Best Boarding School A level retakes “I chose Rochester for A level retakes because I thought it was the nicest independent 6th form college, and it seemed very friendly. It had a boarding facility unlike others I looked at, which appealed to me. I wanted to go away because my friends had gone away to university – I would have had no life if I’d stayed at home. Going to Rochester gave me the chance to meet people retaking who were in the same boat as me.”    
Matthew Sarstedt, A level retake student, Destination: Sheffield University studying Dentistry

best boarding school rankingBoarding for A level retake students on a unique urban campus that is a stepping stone between school and university

Up to 80 of the 275 students at the College board each year. Most are sixth formers and all are 16 or older, allowing for a more adult atmosphere than is possible in a traditional boarding school. Boarding at RIC feels, in some respects, like being at university while still working towards getting there! The emphasis is on providing a home from home in a comfortable, happy and fun environment. A number of students in our boarding each year are retaking their A levels. It is not unusual for our boarders to be 18, 19 or 20. Older students retaking their A levels are grouped together so they live and study with others in the same position who have opted to resit their A levels.

retaking a levels2016 A level Resit Success for Boarders
Chris Richardson who joined from King’s Canterbury went from BBC at A level in Chemistry, Maths and Biology to A*AA, winning a Durham place for Biological Sciences. Toby Vautier from Bryanston School in Somerset improved his CDD to ABB. Particularly noteworthy is that while Toby retook his Economics taking it from a C to an A he opted to take two new subjects from scratch in one year, English Literature and Film Studies. His parents said: “We are relieved and grateful in equal measure. It has helped his confidence greatly. He is really buzzed about Loughborough which is also positive.” Another boarding student retake success is Freddie Fone from Tonbridge School who improved his grades from BEE to ABB and now has a place to study Marketing and Management at Newcastle University. Freddie retook his Fine Art A level and again took two new subjects from scratch, Film Studies and Graphic Design.

a levels boardingClick here for a student’s view on retaking A levels as a boarder from one of 2015’s star performer’s, Idris Kaplan. Idris won a place for Architectural Engineering at Bath. Idris’s brother Bedir Kaplan retook his A levels in 2016 in order to secure his first choice place, International Relations at KCL.



6th form boardingAngus Whitehorn from Wadhurst secured a place at his first choice Bristol University to study Drama after taking History of Art and Film Studies as one year A level courses alongside resitting English Literature and Theatre Studies.

“I’d been to traditional boarding schools in the past but RIC was completely different. It was far more relaxed and more like being at university. As I live in East Sussex and there’s no Saturday school I was able to weekly board.”

RICgirlsboardingThe RIC boarding option for those doing A level retakes or one year A level courses allows students from other schools to still move on, as they might have initially planned to do, before results day changed their original higher education plans.

Many opt to weekly board at RIC for their A level retakes from London or elsewhere in the South East as an alternative to the London tutorial or independent sixth form colleges formerly known as crammers. The cost of being a day student for retake A levels at the central London 6th form colleges is often close to weekly boarding for A level resits at RIC.

“To really succeed in my A level retake year, I found that I had to fully commit. I found this difficult with the daily commute and found that boarding was a more sensible solution. It proved invaluable. I made a firm foundation of friends, who were always there to remind me of my academic responsibilities if I ever slacked. Whereas I began the year in the mind-set to complete my retake year as quickly as possible, and go back to my ‘normal’ life, I found boarding not only helped me complete the year, but I enjoyed doing so, growing as a student and gaining some of the confidence I had lost in myself on results day.” Idris Kaplan, 2015

boarding for a level retake students

As part of its ongoing education reforms the government has removed the opportunity for students to resit any A level modules in January. The last A level January modules were available in January 2013. Traditional one term September-January A level resit courses offered by independent sixth form tutorial colleges on English exam boards (OCR, Edexcel and AQA) are therefore no longer possible.

These one term A level resit courses however were sometimes limited by the availability of modules in January and less impressive to universities as it was always clear students were looking for a quick fix with minimum disruption to their gap year plans!

one year a level boardingIn effect most successful RIC A level retake students who have boarded with us have in recent years opted for the September-June programme as this has given the best chances of significant grade improvement, the opportunity to take fresh subjects alongside retaking and to prepare properly for university.

RIC’s bespoke A level resit courses for boarders now run January- June or September-June depending on individual circumstances. Our teachers can offer retake courses for all examination boards and options.

boarding for gcse retakesA lively, international boarding community for a level retake students on their academic gap years

 Students board at Rochester for a number of reasons. They may be international students studying in the UK in order to gain entry to UK universities. We also welcome many British students from elsewhere in the UK or whose parents are in the armed forces or based overseas as expatriate workers. We never have more than three or four non native speakers of English from any one country in residence.

As half of the residential community is new each year it’s easy to make new and interesting friends. The atmosphere is closer to a university halls of residence than a boarding school and thus an ideal environment for students who need to retake their A levels to secure a place at their first choice university.

Flexible, modern boarding that can be full time or weekly for A level resit students in Kent but close to London

boarding Retake collegeAffordable weekly boarding is an increasingly popular option for students from elsewhere in the Kent, London and the home counties. Students can opt to stay at RIC from Sunday evening or Monday morning and return home after College finishes on Friday. For students who stay over the weekends there is a full activities programme. We don’t impose supervised prep and students are free to sign out in the evenings as long as they return by agreed times. All of our study bedrooms have telephones and internet connections and some have en suite facilities.

Boarding that is secure and well supervised

All of RIC’s accommodation is on campus and students do not have to travel between teaching buildings and accommodation. Students are closely supervised, the site is totally secure and there are resident staff based in each of the buildings. As well as common rooms and study areas, boarding students have access to the College’s sports pitch, fitness centre, on site cinema, art studios and gardens.

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A talented and inspiring boarding staff and supportive teachers who work closely with A level resit students 

A dedicated boarding team is in residence. There are also academic tutors living in each of the halls to provide care, supervision and expert homework help to A level retake students in the evenings! Boarders are supported by the College nurse and a team of Personal Tutors.  

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