Urmston Grammar: Sixth Form Prospectus
We are delighted that you are considering pursuing post 16 study here at Urmston Grammar School. Becoming a Sixth Form student is a huge decision and Urmston Grammar is an “outstanding” choice, (not just our view, but Ofsted’s too!). Join a dynamic and prestigious Science College as your stepping stone to the future, and remember – we exist to meet your needs, work for your successes and support you whenever you need advice, guidance or just a helping hand.
Our Sixth Form is a vibrant community with our Science College offering exciting, unique and challenging alternatives, beyond just the teaching room experience. Add world-wide study to your intellectual agenda, discover our community and enjoy our environment.
Feel confident in your choice, we look forward to working with you.
Thank you for showing an interest in Urmston Grammar School. As a Science College with Language Specialism, we believe we are unique in providing our students with inspiration, independence and the star qualities necessary to meet the challenge of the future.
Learning beyond the classroom; in the community; via digital communities and through international world-wide experience can be yours if you choose to join us for success!
The purpose of our Open Evening, which will be held on Monday, 14th November and the aim of this Prospectus, is to help you to make two very important decisions:
1. You must be sure that as an individual, you select the best environment to study and one with a proven record of success.
2. The courses you select should be in subjects you are enthusiastic about learning, areas you are good at and those that will support your future interests and aspirations.
Join us on the pathway to success in the very best combination of college and school cultures; the best possible Sixth Form experience.
What do you want from your two years studying A levels?
What other experiences do you already have that you would like to develop?
Are you prepared to gain new skills and to try new activities?
Do you have a positive attitude towards studying and can you be self-disciplined about revision? Are you ready to make more new friends than you have ever had?
If you can answer most of these questions then: we think you are ready to join us on the pathway to success in the very best combination of college and school cultures; the best possible Sixth Form experience.
URMSTON GRAMMAR SIXTH FORM – “an outstanding experience”
There are approximately 155 Sixth Form places available in Year 12. We offer a wide range of Advanced level courses which lead over 90% of the Upper Sixth into Higher Education. Others go on to take a well organised gap year, to pursue a specific career interest, such as in dance, some follow Art Foundation courses and others find opportunities in employment, sometimes in Professional Apprenticeships, earning a salary and studying simultaneously.
Join our ‘learning campus.’ Students at the Urmston site have access to high-quality facilities, including a Learning Resource Centre for independent learning, ICT suites with free campus wide WiFi and your own state of the art cloud computing facility, a free fitness suite, library, a full size sports hall, astroturf, drama studio/theatre, many new science laboratories and a state of the art music facility, an auditorium in the round and a Training Suite/Conference Facilities.
In addition, we offer the highest level of personal support to all our Sixth Form, we challenge you to find a more committed and caring team of teachers anywhere. Our teaching staff are highly qualified and we think they are simply the best.
“outstanding”, Ofsted 2008
There is a strong tradition of students staying on from within the school but approximately 30% of our Lower Sixth Form have entered Urmston Grammar from up to 20 other schools. At present there are approximately 300 Sixth Form students. We operate a Mentor System to help all new students to settle in quickly.
What does the post-16 curriculum mean for students in Urmston Grammar School Sixth Form?
In Year12 all students take 4 AS subjects plus AS General Studies, making 5 AS subjects.
In Year 13 students take 3 of their AS subjects forward to A2 level (dropping one of their 4 AS subjects) plus taking General Studies through to A2 level. Some very able students choose to continue with all 4 subjects at A2 level or study an additional new AS level, whilst continuing with 3 A2s plus General Studies.
Which AS and A2 levels should I take?
You may have a number of subjects you like, or you are good at two or three and find it difficult to find a fourth. There are no set rules but the following points should be borne in mind:-
* For certain careers in science you will need a complete programme of science and mathematics if you want to go on to degree courses in those fields, e.g. medicine, engineering, veterinary science etc.
* For many careers these days, a combination of arts and sciences is acceptable. What matters is proof of your ability to work hard and to achieve good results. At present the majority of our students opt for this broad 'mix' of arts and sciences.
* You must enjoy the subject. It is not wise to do something you do not like just because it may be 'useful'. People who do this often lose incentive and do badly. Remember that you will only do well if you are interested and happy. If you are not a competent scientist it will not be wise to choose science because you think that there will be a lucrative career at the end for you. If you have no definite career in mind as yet, then you should choose the subjects that you enjoy and are successful in. Let us worry about guiding you towards a career.
