As The Clash put it: “Should I stay or should I go?". I can now say, without a shadow of a doubt, that my decision to stay on at St. Swithun’s for my-sixth form years was absolutely the right choice. We had been told to expect a wholly different year to any previous in our time at St Swithun’s, but taking a ‘see it before I believe it’ approach, none of us was prepared for what truly was a great change. (current upper-sixth form pupil)
Stepping into the sixth form: why St Swithun’s?
By choosing the sixth form at St Swithun’s you are opting for small classes, individual attention and warm relationships with your teachers. Sixth-form students are treated as intellectual equals and given every chance to enjoy the cut and thrust of stimulating debate. You will realise that the teachers at St Swithun’s are witty human beings who enjoy nothing more than passing on enthusiasm for, and knowledge of, their subject . Now is your chance to question and to be questioned, to hone critical faculties in small groups of students of similar ability and to delve deeply into the subjects of your choosing,
Small classes are a significant advantage of our sixth form. The standard of teaching across the board is very high and the range and combinations of subjects, very broad. The enthusiasm of the teachers inspired my own enthusiasm and passion for the subjects which I chose – Latin, French and German. Dr. Martin’s end-of-term translations of popular lyrics such as ‘You’re my sex bomb!’ made me see how much fun Latin could be, and combined of course with some inspiring discussions of The Aeneid and Ovid’s Metamorphoses encouraged me to choose the subject that I now love. (2007 leaver now reading classics at Cambridge)
The sixth form offers rich opportunities not only to blossom academically, but to develop and refine softer skills such as leadership, public speaking, creativity, commitment, time management and empathy. You will have increasing freedom such as being able to choose when to study, and you will also have greater responsibilities. In the lower sixth you will organise school societies including younger girls and these will often involve fundraising or other events. Taking leadership roles in your houses demands commitment and a willingness to pull one’s weight.
Unlike sixth-form colleges, St Swithun’s is a community with all the advantages and boundaries implicit in such a microcosm of society. We all benefit from learning about compromise and working together for the good of everyone. Members of the sixth form here have an important and exciting role as you take the lead on suggesting and instituting change. By acting with imagination and integrity, you set the tone for the rest of the school.
But the key characteristic of sixth-form life here is that it is tremendous fun. Old Girls consistently say that their time in the sixth form, exams notwithstanding, was the best part of their school days.