Choosing the right sixth form is a big decision for any student and parent. Rebecca Coulter, Assistant Head Teacher – Secondary, talks us through the Kings' School Al Barsha experience
21 March 2018| Last updated on 21 March 2018
Kings’ School Al Barsha launched its sixth form for the 2017/18 academic year and while we’re relatively small – for now - it was really important for us that those students, many of whom have been with us since the inception of Kings’ Dubai, had the opportunity to continue their Kings’ education through to sixth form.
We currently offer 24 British Curriculum A-level subjects and also offer all nine of the facilitating subjects identified by the Russell Group as part of UK entry system requirements.
Matching Passion to Purpose
Our Year 12 students play a key role in subject selection and were instrumental in helping set up the sixth form by suggesting subjects and putting forward their choices so we could build as much as possible into the curriculum.
Student voice and opinion is incredibly important to us. We want the students to ‘buy in’ to their A-Level journey, rather than feel directed into a certain suite of subjects.
We want them to be able to pursue their interests, and not just study the popular subjects such as maths and science. We didn’t want to shut any doors, so, if they want to do psychology, music technology, sociology or photography, we embrace this - which means a wide range of subjects and small class sizes and we can match the needs of students with each new intake.
They even helped design the common room and made it their own space, which gave them a real sense of ownership and teamwork.
This approach helps us produce passionate, three-dimensional children, not just students going through the exam ladder.
Learning beyond the Classroom
Our philosophy is all about preparing tomorrow’s adults today and our students need to be prepared for a world we don’t particularly know much about yet. So, as well as focusing on A-level curriculum content, we look at developing life skills so that they are able to work as a team, lead people and become confident in new situations.
This is where the Kings’ Diploma comes in, with different pathways students can take alongside their A-levels. Nearly all our students are taking the accredited Extended Project Qualification as this is an opportunity for them to be a little more diverse with their subjects as they explore their A-levels and realise what their interests are.
We also offer the Duke of Edinburgh Gold scheme, which equips students with invaluable life skills and opens their eyes to the world beyond academic studies.
Giving Back to Get Ahead
We have very high expectations of our sixth form students and they are expected to give back to the school and community in some way, and this is where our bespoke leadership programme comes in.
It’s all about showing initiative and developing their passions. A lot of students choose to be study buddies and dedicate two periods a week to work with students across the school from FS to Year 11. They get to grow in a subject and motivate younger students, who really aspire to be like them.
Some students have come up with their own extra-curricular activities. For example, we have film and debate clubs run exclusively by sixth form students and the school’s Year Book project is also managed by them.
Small Numbers, Big Ambitions
While we follow a quite traditional teaching format, it’s delivered in a university-style environment with small groups, one-to-one provision, plus you have great facilities like the sixth form common room.
There’s a lot of emphasis on personal contact and working closely with our students. They learn in small groups with an individual tutoring and mentoring system that provides personal contact on a daily basis, so it really is a very individualised experience.
Our pastoral care programme is also very strong at sixth form level. There’s a big induction day when they start, delivered by an external provider. Once they are with us in sixth form there’s a lot of focus on teamwork and building relationships, so if a student has any challenges or issues then we are able to address them immediately.
They also have a say in what they want to learn in terms of the PSHE context, and we are very responsive to this and can tailor what we do to accommodate specific requests with things like one-off lectures.
We also look at study skills to identify if there are any gaps. In the beginning, when they come into sixth form, they all struggle with the pressure to take notes and organise themselves in a different way, but again we are able to help them navigate through this.
We want them to be as prepared as possible for the next step in their life journey. They have access to a bespoke careers guidance counsellor who is an expert in international applications processes. She is also great at facilitating work placements, which are especially important for certain career paths and fantastic exposure to the world of work.