Our best advice is to choose, at A/S level, the 3 subjects that you think you will want to take through to A2 level. Then, for your fourth AS level, choose a contrasting subject (e.g. if you are taking Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry at A/S level, then you might choose History or Geography or a language as a contrasting fourth choice. If you are taking History, English and Geography you might like to take Biology as your fourth AS level). Another option is to take a complementary subject (e.g. the Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry student might choose Biology or I.C.T. whilst the History, English, Geography pupil might opt for a Modern Foreign Language or Psychology or Sociology). If you are in doubt however; ask.
When are AS and A2 subjects assessed?
Most A level subjects consist of 4 modules; 2 of which are taken at both AS and A2 levels. The exceptions are Mathematics (6 modules) and Biology, Chemistry and Physics where the 3rd and 6th modules examine investigative and practical skills). Ofqual have recently announced that AS and A2 are to become linear examinations, which means that all AS and A2 modules will be examined in the summer terms of Year 12 and Year 13. It is our understanding that students will only be able to resit AS modules in June of Year 13.
What are my subject choices?
Read the prospectus, study the lists of subjects on the option lines and choose one AS level from each of lines A, B, C and D. Whether all the AS and A2 levels run in any one year depends on the number of students applying to take them. Until we know firm numbers we cannot guarantee that all option choices will be on offer.
“simply the best”.
We realise that the two years at Urmston Grammar Sixth Form will be extremely important to you.
* Staff will help you to develop sound independent learning skills.
* You will have the benefit of listening to, and questioning, a considerable number of external speakers on a huge variety of topics from Study Skills, Managing your Finances and Applying for Courses/Jobs, Interview Techniques, to Business Experience.
* Many free Science lectures are offered by Café Scientifique, local universities and the Royal Institution.
* The Form Tutor and their Associate will support you on a daily basis and will provide formal Mentoring Support, three times during the Sixth Form.
* Subject Mentoring will guide and support you on an individual basis.
* AS and A2 Consultation Evenings are there for you if you encounter difficulties. Students and their parents/guardians will be invited to meet individual Head of Departments to discuss strategies to improve grades.
* On Parents’ Evening, students and parents discuss progress with subject teachers.
* A Connexions Adviser is available in school ensuring that up-to-date information and advice is available.
* There is a constantly updated Sixth Form careers and higher education library.
* North West Universities come in to present information for you on all aspects of applying to university.
* There will be many teams and groups to join, such as the Mathematics Department run the Cipher Challenge and we have a lively debating team who last year went through to the regional finals.
As members of Urmston Grammar, all students in the Sixth Form (irrespective of age) are subject to the Child Protection and Safeguarding Policy that operates with the rest of the school. This policy is available, upon request, from Mrs G Ball (Vice Principal with responsibility for Child Protection Safeguarding).
Community Work/Physical Education—COPE
This is a compulsory, but eminently enjoyable, part of the Year 12 curriculum and operates every Wednesday afternoon whereby students take part in their own placements. At the end of the year a report is compiled based on staff observations at the placement itself. These reports are used extensively when Higher Education or employment references are written and depending on your commitments can be very persuasive when added to your qualifications.
Work experience is hugely varied and in the last year has involved working in a solicitor’s office, travel agency, newspaper and media industries, and veterinary practices. Most often students arrange their own placement such as:
* helping in a local primary or special school or in the school crèche;
* carrying out horticultural work in our UGS garden;
* visiting patients and operating the mobile library at Trafford General Hospital;
* working in old people’s homes;
* helping in charity shop;
* hospital/health work/care shadowing.
These lists are not exhaustive and many students come up with their own ideas. Currently a group of physics students are involved in an Engineering project. Students will be expected to undertake at least one community activity or period of work experience in the year and we prefer students to do an activity other than sport for some of the year.
Students have the option of pursuing a sporting activity on site, usually a mix of Fitness Suite, badminton, soccer, basketball, table tennis or off site swimming at a local leisure centre etc.
It may be possible for students to follow courses for which a course fee is payable in advance, such as yoga or boxing which is offered by the Amateur Boxing Association and provides the student with a recognised qualification.
Charity Work: our Sixth Formers give generously of their time and energy to organise functions and sponsored events for charity. Children in Need, Barnardo’s, N.S.P.C.C., Senior Citizens and disadvantaged children have all benefited from their efforts.
Support for Younger Students
There are many opportunities for Sixth Formers offer support for younger students. There is a team of ten Senior Prefects elected by staff and the Sixth Form and, in addition, prefects are attached to every form in the school. These form prefects play a leading role in helping teachers with the social and academic development of younger pupils. Sixth Formers engage with younger pupils in such activities as Lower School Discos, Drama Club, coaching football, netball and basketball teams, form fundraising, school productions, giving talks in PSE, Expo Day and within a small and highly active team of trained support mentors—the list is never ending.
