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      11.06.2010 10:09
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      Highly recommended

      Sixth form college is an option open to students on successful completion of their GCSE's. It is an institution that provides young people (usually between the age of 16 and 18) with the opportunity to complete their A-Levels, thereby allowing them to advance into tertiary education.

      Students who go to sixth form college can find themselves attending a brand new school or college altogther, or alternatively they can just continue in their current school (so long as it offers sixth form).

      Sixth form college allows for a generally more focused but relaxed approach to the higher end of secondary education. Students choose more specified subjects that they are interested in persuing further, thereby negating the need to complete basic subjects such as English, Maths or Science. Some colleges however do insist that their students take on at least one or two core subjects, although freedom usually exists to a much greater extent than it does at GCSE when many subjects are compulsory.

      The schedule is normally different as well. Many sixth form students will find themselves with free hours to spend - during which time they are expected to study. This is a great idea I feel, as it encourages the beginning of some of the independent study that is required once the next step to University is made.

      The approach of teachers also differs too. Because only students who are genuinely interested in staying on normally do so, teachers can focus more on their actual job than on constant discipline. More open discussions and methods of learning are therefore encouraged - both to intensify the learning experience, and to heighten new skills.

      Overall I think Sixth form college is an excellent institution. It allows students to take their education on to the next level, while at the same time not being compulsory. This therefore encourages only the committed to stay on, and rewards hard work and increased independence along the way. The curiculum in many cases is still rather limited by the examination boards, but it is probably the best option for 16-18 year olds today.

      One final thing of note: sixth form college is not limited to 16-18 year olds. There is some flexibility, in that, students who maybe don't pass all their subjects in the first year, do have the freedom to repeat. There is far less freedom in such matters in earlier stages of education.

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      28.05.2010 16:42
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      Improve all schools before getting rid of grammar schools

      Whether grammar schools should still be in existence or not is a highly emotive and controversial subject. It seems as if parents of those with children attending one will be largely in favour and those who narrowly missed out may be, understandably, against. Before prejudging this review it would be nice if you would understand that I'm trying to write a balanced review on the pros and cons of this system and that, although I feel it is, in essence, an unfair system it is still better to help some rather than none to compete with those from more privileged backgrounds.

      Grammar schools began in olden days as teachers of Latin. Over many years they changed, bringing in more subjects, classical languages and nowadays, modern foreign languages. Today, grammar schools teach all national curriculum subjects with a heavy bias on academic subjects. It is not usual to teach many less academic subjects.

      There were many grammar schools in England and Wales from the 1940s to 1960s. During the 1970s most of these schools were 'turned' into comprehensives or they left the state system. London grammars often moved a little outside of the capital. Ireland retained their grammar schools for longer.

      There are still some selective schools in outer London boroughs, such as Bromley, Bexley and Redbridge. Redbridge has two, one for boys and one for girls. These schools are oversubscribed, with around nine hundred girls applying for one hundred and twenty places. The same is so for the boys' school.

      These two schools used to take ninety pupils per year group but in the early 90s there was a court case concerning this borough's girls' selective school. It concerned a father fighting for the right for his daughter to sit Redbridge Council's eleven plus exam although she resided in the London borough of Waltham Forest. His argument included the fact that much of the school actually lay within the boundaries of Waltham Forest. I am not quoting on this, but relating from memory. Following this in the following year an extra class was added to both selective schools and the catchment area for those wishing to sit this exam was extended to include surrounding boroughs. I don't feel this is completely fair to the children of Redbridge but it does show that the popularity for this type of school remains.

      I attended grammar school in inner London in the 70s. I hated it! It wasn't the right school for a quiet child without much self confidence. I feel that 'all-rounders' develop better in this type of environment. I had my strengths but wasn't confident in maths and science. I rebelled but now, too late, I do know that I received a good education and had I, 'fitted in' more, I could have achieved. This school became comprehensive in spite of much opposition, towards the latter half of the 70s. The trouble with campaigning to keep it open was that, although there was much support there was probably more support for enlarging and merging two schools to form a new comprehensive, by parents of children not attending this grammar school. So the highest achieving girls' school in the area, gradually merged with another local school, probably the lowest achieving and it became one large very low attaining school.

      I was surprised, when I moved to my present outer London borough, to find that it still had two grammar schools. I'd detested my grammar school but, as my eldest daughter approached transition to secondary school, I looked and researched local schools. She had always been bright and I felt hadn't been 'stretched' during primary school. (this school later became much improved.) I attended school open days and although I had believed she would be fine at the catchment area school, myself and my husband , changed our mind on visiting it. My husband felt it reminded him of his school, a secondary modern turned comprehensive. He thought our daughter would have a lot of fun there but would need to be very self motivated. We weren't impressed by the standard of work on display or the expectations of the pupils by teachers.

      Following this, we looked into results of local schools. We had a look around when the school day ended to try to judge behaviour, which we felt was more important than pure academics. We were very impressed with the grammar school.

      I purchased some 11+ papers from W.H. Smith and helped her with them.

      We were delighted, as was she, when she passed the exam, automatically qualifying her for a place. The exam consists (It varies in different areas) of two papers taken on two occasions, of a verbal reasoning test and a non verbal reasoning test. In this borough reports are only brought into the equation if the child doesn't pass but is placed high enough to be in the 'border zone', and therefore allocated a numbered position on a waiting list.

