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.
Thank you for showing an interest in Urmston Grammar. As a Science & Language College with Academy status, we believe we are unique in providing our students with inspiration, independence and the qualities necessary to meet the challenges 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, 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.
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 many new friends?
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.
There are approximately 160 Sixth Form places available in Year 12. We offer a wide range of Advanced level courses which lead over 85% 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, a free fitness suite, reading library, a full size sports hall, astroturf, a drama studio/theatre, many modern 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.
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 250 Sixth Form students. We operate an induction and transition programme and a Personal Mentoring system to help all 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. Our most able students take General Studies A level within Year 12, producing top results which often impress universities and lead to most favourable offers.
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.
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; please ask. We would suggest that you avoid too many essay based subjects and avoid too many ‘new’ subjects – two will most definitely be a challenge.
The Russell Group of universities has compiled a list of the subjects which are identified as ‘Facilitating’. These research universities prefer students to have at least two ‘Facilitating’ subjects at A2 level. Further details are available on www.russellgroup.ac.uk/
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). All AS and A2 modules are now examined in the summer terms of Year 12 and Year 13 respectively. 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.
Staff will help you to develop sound independent learning skills.
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).
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;
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.
There are many opportunities for Sixth Formers to 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 PSHE, Expo Day and within a small and highly active team of trained peer support mentors—the list is never ending.
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.
In addition to playing an active part in whole school events, there are many rich opportunities to socialise within the Sixth Form. The students enjoy their own Sixth Form space where they can study and socialise in a more relaxed atmosphere. In addition, drinks, sandwiches and snacks are served all day 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.
(EPQ) Extended Project Qualification
We introduce the AQA Extended Project Qualification to all Y12 in the Autumn Term and anticipate that around 15% of students will choose to take this opportunity. Students may need to make an application, dependent on the numbers who express an interest, justifying their subject/topic and why they are passionate to extend their learning in this area. The process will be overseen by Mr. Fletcher, who will be assisted by a small group of supervisors.
The Extended Project Qualification is based on an in-depth study which can take the form of an experiment, essay or project. Topic areas need not be based on a subject studied at A Level, although this is often seen as an opportunity to extend understanding in an area that may be continued at university. Students may choose to base their project on an interest or hobby that is pursued outside school. It is recommended that students spend up to 120 guided learning hours on their project. This includes meeting with their supervisor, planning, researching, organising, creating, drafting and writing. Projects will need to be completed by an agreed deadline and students will have to present their work, in its many forms, to an audience of students, staff, family and possibly guests.
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 an extensive Careers Education Module offered in PSHE from January in 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, and often other universities further from home, 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, in 2013 students have met with Morgan Stanley and The Bank of New York.
The school organises 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 Enterpriseis 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.
In July 2014, Year 12 students will have the opportunity to take work experience placements for up to five days.
We want students to leave Urmston Grammar with the skills, qualities and experience that employers and Higher Education institutions admire. We believe that active participation in all that the school has to offer, will allow each student to achieve this.
Year 12 staff will internally assess students in the October Baseline Tests and Result Sheets are given to parents at Parents’ Evening which is held 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 also 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 followed up by a Year 12 Parents’ Evening. Autumn Class Tests take place in all four subjects in the Main Hall, to familiarise students with the process, and results are sent home.
Spring Tests are held in February/March and there is an AS Consultation Evening in March, for students who are underachieving. All results are sent home and students are supported with additional Mentoring session. In the 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 significantly underachieved against their TMG’s but have continued onto A2 with at least three D grades. Subject teachers grade individual progress in November to advise further support that may be required by the Sixth Form Team. Autumn Class Tests and Parents’ Evening are held in December and Results Sheets are sent home to parents. Spring Tests are held in February/March and the results are again sent home. Students receive their Profile of Achievement before the 'A' level examinations.
Urmston Grammar is an Academy with Science and Language status; 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.
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.
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 Heads of Sixth Form. Arrangements may differ for Year 13 students.
Requests for known leave of absence should be addressed to the Vice Principal or Assistant Heads of Sixth Form accompanied by a completed permission slip, obtainable from the School Office or Sixth Form Secretary, Mrs Plano.
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.Study Leave
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 to 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.
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 with Heads of Department and advice and information about the post-16 system will be available for you. In December, Heads of Department will hold morning subject sessions to help, if you need any additional information. Applications must be received by January 17th 2014 and all internal students will receive a decision as soon as possible. You must then enrol for your ‘A’ levels on GCSE Results Day.
All external students should send their application forms to Mrs Plano either by post or by completing an online application. Your school will be contacted for your predicted grades. If these meet our entry requirements, we will offer you a place. At 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 will close on Friday, 17th January 2014. In June you will be invited to an Induction and Taster Day, 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 must 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.