Introduction to A Levels

This year sees the transition from old to new A Levels continue, with the vast majority now following linear courses that will be examined at the end of two years’ study. The exceptions are maths and DT, which remain modular, with AS exams at the end of the Lower Sixth year and A2 exams the following summer. In some subjects the exam boards are yet to have their courses accredited by JCQ for September 2016 and therefore the details are still open to some change and are included here in draft form.

The Department for Education’s intention is that the return to the old two year A level tradition will gives more time for Sixth Form students to explore their subjects. A levels should be seen as a complete two year package, not a game of two halves. This school, along with most others it seems, has decided to embrace the spirit of these changes. We like the idea of recovering a whole term of teaching in the summer of Lower Sixth.

With the new linear A levels the school has decided to do the following:

  • Students will be able to take three or four A levels. Pupils are encouraged to start with four, but may choose to drop to three at any stage in the first year of the course.
  • Students taking maths and/or DT will still sit AS exams at the end of the Lower Sixth year in those subjects.
  • Those taking linear A levels will sit internally organised ‘prediction exams’, in mid June, which will help to inform decisions over UCAs predicted grades for university applications.
  • The extended project will be available to all, as it is at present. Students taking three A levels will be strongly encouraged to do an extended project.
  • There is a skills/extended project/lecture timetable block, which allow us to make academic enrichment a core aspect of the Sixth Form experience.
  • There will be a greater emphasis, because of the spare periods within each subject block, on independent work.

As in all schools, to enable the options programme to work, subjects are grouped into blocks. Most subjects appear in more than one block, but some appear only once. Only one subject per block can be chosen. This is important both so that setting can take place and so that different options can be offered within one subject. The blocks have been carefully worked out so that they not only meet all the combinations required by universities, but also allow all popular combinations of choices. We have also been careful to ensure maximum flexibility of choice.

Each subject is taught for seven periods per week in the Lower Sixth and eight periods in the Upper Sixth.

If there is insufficient demand, a subject may be withdrawn.

To embark on these courses, students should have passed five GCSE subjects with at least grade C in English and Mathematics and a minimum of three subjects passed at grade B or better. In exceptional circumstances the Headmaster may allow students to continue their studies into Sixth Form without achieving this hurdle so long as motivation can be guaranteed. Such an arrangement would be reviewed termly.

In addition to their A Level subjects, all students undertake important supplementary and broadening courses under the category of Sixth Form Skills in Lower Sixth and the Sixth Form Lecture programme in Upper Sixth

King’s also provides a very full extra-curricular programme of activities, drama, music and sport which enables students to broaden their range of skills and at the same time make a vital contribution to Sixth Form life.

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