Year 11 is an exciting time but can also be quite challenging for students and their families alike, as students prepare for external exams. Additionally, it is also a time when students begin preparing to take their next steps towards future destinations and the transition between school and post-16 education.
It is our vision for all students to be able to make informed decisions about the destination that is right for their chosen academic or career aspirations. Year 11 students will receive a range of support during the year, as well as receiving important information related to the various pathways they will be able to select for the next stage in their journey.
What careers advice, guidance and information will year 11 students receive?
All Year 11 students will have a meeting with an independent careers advisor.
In the second half of the Autumn term, Year 11 will follow a careers curriculum during form time that will allow them to make an informed choice about their next steps. This will include sessions on A levels, vocational options, apprenticeships, and T levels. Local Colleges will also be talking to students about the different opportunities available to them.
Although all internal students will have a place at HAOC Sixth Form if they meet the entrance criteria, it is important that students consider multiple options so they can make an informed decision about the type of educational setting that is right for them.
Choosing between Sixth Form and a College
Choosing between a sixth form or a college is an important decision. They differ in the structure of the school day and the way in which students are taught.
Using Harris Academy Ockendon Sixth Form as an example: class sizes at HAOC Sixth Form are smaller, students will be taught in groups of less than 30 and will be in a year group of on average 150 students. This means the teachers are more likely to know you well and there are more opportunities for enrichment activities which look great on a CV or university application, like being a member of the student leadership team.
If students struggle without routine, or are not very self-motivated it is likely that the HAOC Sixth Form setting is better for them, as here students will have a school timetable to follow with some independence in non-contact hours (1-2 hours a day.).
In contrast, at a college, students are expected to be independent from the offset, this includes completing revision and homework without structured periods in which to do so. College’s offer many more courses which might be better if the intention is to study something that is slightly niche and not a ‘typical’ academic subject. They also have many more students, there will be 1000 on average within a year group.
We recommend attending the open evenings of a range of further education provisions to decide which will be best suited.
Option 1: A Levels or L3 Vocational Subjects
Students can choose to study A levels or vocational courses at Sixth Form or a college. Students who opt to study A-levels will usually study 3 different subjects and be assessed through mostly exams but with some subjects such as English or History also involving coursework.
This is the route that the majority of students take, and this option is the one that lends itself most easily to university as a future destination, although students can get to university through other routes.
Vocational qualifications require more coursework with some exams. Results for vocational subjects are awarded as a Pass, Merit or Distinction as opposed to the traditional A-E grades. Vocational subjects suit students who work well independently and do not enjoy the pressure of exams due to the heavier reliance on coursework.
What can be studied?
- Traditional A-Levels – Subjects like Biology, Chemistry, Physics, English Literature, English Language, Mathematics, Geography, History, Languages, Religious Education, Music, Art
- Alternative A-Levels – Subjects like Photography, Law, Sociology, Psychology, Business Studies, Film Studies, Media Studies, Economics, Politics, Sports Science
- Vocational L3 Diplomas –Some Sixth Forms and colleges offer vocational qualifications that can be taken alongside A-Levels. L3 vocational qualifications are equivalent to one A level and are accepted by almost all universities (University of Cambridge is the one exception). These are usually made up of separate modules and include practical assessments and coursework, as well as exams. Subjects can include Health and Social Care, Applied Science, Travel and Tourism, and Engineering.
Find the subjects Harris Academy Ockendon offer at Sixth form by visiting the Sixth Form page of our website, found by clicking here.
What should be studied?
Although Colleges and some schools with sixth forms allow students to study just one vocational subject, for example BTEC Sport triple award, it is important to note this will limit the potential destinations after two years of study. Most universities expect students to have studied different subjects, and if a student were to change their mind in the future about the type of career industry they were interested in they may find themselves limited.
As a rule, these are things that should guide a student's decision when choosing what to study post-16:
- Are you good at that subject – choose things you are going to achieve well in!
