Additional Information for Parents & Students

Sixth Form Curriculum: Changes to A-Levels

AS qualifications and A-levels are ‘decoupled’

In March 2013, the Government decided that AS qualifications should be separated from A’ Levels, making them completely freestanding.

Assessment only at the end of the course

In January 2013, the Government decided that AS and A’ Level qualifications should be linear qualifications assessed at the end of the course only.  Students will not have to take exam board assessments halfway through an A’ Llevel course, like they have done in previous years.  Students will do all the exams together at the end of a two-year course for A’ Levels, and a one-year course for AS qualifications.  It is likely that students will still take external AS exams in all subjects at the end of year 12 – we will keep parents informed.

How have we approached the A-Level reforms?

Most students will start Year 12 studying 3 A’ Level / Vocational qualifications

Vocational Courses (These are no longer 100% coursework based)

These are equivalent to one A’ Level and are assessed through a series of coursework units and externally assessed exam units.  Each coursework unit is marked and graded through assignments based on work-related situations or activities, with opportunities for teamwork and in-depth study.  In some cases, a controlled assessment is also used as part of the examination process. These are undertaken internally and moderated by the examination board.

Sixth Form Courses

At St Michael’s each student follows the programme of study which best suits his/her individual needs, abilities and aspirations.  Students can choose to follow a range of A’ Level courses, a combination of A’ Level and Vocational courses, or solely Vocational courses.  In addition, all students must study CORE RE.  Students also participate in PSHE, Community Placement and Games.  Students will also be allocated supervised study and private study time as part of his/her timetable.

In Year 13 students will continue to study their three subjects.  This will be dependent on passing Year 12 exams and meeting the entrance criteria for Year 13.  Members of Year 13 continue to take an active part in the Pastoral and Games programmes.  CORE RE remains compulsory.

Please refer to the most recent Subject Prefrences Form for our most up to date curriculum offer.

Sixth Form Personal, Social & Health Education (PSHE) Programme

Sixth Form students participate in an enrichment programme during PSHE.  This is taught in a variety of styles, including; tutorial workshops, lectures and seminars.  The sessions are delivered by guest speakers, tutors and the Director of Sixth Form.  The programme is designed to best-suit the needs of 16-18 year olds and covers a wide range of topics.  These include seminars relating to:

Post 18 careers advice

Including presentations from a variety of Institutions within the UK, (e.g. Queen Mary and Imperial Colleges, University of London, University of Hertfordshire, University of Leicester, Royal Holloway and Brunel), attending UCAS exhibitions, apprenticeship workshops, and sessions with representatives from organisations that arrange apprenticeships.

Health and Safety advice

Including guest-delivered lectures on teenage cancer, substance abuse, (e.g. Alcoholics Anonymous, Hertfordshire Constabulary, Terence Higgins Trust), and sexually transmitted infections (Herts Health Service). 

Study Skills

A selection of key skills workshops delivered by tutors and external agencies.

Spiritual Enrichment

A number of year group Masses are held throughout the year in our chapel.

Sixth Form Games

All Year 12 and 13 students take part in Games on Wednesday afternoons.  The Programme aims to help students maintain physical fitness, and to provide leisure and enjoyment.  A wide range of activities is available, and students choose those which they wish to follow.

Community Placements

It is a fundamental part of our ethos that we give back to society and our community.  This is even truer in the Sixth Form than it is in the rest of the school.  Year 12 students have the opportunity to do this through community placements.  Most students have a half-day in the working week where they do not have a timetabled lesson.  This is when they often venture off site to engage in voluntary work.

The following list, although not exhaustive, gives a flavour of the types of activity that they can do:

  • Learning support assistant in a primary school
  • Supporting the aged
  • Manning a charity shop
  • Helping in a nursery
  • Administration in a parish
  • Learning support in lower school lessons

Placements are negotiated between St. Michael’s, the community host and the student.  There is no objection to private placements, but students should be aware that the same expectations will apply as would in a school-organised placement, namely:

  • Perfect attendance and punctuality up to May half term
  • Professional dress code (which for most means our Sixth Form dress code)
  • A professional approach to required duties

Those seeking a placement in the NHS should be aware that strict rules apply in hospitals and it is regrettably unlikely that they will be accepted below the age of 18.

All students gain a huge amount from their placements.  They enjoy going off site and being treated as responsible adults.  They learn much about the workplace, which is of huge benefit when preparing personal statements for UCAS as well filling the experience gap that haunts so many young people seeking permanent employment.  It helps them grow as people, socially as well as mentally.

CRB/DBS Checks

For reasons of child protection, most placements now require a CRB/DBS check to be made.  We will forward the necessary forms and instructions prior to the students dispersing at the end of their GCSE examinations.  As with other aspects of community placements, it is a valuable learning experience for our young people to go through this process, as it again helps them to understand the nature and expectations of professional employment.

