We are a small enough school to notice very quickly if things are going wrong. Students do not go unnoticed in this environment.
Pastoral: Keep Calm and Laugh
Sixth-formers are in small form groups of 10-12 students and are encouraged to seek help and advice from their form tutors. In addition, Mr Fyfe and Mr Dixon, head of sixth form and assistant head of sixth form respectively, as well as our house staff, have many years of experience in the trials and triumphs of sixth formers and can offer all sorts of practical and emotional support.
For those girls who need more specific help, we have our full time, free, clinical psychologist, Dr Helen O’Connor who is a specialist in adolescent mental health. Reverend Wallington, our full time school chaplain who lives on site, also provides support on advice to all girls, irrespective of faith.
We believe strongly in the power of perspective. It is our role as a school to seek to give all of our students a sense of perspective and we rely on parents to work with us on this. We absolutely do not believe in pressure; where students feel under pressure there is typically a lot of noise, but limited learning.
Throughout their time at St Swithun’s. students will learn the importance of planning, paying attention to what they can control and not worrying about what they can’t, seeking advice from experts and laughing. We try our best to provide a light-hearted approach to most aspects of school life as we know that happy students make the best progress.
Specialist Higher Education and Careers Advice
Pupils typically achieve places at highly selective universities in the UK and overseas, supported by the clear and helpful guidance provided by those involved in university advice.
ISI Inspection Report February 2017
We offer personalised higher education and careers guidance to every member of the sixth form. Indeed, girls who have been with us since 13+ will have been allocated one of our HESG team to advise them about GCSE choices. In the sixth form there is advice on offer about A level choices and then about university courses. For more information please read our UCAS advice booklet.
Our comprehensive programme includes:
- One-to-one interviews and guidance about A level choices, university courses and possible careers as frequently as necessary including after girls have left St Swithun’s
- Access to careers fairs and gap fairs which rotate between St Swithun’s and Winchester College
- Access to careers and aptitude-related software to give girls a starting point in deciding on university courses
- Visiting speakers describing their careers
- Access to our extensive network of old girls who can offer advice, mentoring and work experience
- Interview practice
- Support and help with completing UCAS forms and personal statements
- Specialised support for those applying for particularly competitive courses such as medicine or veterinary science
- Post-A level results support – if students do better or worse than expected we are here to give advice
- A full-time specialist providing an academic enrichment programme designed to support students at every stage of the application process and help them develop critical and creative thinking skills and a rigorous approach to academic study and scholarly endeavour.
Sixth-Form Studying Facilities and Resources
Our library occupies two spacious floors at the heart of the school and is fully staffed all day.
There are over 15,000 titles on the catalogue including 3000 of classic, modern and contemporary fiction which are in heavy demand from both pupils and staff, as well as a substantial biography section.
There is a generous budget for library purchases which enables us to reach beyond the classroom textbook to ensure that pupils have a fuller knowledge and understanding of their subjects. Teaching staff make suggestions for purchases to enable us to complement and broaden the resources in specialist subject areas as well as developing the fiction collection. We have an extensive reference-only section which covers all the disciplines: in addition we take four daily newspapers, a local weekly newspaper, five weekly current affairs magazines and forty-three periodicals and journals.
Internet access is available in the library and all new pupils are given library lessons so that they can effectively use the library resources.
In the U6, all girls, both boarders and day girls, are accommodated in Finlay House. It has 51 single study bedrooms for boarders and five study rooms, each for between two and seven day girls. All students have access to the school wi-fi and the house IT and printing facilities.
Study 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 the workload, meeting deadlines and making the most of study time, in order to take part in lots of other activities and socialise with friends. Throughout their time in the sixth form, tutors provide ongoing support and advice to help students make the most of the opportunities here. Students have one-to-one meetings to monitor their progress in all your subjects and ensure they are following their individual learning agreement.
Students will have far more unsupervised time for study than they have been used to and their tutor is their first port of call with any difficulties. Committing to a regular routine of work each week is essential to enjoying their studies. As a general rule, each hour spent in the classroom should be matched by at least one hour of independent study. Subject tutors work very closely with students, not only to improve their understanding, but also to help build their confidence and develop their independence.
I studied biology, maths and chemistry. 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.
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.