Education post 16: Burford Sixth Form
"Select your subjects carefully to take you beyond the next two years."
What is it about the Sixth Form at Burford that attracts students to join it or stay on after their GCSEs?
A number of reasons encourage students to stay on or join us for Sixth Form. The choice of subjects and the ability to combine ‘A’ Levels and Level 3 courses is obviously key. This is the first time students have the opportunity to select subjects that really excite or enthuse them. They’re the window to the next step – perhaps the rest of their lives. What the wide range of subjects provides is the ability to combine exactly what suits them.
The staff play a key role too. ‘A’ Levels and Level 3 courses are tough and there needs to be commitment from staff as well as students. At Burford we have that in spades. Classes are small and teachers knowledgeable so there’s always time for individual attention. Their genuine and enduring interest in the success of every student means that they work with them right from the word go to ensure they achieve their very best whatever their next step.
A lively, comfortable atmosphere is also key, I think, and there’s a great atmosphere at Burford. It’s something to do with being a rural school, having space, and being offered opportunities and encouragement to ‘have a go’ right from Year 7. In the Sixth Form students have gained the respect of both the staff and those in the younger years. They’re role models and are given lots of responsibility. It’s a position they value and enjoy – and certainly something they rise to.
You talk on your website about an Extended Curriculum. What is that?
We believe that an educated student isn’t just one that achieves top grades. For that reason we expect students to do one of a range of options; the Extended Project, Young Enterprise and so on. It’s about developing particular strengths and interests and instilling students with the personal values and skills that will allow them to contribute positively to the wider world.
What sort of extra-curricular activities do Sixth Formers take part in?
The range of activities is almost endless. Our students take part in all the school sports, and the huge range of musical events we have throughout the year, but as Sixth Formers they can also take part in national competitions, MUNGA, Politics in Action etc. Some become Senior Leaders, others raise money for our Uganda link and go to Africa and other achieve their Gold Duke of Edinburgh Award
Where do your students go on to after Burford?
Each year about 75-80% go on to university – Oxford, Cambridge, the Russell Group and others. Some go on to do Art Foundation courses or take up apprenticeships.
Do you provide them with any help with obtaining places at university, college or in employment?
Yes – loads. We run a comprehensive programme for those going through UCAS. This includes visits to Higher Education conferences with taster sessions in degree course studies. Students have one to one support selecting courses and universities, and, of course, lots of advice and guidance on personal statements.
Our full-time careers officer seeks out and gives advice on apprenticeships and plays a significant role in organising and running the Apprenticeship Fair for West Oxfordshire. She also invites in employers for workshops, mock interviews and presentations so students are thoroughly prepared for their next step.
What would be your advice to students beginning to think about post 16 education?
Select your subjects carefully to take you beyond the next two years. Choose what you enjoy because then you’ll flourish and seize every opportunity that comes your way.