'The sixth form experience needs to be more holistic and tailored to the individual'
Robin Wilson, Head of Sixth Form at The Queen’s School, Chester, outlines approaches schools can take to enable pupils to thrive when they go on to university.
In response to a recent BBC article reporting that new students are 'unprepared for university'.
Following on from the recent A-level reforms and the ensuing advice from Russell Group and other high-ranking institutions, it has become clear that the sixth form experience needs to be more holistic and tailored to the individual.
As well as A-level grades, universities are looking for evidence to help them select candidates who will thrive at their institutions and develop into leaders of their field as their career unfolds.
It is with this in mind that we have developed our new Sixth Form Curriculum - the Queen’s School Baccalaureate. The Baccalaureate has been designed to support our pupils to become genuinely independent thinkers and learners ensuring they have the necessary academic and personal skills to be successful both at university and later in the world of employment.
Alongside their three A-levels, pupils spend time on two MOOCs (massive open online courses) tailored to their specific areas of interest. These courses develop independent learning skills and the breadth of knowledge which universities want to see, particularly for very competitive courses.
The Baccalaureate also includes an Extended Project Qualification enabling girls to learn research and presentation skills whilst also developing their depth of knowledge in an area of interest.
We also offer an enrichment strand to the Baccalaureate which includes timetabled slots for volunteering, teambuilding, physical activity and critical thinking. This is in addition to the extracurricular clubs and competitions which are, these days, considered the norm for any personal statement – Duke of Edinburgh, Combined Cadet Force, Model United Nations and similar.
It is a busy time for these pupils. The introduction of the Queen's Baccalaureate will allow them to build their profile for the purposes of university application and make them stronger and higher achieving undergraduates when they get there.