Director of Sixth Form: Mrs. M. Lowndes (Assistant Headteacher)
I would like to start by thanking you for your continued support of Chadwell Heath Academy Sixth Form and to congratulate your son/daughter on making it through to the second year of Sixth Form study. I very much hope that the forthcoming year will be a productive one.
As you are already aware students have far more autonomy in the Sixth Form while still being supported within a safe school environment. We have, over the years found that many 16-19 year-olds tend to regard themselves as adults and do not always see the need to explain or pass on letters from school. This is even more pronounced in the Upper Sixth as students approach their 18th birthday. In recognition of this I would like to reiterate some of the procedures outlined last year.
Your son/daughter’s timetable for the next academic year now includes supplementary study periods in addition to taught lessons. Given that the May/June examination timetable is not yet finalised, I would not advise any parent or student to gamble on holiday dates to celebrate the end of Year 13 until official notification has been received from the examination boards.
As the results have a direct bearing on career plans Year 13 is pressurised. As a general guide students should allow up to five hours per subject per week for homework. Given that all students have increased study periods and official Study Leave, this is more manageable than it may initially sound. Please e-mail the Sixth Form if you wish to check individual Study Leave times.
You will continue to receive Performance Indicator Reports and fortnightly homework checks over the course of the year: the first set should be published for Parents’ Evening on Thursday 17th November, 2022. Please expect additional reports in January and March. Further information with regard to developments in our reporting system will be issued in due course. We will endeavour to send a reminder via SIMS In-touch, if you have signed up for this. If you are not on this system and would like to join, please contact the Sixth Form Office, as it has proved to be an effective means of communication.
Recent changes to the examination system mean that A-Level courses are assessed in May/June, usually through a terminal examination. Year 13 students will have a mock examination week in the third week of January 2023 to help prepare them for final examinations. Those studying BTEC and CTEC face a series of tight deadlines to complete some challenging units.
Subject teachers will work closely with students to help them cope with what will be a demanding work load and develop the skills needed to meet the demands of the increased emphasis on examination technique. In addition, Mrs. Gidlow performs the role of Academic Mentor to support students according to their specific needs.
Some take Year 13 in their stride whilst others feel quite overwhelmed by this rollercoaster ride. A counselling service is also in place for any student who finds the intensity of their studies difficult to manage. In addition, students will also take part in life skills lessons as part of a national initiative to make up for experiences lost or disrupted by Covid-related lockdowns.
By way of reminder: students must not attend part-time paid employment during school hours. We appreciate that many 16-19 year-olds need part-time work, but this should not exceed 15 hours per week, as research has shown that excessive time spent on jobs outside school has a detrimental effect on results.
Students are also expected to be punctual and to attend registration. We do require a phone call or e-mail on the day of absence. If this is not forthcoming, please send in a note and/or appointment card as registers are taken on a daily basis and all absence must be accounted for. Where this does not happen, the register is marked ‘absent without authorisation’.
Where attendance is below the minimum expectation you may receive a visit from the Attendance Officer. We occasionally make random calls to parents following lesson checks. I apologise in advance if, prior to any such check, you have already notified the school of an absence. An excellent attendance record is however, vital for Upper Sixth students because of the competition for jobs and university places.
Please note that Bursary students will only be paid if attendance and punctuality is 100%, unless there are mitigating circumstances. Students should use the Appeals Procedure, as we will always be sympathetic to difficult circumstances.
Be aware that various organisations can ask for information with regard to attendance: the electronic register is used for these purposes. All Sixth Form students have to engage in a minimum number of Guided Learning Hours to retain full-time student status: should a student fall below this figure, they cannot remain on roll.
As you already know, most of our communications to you will be made via the student and will occasionally include a reply slip. In the rare instance where a student is in trouble, we usually send the student home to discuss the matter with you first, then follow up with contact from us by telephone or letter. We feel that this allows students to develop a more responsible, mature approach to such matters.
Please note that all Sixth Form students have to wear visible I.D. at all times on school premises. This measure has been introduced to improve security and is in line with colleges and many places of work. If this I.D is left at home, students will be sent home immediately. A more strictly enforced Dress Code has been successfully introduced with our students now looking far more professional in lessons and around the school.
In addition to preparation for examination, students are now heavily involved in university applications and career planning. This work was started in February of the Lower Sixth but is now becoming more intense. Please note that most Year 13 students have a different Form Tutor once they move to the top of the school. The Year 13 team are specialists in higher education, and help prepare the students for life after Chadwell Heath Academy. This is particularly important for those going to university who will have to be more independent in their approach.
The UCAS process can be daunting but there are a number of excellent resources for parents, in addition to those given to the students. You can log-on to ucas.com and associated links for further information.
One of the real challenges for most parents is the thorny issue of student finance, which seems to change every year. In previous years the Local Authority has sent a representative to talk through the loans system. Unfortunately, they no longer offer this service, so we are currently in the process of finding alternative speakers, which is not proving to be very easy at this moment in time. Advice and information can be viewed at http://www.studentfinancedirect.co.uk.
They should also visit all their potential choices at least once. It is better to find out now if an environment does not suit, rather than make an expensive mistake in September.
For students unsure about university, we will also be offering a series of events throughout the year to look at apprenticeships and work placements. A careers advisor, Nancy Nutkins, holds interviews and drop-in sessions most weeks in school. We advise all students to apply through UCAS even if they are considering apprenticeships. Our reasoning is based on the premise that life does not always go to plan, so it is better to have a number of post-18 options available. We aim to have all careers/UCAS work completed by the end of March to enable students to focus on preparation for their final examinations, without distraction or extraneous worries.
We always welcome contact with home. Any communications should generally be made via their Form Tutor. Alternatively, you can e-mail the Sixth Form at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact me directly.
I look forward to seeing you at Parents’ Evening.