Private Study (Learning Support)

Private study takes place in the Aquinas Centre.  This was opened by Clare Ward on St Michael’s Day in September 2008.  It is a purpose built accommodation exclusive for Sixth Form teaching and private study.  Room 57 is a Sixth Form study area, where students are expected to work individually under supervision.  Laptops are available for use if required.  Students are expected to continue work started and set in classes, and to pursue the wider background reading essential for the successful completion of all courses.  Being able to learn independently is key to achieving at the highest level. 

As a rule of thumb, a Sixth Form student studying full time can expect to have around 18 hours of timetabled lessons.  In addition a further 18 hours at least are needed for independent study. 

Private Study and Home Study

Private study is allocated as part of each student’s individual timetable.  This time is to be spent constructively in school using the facilities available.  Home study time will be granted to all Year 12 students at the start of Year 12 and revoked if they do not achieve a successful Course Review (1),  

For Year 13, two blocks of home study are negotiated with the tutor at the start of the academic year.

Entrance Qualifications

Entry to A’ Level study varies depending on the nature of the course. The demands of linear exams at the end of Year 13 must be considered. Please see the ‘Curriculum Offer and Entry Criteria’ document for more details.  As a minimum, students need to have achieved 5 X grade 4’s at GCSE, including Mathematics and English Language. Meeting this minimum requirement, will allow access to three Vocational Courses.  Simply put, the better the combination of grades achieved at GCSE, the broader the choice of subjects you will have at A’ Level. It is worth noting the following:

Mathematics, Biology, Chemistry and Physics students require a grade 7 at GCSE in order to study the A’ Level equivalent.   

Examination Fees

The School will pay all fees for a student entering an examination for the first time.  Students who re-take an examination will be required to pay the entry fee for the examination.  This includes Btec externally assessed units.  Re-sitting examinations is the exception and not the norm. 

Pastoral Team

The Sixth Form team: Director of Sixth Form, Sixth Form Support Officer and Form Tutors.  We offer strong academic and pastoral support to our students.  On entry to the Sixth Form, each student is assigned to a tutor group.  Each tutor group is named after the initials of their tutor.  The Sixth Form tutor plays a key role in monitoring the academic and pastoral progress of each student


Full attendance is a pre-requisite for success on A Level, Vocational and Extended Project courses.  Students are expected to register twice daily with their tutor, and to contact the school to explain any absence on the first day of absence, and every day thereafter.  Any student marked absent without explanation at Registration, will be contacted by the Sixth Form Support Officer.  Students may be eligible to apply for the Bursary, a government initiative to offer financial incentives for continuing in education.  Full attendance and good academic progress is the criteria for this being paid.  Application packs are available from the Sixth Form Support Officer, Ms Claire Inglis. Any student who does not attend when timetabled will be marked absent.

Extra Curricular Activities

In addition to the many opportunities offered for personal and social development by involvement in the Pastoral Life of the Sixth Form, students can also choose from a range of other extra-curricular activities.  School musical productions provide opportunities for public performance, technical work, front of house and backstage involvement, whilst sporting activities provide leadership and team-working skills, as well as performing in the Gym & Dance Display.

Sixth Formers are often involved in extra-curricular activities attached to Subject Departments, such as the Environmental Council or Maths Peer Support Programme for Year 11.  Students also get involved in mentoring younger students and the School Council.  All Sixth Formers are expected to play an active part in fund raising (e.g. during Lent / St Michael’s Day Sponsored Walk) to support our ongoing commitment to our chosen causes.

Sixth Form Dress Code

Sixth Formers should be smartly dressed and show that they are concerned about their appearance, the impression it creates and the example it gives to younger students.  Sixth Form students are role models for younger students. We are trying to promote the idea that students have a small working wardrobe of clothes for school to replace their lower school uniform.

Students should be dressed:

  • in business attire
  • as appropriate for a job interview / as appropriate for a workplace
  • in full dress code for public examinations

Students must remember that they are in a Catholic community, and therefore should dress with dignity, pride and respect at all times.  Students must remember they are dressing for school and not for a social occasion.  Students’ mode of dress should NEVER undermine their dignity. The full dress code can be viewed on the school website in the Sixth Form section.


In the first instance dress code will be monitored by the Form Tutor, but any member of staff can address students who fall short of our expectations. 

  1. A warning will be given by the Form Tutor on the first occasion that mode of dress is not fit for school.
  2. Persistent offenders will be referred to Mr Flain for a second warning.
  3. Continual reoffending of dress code will lead to parental contact via letter / phone call home.

No improvement?  If necessary, students will be sent home to change in to suitable clothing.  This is NOT our preferred option. If in doubt about an item of clothing you should consult your Form Tutor or Mr Flain.  The final decision on suitability of dress rests with the Director of Sixth Form.  If you are in breach of this dress code, you will be sent home – if in doubt, it is probably unacceptable or inappropriate.