Welcome to the Sixth Form blog/news page. I will post on here at least every Monday and more often as the occasion demands. It’s not a formal site as such and will not replace official announcements and letters but its intention is to reflect on sixth form experiences and events, to keep abreast of good practice in Post 16 education and to alert students and parents to opportunities now and for the future.
I know students have plenty of work to do in their A level subjects but I have an impassioned view that it is what they do beyond that which can often make the real difference in personal development, employability and fulfilment. So you’ll hear plenty on here about those opportunities.
Just to kick off I’ll mention three of my favourites:
TED talks is an online video library of thousands of talks on a huge variety of subjects. Always interesting, usually challenging and often entertaining.
Future Learn offers free online courses from universities and specialist organisations. I’ve done two so far and several students have taken them up. Have a look – they’re brilliant
Reading books makes a difference.
Have a great 2017!
Back after half term to a rainy June Monday but I hope the students haven’t noticed that much because both year 12 &13 have exams on their minds. Blazing sunshine doesn’t always lend itself to the best revision focus and routine.
The last blog was written before the appalling events in Manchester and London. I’m not going to pontificate here about it but we did spend tutor time and assemblies reflecting on Manchester. We’ll do the same this week to allow students to ask questions and share their perspective on the terrible events. I was impressed by students’ empathy and understanding and also their up to the minute knowledge of current affairs – something we promote strongly in tutor time and assemblies.
Those who are old enough will have the opportunity to vote on Thursday and it seems that record numbers of 18 -25 year olds have registered. I always urge students to make sure that they cherish their democratic vote.
We have more interviews for the Deon Burton Football Academy this week and we are also finalising the names for our exciting Outward Bound leadership week in September. You can have a look at what they do at this link:
There’s lots going on this term. Year 13 are nearing the end of their Coleshill experience and have been planning their final assembly and ball (I refuse to call it a prom) and year 12 will spend next week on research and planning for what they hope to be doing when they finish in just over a year’s time. We’ve got local businesses coming in to work with our students on ‘soft skills’ and the Universities of Leicester and Coventry working with them on researching Higher Education. There is also a visit to the UCAS convention on Monday afternoon- students should already have registered for this.
May half term coming up and we’re well into the exam season already – students have been in exams for Art, Photography, Business Studies, Law and Maths and there are plenty more to come. As ever the educational landscape doesn’t remain static and for year 12 these exams are a mixture of AS and internal exams – there’s currently a bit of a mash up with some A levels being in the old fashioned ‘linear’ mode that you would recognise and others still having the AS halfway house. One day…
I was interested to see the Guardian Universities league table published last week:
You have to take these with a pinch of salt because different things are measured in each table but it’s worth a glance when doing the research for applications which will happen this autumn. It’s fascinating to see Coventry in 12th place above such luminaries as Exeter and LSE but again it’s a case of needing to read between the lines. This is why we make sure that students and parents are geared up to do the right sort of research when choosing courses. One of the best places to go is to the UCAS ‘widget’ on our website which can be found at the following link.
It might not surprise you that 9 out of the 10 best Unis for Hospitality and Tourism in the Guardian guide are ‘new’ universities but for Mathematics 9 out of the top 10 are traditional universities. There are many and varied reasons for these differences and it’s a case of starting research early, asking the right questions and visiting the places. I am often surprised at students’ ignorance of locations in the UK which is why I have a big map up in the common room! With modern communications and transport nowhere is really that far away.
Today is the last chance to register to vote for any of our students who might have somehow missed getting on to the electoral roll. Here’s the link;
Wishing all readers a good Whit week. Does anyone else call it that still? Reminds me of one of my favourite poems of all time, 'The Whitsun Weddings' by Philip Larkin.
Two topics to muse upon this week: The Deon Burton Football Academy and the EPQ.
Talks have been going on behind the scenes for some weeks with Deon and his team and I’m delighted to say that the Academy is up and running for the 2017 -2018 academic year and football season. For those of you who don’t know, Deon (who played for a number of professional clubs, including in the Premier League, and is regarded by my London Deputy Head mate as one of Brentford’s top players of the last 50 years) has set up an academy in conjunction with Rochdale FC and Coleshill Town. It’s designed to bridge the gap between the elite academies and grass roots football to allow talented players to continue their football development alongside academic studies. Many of these players will go on to play at a good semi-professional level whilst gaining degrees and other professional qualifications and some may even break into the professional game. Whatever the case we’re happy to give it our wholehearted support. The boys will spend half their time on football related activities at Pack Meadow and half their time studying for a Diploma in Sport in our sixth form. We met the first cohort of boys last week and they are going to be a tremendous bunch to work with on this exciting new venture; there will be plenty more news on this scheme as we approach the big launch.
On Friday afternoon, Andrew Gregory and I had the pleasure of being in the audience for our students’ EPQ presentations. They all gave very clear accounts of their projects and answered questions about their work with patience and good humour. I’m not sure how many readers know about the EPQ so the second part of this week’s blog is dedicated to letting you know a bit more about it.
The Extended Project Qualification was designed to give students the opportunity to embark on an independent study of their own choosing which leads to a research project culminating in a traditional 5000 word report or an artefact of some kind. It encourages creativity and innovation and allows students to develop a new line of thinking or indulge in an existing passion if appropriate. Universities and employers love the skills it develops which the exam board splits into four main areas:
manage – identify, design, plan, and complete a project (or task within a group project), applying organisational skills and strategies to meet their stated objectives
use resources/research – obtain and select information from a range of sources, analyse data, apply it relevantly, and demonstrate understanding of any appropriate connections and complexities of their topic
develop and realise – use a range of skills, including using new technologies, to solve problems, to take decisions critically, creatively and flexibly, and to achieve their aims
review – evaluate the outcome, including their learning and performance.
This year’s projects were as wide ranging as ever and, unusually, 75% of them were artefacts ie the students produce something tangible and write a 1500 word report on the process.
The following is a list of some of the projects we’ve seen over the last few years and goes to show the eclectic and diverse range of skills and interests that students have:
A successfully completed EPQ says a lot about the attitude of the student who has independently completed a significant piece of work. Almost all students who do it tell us that it has enriched them in some respect and I am sure that it will grow in popularity.