      I do believe this is an awful system for children to sit a test at such a young age. I wish in this country the transition age was around thirteen, which would give, slower to mature children more chance to how what they can be capable of. Also, I think it's unfair that children can defer (being abroad, bereaved, ill) the test and so, especially if they are autumn born they can be a few months older and have had more coaching than others taking the tests at the set times.

      Another problem is that children in this area are over coached. I know of some who have been tutored privately while in the infants purely on the basis of early preparation for winning a grammar school place. Some of these children don't stand a chance but their parents cannot see this, and others would, in my opinion, pass with just a little help nearer to the time. I feel some children are put under so much pressure for these few places. My offspring have all been told try your best but it isn't the be all of everything. We have always encouraged them to consider which school would best suit them, although, of course, at this age the parent must guide.

      Three of my four children gained grammar school places. My second son was borderline and I appealed this. No case at that time had been won. I knew we had little chance but felt I wanted my voice heard. My main argument was that he had only been ten years and three months when he took the tests as opposed to some others in his school year being close to a year older. If they took it at a later date there would be an even greater age difference. Also, at that time, summer born children entered school in after Easter, as opposed to others starting in September and having a year of schooling. Extra points are added in the eleven plus to take account of age but it is extremely minimal and I don;t believe rectifies this issue.

      At the appeal we (my husband and I) were told by the panel (consisting of high ranking council members and those in the educational field) that had he sat the test the year before he would have obtained a place by his score but as it was a recession year scholarships were cut back and so state school places weren't turned down. We were then fed the platitude, 'He is obviously a clever boy, he will do well wherever he goes!' I responded by asking what type of school had these panel members attended.ere had these panel members been schooled? Yes, you've guessed... grammar schools, one added proudly, that she had taken the 11+ a year early as she was thought very capable!

      I consider myself, while not overly political, to lean towards socialism BUT, in trying to phase out selective schools the Labour government did a tremendous disservice to the working classes.

      When I was at primary school, out of a class of forty plus children the top nine gained grammar school place. That was just about everyone who applied. In Redbridge in the 60s and 70s there were many grammar schools. A friend told me that about a third of pupils in her primary school went on to local grammar schools. I feel if there were more grammar schools around today it would better serve the needs of children. The system would be fairer and less stressful. In my borough we have private, special educational needs, Catholic, Jewsh and Sikh schools. A neighboroughing borough has a school named a football school of excellence and would be football stars are sent there. Many comprehensives become specialist in science, drama, music, or sport so, why does it seem to be frowned upon if you attend a school aimed at bright children. It seems to me as if it's more acceptable to believe your child to be talented in sport than in academics.

      My youngest daughter attends a grammar school and is in the sixth form. When she was in year seven I was so impressed with the standard of the work given and the speed of learning. I don't think she's always found it easy to be in this highly academic environment owing to ill health throughout being at this school. Although unavoidable, it's greatly frowned upon and there is always so much catching up with work missed. Also, her aspirations lie in the singing/drama field, which I don't feel is appreciated by some peers and teachers as most pupils will attend top universities and go into academic careers.

      if you attend a school like this and you have a weaker subject or two this can be difficult. Although my youngest daughter isn't bad at maths it is her weakest subject and she was in a class with girls brilliant at this subject. I think the teaching then often caters more for the most able pupils.

      At my daughter's school it seems as if the exam boards chosen for GCSE are the hardest. This is to prepare them for studying for A levels and degrees. Many achieve A and A star at GCSE. But, more important than grades, in my opinion, is the actual standard of education on offer. And the confidence these pupils gain in readiness to take well deserved places at universities and in the workplace, alongside those from more exclusive backgrounds. I'm not for one minute saying that a child from a comprehensive school will not do well but I think generally they would have to be self motivated from the start, unless the school is exceptional.

      Expectations at grammar schools are high and this reinforces to children that they can achieve, however poor their background. Surely it is better to help a few working class youngsters to get a foot on that ladder than none? Grammar schools have always provided an education comparable to that of private schools. And at least they get there through their own ability rather than the size of their parents' bank balance.

      To summarise on this lengthy review, I feel that grammar schools have their downside and definitely don't suit everyone. Some children are much better catered for at a good comprehensive which offers much more curriculum choice than a grammar. BUT they are the best means of helping some. I believe there should be more grammar school providing places for around the top twenty-five per cent of children rather than less than ten per cent. This would be much fairer and standards would remain high.

      I feel that all comprehensives should provide streaming which helps all abilities. I strongly suggest that all comprehensives should be brought up to a good level before any more grammar schools are lost.

      Why let the rich and privileged have the best when our children deserve it too?

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        15.04.2010 17:34
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        Both offer different things, but are ultimately well worth doing.

