While some stay in the independent sector from prep to sixth form it is now common for savvy students to go private at key points in their education. Such moves can allow for improved grade and university entry prospects or changes in direction after AS results. Students also move directly into RIC’s sixth form as either boarding or day students after a disappointing first year of the IB Diploma programme.
Finishing his A levels at RIC this year is Ben Sharma who left St Olave’s Grammar School in Orpington after his AS results. Ben says: “Moving schools for Year 13 allowed me to retake modules where I needed to and focus on achieving the grades for my first choice university- Architecture at Nottingham.” While studying hard, Ben also found time during the year to run the London marathon and exhibit his photography at a local Pizza Express.
Students have moved directly into Year 13 at Rochester Independent College from a range of local schools. Those from further afield are able to take up places in the College’s boarding accommodation. If a student is aiming for something very competitive such as medicine or dentistry a move at this point can be a shrewd one as it can maximise the potential of the right A level grades being achieved first time round.
Roshni Patel from Gravesend Grammar School crashed in Year 12 but after transferring into Year 13 at Rochester Independent College won a place to study Medicine at St George’s. Her parents, Mr and Mrs Patel commented:
“We are extremely happy with Roshni’s results. This is our second daughter to attend Rochester Independent College after disappointing results elsewhere. Our older daughter Sarina is in her final year of Dentistry at Queen Mary.”
It’s not just students who have disappointing AS results who transfer directly into year 13. Some move to change direction and add extra A levels intensively in one year. Others are seeking a more stimulating academic environment or wish to spend the last year of their secondary education boarding.
Students have the opportunity to study alongside International Science Olympiad medal winners from overseas who soar through up to 25 Maths, Further Maths and Statistics modules in one year of study and are prepared for the three Cambridge STEP papers. These papers are aimed at the top 5% of all candidates and include questions intended to take 45 minutes rather than 10 or so for an A level question. Three of RIC’s students have offers from Trinity College, Cambridge this year. The healthy competition that comes from working with such high achieving peers serves as excellent preparation for study at top universities.
Last year’s students who switched schools to improve their grades have just finished their first year of university.
Jack Weston says: “I decided to change school after year 12. I was at Gravesend Grammar School for Boys and was disappointed with my AS results. My results were not what I wanted or needed for university. I’d been at my previous school for 6 years and consequently there were lots of distractions. I came to RIC to take Biology, Chemistry, Geography and Government and Politics, it’s a much more academically focussed college. It was a really good year, I’ve worked really hard and the support from the teachers has been excellent. My personal tutor gave me lots of help and advice with my university application and I got 5 out of 5 offers for university.”
After CCC at AS Jack improved to A*AB at A2. His parents commented:
“We are absolutely delighted – as is he!” It is particularly special for us because we met at Warwick University – and got there with lower grades than Jack!”
Jack’s classmate Alex Alford from Sevenoaks adds: “I was so happy with my GCSE results but then my AS year did not go as well as planned at Bennett Memorial in Tunbridge Wells. I got BDD in Maths, Chemistry and Physics. I was lucky, my parents gave me the opportunity to come here for year 13 and retake some of my AS modules. Environment change has been the key. I think I was just too buddy with my friends at Bennett which affected my work. At RIC I am here to work hard and get the grades I need for Engineering. The travelling is strenuous but it is great having the college minibus service from Sevenoaks. I feel so much more confident now and am much better prepared for the exams. We do loads of past papers and the teachers give us fantastic insights into how to answer questions to achieve our potential. There is a real enjoyment of learning, the teachers are passionate about their subjects and we don’t just work from text books. Maths lessons are quirky in the shed in the garden! I’m hoping to study Chemical Engineering next year.”
Alex successfully secured AAB and has just finished his first year at Bath University.
Tim Turvey– who lives on the same Sevenoaks street as Alex-transferred to RIC from TWGSB, disappointed with his AS grades of CDD. Tim benefited from the college’s expertise in Maths and Science, finally achieving AAB, securing his place at Nottingham to read Mechanical Engineering.
These intensive Year 13 courses however are not for the faint hearted. They involve weekly testing, no study leave and often teaching over half terms and Easter. It is also worth remembering that while a change of environment and a more individualised approach can help no school, independent or state, can guarantee top grades. Much depends on students being properly advised about choosing the right combination of subjects in the first place and working consistently hard throughout their time in sixth form.
With university fees increasing it is clear students are often prepared to switch schools to ensure they realise their A level potential and secure a place at their first choice institution. Making the move after year 12 also avoids the need for A level retakes and an extra year at school before university.