FAQs for 5th Form Parents and Guardians

Academic update

Teaching and learning

What is being done to provide additional support for 5th Form pupils to ensure they are fully prepared for exams in January and June?

  • Teachers in all departments are running additional clinics in the 16:15-17:15 activities slot and on Saturday mornings from 09:30-12:30. We will issue an updated timetable of clinics in early November.
  • We will run study skills and revision skills sessions for the 5th Form in December so that they are able to make the most of the Christmas break before sitting their trial exams in January.
  • Pupils should be proactive in their approach to clinics, coming to sessions ready to review and revise key topics and areas of difficulty with their subject teachers.

When will my child have covered the (I)GCSE syllabus, and how much revision time is allocated for each subject?

  • This will vary from subject to subject and between different sets within each subject. However, every pupil will have ample time to review the syllabus before the main session of public exams in May and June 2021.
  • Subject content at GCSE has been reduced by exam boards in many subjects, in response to COVID, because many maintained schools have not been fully operational over the past term. Some subjects will offer a greater choice of questions, additionally. However, King Edward’s has offered a full programme of GCSE remote learning from the first day of lockdown so pupils are in a relatively fortunate position.
  • As above, please do encourage your child to use the Saturday clinics for ongoing revision and practice in areas that they may find challenging. We will communicate the updated list of clinics very shortly.

Have (I)GCSE exam dates changed in the light of COVID?

  • Some, but not all exam dates have changed.
  • King Edward’s pupils take exams offered by a range of different exam boards. Our pupils take most IGCSE subjects with Cambridge International Exams (English, Sciences, Modern Foreign Languages, Geography, Economics and PE). The dates for these exams are likely to remain the same, running from 28 April to 11 June.
  • Other exams, including IGCSE Maths and History, have been shifted to the period between 7 June and 2 July. Provisional timetables are not yet definitive, but should be available by the end of November.

Why has critical thinking been introduced for 5th Form pupils?

  • Because it allows us to foster approaches to learning and thinking that will support our pupils in their GCSE preparation and initiate the more complex approaches that pupils need to develop for success in Sixth Form, higher education and the workplace.
  • The course includes support for study skills and revision techniques as well as metacognitive techniques that are seen by various educational researchers as one of the most effective interventions to improve pupils’ progress.
  • The Deputy Head Academic and the Head of Careers and Higher Education will speak to all 5th Form pupils over the next few weeks to brief them fully on the matters raised in this FAQ document and others relating to revision, exam and other study techniques (as also mentioned below).

Sixth Form and public exam results

How and when does the School advise my child on subject choices?

  • We introduced Sixth Form courses and subject choices at the Options Evening on 23 September. Pupils and parents can now express their interest and preferences through the Options Form available on Firefly.
  • This form should be submitted as soon as possible as an indicator of preferred courses at this stage. This will enable us to build the timetable option blocks and finalise the list of subjects that we run depending on the demand from pupils.
  • We understand that you are keen to have some clarity about choices. We could, of course, publish an unchanging blocking system, but it is a strength of our procedures that we can tailor our provision to pupil demand, as above.

How do I know which subjects are available at A-level and IB?

  • We offered a wide range of subjects at the Options Evening. After the trial exams and 5th Form Parents’ Consultation in January 2021, we will ask for your final selection of subjects and curriculum. We use this information to finalise the timetable blocking system to enable as many of your choices as possible.
  • The option blocks are published before the Spring Term half term in February.

Can you do a hybrid course comprising A-levels and IB subjects?

  • Yes, depending on timetabling it is possible to take, for example, 2 A-levels and an IB subject at Higher Level.

How does my child access information about careers and higher education?

  • All tutors review the half termly progress and organise one-to-one interviews with each tutee. A substantial element of the 5th Form tutorial programme is devoted to careers and pupils can also access presentations about internships and workplace offered through InvestIN Education.
  • Mrs Davies, Head of Careers and Higher Education, has conducted the My Future Careers survey with all our 5th Form pupils. This allows pupils to explore likely career matches and aptitudes. This is followed up during November with a one-to-one interview with each 5th Form pupil to identify the best Sixth Form options and routes to higher education.
  • Parents and pupils may also contact Mrs Davies (daviesm@kesw.org) for individual consultation by appointment.
  • We hold a careers fair for 5th Form with guest speakers and presentations from alumni who have successful professional experience in a range of careers.

How does the School support candidates for competitive university courses and medical degrees?

  • Our Early Applicants’ Programme (those applying for courses at Oxford and Cambridge, medicine, veterinary medicine and dentistry) runs for Lower Sixth pupils from the second half of the Spring Term and comprises weekly sessions led by Mrs Phillips, Head of History, who is a PPE graduate from Oxford herself, and supported by the Deputy Head Academic and Head of Sixth Form.
  • The Programme provides pupils with enrichment opportunities, guided reading, debate and discussion to enhance the personal statement, support for entrance tests and interview practice. The Programme is open to all pupils who have shown their academic commitment, curiosity and ability both at Key Stage 4 and during the Autumn Term of Lower Sixth.
  • Once pupils have applied and been accepted onto the Early Applicants’ Programme, all sessions are compulsory unless pupils actively withdraw from the Programme.

How do you ensure Sixth Form study periods are used effectively?