        I've been to both a sixth form, and a college, and there are significant differences. They are both very good in different ways but I would always say that there is more of an immaturity at sixth form as if the teachers won't ever let you grow up. They continue to teach as if you're still in a younger school environment, which can make learning a bit of a chore if you're expecting to be treated differently. It can also be uncomfortable if you've had an unhappy experience with school and would prefer to move on. On the plus though, you can study several subjects all at once, which can help if you're learning to be something such as a doctor, because you can learn all the sciences and maths at once. Or if you hope to move abroad or work abroad, you can learn several different languages at once.
        College tends to be far more relaxed, and perhaps would be better suited to those who didn't like school and want to move forward, but learn. The biggest advantage is that you can study one subject, such as plumbing or hair and beauty, or art in a very thorough manner, which makes it easier to go out into the real world and work. I'd say that if you're hoping to go to university, you can either go college or sixth form. But if you are looking to leave education, then it's best to go to college and study something specific.

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        30.12.2009 14:29
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        An intellectually stimulating experience

        It seems to be a perennial debate as to what is better - a sixth form or a college? I attended the sixth form of my school for my A-Levels, and having visited actual colleges, I can see that there are pros and cons with each.

        In any programme such as this, you're generally studying for A-Levels. My sixth form (The Boswells College) allowed student to pick up to four subjects of their own, with General Studies also being mandatory on top of this. The first year's courses are referred to as AS Levels, and often a lot of people drop one of their subjects at the end of the first year to focus on the other ones, although I in fact didn't do this and ended up doing 6 subjects in my second year due to my college introducing "Critical Thinking" for those seen as "gifted". Examination periods widely vary for subject and exam board, but typically you'll sit one set of exams in January, and then the rest in June. However, some colleges will elect to have you, rather stupidly, sit them all in June, which I can imagine being a huge pain. Your grade is given from A-U (missing out F).

        What I did like about my sixth form is that it kept me in the comfort zone of my school, so I was already acquainted with the teachers, and as it was also a school everything felt a bit more "safe" and comfortable. The atmosphere is a lot more relaxed than school and you're treated more like adults, although the Head of College did still look to try and exert his authority over everyone, and we still had to attend thoroughly boring tutorial sessions.

        Colleges are a lot more disconnected and impersonal, but the main attraction is that you're truly treated like an adult, and friends that have been to college tell me that teachers will often go out for a smoke break with pupils.

        Personally, I'm glad I want to a sixth form, but that isn't to in any way knock colleges: college programmes are often a lot more specialised, in that you can so BTECs and more vocational courses that sixth forms more often than not don't offer. So, the choice is yours!

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        10.12.2009 23:11
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        Sixth Form- What a difference

        I am currently in the Sixth form at the school I have attended for the past 5 years! I have to say that it is a very large step up from Gcse level and I did not expect such a difference.

        Moving Up (General)

        In year 11, there is a lot of pressure on you to achieve the best grades as possible. After Gcse's, teachers make out you can relax but this is not the case. You have a lot more responsibilities and options as a sixth former but the work load only gets worse the older you get. The big changes that take place from Y11 to Y12 are that in some places you get to wear your own clothes, teachers have a more relaxed attitude because they know if you are not prepared to do the work, you will be taken straight off the course and of course it is an achievement as you have to get 5 or more A*'s to C including maths and English to even get into the sixth form!

        Work Load

        There is definitely a heavy workload in the sixth form and they not only want you to make notes in class and re-write them at home, they want you to do homework and extra research. I also find that some teachers put you down if you don't do extra research so it is a good thing I have started to do it!

        Teachers

        The teachers definitely have a better relationship with you as they know you are in the sixth form so you know that the work has become a lot harder and you need to work! They give you more opportunities- open days, lectures, trips etc.!

        Social

        Obviously it is not all work work work, most sixth form colleges and schools provide sixth form centres. Unluckily at my school the centre is a pig sty! Plaster coming of walls and a major difference between the upper and lower sixth- wars often occur. This is not a place to do private study as you can't even here yourself think when the music is loud.

        Opportunities

        When you get into the sixth form you may get the chance to become head boy/girl or deputy head boy/girl. These had to be chosen from the school council so I decided to become a prefect. It's actually quite fun and you get a free dinner when you are on duty. You start to realise which children are not very respectful.

        Lessons

        Lessons usually go on until later than school finishing time but this is weighed up because you have free periods where you can do as you please! I have a whole Friday morning off and I use it to sleep- I suppose I shouldn't really. There is a large choice of what lessons you can choose and before applying you will be able to look at lots of different prospectus's. Usually all sixth form colleges and schools join up to make a collegiate so students can learn at different schools which is actually very beneficial. I chose philosophy and ethics, English language and literature, Economics and Geography and hopefully I will be able to do something with these. You usually choose 4 options in lower sixth (as) then drop one in upper sixth (a2).

        I really think attending sixth form is beneficial, it looks great on your portfolio or CV and it will definitely help to get you into university. They are always looking to see what you get in your Gcse's and some are even looking at mock Gcse's now as places are becoming scarce. Prepare yourself for the work!

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          17.08.2009 13:20
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          It's vital to go on and learn to become skilled and work in a profession

          I have completed my A levels and I would say they were considerably harder than GCSEs. Despite doing less subjects, there is a lot more information to learn. One unit in Biology for example may account for the equal knowledge needed to complete a whole GCSE.

          Many schools offer a large range of subjects including the scientific ones such as biology, chemistry, physics and maths to other academic ones such as geography, history, business studies and politics to languages including French, German, English and Spanish as well as the creative subjects such as art, fashion design, food technology and design and technology.

