STUDENT Information

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 Preferences Form for our most up to date curriculum offer.

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


We promote personal wellbeing and development through a comprehensive Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) education programme and Relationship and Sex Education (RSE) programme in the Sixth Form. This is designed to help our students deal with the difficult moral, social and health-related issues that may arise in their lives and become well-informed and responsible members of society. Students complete a ‘PSHE Needs Questionnaire’ within the first week of school – this allows our PSHE curriculum to be tailored to the needs of our students.

Our Sixth Form PSHE programme is based on the PSHE Association’s sequenced, spiral programme that builds on prior learning from Key Stages 3 & 4. Our PSHE programme covers three core themes:

1. Health and Wellbeing

2. Relationships

3. Living in the Wider World

This allows students to develop the key skills and understanding which are essential when navigating the challenges and opportunities of the modern world, and are highly valued by employers.

We teach PSHE alongside the rest of the school on a rolling, weekly timetable, as well as in assemblies and tutor times. All PSHE teaching takes place in a safe learning environment and is underpinned by our school mission statement and values. All our Sixth Form students benefit from a range of speakers and guests to help inform and inspire them to achieve their potential. There is flexibility in our schedule to allow us as a school to respond appropriately to any local/national/global events that may occur. In addition, flexibility is essential in ensuring our PSHE programme is tailored to suit the needs of our learners within the context of our school community.

Sixth Form Games

Sixth Form Games

All Year 12 and 13 students who don’t have Block D lessons take part in Sixth Form Games on Wednesday afternoons after assembly. This is compulsory and aims to help students maintain physical fitness and provide leisure and enjoyment during, what can be, a very challenging and stressful two years. A wide range of activities is available and students choose those which they wish to follow.

Y12 Community Placements

Year 12 Community Placements
t 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
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.
DBS checks For reasons of child protection, some placements require a DBS check to be made which can be organised through the school. 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.

Home Study and Private Study

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
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.
Year 12 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 the supervision of Ms Spinner. 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. Year 13 private study takes place in the Sixth Form Centre, where students have access to computer rooms and study areas.
As a rule of thumb, a Sixth Form student is expected to complete a minimum of 6 hours of independent study weekly for each subject they are studying.

Home Study
We recognise that Sixth Form students should be afforded some independence in their studies to prepare them for university life or employment. Home study is a privilege granted to all Sixth Form students at the start of the academic year, where students negotiate two blocks of home study (one morning and one afternoon) with their tutor at the start of the academic year. Home study will be revoked, as a supportive measure, if concerns are raised in a Course Review or by subject teachers during 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  Support

The Sixth Form team is supported by nine tutors, who offer strong academic and pastoral support to our students. On entry to the Sixth Form, each student is assigned to a tutor group. The Sixth Form tutor plays a key role in monitoring the academic and pastoral progress of each student and should be the first port of call for any concerns or issues.
As a Sixth Form, students and the pastoral team gather once a week for assembly during afternoon registration on Wednesday. This is where important notices are shared and attendance is compulsory. Students also have the opportunity of developing their public-speaking skills by leading assemblies.


Full attendance is a pre-requisite for success on all A’ Level and Vocational courses. Students are expected to register twice daily with their tutor, at 8.50am and 1:45pm. If students are late to registration, they should expect to make up the lost learning time at a later date.
However we recognise that there may be instances when students are unable to attend due to illness or other reasons. If this is the case, we ask that parents/carers email their tutor by 8.30am to explain the absence. Any student marked absent without explanation at registration will be contacted by Miss Spinner.

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 such as sports teams and school productions.
Sixth Formers are often involved in extra-curricular activities attached to subject departments, such as mentoring younger students or leading reading groups. In addition, the Student Leadership Team work to create Sixth Form societies, such as the Economics society or MedSoc. 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.

Core RE

Our commitment to Catholic education continues into Sixth Form and all students are expected to attend one lesson per week of Core RE lessons.


Aims of the course:

To know about spirituality, theology and ethics; to understand the demands of religious commitment; to explore questions concerning life, death and morality; to examine their own faith and that of others and to examine the place of religion in modern society.

N.B. Students will be assessed as a requirement from the Diocese. However, it is not UCAS accredited.


Topics to be studied:

Science and Religion

Learning to love

Human Trafficking

Religion in Art

Medical Ethics

Crime and Punishment


World Poverty

War and Peace


Life after Death

The Moral Maze


Studying Core RE will enable students to develop the skills necessary to explore issues of faith in today’s world and be able to articulate them in both a verbal and written format. It allows pupils to explore and engage in issues of spiritual, philosophical and ethical nature. It allows pupils to examine their own beliefs, values and faith as well learning about the beliefs and practices of others.

Studying Core RE will help students mature on their individual faith journey and offer them an opportunity to reflect on their personal and social values and aspirations. It will also enable them to develop core skills such as communication, organisation, team work and higher cognitive thinking too.

For further information please contact: Miss K Gravestock – Subject Leader of Religious Education.