Stepping into the sixth form: studying and support

The next two years are an important transition to independent study at another institution. Enjoying sixth-form life to the full means keeping on top of your workload, meeting your deadlines and making the most of your study time, so that you can take part in lots of other activities and socialise with your friends. Throughout your time in the sixth form, your tutor will give you ongoing support and advice to help you make the most of your opportunities here. You will have one-to-one meetings to ensure that you monitor your progress in all your subjects and that you are following your individual learning agreement.

You will have far more unsupervised time for study than you have been used to and your tutor will act as your first port of call if you encounter any difficulties. Committing to a regular routine of work each week is essential if you are to enjoy your studies.  As a general rule, each hour spent in the classroom should be matched by at least one hour of independent study. Your subject tutors will work very closely with you, not only to improve your understanding, but also to help build your confidence and to develop your independence.

I studied biology, maths and chemistry to A2 level and history to AS level. All subjects at St Swithun’s are taught extremely well as the teachers are not only there to teach the subject but to ensure that each student actually understands the subject, not simply pass an exam. This means that when deciding on my future plans it was possible to see beyond the marks needed for a university place and to concentrate on what aspects of a subject were interesting so that I could choose an area of study that I would find both engaging and useful at university. (2009 leaver now reading business studies at Manchester University.)

At university and in the work place you will be expected to meet deadlines and keep up with your work with minimal supervision.  Your sixth-form tutors will support and monitor you throughout your time here to prepare you for your life after school.

There are a number of study areas within school to help you develop good working habits. There are also computer facilities which are available for your individual studies.

Upper-sixth girls have their own house (Finlay) which accommodates both boarders and day girls. Boarders all have their own single study bedroom and day girls also have individual study areas.

Being able to relax between studying sessions is equally important and sixth-formers enjoy a range of facilities.  The lower-sixth common room is the 'chill out zone', allowing you to mingle and get to know everyone else in your year.  During study periods you can make some toast or a coffee and at breaks, lunch times and after school you can make snacks and drinks, watch television, listen to music, chat to friends and play table football.

You will, even after five years, make new friends. Who would have thought the difference a room with a few sofas could make? I asked a few friends for their views: “It has united the year.”, “It breaks down social barriers.”, “Everyone interacts with everyone.”, and “You can catch up with people who ordinarily you wouldn’t see during the day because of your timetables.”.  (current upper-sixth pupil)

Finlay has well-equipped common and activity rooms as well as a kitchen and ‘brew rooms’.  In the upper sixth you may return to the house during the school day whenever you are not in lessons.