Trips Out of School
Opportunities exist for Sixth Formers to go on field trips to Yorkshire (Biologists) and Snowdonia (Geographers). Art students usually visit the London galleries whilst Theatre Studies students will visit many different theatres. Both French and German students have the opportunity to participate in exchanges with foreign students. This year the Sociology students attended a Revision Conference whilst Psychology students visited Chester Zoo! The Maths students can go to the university of Manchester for Maths inspiration and these are only examples of the many visits arranged.
A Social life!
In addition to playing an active part in whole school events, there are many rich opportunities to socialise within the Sixth Form. The Sixth Form enjoy their own Common Room where they can relax and listen to music. In addition, drinks, sandwiches and snacks are served all day in the Sixth Form Common Room and full lunches are available in Newton Hall. Information about universities and colleges is available in the Learning Resource Centre where students can browse through all the prospectuses of Higher Education institutions. There is a large Sports Hall and all-weather pitch for practices as well as a free membership of our fitness suite. Seasonal parties are organised independently by the Senior Prefects for the Sixth Form. The Upper Sixth organise their own leaving ‘Prom’ at a town centre hotel. This is attended by Sixth Form tutors and teaching staff and is a truly memorable night.
Careers and Guidance
“we challenge you to find better!”
Advice on career opportunities is readily available in the Sixth Form through the tutors, Head and Assistant Heads of Sixth Form, subject teachers and ‘Connexions’. Each year all Year 12 students are taken to a major external Higher Education convention in Manchester. During the Sixth Form, the Careers Advisor from ‘Connexions’ will interview students who require advice. There is a seven-week Careers Education Module offered in PSE at the end of Year 12. Students are encouraged to attend university and college Open Days as well as courses for prospective applicants in many fields, Mathematics, Law, Medicine, Engineering, Psychology and Sociology and Forensic Science. News of sponsorships, usually for engineers, is given when sent to school. Speakers from The University of Manchester, The University of Salford, The University of Liverpool and Manchester Metropolitan University, give presentations to the Sixth Form. A Gap Year company also present on the advantages of volunteering overseas and this year we had an inspiring presentation on undergraduate studies abroad. Individual companies often approach us to give presentations to students and to look for prospective applicants, for example, students have met with Morgan Stanley and The Bank of New York
The school organises a day long ‘Business Enterprise’ course at the end of Year 12. Numerous industrialists and business men and women involve students in group work, problem solving and business games. There is also a one-day course on ‘Interview Technique and Practice’. All students have interviews and sit in on those of others, receiving expert advice from their interviewers. An Admissions Tutor from a local Higher Education institution gives advice on the writing of the UCAS forms. Students who are uncertain over Higher Education courses or career direction can seek additional help through the ‘Centigrade Scheme’. Early in Year 13 Manchester Metropolitan University kindly visit us with their ‘Roadshow’ to help with applications to university. The Manchester Chamber of Commerce may assist us with a lecture on Professional Modern Apprenticeships, for post ‘A’ level entry, dependant upon availability of places.
Young Enterprise is a national scheme that enables students to run their own business for one year, giving valuable experience and insight into the business world. Like a real business, a board of directors is elected, shares are sold, a marketing campaign is carried out and financial records are kept. Communication, organisation and teamwork are developed by involvement in Young Enterprise. Young Enterprise really does give students true experience of working in business. For anyone looking to venture into a business-related career, or for somebody who wants to supplement their involvement in school life, being part of Young Enterprise in year 12 is extremely worthwhile.
As you can see, we want students to leave Urmston Grammar School with the skills, qualities and experience that employers and Higher Education institutions require. We believe that active participation in all that the school has to offer, will allow each student to achieve this.
Organisation of Sixth Form
The School Week
The timetable is organised over 40 teaching periods in a 5-day week. Each period lasts 35 minutes, but students are mainly timetabled for a ‘double period’ of 1 hour 10 minutes or 4 double lessons per day. On Thursday an additional period of 30 minutes is timetabled after morning registration for Citizenship and Personal and Social Education (P.S.E.).
The start of the school day is 8.35 a.m. – students must be in their form rooms by 8.35 a.m. and lessons finish at 3.25 p.m.
