02 October, 2023

An in-depth overview of our A-level Programme

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Your pathway academic excellence and career success

A Levels, also known as Advanced Level qualifications, are academic qualifications that are taken by students in the UK and many other countries worldwide in preparation for university education. The programme has been in operation since 1951 making it one of the longest-standing and well-known post-16 qualifications in the world. The A Level programme allows students unparalleled flexibility and opportunities to specialise in their own personal strengths and interests.

A Levels are usually studied over a two-year period, starting in the lower sixth form (Year 12) and ending in the upper sixth form (Year 13). This programme has allowed our graduates to gain entry to top universities worldwide. Many students also gain entry to universities in the Middle East after Year 12 graduating with an AS Level (Advanced Subsidiary) one-year qualification. 

 

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Students typically choose three or four A Level subjects to study. Since the students specialise in the subjects that they are most interested in, they tend to be better prepared for the degree they have chosen, as they begin acquiring knowledge that they will need later at university. University Admissions Departments report that A Level programmes prepare students for degree-level study better than other programmes thanks to their detailed courses. Students have the flexibility to focus on and develop their true passions which lead to greater engagement and enjoyment of the programme. Students can apply themselves fully to their strengths rather than splitting their time and attention over subjects that they do not intend to pursue in the future.

A Levels are assessed through a combination of exams and coursework, and the grades achieved in these exams are used to determine university admission. Students find modular assessments for certain subjects particularly advantageous as they can then focus on sections of the course for examination rather than the entire breadth at once. This allows students to focus on specific areas at one time often resulting in improved outcomes. 

Our students also have the unique opportunity to undertake an Extended Project Qualification (EPQ). This project allows students to study a topic area that extends their learning in their area of study, in a related area, or that is relevant to their own personal interests, as a standalone qualification. Students select one of the four units, which may be completed over one or two years. Each of the four units offers a different type of project: 

  • A dissertation (5000-6000 words)
  • An investigation/field study (4000-5000 words)
  • A performance (written evidence to accompany – 1500-3000 words)
  • An artefact (written evidence to accompany – 1500-3000 words)

The Extended Project qualification is highly regarded by many universities and carries up to 28 UCAS points, depending on the grade achieved. Universities are also recognising the Extended Project qualification as a valuable part of a student’s profile on their UCAS application. It also serves as a solid experience in university-style assignments, students learn valuable skills for third-level education by undertaking the EPQ.

A Levels offer a range of benefits to students, both in terms of personal development and future career prospects. One of the main benefits of studying A Levels is that they provide a clear pathway to university education. By successfully completing A Level exams, students also demonstrate to potential employers that they have a high level of academic achievement. This can be particularly important if you are applying for jobs that require a degree-level qualification or that involve complex problem-solving or analytical skills. They demonstrate a commitment to learning and personal development. This can be an attractive quality to employers who are often looking for candidates who are motivated, hardworking, and willing to invest in their own skills and knowledge.

Studying A Levels can help to build students' confidence and independence. A Levels are challenging and require a high level of self-discipline and motivation, but by successfully completing their A Level studies, students demonstrate their ability to work independently and to take responsibility for their own learning. This increased confidence and independence can benefit students in a range of contexts, from university to the workplace and beyond. 

Our sixth-form students take on many opportunities for leadership in school and in the community ranging from organising speakers of interest and whole school events and celebrations to participation in international awards, team-bonding activities, and driving courses. The A Level programme of study allows not only for academic success and excellence but also for the holistic development of the student. The experiences, inside and outside of the classroom, in our Sixth Form, lead to a passion for lifelong learning and personal development and the acquisition of the key skills desired by future employers and called for in the ever-changing modern professional sphere. Our students leave us feeling confident, prepared, and excited for their next steps in life.

 

Ita Conneely

Key Stage 5 Lead