          I took all the compulsory subjects for GCSE but also opted for German, French, Electronics: Systems & Controls and History. I achieved B grades in all of these but I managed to get As in the compulsory sciences, English and mathematics. I enjoyed studying the languages but it takes a lot of effort to really progress in them and do well. I wasn't too fond of history and it seems the whole class slipped one grade below what they expected.

          For my A levels, I took biology, chemistry and maths, as well as English Language for an AS. The three A levels were very challenging - especially the chemistry where there was a lot to remember and good logic was required. The biology had an awful lot of material to learn and the mathematics was just very challenging and lots of care needed to be taken for later modules. I didn't do well in the English Language last year so retook this summer, but still don't expect to get a better grade than last time. It's from the Cambridge exam board, which is considerably harder and I simply couldn't cope with the time pressure.

          I think moving onto further education to do A levels and go to university is vital these days. You will take ages to find a job if you don't and I think it's best to get a skilled profession and stick to it so you will always have work. I hope to study medicine at Keele starting in September 2009, as long as I get the grades needed in 3 days!

          Thanks for reading,

          Dan ©

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            07.08.2009 13:26

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            I would recommend sixth form over college

            I have just finished my a-levels at Torquay Boys' Grammar School 6th form, in Devon (England). And I think that it was a better choice than going to college. Primarily, because the qualifications i received are perhaps more recognised in some areas of the employment world than a NVQ or similar qualification.

            Also, for my particular 6th form, it was brilliant as it was attached to the secondary school I went to. As is the case with many 6th forms. This is beneficial as you start off (probably) the hardest work you have had to do in already familiar surroundings, rather than having to adjust to it at a new college. This is especially good when you consider that many students have january modules which are not that soon after the start of term. Furthermore in most circumstances you will be with your group of friends that you have already, whilst it is not good to become to be insular, it is good to be surrounded by your friends.

            Also, 6th form is a gradual transition from GCSE to university, with there being more responsibility on the student to learn and not so much on the teach which is useful for developing self motivation.

            In short, 6th form is a good option when compared to college.

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            26.07.2009 16:07
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            Go for it - improves job prospects and employability

            What is it?
            A 6th Form Centre is one where students of the ages between 16-18 (in England years 12 and 13 or upper and lower sixth) are taught. This is normally for A-level qualifications in England, and the range varies between sixth form centres and across the country and is normally decided upon by available teaching staff and demand (ie you can't teach Music if you don't have any music teachers).

            Isn't it just like High School?
            Not really, you have the choice to attend a sixth form college or not, so normally everyone who is at the sixth form is their because they want to be, not because they have to be. This often means that there is more maturity within each class, and more students want to learn, meaning their are less distractions and work and standards are achieved faster and often to higher qualities. Staff also tend to treat students more like adults and equals as opposed to children.

            What do you think?
            I personally think sixth forms are good ideas, unless you want private education or to board they are free, they allow you to obtain more qualifications and if your family has low income you can obtain EMA help which is upto £30 a week for completing your studies. They improve employability and often allow you to get higher inital starting salary jobs. You can also get essential skills at sixth forms for wider world of work - such as interview skills as well as Buisness management.

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            22.07.2009 01:43
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            its personal choice really

            I went to my local secondary/grammer school in Northern Ireland and as I wanted to go to university was encouraged greatly to continue my studies to a levels in this school instead of going to tech.

            A 6th form college is one that has a 6th form in it (ofcourse) where pupils aged roughly 16 to 18 can complete their a levels to qualify them to go to work or to further their studies in university to degree level or other various courses.

            I was never really a fan of school, though I knew that I always wanted to go to university so I when deciding whether to stay on at my own school and do my a levels, or go to tech (or college) and do a diploma (or whatever the equivilent to a levels is) I used to following factors to help me in my decision:

            1.) What courses/subjects are available to me?
            2.) What do I want to study at university?
            3.) Who do I know that goes to tech or school (will I have friends in tech)?
            4.) Where generally can I see myself spending the next two years of my life?
            5.) How long will it take me to complete the courses in tech or school?
            6.) Where do I see myself doing the most work, school or tech?

            In the end I decided that I would stay at school so then I could do 3 a levels and choose what I wanted to do at university later, instead of doing a computer course at tech and realising that I actually hated computers and actually wanted to study business instead which would waste more time. Also I wanted to stay with the friends I had already made at home and learn in a 'safe' enviroment that I was used too, and call me a scardy cat if you like but I was also a bit intimidated about taking the tech bus, though this wasnt really a factor that swayed my vote in any way as I knew I would get over it.

            Deciding to do my a levels in school gave me a great experience, I was converted from some one who hated the site of my school and its teachers, to a really active member of 6th form, and I even was a prefect, I think that the kind yet steady guidance from my teachers really prepared me for university as we were basically taught in our classes and then left to learn the work ourselfs, we had much more independance as students to timetable our workloads which I know I would have gained from tech, but I think personally for me tech would have been like being thrown in at the deep end of a large pool where as in school the teachers knew our personalitys and therefore knew how to teach us and what we could handle.

