A Levels at St George's College

New A Level Structure for Lower Sixth Form commencing courses in 2016

As you are aware, the structure and content of some A Level subjects has already changed. The subjects that have already been reformed are:

English, Art, History, Business Studies, Economics, Chemistry, Biology, Physics.

We recommend that if a student is taking four A levels, they should take an AS examination in at least one subject. There may be a few exceptions to this rule.

Studying A Levels at St George's College Sixth Form from September 2016

The Lower Sixth at St George’s will be expected to select three subjects for A Level study, as well as an Extended Project Qualification. For those however, who feel able to cope with the demands of four subjects, there will be this opportunity. 

We believe that depth of study within three subjects is vital in order to secure the grades required by universities. The examinations at the end of the U6th will be based on the entire two years’ courses. Frequent cumulative whole year assessments will therefore take place throughout the two years’ courses, so that we are assured that students are constantly reviewing their work. The results of these will be communicated to parents. There will also be internal end of Lower Sixth examinations, and it is our expectation that the vast majority will continue through with these three subjects into the Upper Sixth.

How many periods will be devoted to the various components of the Lower Sixth Curriculum?

A student’s week at St George’s consists of a total of 35 periods. In the Lower Sixth there will be:

7 periods per A level option subject = 21 periods
1 period of PSE/Assembly
2 periods of Games
2 periods of a Lecture Programme
1 period of Religious Studies
2 periods of Extended Project

TOTAL = 29 periods.

Students will typically have 6 periods of non-contact time, in which to do their own independent study – developing the skill of managing one’s own time is critical preparation for university life. We also offer a Medics session per week for those students who are considering entering the field of medicine, and also an Oxbridge session per week.

Taking four A Levels?

As stated previously, universities – including Oxbridge - will make offers on three subjects at A Level. Opting for four A Level subjects will be possible, however students will need to have gained almost all straight A*s at GCSE in order to cope with the demands that this will involve. Those who do so will have a minimum total of 33 periods per week, as the Extended Project timetabled sessions would not be available, and students would attend the Lecture Programme and RS course on alternate weeks. This option therefore needs to be considered very carefully.

AS Levels

Three subjects: Mathematics, Further Mathematics and Government and Politics, will not change in structure until September 2017. We will therefore be allowing students who opt for these subjects, to take the AS at the end of the Lower Sixth and then the A2 in the Upper Sixth.

We are not intending to offer AS levels in any other subjects, although such qualifications – the standalone AS - will exist nationally. Our decision – like many other schools’ – is because the time factor in preparing students for the AS examinations, along with study leave that would be required, will significantly disrupt the continuity of the linear courses and thus put students at a distinct disadvantage in comparison with schools that are not allowing AS examinations.

What is the Extended Project Qualification and the Lecture Programme?

The Extended Project Qualification is an assignment based on an area of particular interest to the student – preferably an area he/she would like to pursue at university. Guidelines are issued to students so that they are clear about the format. They are assigned a supervisor, who guides them to formulate an initial line of enquiry, which is then developed by the student independently, through refined research skills. The projects are then presented to a panel of staff for their feedback and an overall score. The project is to be completed by the October half term of the U6th. The project really helps to enhance students’ critical thinking, communication and presentational skills, as well as obviously deepening their knowledge and understanding of a particular aspect of a subject they enjoy. It is highly valued by universities and employers. Students will refer to it in their UCAS applications, as will staff in their references. It is often a good basis for discussion at interviews. 

The Lecture Programme takes place across a double period. It is designed to add breadth and to enrich the students’ experiences of current topical issues. In the last year, speakers across a spectrum of fields have addressed the whole cohort on aspects such as: Mental Health in Teenagers, Animal Research, 21st Century Careers, Risks and Consequences, the Holocaust, Internet Safety, Alzheimer's Disease. This programme is not examined.

How will the universities view a St George’s student’s UCAS form in October 2017?

We believe that our students will be able to demonstrate depth of study – not only through their A Level studies, but also through their EPQ research assignment. They will also be able to demonstrate breadth of experience through topics considered through the Lecture Programme, the enrichment opportunities offered through subjects and the time they will have available to them for participation in extra-curricular activities.