Sixth Form Curriculum

Sixth Form Curriculum

At King Edward's, we have high academic expectations, and believe success is achieved through a genuine curiosity and love for learning.

All students study three or four A Level subjects in the Lower Sixth, with the option to continue all four into the Upper Sixth. Alternatively, Upper Sixth students can focus on three subjects for A Level examination which form the basis of nearly all university offers, and may combine this with the Extended Project Qualification (EPQ).

A Level study is very different to GCSE, and starting with four subjects not only allows for greater breadth of study, but ensures that students can cherry-pick the right combination of three subjects to continue through to the Upper Sixth. Beginning Lower Sixth with three subjects reduces options available to the student, should the A Level subject not match their expectations from GCSE, but is available as an option with additional time spent in supervised study.

The majority of students opt to focus their energies on three subjects in the Upper Sixth. Very few university courses require four subjects, although students taking Further Mathematics, which is recommended for the most competitive Mathematics and Engineering courses, will need to continue all four to allow for sufficient academic breadth.

The Sixth Form at King Edward’s aims to deliver consistently excellent results in a wide range of subjects.  A favourable teacher student ratio allows us to focus on the individual, and promotes class discussion. Good, positive relationships with teachers are a feature of the Sixth Form experience, making it an important stepping stone to the world of university and work.

How do I choose my subjects for Sixth Form?

You will be studying a much narrower range of subjects than in the past and spending more time on each of them, so it certainly makes sense to choose subjects you know you enjoy! Equally, your results in these subjects will be your passport to Higher Education, so they should also be subjects in which you can reasonably expect to achieve good results. A combination of subjects offering a degree of variety of study is often a good idea.

If you have clear future intentions for university and beyond, check if you should take certain subjects at A Level. If you are not sure what you want to do beyond the Sixth Form, it’s best to choose a range of subjects that keep your options open. Take advice as widely as possible and visit the HE and careers centre to talk to our dedicated HE staff.

Should I do 3 or 4 subjects?

In the Lower Sixth our advice is to start on four subjects and consider reducing to three mid-way through the year or at the start of the Upper Sixth.

In the Upper Sixth, Further Mathematics, Mathematics, plus two other subjects is the traditional four-subject combination, but you can take all four of your subjects forward to A Level if you wish, whatever combination you are studying. It is important not to underestimate the potential demands of any four-subject Upper Sixth course of study, and to take advice as widely as possible. Universities are generally looking for the three best A Level grades, and focusing on three subjects can increase your chances of obtaining the highest grades.

Which subjects are best preparation for university later on?

The school believes that all the subjects offered at A Level have good academic credentials and are suitable for study by Sixth Formers intending to enter Higher Education. Some HE courses have specific subject requirements, very many do not. Students who are concerned whether their A Level subjects are appropriate preparation for their intended course of study at university should consult the websites of the universities concerned or look at the entry profiles for courses featured on UCAS Course Search. The HE and careers department can also offer guidance and advice.

When do I have to decide which subjects I want to carry on to full A Level?

Having chosen four subjects for your Lower Sixth year, you don’t have to decide which three you will carry on with in the Upper Sixth until the Spring Term of the Lower Sixth year, or after the Lower Sixth exams in the Summer Term. Requests to change your choice of subjects after that will be considered but will be subject to considerations such as staffing, set numbers and timetabling implications. Internal exams held at the start of the Summer Term in the Lower Sixth will help you with this process.

Will I have the same teachers in both years in the Sixth Form?

Continuity of teaching cannot be guaranteed, as we will need to make some rearrangements to teaching sets in the light of choices for Upper Sixth, but we will do our best to provide continuity for as many sets and students as possible.

Can I drop my fourth A Level subject in the Upper Sixth?

If you decide to keep with four subjects in the Upper Sixth, this is fine. You should consider the demands of four A Level courses carefully before embarking on this route. If, however, you later decide to reduce to three subjects, you will be allowed to drop the fourth subject. Making such a change in the Upper Sixth year itself may, however, involve changes of teaching set.

Will subjects be examined in both the Lower and Upper Sixth?

Yes. All subjects will be examined in the Summer Term of the Lower Sixth year internally. In January of the Upper Sixth year, mock examinations are arranged by subject departments and A Level subjects will be externally examined in May of the Upper Sixth year.

What is Open Forum and Foundation Studies?

In Lower Sixth, every student will enter the Foundation Studies programme and attend a series of weekly sessions designed to equip students with key skills and to extend their education beyond the examined curriculum. In Upper Sixth, the programme evolves into a series of five short courses chosen from a wide-ranging list.

Full details of these will be made available in the Spring Term of the Lower Sixth year. In addition, all Sixth Form students will attend Open Forum, a series of weekly presentations by staff and guest speakers, intended to interest, inspire and broaden the experience of all students.