            Most 6th form schools on a more fun note have 6th form centres, in our school this was where all the 6th formers could relax and study quietly, it had a really nice grown up atmosphere in it, it was also the centre of where all socialising was arranged and commenced, and I was glad to be a part of the 6th form community in our school year.

            All in all if I had to recommend 6th form, it all depends on the persons goals and personality, some people may be more independant than I am and could excell in tech, though I think for me 6th form was the best option.

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              15.07.2009 13:06
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              Make the right choice, it's very important

              Sorry about the length, but after a two year experience of a sixth form I had a lot to share. Hope it's useful as I know the choice of education is a tough one where any advice is very helpful.


              I knew I'd progress with my education after 16 and I knew it would take the form of A-levels so I could go onto another accademic course at university, and because I just wanted to continue my education in the same I'd done with GCSEs etc. But the choice came as my secondry school doesn't have a Sixth form attached to continue onto, I then had to choose where I was going to go, and the main choice I had to make first is college or Sixth form.

              Traditionally the view of a college is that there is far more freedom than you get with a sixth form attached to a school. You far less likely to get hounded for work and the choice to do a lot of your work is your own. I'm not sure if many people have the same opinion of colleges but those thoughts definitely made me think that a college was not the place for me.

              As a student I may excel accademically but I definitely need to be pushed as I procrastinate loads and can be incredibly lazy, so an atmosphere where I am still pushed to do work and do well was definitely what I needed, so a Sixth form definitely seemed like the right choice for me.

              I knew the Sixth form was going to be an environment very much like a school, and it really was, with just some exceptions to the rules that gave students freedom and really made it a more 'grown up' place to be, as you're certainly treated much more like adults than at Secondary school. The set up and timetable is like you have at school but with brilliant free period where you can do anything, which is especially good if your sixth form is situated within a town centre, as you can go shopping, eating out, play pool at a pub (though not drink) or play football in the park. And you get the glory of not having to go to lessons if you're teachers aren't in, giving you more free periods. If these are at the start or end of the day, you then get to go home early or sleep in. I knew one girl in her AS year who had a timetable which meant she didn't have to come in at all on Wednesdays. And at Sixth forms, very much like colleges, you always get your Wednesday afternoons off for sports.

              The Sixth form that I went to at 16 was already attached to a different school so as well as meeting loads of people like me who had come from different schools, there was also about a third who had continued up to Sixth form from the secondary school. This may not seem like the best thing but the student body really did get integrated quite easily and people mingled and it certainly wasn't a case of them against us.

              The best thing about joining this Sixth form and not my local college was that there wasn't a lot of people from my secondary school going there. It's not like I wanted to get away from my old friends, but I was massively looking forward to meeting hundreds of new people, and that is exactly the opportunity I got. Being at Sixth form was great for meeting a whole lot of new people that I wouldn't normally interact with. Sure, a lot of them I don't like, but it was certainly great in the first few weeks being really social and getting to meet so many new, great people. It certainly wasn't high school all over again with so called popular groups

              But I also met a lot of snobby people at secondary school who thought they were better than everyone else and were just really stuck up. It came to light in one of my classes when one girl (who irritates me to a huge degree) said that poor people are poor always because they don't work hard enough and because they don't work long enough hours and doing so is the solution to poverty, and others in the class agreed, one saying that everyone has equal opportunities in education and therefore poverty is some sort of personal choice. It may not be usual within my sixth form to find people that stupid but there certainly is a lot of people that naive and sheltered about the real world, it's certainly full to the rafters with middle class kids, probably more so than what you get with a college. Having to go to school with a lot of people like that is certainly my biggest problem with my sixth form.

              One annoying thing I experience at Sixth form as it was so higher education orientated was this huge push towards university which I really didn't appreciate. As much as I wanted to progress to university anyway they gave me no real choice or alternate options which would have really benefited me. Maybe a college would have seen the options for a students future a lot more like options. Though there are benefits to going to such a university driven place, they were incredibly helpful when it came to applications. There was a huge system in place to help with applications and personal statements and what choice of university you wanted to apply to, not just getting help from the careers office but seemingly every one of my techers. And they have an Oxbridge program too, which I'm sure you find at more Sixth forms than you do colleges.


              I'm not sure if I regret that choice now, Sixth form was definitely not everything I expected or hoped for and it fell down a lot in certain areas, especially in regards to the people I ended up going to school with. But I can't say a college would have been better either, I've never been to one, and it certainly wasn't the best option for my siblings. But the choice is yours, all you people who've just finished GCSEs, are coming to the end of high school or are just young and looking to go back into education. Make the right one, it will shape your entire future.

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                27.05.2009 21:29
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                I would not go through school again if you paid me a million pounds.

                Well I'm just about coming to the end of my school life. A few more exams on the way, but for me it all officially ends on the 19th June with a Physics exam (Oh joy). I plan to move on to a sixth form that is attached to a different school in September and if it's anything like being at my school has been, I think I'll probably end up dropping out and working in McDonalds for the rest of my life.

                I've heard quite a few people say that being at school are the best years of your life. I can safely say they are most certainly not! Not for me anyway. It's not so much the work that is done at school that has made it so unenjoyable for me (although it's not exactly a plus). The education, the teachers and the rest of it is fine. I mean, I have had some not so great teachers and the work isn't exactly all fun and games but overall it's been ok. The real problems are the people that you're around, the atmosphere an the immaturity of it all.

