As well as offering the broad range of examination courses, an important part of the Sixth Form provision is the enrichment programme that supports personal development. Students are expected to take part in enrichment programmes alongside their examinations courses because they complement each other and will allow students to claim high quality experiences and achievements as part of their university and work place applications. These opportunities are particularly aimed at developing leadership and communication skills and to develop their confidence and cultural experiences.
A large number of visits, social and cultural guest speakers contribute to the enrichment programme, some of which are outlined below.
Extended Project Qualification (EPQ)
The Extended Project provides an opportunity for students to extend their abilities beyond the A-Level subjects that they are studying and enables them to stand out from others applying for university places and in future career opportunities. It is the equivalent to ‘half’ an A Level and carries UCAS points.
The Extended Project Qualification is a single project where students work independently in one of their specialist areas of work (ie, complementing an A Level subject) or in an area of their own interest. The EPQ requires students to produce an extended piece of writing to show their development of their chosen area of interest, present to a non-specialist audience and to show how their project has developed during the time of the study. Students have dedicated curriculum time with an EPQ tutor who will guide their work and results for the EPQ at St Mary’s are very high.
This amazing opportunity will provide students with extra UCAS points as a free-standing project based qualification. The programme is highly valued by universities and employers because it allows students to demonstrate their ability to work independently, research and deliver aspects of their own interest showing ingenuity and a wider interest beyond the scope of A Level subject specifications.
Leadership Development Opportunities
Great leadership is characterised by key skills and qualities and our Sixth Form encourages all students to develop these characteristics through academic study and through participation in enrichment activities that will encourage all to develop into leaders of the future.
Sixth Form students have a wide range of opportunities to get involved in developing their leadership skills and this includes working with younger students, organising sports and extra-curricular activities, leading Student Voice, being a Prefect, working with staff to deliver special school events and through being tutors and mentors for younger students. Leadership accreditations are available as part of our sports pathways as well as other courses such as public speaking certificates that validate leadership skills.
Student volunteering is encouraged in a number of contexts within and outside the school environment. Students can apply to become Mentors for younger students, join the SLI team or join the prefect team to support the work of the school, contributing to whole school events and acting as positive role models for younger students.
St Mary’s has an excellent reputation for working to support the local community. All Sixth Form students are encouraged to volunteer to work in the community, for example with local primary schools, residential homes for the elderly or church organisations.
All students are encouraged to participate in community focused projects as they become available locally or through the NCS (National Citizen Service) which is highly regarded by universities and frequently referenced as a requirement/preference in applications.
When thinking about raising the aspiration of our students and creating vision, we encourage all students to prepare well for university entrance. Those who have the aspiration for Oxbridge entrance are invited to attend coaching and preparation experiences. All who want to access the university route are able to attend a number of University visits to experience the life and culture to grow a vision for future life.
Residential and day visit experiences enable our students to make informed decisions about this huge step in their lives, to understand both the courses and academic study but also the lives within the university campus. They will see living quarters and social life.
Students facing entrance tests and the heightened interview process for Russell group and Oxbridge will receive specialist tutoring from staff who have experience of this process.
Extracurricular activities can be chosen to support personal development eg LAMDA Public Speaking; contribute to personal experience eg a theatre visit. Students can take part in voluntary work in school or the community or because it is of particular interest to the student eg Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme.
Extracurricular activities also support the development of a high quality curriculum vitae. All students are encouraged to participate in extracurricular activities and, whilst in the sixth form, take the opportunity to contribute to the school and wider community.
At St Mary’s a wide and varied programme of extracurricular activities is offered to support and extend students’ personal leadership and social development. These include:
- Senior Prefecture & Student Council Leadership
- Duke of Edinburgh Award
- Sports and outdoor activities
- Tutoring or mentoring younger students
- Music, including singing or learning an instrument
- Drama, including all aspects of performance and theatre production
- Voluntary work or work with charities
- Public Speaking
- Supporting reading/literacy programmes for younger students
- Tutoring (subject or general) in KS4 Study Club
- Student Union