Sixth Form at St Mary’s is undoubtedly a big step up from life in the Fifth Form. There are lots of new privileges and increased freedom, as well as the great support system that runs throughout the school. Although the Sixth Form might seem daunting at first, the friendly atmosphere, coupled with the fantastic Boarding Houses, create a unique learning experience that helps to make the transition into Sixth Form a smooth and enjoyable one.
What’s boarding like?
Our horizontal boarding system means that everyone in each year lives together, forming strong friendships. Particularly in the Sixth Form, where sport, music and evening activities are shared, with the Sixth Form Bar being a highlight for most, there is an opportunity to bridge the gap between year groups. The Houses themselves are also amazing; everyone has their own room, with an en suite bathroom – the only downside to this is that university accommodation will come as a bit of a shock!
What do you do on weekends?
The weekends are a time for relaxing, whilst learning vital life skills. For the UVI Form, there are no formal lessons on a Saturday, while the LVI Form benefit from the ‘Motiv8’ programme, which includes Yoga, Cultivating Emotional Balance, Critical Thinking, and Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) lessons. These sessions provide the opportunity for individual research and group discussion beyond the curriculum, helping us to discover new interests and develop the skills that will be necessary when we make the transition to university. In the afternoon, many will have sports matches, be that lacrosse or tennis, whilst those who remain at school have the option to take part in craft sessions such as jewellery making and a social event in the evening. Sundays for most are a day of recuperation after a busy week, but there is always an opportunity to go on trips, ranging from a roller disco, cultural visits to Bath and Oxford and everything in between. We get to help shape the weekend programme so there is always something for everyone.
What extra-curricular activities do you have?
In the Sixth Form, we are encouraged to take the initiative. Many of us have started our own clubs and societies this year, from Physics and Geology, to History of Art and French, allowing us to both share and develop our passions as well as giving girls in younger years an experience of a wider variety of subjects in a relaxed and pupil-led atmosphere. We recently started the school magazine, Kaleidoscope, which has been a valuable learning experience and given us a forum to express our views. There is also a chance to volunteer at a local specialist school for children with autism, ADHD and other learning difficulties, which is both a fun and rewarding experience. Many girls in the LVI Form enjoy taking part in the Young Enterprise competition, where we design, manufacture, promote and sell our own product – another very valuable experience for the future.
Do you get to go on many school trips?
There are some amazing trips in Europe and beyond, which allow for development of subjects and interests in a real-world environment. We all love seeing the classroom projected into reality. There are annual subject trips to Florence and Paris, but also larger trips such as the lacrosse tour to America and the History trip to Russia. Beyond subject trips, we are also encouraged to visit places such as Nepal and the Amazon, and the Sixth Form enrichment scholarships are highly coveted as they provide funding for these ventures.
What’s the support system like?
The increased level of academic depth at A Level comes with increased support: our small class sizes and six hours of contact time each week per subject allow for a strong focus on the individual and our personal progress. Beyond the classroom, each evening at least two Academic Tutors are on duty in each House to help should you need it. More specifically, each girl is allocated an individual Tutor, whom they meet with each week to discuss both academic and pastoral matters – they are always available for a chat; the same is true of our House Staff who are extremely willing and able to deal with the highs and lows of Sixth Form life.
Do you feel prepared for university and life after school?
We regularly get a taste of university life through the Sixth Form Lecture Programme on Tuesday nights, as well as through frequent opportunities to cook for ourselves, such as during our Friday night Supper Clubs. The incredible opportunities, and close-knit community mean that the Sixth Form years really are some of your best in school and we leave feeling prepared to meet the challenges of university life and beyond head on.
The Head Girl’s Team (2019-2020)