Students have the use of Newton Hall for hot meals at lunchtime although many students buy sandwiches served in the Sixth Form Common Room or pasta from the ‘Hot Snacks Bar’. A walk in to Urmston is also an option, weather not withstanding!
Tutor Groups and Mentoring.
On entry into the Sixth Form, students are placed in a tutorial group where both a Form Tutor and an Associate Form Tutor get to know each student and during the first term each student will be assigned a Personal Mentoring Tutor who will work closely with them throughout Sixt Form. The two tutors assist with the mentoring process. At the start of the Lower Sixth, all students are set Target Minimum Grades based on their GCSE results. The mentoring process involves individual interviews between the Personal Mentoring Tutor and their student on at least two occasions a year when academic progress is discussed against Target Minimum Grades. Practical support, improvement strategies and new targets are offered. The targets set are recorded by both the student and by the Mentor and are then reviewed at the next session. All students are encouraged to seek help and advice from their form and subject tutors throughout their time in the Sixth Form and many students will have Subject Mentoring in their chosen subjects. Year 12 students who find aspects of a subject quite challenging can be linked to a peer subject mentor in Year 13, who can offer support and advice.
Citizenship/Personal and Social Education
A weekly Citizenship/PSE course is timetabled every Thursday. The course aims to help students on a personal, vocational and academic level. It is hoped that a positive and caring Sixth Form ethos will be maintained whilst academic work and citizenship will be complemented.
Examinations & Reporting to Parents
Year 12 staff will internally assess students in October and Result Sheets are sent home immediately after the first half term. The intention here is to monitor students’ initial approach to AS levels and to the school. These reports are used in the mentoring process early in November, and any students giving cause for concern are interviewed by the Head/Assistant Heads of Sixth Form. Form and Subject teachers also complete a snapshot report on all the newcomers and their progress will be discussed at Mentoring Day. This is also followed up by a Year 12 Parents’ Evening. Mock Class Tests in all four subjects take place in November and results are sent home in December. Normally, there is an AS Consultation Evening after the external module results in March, for underachieving students, but timing of this and the mock tests is under review in light of Ofqal's announcements. In Summer term of Year 12, a full written Record of Achievement for the whole year is sent home.
Progression: The majority of students are successful at AS level and progress into the Upper Sixth Form to complete their A levels. However, it should be noted that entry into the Upper Sixth Form is not automatic and that under-performing students may not be allowed to progress into Year 13, as we anticipate all students should achieve at least ‘D’ grade in the three AS subjects that they wish to continue to A2 level.
In September an A2 Consultation Evening is held for students who have underachieved at AS level. Parents’ Evening is held in November and this is followed by Mock Class Tests based on one term’s work and a Results Sheet is sent to parents in December. Students receive their Profile of Achievement before the 'A' level examinations. Summer Mock Tests are held in April, as preparation for the external June A2 examinations.
You may gain the impression that you are under the spotlight; the reality is that we provide what we believe to be an outstanding level of support in our work to ensure that you are not ignored, anonymous and uncertain.
Urmston Grammar is a SCHOOL, as well as a Science and Language College; an environment for work and for setting an example to younger students and to the local community. To recognize growing maturity and individuality, we do not require Sixth Form to wear uniform. However, we require adherence to some basic standards of business-style dress.
Students are expected to wear smart, dark, business-like clothing and footwear. Clothing must be neat, clean and suitable for a school environment. Shabby or dirty clothing and footwear are not acceptable.
Appearance is one criterion by which students are judged, both in and out of school.
* Students must wear either suits or business-like separates.
* All students are expected to wear a smart jacket around school.
* Trousers for boys and girls must be of a formal-cut, dark, smart and in excellent condition. Hipsters should not be too low. Jeans or casual trousers (jeans style), cropped trousers or shorts are not acceptable. Leggings are not allowed.
* Boys are expected to wear shirts. Short-sleeved, open-necked and light-coloured shirts are acceptable and may be worn over trousers. Polo shirts or t-shirts are inappropriate. Students may wear ties.
* Footwear must be formal (business-like), clean, dark and in good order. Pupils must be safe in school, therefore flip-flops, beach-style shoes and high heels are considered unpractical. Trainers of any description are not allowed.
* Tops must not deliberately reveal immodest amounts of cleavage or midriff. Sleeveless tops should have a shoulder width of at least 6 centimetres; spaghetti strap shoulders are not acceptable. Tops need not be dark in colour. Any visible brand logo or pattern must be small.
* Skirts and Dresses must be dark (not denim), relatively plain with a formal-cut and be a reasonable length to allow sitting decently, not more than a few centimetres above the knee.