                I know that saying school is immature probably sounds really stupid, but I just feel that by year eleven everyone would have grown up a bit. However most people seem to be as dimwitted as they were in primary school. Tripping people up in the corridors still occurs and a lot of people in my year seem to have still not grown out of throwing paper aeroplanes in class.

                I've never felt comfortable in school. I always felt on edge, as if I was going to be made a fool of all the time. People are just so nasty, and I've never been able to fathom why. The endless, stupid arguments that happen between school girls is nauseating and normally the result of so-n-so calling so-n-so a bitch, or some other pointless matter. In the end, if your not one of the 'populars' (basically the ones that intimidate others and don't pay attention in class) then your probably going to find yourself getting an earful at some time or another from a gobby girl wearing too much foundation.

                I really think that the early teens, say from thirteen to sixteen is the worst age someone can be. I know this doesn't account for everyone, there are plenty of people I went to school with who are really nice so don't take offence from that if you are that age. It's just the the majority of people in that age group that I know are not good people to be around and I think this must be why secondary school has been such a struggle for me.

                Even though I do get hugely intimidated by a lot of the other people at my school, I get on with most people and I wouldn't say that there's anyone that really dislikes me intensely. I'm very lucky compared to some. One girl in my year who has asperger's syndrome (for those of you who don't know, it is when someone has significant difficulties with social interaction), has been bullied from her very first day of secondary school, by people who are very aware of her problem and it's a horrible thing to have seen. She's grown up to be a nervous wreck because of it.

                I know there isn't really anything that can be done about it. I should be greatful that I've been given a free education at all and I am. I know there are a lot of far less fortunate people that would really appreciate it. I just can't say I enjoyed the experience at all. For me it's just been a whole lot of hard work and stress, most of which wasn't because of my schoolwork.

                I'm sure that there is very mixed views about whether people enjoyed school or not, and I'm sure a lot of people enjoyed it far more than I did. I'd like to hear other peoples opinions on it so leave me a comment!

                I'm really glad it's all over now and I'm hoping that sixth form is going to be a lot more enjoyable. Sorry if it turned into a bit of a rant, thanks for reading.

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                  03.03.2009 16:22
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                  A great opportunity if you're disciplined enough to succeed

                  I started sixth form in September 2007, and am currently in my final year studying for my A Level exams in the summer.

                  I found that the hardest part of moving on to sixth form from secondary school was the amount of freedom I suddenly had.
                  Whereas at secondary school I never had any free time during the day aside from break and lunch, all of a sudden I had free periods throughout the day, and some days where I only had one 50 minute lesson to attend and then I could go home.
                  However, the fact that I had never had this much freedom at school before took a while of getting used to. My friends and I found ourselves skipping lessons to go to the beach or to someone's house just because we could - something which would have been impossible for us to do at secondary school. We slightly abused our new found privileges - but is it any wonder when we'd never had the chance before?

                  Despite absence from my lessons, I still managed to do well in my AS Level exams. However, I can't help but feel that if I had been built up to the sixth form way of life before I started, I would have done a bit better.

                  Aside from the issue of freedom, I have found sixth form to be an enjoyable experience. Having a sixth form common room with a study area, food/drink facilities and TV is a great facility for use in free time, and the perks that come with being the eldest in the school are good - the freedom to use mobile phones during the school day and the opportunity to wear my own clothes has been beneficial.

                  One of the perks of being a student at sixth form also means I am entitled to discounts in restaurants, shops and at the cinema.

                  The pathway into higher education that sixth form offers is great but you have to be a disciplined individual to succeed.

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                  12.02.2009 20:41
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                  really is vital

                  I am currently in my last year of school in a 6th form. I also attend college every Tuesday evening. Through the curriculum I have certificates in SATS, GCSEs and AS levels and am currently studying for my A2 exams.

                  School has been a real mix of experiences for me! As someone who has also aimed to do well, I have spent alot of my time studying during my frees, doing coursework and plenty of homework. As long as you put in time and effort, high grades for most students are a good possibility. What I've always thought to be sad is the fact that so many young people waste their futures by going out and partying so much and neglecting school/college work. From doing well in school, pupils have the chance to go onto higher education at university. This offers students an even better chance at success later on in life.

                  Apart from education, school has also provided me with an incredible social network. I have a wide range of friends, who I absolutely cherish and wouldn't be without! I really think this is one of the most important aspects of the school/college system. It teaches us key skills for life, not just english, maths, science etc. but also how to interact with others; something that is vital in the working environment.

                  School these days is also not solely exam based. Many schools and colleges now offer BTECs in such topics as retail and sport. GCSEs are now also aviable in health care, animal management and many other hands on areas. They now offer the chance for all students to succeed in some area, rather than those who get on with exams and continous writing.

                  From attending school I have also been to places I wouldn't normally go. I've been able to go on an Art trip, which was one of the best experiences of my life. Our school also runs a yearly trip to New York for 6th formers as well as many other trips for various years. Getting out of the school/college environment, I believe to be very important and teaches children a lot.

                  Britain's education system is known as one of the best in the world, and it is important that both children and parents appreciate this and find the time for it.

