Planning for Higher Education
The majority of our Sixth Formers progress to a university degree so that in the Lower Sixth students have to make important decisions about their future. At a time of increasing competition for entry to both Higher Education and employment, all options have to be carefully researched and applications have to be planned ready to be put into action by the beginning of the Upper Sixth year. A well-defined sequence of events informs the students’ decisions and assists them in their final choices.
- All students complete the UCAS Stamford Test at the beginning of the Easter Term to help them identify university courses that reflect their academic interests. Further follow-up is available through the ‘Centigrade’ scheme, which students may opt to take.
- During the Easter and Summer Terms small groups of Sixth Formers visit the Head of Careers for counselling on researching Higher Education institutions and courses.
- An evening for parents to learn about the UCAS procedures at Birkdale is offered in the Easter Term.
- During the Summer Term, Sixth Formers are encouraged to organise their own visits to Open Days within the parameters laid down by the school. Visits are arranged annually to Oxford and Cambridge.
- Detailed instructions on how to apply to UK universities through UCAS and advice on writing personal statements are provided to enable our students to produce Mock UCAS forms towards the end of the Summer Term.
- Towards the end of the Summer Term pupils and parents are invited to attend a meeting with their Form Tutor to discuss which subjects should be continued to A Level in the context of Higher Education plans.
- Final decisions on choice of courses and institutions are made at the beginning of the Upper Sixth year, after individual counselling from Senior Staff under the leadership of Mrs Parsons (i/c UCAS).
- Instruction on interview techniques and individual mock interviews are given from October onwards to members of the Upper Sixth.
- Specific guidance is provided for Oxbridge candidates and for students applying for competitive subjects such as Medicine to help them with each stage of the admission procedures. Extension classes (which any sixth former may attend) are offered to broaden students’ subject knowledge and preparation is offered for pre-entry tests such as UKCAT or BMAT.
These events are complemented by talks from visiting speakers. Topics include choosing a university course, student life in Higher Education, admissions policies, sponsorship and scholarships, student grants and Gap Years. Former pupils also come back to speak about their chosen careers and universities or Gap Year experience.
The final stage in the university application process is when the A Level results are published in August, when experienced members of staff are in school and available to advise on taking up places or looking at alternative options should results be different to those expected.