- Are you going to need that subject to study your chosen course at university – to see if this is in fact the case research the entrance criteria for your chosen subject
- Are you unsure what you want to do after you leave education - choose a variety of subjects so you leave your options open e.g. Biology, History and Economics
- If you are planning on studying at a Russell Group university (top 24 universities based on research output) you should take at least two of the more traditional A Levels listed above
- If you are planning on studying Medicine, Veterinary Sciences or Dentistry you should study Chemistry, Maths, and another science (usually Biology)
The general entrance criteria for HAOC Sixth Form are;-
- To study 3 A-Levels requires 7 GCSEs at grade 5+ including maths and English Language or Literature
- To study a blended programme of A-Level and vocational courses, requires 5 GCSEs grade 5+ (or Merit+ for vocational courses), including maths and English language or Literature
Please click on HERE for subject specific criteria.
The entrance criteria vary for other sixth form schools and colleges who set their own criteria. It's important to research these well, as some courses, such as A-Level Maths, Physics, Biology and Chemistry, require students to achieve a higher grade at GCSE in order to demonstrate their deeper understanding of the subject and cope with the rigorous academic demands of the course.
- Harris Academy Ockendon
- The Coopers Company and Coburn School Sixth Form
- The Dartford Grammar School
- New City College – Havering Sixth Form
How to apply for HAOC Sixth Form
All internal HAOC students in Y11 will have a 1-1 meeting with a member of HAOC staff in the Spring term, this is available for all students regardless of their intended destination. Here, students will have an opportunity to apply for HAOC sixth form and receive additional support about applying elsewhere.
For external students please click HERE for details of how to apply.
How to apply for a different sixth form or college
This will depend on each sixth form or college. The information for applying will be published on school and college websites from around late September. It is a good idea to apply to a range of sixth forms or colleges to ensure application for first choice and a reserve in case students are unsuccessful in achieving the grades required to enter the first choice. Please be aware that many sixth forms and colleges have application deadlines so check the dates early.
Option 2: T Levels
T Levels are new courses which follow GCSEs and are equivalent to 3 A levels. These 2-year courses, which launched in September 2020, have been developed in collaboration with employers and businesses so that the content meets the needs of industry and prepares students for work, further training, or study.
T Levels offer students a mixture of classroom learning and ‘on-the-job’ experience during an industry placement of at least 315 hours (approximately 45 days).
Unfortunately, as T levels are a relatively new venture there are fewer colleges offering these courses.
What Can be Studied?
A range of subjects linked directly to an industry e.g., accounting, agriculture, human resources, digital production etc.
GCSE English Language and Maths at grade 4 or above; and at least three other GCSE qualifications at grade 4 or above OR equivalent vocational qualifications in a related discipline at level 2 with a minimum Merit grade. If students don't meet this entrance criteria, it is possible to apply for a T Level transition.
To find out more about T levels and to apply please click below:
Option 3: Apprenticeship or Traineeship
Apprenticeships involve working for an employer in a specific role while being trained to do the job by experienced staff, in a combination of on-the-job and off-the-job training at a college or training provider (this must be at least 20% of the apprenticeship).
Apprenticeships must be at least one year long, and all apprentices must be paid a minimum of £4.15 per hour.
Apprenticeships are an excellent opportunity but are also very competitive!
What Can be Studied?
A range of subjects linked directly to an industry e.g., estate agent, teaching assistant, construction, chef, dental nurse etc.
Intermediate/Level 2 (equivalent to GCSE) – usually requires Maths/English at GCSE.
Advanced/Level 3 (equivalent to A-Level) – usually requires 5 GCSEs at Grade 4+.
Traineeships involve a programme of up to six months of study, including a work placement, qualifications in Maths and English and support with finding a job or apprenticeship once the course is completed.
Students are not paid for taking part but can apply for a 16-19 Bursary Fund to help with costs.
To find out more about apprenticeships and to apply please click below:
- Amazing Apprenticeships
- Government Website – Find an Apprenticeship
- A Parent Guide to Apprenticeships