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                    03.09.2008 12:47
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                    Work Hard at school, it will impact your future.

                    Schools and Sixth Forms

                    Do you remember your parents telling you that being at school will provide you with the easiest and best time of your life? Well my parents told me that and i didn't believe them. I do now.

                    You attend secondary schools between the ages of 11-16 and sixth forms between 16-18. Children between the ages of 11-14 are studying towards Year 9 SATS which have an impact on what classes a child is in when studying GCSE's.

                    School is one of the most important stages in life and it has an impact on your future. You often do not realise this while at school. You need approx 5 A* - C's to get into sixth form and need A Level's to get into university. Each stage of schooling directly relates to your future.

                    Each school has to reach a minium standard of teach governed by OFSTED. However, many schools in an area have very different standards of teaching with each teacher, teaching in a different way. This often causes disinterest by some pupils who do not enjoy the way a teacher teachs. They are therefore not motivated. It is important that teachers adapt their teaching styles to motivate other pupils.


                    If i were to advise a child at school i would say have fun at break and dinner and work hard in class. School can change your life and will impact your future.

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                      07.06.2008 18:09
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                      which is best, sixth form or college?

                      Schools and Colleges in general

                      Since last November 2006 I've had an illness that has completely baffled the doctors. None of them know what it is, maybe their just incompetent or it's just impossible to find. I've had every scan possible, but nothing will show up.

                      The only problem with the illness is the timing, last year I did my GCSE's and because of it, I didn't do very well.

                      In November of last year, I had to do my mocks and the school was great. They put me into a special room so I could go in and out of the toilets easily, and I didn't do to bad in those exams, but I slowly got worse.

                      Every day I was being sick and I would have mind-numbing pain in my stomach, it was made worse when I eat. The school kept on saying maybe its allergy's, but I took everything out of my diet that I have for about two weeks a time, and I was no different.

                      I had a terrible Christmas 2006, Christmas Eve I had two hours sleep, not because I was excited, because I was in the bathroom all night being sick. When it came to opening the presents in the morning, I was half asleep and wasn't excited as I was in previous years, when talking to family members later on; I was unable to remember what presents I had because I was still half asleep.

                      This carried on until I started back at school, but the day I went back I lasted 2 hours. The teachers didn't like me having to keep running out of lessons being sick, and then didn't like it when I wasn't in the lessons. I used to go to school and be sick all day, or be too tired to concentrate in the lessons, so I had time off because I couldn't cope anymore. It wasn't nice to be somewhere where you had to run across the playground, up some steps just to get to the nearest loos.

                      The doctors then put me in for an endoscopy; it was probably the most painful experience of my life. Luckily the sedated me, so I don't remember much I just remember being so sick afterwards, but again they didn't find anything.

                      I was still off sick from school, but kept on going in to retrieve work that wasn't there. The heads of years barely talked to the office staff, so when we said there was supposed to be work there for us, they'd look at us like we had two heads. Later that afternoon we'd get a phone call from the head saying there was work there, and we didn't pick it up.

                      Their was one teacher who was brilliant throughout, I had to do quite a lot of coursework for my history, she actually came over to my house on her own time and sat down with me and helped me, I think it was because of her that I got a good grade in history.

                      In April I went in for a couple of weeks and started to finish off and revise with the teachers a bit more, I went into my English lesson just a week before study leave and my teacher said she had taken me out of my 'English Literature' exam because she didn't think I could do it. I had read the book and sat down with my friends and had gone over the work that we had to learn, and when I told her that all she could say was 'It's done now'. I was so angry.

                      In year 10, there was this new course going called DIDA (can't remember what it stands for), which was worth 4 GCSE grades. I was told before I got sick that I was top of my class and I would walk the GCSE's, but he changed his mind towards the end. I was made to do CIDA which is only worth 2 GCSE grades, for this one I understand why he did it. It was an impossible course because the examination board kept on changing the criteria, which meant I had to keep changing my work. I was told that I'd probably get two B's in that subject but didn't.

                      The other subjects were a waste of space, Science & Maths I don't think my teachers sent any work home at all. I don't think my Science teacher even knew I had gone. In year 9 I was in set 2, but I didn't try hard enough on my SAT'S so was moved down to set 3. When talking to my new teacher at college, he told me that they get the most incompetent teachers to teach sets 3 & 4 because, they're not expected to get good grades, and I could understand this. My teacher spent most of his time telling off the bad kids and teaching us things that we have learnt year after year and not teaching us about things that are important. Again like Maths I started off in Set 2, but I did struggle slightly so I think I deserved to be in set 3, but the fact that my top grade on the GCSE paper would only be a C, was not reassuring.

                      Other subjects like Food Tech & Business Studies weren't great either. My food tech teacher is lovely, and she was always asking about me, but she didn't like the people I hung around with in my class. Food tech doesn't have sets, but I swear I was with the worst people in my school, they were trying to sound stupid all the time and when making something in the lesson, and it started to go wrong. I put my hand up and she never came. Luckily I managed to not burn the school down, no thanks to her.