* Headgear/hats must not be worn within school, unless for religious reasons.
* Hair colour should look natural, avoiding colours such as blue, green etc.
* Body piercings other than earrings, are not allowed in Sixth Form.
It is a condition of entry that students agree to the Dress Code. High standards are expected in dress as well as in work. Failure to follow the guidelines will result in a student being asked to go home to change or alternatively to wear clothing/footwear provided by the school.
The Senior Management Team reserves the right to alter the Dress Code at any time if they are unhappy with the overall appearance and cooperation of the Sixth Form.
Attendance and Punctuality.
Students are expected to be present at morning and afternoon registration. Punctuality is particularly important in the Sixth Form. Students arriving late should sign the late book at the Main Office and inform their Form Tutors that they have arrived. Students should be aware that if their attendance falls below 90% they may be withdrawn from a course and all associated examinations.
In Year 12, Sixth Formers can leave the premises at lunchtime but not at break times or at any other time without first obtaining permission from the Head or Assistant Head of Sixth Form. Arrangements may differ for Year 13 students.
Requests for known leave of absence should be addressed to the Principal or Assistant Head of Sixth Form accompanied by a completed permission slip, obtainable from the Sixth Form Secretary, Mrs. Plano or the School Office.
On returning to school after absence, a letter of explanation must be produced for the Form Tutor. However, the student may write this letter provided that it is countersigned by a parent or guardian. An ‘Absence Notes’ page is also available in the Handbook. This forms an important part of all reference requests for employment and Higher Education.
Students are given study leave of absence around the time of internal and external examinations at the discretion of the Head of Sixth Form in order that they may revise. Parents are informed of the dates as they vary each year according to examination dates.
Parental Contact with School.
The education of students involves a partnership between parents, the student and the school. For this reason, it is essential that the school and parents are mutually supportive. The school welcomes parents and they are invited to contact us over any matter which concerns them about their child. The first point of contact will normally be the Form Tutor and then the Head of Sixth Form or the Assistant Heads. The Principal is, of course, pleased to speak with parents, but she will frequently have to refer to the Head of School in any case. Parents who wish to see the Head of Sixth Form are asked to telephone for an appointment. There is a Sixth Form Home School Agreement for parents and students to sign at the start of the Sixth Form. The school will inform parents of the academic performance and social development of their child at Progress Evenings and by written report.
N.B. Some of the above procedures, rules and the dress code are all included in a Student Handbook given to each student at the start of Year 12, to assist with their organisation.
You will need to have grades of at least ‘AAABBB’ at GCSE. Please be aware that many vocational courses are not a good grounding for A level study. All subject teachers would prefer you to have achieved a grade ‘B’ at GCSE if you have taken the subject and want to continue with it at AS level. However, it is possible to take up some subjects without having taken them at GCSE.
Minimum GCSE grade C’s will be expected in English Language and Mathematics from all students, even if these subjects are not being studied beyond GCSE. However, if this is not the case, additional GCSE resit lessons can be arranged. It is important to have passed these subjects before you leave the Sixth Form both for employment and university.
Applying as an Urmston Grammar student:
Return your completed form to your Form Tutor. You will be given the time to discuss your choices, estimated grades at GCSE and whether ‘A’ level courses are right for you. At the Sixth Form Information Evening, discussions of Department and advice and information about the post-16 system will be available for you. In December, Heads of Department will hold lunchtime drop-in sessions to help, if you need any additional information. Applications must be received by January 18th 2013 and alll internal students will receive a decision as soon as possible. You can then enrol for your ‘A’ levels on GCSE Results Day.
Applying as a Newcomer:
All external students should send their application forms to Mrs Plano or complete the online application form. Your school will be contacted for your predicted grades. If they meet our entry requirements, we will offer you a place. All applicants and their parents should attend the Sixth Form Information Evening. Discussions with Heads of Department and advice and information about the post-16 system will be available for you. Students applying from other schools will receive a reply as soon as we have processed your application. Applications must be received by January 18th 2013. In June you will be invited to an Induction Afternoon when you can meet other Sixth Form applicants, enjoy a free buffet and remind yourself what challenges and opportunities lie ahead.
If you obtain the necessary GCSE grades in August, then you should enrol on GCSE Results Day. All students will be seen individually to confirm their subject choices. In exceptional circumstances, such as if you are away on holiday, you will be able to confirm acceptance by email or phone.
If you are on holiday or unable to enrol, please telephone the school on GCSE Results Day on 0161 748 2875 or email
to confirm that you wish to accept the place.