School sixth form

After taking your GCSEs and completing Year 11 you might be thinking about continuing your education by staying on at a school sixth form.

Lots of schools have sixth forms. If you’re thinking about going to another school sixth form you can do this without having studied at that school during Year 11.

School sixth forms are generally quite small but can vary in size and offer different courses. You should hunt around to find one that offers the course and/or subjects you wish to study.

Familiar Ground: Advantages of staying at your existing school

If your school has a sixth form and you are considering staying on you will be in a familiar environment, surrounded by teachers and tutors you already know.

Also, if you are disabled, you will already know how your school accommodates disabled pupils. This can vary widely from one school or college to another, and you shouldn’t underestimate the value of studying in a familiar environment.

Special Educational Needs (SEN)

If you have a Statement of Special Educational Needs (SEN) this will stay with you through Year 11, into sixth form and throughout work experience and university.

If you think a SEN could benefit you, speak to your local authority and they will assess the details of your case. See the links in the ‘Who can help?’ section of this article for more information about this.

Best of both worlds

Whatever your circumstances, if you’re unsure whether to stay on at school or go to a sixth form college, some schools run link courses at further education colleges to let you see what college life is like by attending one or two days a week.

What to expect

School sixth forms are more relaxed towards students, but as they are still part of the school they may have a more formal and structured timetable than if you went to a sixth form college.

Sixth forms can range from between 100 and 400 students so the courses and subjects you can study will depend on the size of the sixth form.

Some schools will have arrangements with other local schools or colleges so they are able to offer you more options.

If you stay on at a school sixth form you will have the option to take AS subjects in your first year and then choose the subjects you want to take at A level in your second year.

Many schools now offer a range of other courses such as NVQs so you should find out what’s on offer at the school sixth form you are thinking about going to.

Don’t forget – if you are between 16 and 17, you are guaranteed a place at school or college and by 2013 you will also be guaranteed a place on an Apprenticeship if you are suitably qualified.

Who can help?

The online 14-19 prospectuses let you find out what courses and qualifications are available at schools, colleges and sixth forms in your area.

It is also worth checking out the ‘It’s Your Choice’ site to get clued up on the choices you’ll have at the end of Year 11.

Take a look at the Choices in Year 11 section of this site.

The Directgov website contains everything you need to know about qualifications for schools and colleges in the ‘Qualifications explained’ section.

If you are a disabled student, the Directgov site explains exactly how you go about getting assessed for a Statement of Special Educational Needs (SEN). Find out more at the Special educational needs: statements section of the Directgov site.

You can also find out more details of what schools must do by law to increase their accessibility at the Education and learning for disabled people section of the Directgov site.

For guidance on the careers available to you after sixth form, visit the Connexions Direct jobs4u careers database.

There is a publication called ‘Parents & Carers: Guide to options 14-19’, which is available to help parents and carers understand the choices ahead and how they can support you in these key decisions. If your parents or carers have not received a copy, ask your school or order a free copy from: Publications, PO Box 5050, Sherwood, Nottingham NG15 0DJ. Telephone: 0845 602 2260. Check out the interactive version online at: www.connexions-direct.com/parentcarer.