  • Under normal circumstances, all pupils sign into the library during their study periods for the first half of the Autumn Term. We then analyse each pupil’s progress towards their target grades in their half term report.
  • Pupils who are on track are afforded additional independence and will be allowed to study in House or the Sixth Form Centre if they prefer.
  • Pupils who are not on track to meet target grades continue to sign into the library where a member of staff supervises their study. In some cases, pupils will also be required to sign into the library between 19:00 and 21:00 to continue their work under supervision.
  • Study skills themselves are delivered as part of the weekly Sixth Form Programme and followed up with activities through the tutor programme.

We know that IB results at King Edward’s are excellent. Why have A-level results historically not matched these?

  • We have identified this as a strategic priority for the School.
  • In past years, most pupils at King Edward’s (including many of the most able academically) have opted for the IB curriculum. Some pupils have struggled to find appropriate IB subject choices and have therefore adopted A-levels as a more accessible option. These have been relatively few in number and so a comparison of percentages attaining each grade is not very informative. However, we acknowledge a clear and growing interest in A-levels as the first-choice curriculum, following recent changes in content and assessment. The School has responded to these:
    • Every department undertakes regular exam-focused training and professional development delivered by exam boards. Many of our teachers are or have been A-level examiners.
    • Additionally, we work hard to ensure that all A-level pupils have a clear understanding of the expectations for independent study. Last year, we instituted a rapid and effective intervention system to identify and support pupils’ specific needs at a granular level in each subject.
  • The 2020 A-level results showed some improvement resulting from this more focused approach and we expect to see a continuing increase in value-added for our A-level results.

Why can’t we see all the historic A-level results?

  • The School has updated the results and destinations page on the website to include historic results for both the IB and A-level in a more accessible format.

General information

Is there a better method of communication with parents than e-mail?

  • We have listened to your concerns about the School’s communications and are pleased to announce we have moved to an integrated communications system (Parent Post) which will provide a more modern, accessible and organised service, collating all communications to you in one place and storing them for your records.
  • We also have the parent portal, Firefly, the website and WhatsApp groups. If you would like help in accessing the parent portal then please do contact us (ithelpdesk@kesw.org).

When will the new Upper Sixth Form House be ready and will day pupils benefit from it?

  • We fully expect your children to be able to move into the refurbished House for their Upper Sixth year. We will shortly publish a timetable of works, and computer-generated images of the new House. However, because we have had to use the building as our isolation House in response to COVID, building and survey work has not been possible, the finish date is likely to be pushed back to 2022.
  • One of the benefits of this Upper Sixth Form House will be to develop a sense of community between day and boarding pupils. The House will offer improved boarding and day accommodation and independent study facilities, using the whole ground floor of what is currently Old Ridley and St Bridget’s. You can find more information here.
  • It is being designed to allow all pupils in their final year to have the opportunity to develop everyday skills for independent living within a supportive setting in readiness for their move to university or leaving home. We hope this will involve short spells of residential living and self-catering for all pupils in the House.

Is it true that there is a discount on Fees in the Sixth Form for pupils who have been in the School since the 1st Form?

  • Yes; pupils accrue a Sixth Form Loyalty discount of 2% per year from 1st Form to 5th Form (maximum of 10%). There is a minimum qualification period of two years. The discount is applied net after any other discount, bursary or scholarship. Pupils enrolled in Year 7 and 8 at Barrow Hills School accrue the same benefit on transfer to King Edward’s.

What are the benefits to my child for staying at King Edward’s for Sixth Form?

  • We know your child better than anyone (except you, of course). Relationships between staff and pupils at King Edward’s are excellent and the confidence gained from this emotional security creates the best foundation for your child to express their full potential academically, and to develop the ‘soft skills’ of problem-solving, collaboration, imagination and resilience.
  • We have operated effectively under lockdown; the School’s nimble response to COVID restrictions has allowed us to keep up with the demanding pace of IGCSE, IB and A-level curriculum and to face the next round of public exams with confidence.
  • We do not anticipate moving to alternate weeks of remote and on-site learning, or otherwise reducing our academic provision, which is what some local colleges have done. Instead, we now offer revision clinics on Saturdays and in afternoon ‘twilight’ sessions, thus increasing the teaching provided and targeting it very precisely in areas where your child may most need extra support.
  • King Edward’s is a boarding and day school, with a deep-rooted ethos of pastoral care, rightly fêted as a strength of the School. It is based around the House system in which close-knit groups draw together boarders and day pupils. Our House staff ensure every child is not just heard but empowered.
  • We know, from many years of professional first-hand experience, how powerful, enabling and affirming it can be for our older pupils to show leadership in the ordinary events of School and House life: selecting and captaining sports teams; becoming a Peer Listener, recruiting others to join a new pupil society, explaining a tricky subject-related problem to a younger pupil who is struggling and many others. These opportunities of leadership through service are an integral part of life at King Edward’s.
  • Finally, the Upper Sixth Form House, will be an aspirational, exciting and ground-breaking building and concept for our senior pupils. We are excited about the opportunities that it will create to provide a new boarding model that will prepare our oldest and most mature pupils for university and adult life, and allow the possibility of more independent living.
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Sixth Form Open Evening

Our upcoming Virtual Sixth Form Open Evening will be on Wednesday 2nd December at 6pm. Please follow this link to book your place.