One of the great pleasures of being the head of sixth form is watching students blossom into young adults as they take on greater responsibilities and begin to plot a pathway beyond the school gates.
It’s a time of huge change as they weigh up next steps and what they have to do to get there. Equally, the opportunities available to them have evolved considerably in recent years. Alongside A levels, today’s sixth formers have the choice of taking BTECs. They might go on to university, an apprenticeship, gap year or other form of employment.
A recent CBI survey found around half of young people say school left them unprepared for work and provided too few opportunities to get a taste of it through work experience or school visits. In an uncertain economic climate, it’s particularly important that students leave equipped with as many skills as possible to help them on the career ladder.
An effective sixth form must be academically challenging, of course, with staff who inspire students to study independently and develop the sort of inquiring minds which employers seek.
Leadership and collaborative abilities are usually high on employers’ wish lists, and these are developed through extra-curricular activities. Students filling in University UCAS application forms also need to show evidence of interests outside the classroom.
I believe if you offer a wide enough range of activities, as is the case at our school, everyone will find something they enjoy. Alongside our normal sporting and club activities we offer more than 70 different sixth form roles, activities which will help students towards the self-knowledge which informs future choices. They also offer a valuable change of focus which can help their sense of wellbeing.
We’re fortunate to have a thriving Old Pocklingtonian Association whose members extend to just about every career and span the world. OPs and OP parents are a regular source of advice and work experience. Our new Careers and Business Network (CBN), which exists for the whole School community, has already proved a useful insight into the world of work for our sixth formers, with speakers sharing their stories about achieving career success.
Underlying all of this, it is essential that a good Sixth Form provides strong pastoral care, with teachers offering students plenty of individual time and attention, coupled with continued two-way communication with home.
The success of our sixth form is built on our individual focus on helping each student progress their personal goals and motivations, their strengths and any areas of improvement.
Activities inside and outside the classroom are designed to empower students with the confidence and self-knowledge to know where they want to be, equip them with the tools to help them get there, and to enjoy the lifelong satisfaction of making a positive difference.