so it’s wise to do your research, consider your options and give it some serious thought.

If you would like any further advice or support on any of the above, contact our expert educational consultants today.

sixth form applications and choices