Visit Enquire


in Sixth Form

Excellence by stealth: achieving the best possible academic results in the most relaxed way


Data from Durham University shows that pupils at St Swithun’s typically achieve at least half a grade higher at A level than would have been predicted from base-line data, with 25% of results a grade or more higher than predicted according to this same data. St Swithun’s is in the top 9% of schools nationally in terms of our value added in spite of the fact that significant value has also been added at GCSE (top 3% nationally at GCSE) making it more difficult for additional value added to be achieved at A level. This excellent value-added data reflects the way in which our teaching and support enable the girls to achieve higher grades than they would have believed possible.

We never put a ceiling on what girls can achieve. We will work as hard as the girls – and sometimes harder – to help them get the best possible results. We will ponder on the way to school or while having a cup of coffee at weekends how best to explain new concepts so that the girls understand, how to present material in engaging ways so that the girls want to study, how to motivate those girls who haven’t yet found their own self-discipline.

If you are wondering how this level of support prepares the girls for university, the answer is that we treat them as individuals and offer as little or as much support as necessary to achieve skills and grades. Some girls will need very little support and some will need a great deal. We have experience with both ends of the spectrum and with everything in between. Our teaching extends far beyond the classroom and will ensure that girls are prepared for university and the world of work both academically and far more broadly.

How do the girls achieve such excellent value-added scores? The girls are in classes of 12 or fewer taught by committed, experienced, intelligent and caring teachers. In many cases these teachers will already know the girls and will have formed strong relationships with them. There is much research to show that learners thrive when they know that their teachers care about them and are interested in their progress.

We offer extensive individual support and / or stretch and challenge as appropriate. For example, there are extension opportunities such as dissection club, academic lunches and BMAT preparation, and we offer individual and group interventions if we find girls falling behind. Our teachers are easily accessible outside class so that the girls can ensure they properly understand the material they are studying.

Some people wonder how we develop independence in a school environment. It is true that in general the girls are expected to be in school from 8.15-4.20, but within that structure there is plenty of freedom and independence. For example, they can choose whether to work during their study periods or not. If not working they could be having individual tennis, music or C+P lessons, they could have arranged to see one of their teachers to go through some aspect of their course, they could be having a driving lesson, they could be involved in some form of community service or they could have chosen to socialise with their friends. The choice is theirs provided that homework is submitted on time and to a good standard.

The girls can choose to have as little or as much contact with their teachers as they wish outside the classroom. They will be offered excellent teaching, extra reading, challenging enrichment opportunities, but they don’t have to take these. They might already have extremely full lives.

We offer a wide range of A level subjects in addition to the EPQ and Italian GCSE. Where we do not offer a particular A level it is generally because it is a subject that can be started ab initio at university such as law, business studies, Chinese, accountancy, sociology, environmental science or media studies.

Exam Results

Good News!
Your child is eligible for entry at any of the below points...
Select an Entry Point