                      I took Business Studies because I thought it would be great for life later on to know more about how businesses operate etc, I learnt nothing of the sort. All we did was watch stupid video's that our teacher had taped of Channel 4 and have to analyse them, I think all that I learnt in those classes was the difference between a Public Limited Company & a Private Limited Company, I think most people can do that anyway without two years of lessons. At the end of year 10, my teacher became sick so they brought in a teacher from another school. He was great, he was the sort of teacher you could walk all over, but he would start the lesson by asking what we wanted to learn about in that lesson. So if some of us didn't understand something from a previous lesson we could learn about that again, by the end of year 10 he had left and we had another substitute teacher in, he knew nothing about business.

                      Year 11 came around and our original teacher was back, he wasn't the world's best teacher but you did learn some stuff from him, most of the lesson the students just joked that he had gotten another toupee, he again got sick around the same time I did and we had another substitute teacher. To help myself learn stuff while I wasn't in the lessons I brought myself a business studies book, when it came around to the exams I went up to the teacher and asked for one, he said he'd leave in my form room for me. The next week it wasn't there. In the summer holidays however, I got a bill saying that I hadn't given the book back when I never received it in the first place.

                      Then my exams came around. My first exam was English Language, I was looking for my name on the board and noticed I wasn't behind the person I should have been behind and was surrounded by people from set 3, it turns out my teacher put me in for the Foundation paper and didn't tell me. I threw a paddy at the teachers and one lovely lady managed to put me into Higher at the last minute.

                      After that exam I had maths, I wasn't feeling too good because of my English exam mix-up and was so ill throughout. I think I spent 30 minutes inside of the hall to do my exam.

                      The other exams I think went okay, but apparently they didn't.

                      Throughout the summer holiday's we were all waiting for our results and the 23rd August arrived. I went in and got my results and looked at them in shock. I got a D in Maths, Science & Food Tech and E in French & Business Studies and B's in History & English.

                      For my school's sixth form you have to have 4 C's & 1 B, when I heard this I was just worried about getting that B.

                      The fact that I only had two B's on the sheet bothered me, but when I asked where my ICT exams were they told me my grades: 2 C's.

                      This didn't mean I was in, but the fact that I got 2 B's & 2 C's without being their for most of the year must have meant something and the fact it was in the two hardest lessons must mean that I can do it.

                      When we went in the next day to talk about it the woman was lovely, she said I did very well considering. I would have to retake my maths in November but I was okay with that. However she wasn't the main one, so she was going to tell The head of Sixth Form and she'd get back to me.

                      I was at my friends house when she called and said that there wasn't a good chance I would get in, she'd call me again when she's talked to all of the teachers.

                      I got that call a week later and she said NO for definite because they don't think I could do it.

                      Luckily I had already got a place at another college, when I explained my situation and said that I'm better now, they let me in, but that school was to up themselves to let me carry on my studies where I wanted to.

                      We wrote a letter into the school, the head teacher called my nan back and had a go at her, he talked to my mum later on and by what he was saying even if I did get the grades they wouldn't have wanted me anyway but they would have had to.
                      I finally ended up studying computing and e-media at a college close to me. I am close enough to my old mates, and am studying something that I enjoy. I finish year 1 in two weeks, and then next year will be going back for my year 2, before going off to university next year.

                      Sixth Form vs College?

                      I'm quite glad I didn't get into Sixth Form at my old school now because of the way I would have been treated. A lot of people have dropped out because of all the work and I know I wouldn't have done that.

                      The good thing I find with college is the flexibility you have there. You are treated like an adult, and actually have a say in things which I felt you weren't able to do at school.

                      I can't really do a very good comparison between sixth forms and colleges as I haven't got into sixth form, but here's a list of what I do know.

                      Timetable

                      At college I go in everyday except Friday, and Wednesday afternoons, there isn't a written rule, but on these times off, I've never really heard anyone stay in and do extra work.

                      In sixth form however, my friends have 7 frees each week, most of these have to be spent in the common room studying for something or other.

                      Exams

                      On my course, it's just 25 assignments or so I have to complete from September to June. There's no added pressure of revision or exams, I turn up to college, get on with my work and still get good grades at the end of the year.

                      In sixth form however, you have exams in January and May. So your Christmas holidays are spent revising. The other annoying thing for the sixth form students, is after their exams, they have to go back in for another six weeks and start on their A2 year.

                      EMA

                      This is one part that gets on my nerves; the sixth formers have study leave for around three or four weeks. If they get EMA, they get paid for these four weeks. At college, if our teacher can't be bothered to turn up for a week, we don't get EMA. I am finishing in two weeks, and won't get any extra EMA because of it. This is one good thing about staying on at sixth form, more money for people that get EMA.

                      Qualifications

                      I'm on a course which is an equivalent of 3 A Levels. I can still get into university with them, but don't have the added pressure of exams. My mates in sixth form however will probably go into university with 5 A Levels, depending on if they pass them.

                      Anything Else

                      If you were never geared for school life, but still want extra qualifications, college is nothing like school. You are treated differently, I got told of a few times at the start of the year for calling my teachers sir and miss. You call your teacher by their first name or something else if you really wanted to.

                      The atmosphere is a lot more relaxed as well. The only thing, if you do want to go to Oxford or Cambridge I think you need to stay on at sixth form for that.

                      Hope this helped. Kirsty.

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