For the most part the subjects on offer at Bishop Vaughan Sixth Form are Level 3 courses, designed to build on the successes that students achieve at GCSE and to prepare them for further study at university or for the world of work. Most subjects on offer are traditional AS and A levels. Some will have coursework elements but all involve formal examinations in Years 12 and 13.
There are, however, a number of courses on offer with alternative means of assessment. These include Applied Science: Forensics, Business, Creative Media, Engineering, Health and Social Care and Uniformed Public Services (Level 3). Often known as ‘vocational’ subjects, they are equivalent to full A levels but involve continuous assessment rather than formal examinations. The Welsh Baccalaureate Advanced Skills Challenge Certificate also involves continuous assessment rather than formal examinations.
You are most welcome to choose a combination of AS levels and Vocational courses but you should note that the vocational courses and the Advanced Welsh Baccalaureate Qualification are usually two-year courses.
The full time skills passport is available at Level 2. This will be studied alongside English and Mathematics GCSE resits where applicable.
- Level 3 subjects are grouped into five different blocks: Options 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5. You can choose one subject from each option block. To permit different combinations some subjects appear in more than one block.
- Bishop Vaughan Sixth Form operates a ‘pathways’ approach to the post-16 curriculum where the number and variety of option is restricted by the number of GCSEs a pupil achieves at Key Stage 4. Please refer to the application form for further information.
- Most students will study no more than four subjects in Year 12 although a few students choose to study five subjects. To do this you must achieve A or A* grades at GCSE. If you are confident of reaching this standard, if you wish, you can select five subjects, one from each block. It is wise to seek the advice of teachers if you are thinking of choosing to study five subjects.
- For some subjects at AS level it is not necessary to have studied them at GCSE previously. Discuss this with the relevant teachers.
- You cannot choose to study AS Further Mathematics without also studying AS Mathematics. This will count as two choices. Furthermore, you cannot choose to do Mathematics unless you have gained a GCSE in the higher tier, at grade B or higher.
- If you are interested in studying Dentistry, Medicine, Pharmacy or Veterinary Science at university, it is essential that you choose Chemistry. In some cases you will also need to choose Biology. Speak to the relevant teachers.
- If you wish to study a Science subject at A level, you can do so providing you are confident of achieving grade B standard in the specific Science subject at GCSE, preferably at higher tier. Please contact any member of Science staff for further details.
- If you wish to study AS level in Psychology, you must ordinarily have achieved at least a grade C in GCSE Mathematics and English.
- If you think it is likely that you will not achieve five GCSEs at Grade C or if you are particularly interested in the course, you may choose the Level 2 skills passport suite of qualifications.
- In 2021 the school expects to run with the blocks of subjects presented in the Options Booklet (available separately).
- If there is something not included that you would like to study or a combination of subjects that does not seem to be possible, please write the details in the comments box of the application form.
- Please note that some of the subjects on offer will be taught at Morriston Comprehensive School. Transport is provided for any students who move between schools for their studies.
- If the number of applicants for a particular course are insufficient we may be forced to withdraw the offer of that provision. In these circumstances we will do our best to arrange alternative provision for that course through one of our partners.
At Bishop Vaughan, we make every effort to help you develop your skills, passions and interests.
As demonstrated in this prospectus, that means offering you a very broad range of academic courses. We also ensure, however, that you have access to enrichment opportunities and we pride ourselves on the variety of these: there is truly ‘something for everyone’ amongst the numerous groups, societies, clubs, teams and challenges on offer.
The following represent just some of these, and we welcome and encourage students’ requests to set up further activities according to their interests:
- Active Sixth Form Committee arranging social events throughout the year.
- Debating Society: our teams have had excellent levels of success in national and international competitions!
- Music Groups ranging from choral and orchestral to ensemble and digital music groups.
- Eco-Committee and Fair-trade groups, arranging many events for pupils throughout the school.
- Links with workplaces: there are many established links allowing you to gain experience before submitting University applications.
- Annual productions, including a Christmas Drama production and a musical each summer!
- The opportunity to be involved in the highly prestigious Gold Award Duke of Edinburgh's scheme.
- HE + and Russell groups: not just for Oxford or Cambridge applicants, but for all those applying to courses with competitive entry.
We recognise that for most students, Sixth Form is a stepping-stone towards University, and the vast majority of our students make applications to Higher Education.
We ensure that all students have an exceptional level of support in making these applications. There are excellent success rates for applicants in all fields, including Medicine, Dentistry, Law and Veterinary Medicine, largely due to the support structures in place throughout Sixth Form education.
Sixth Form education begins with an Induction Day - with lots of group work activities - and an Enrichment Fair, designed to show all students the vast range of opportunities available to them. We believe that this enables students to make informed choices about the extra-curricular choices available to them and thus to present themselves, later on, to University Admissions Tutors as well-rounded, engaged and competent young people.
Students are assigned to tutors and meet with their tutors regularly in small groups for focused Progress Meetings tailored towards the needs of individuals. These meetings play a key role in helping students to make decisions about their future and allow their tutors to provide them with excellent references, both for University and for employment.
We are fortunate in being able to offer students the support of Study Mentors in both Years 12 and 13. These members of staff work within the well-equipped Sixth Form Study Centre, adjoining the school Library, assisting with queries, study skills, UCAS applications, etc. They also support the Head of Sixth Form at our UCAS Fair, our UCAS Registration Day and in offering Applications Workshops, all of these contributing to the excellent success rates for applicants, with over 90% of students gaining their first choice of course and University.
Further preparation is available to those applying to competitive courses and institutions, through the Oxbridge Prep Group and the mock-interview system, led by the Head of Sixth Form and the Headteacher. We are also fortunate in that our school-based Careers Adviser, from Careers Wales West, has an office in the Sixth Form area and is readily available to all students. Fortnightly, students are visited by speakers from a range of universities, career backgrounds and organisations, these carefully selected talks again being aimed at providing students with information about the many degree and career paths open to them.
We are delighted to now offer the Duke of Edinburgh's Gold Award to our Sixth Form pupils. The award exposes the students to a range of demanding activities, which really challenge them to explore their full potential. The DoE Gold Award is highly prestigious and sought after by many top universities.
We aim to keep parents fully informed about progress and, in addition to the annual reports, send home ‘monitoring information’ at three key points in the academic year. Further communication is made as necessary by subject teachers and following interviews with tutors or the Head of Sixth Form. Parents are most welcome to meet with staff should they feel it necessary.
Students are kept up-to-date about forthcoming events by means of assemblies, the Sixth Form Bulletin Board, Twitter and our blog. Through these, we are able to ensure that the UCAS application information reaches every student. All of this support has proved invaluable in enabling all students to fulfil their potential and to pursue the courses and careers of their choice. Our aim is to ensure that all of our pupils become ‘the best that they can be’.
If a decision has already been made on a career (or even narrowed down to an area) then there are often particular A levels which are required by each profession - e.g. Medicine requires Chemistry and Engineering requires Mathematics. If in any doubt, check with the Careers Adviser and talk with your teachers.
If you have no specific ambitions career-wise but would like to continue with further education, you must choose courses carefully. Here are some questions to think about:
- Which subjects give you the best results?
- Which subjects do you enjoy most?
- What will give you most choice when you finish?
Everyone is different but a mixture is often the best idea - while you must be prepared to work, it is unlikely that you will work well if you don’t enjoy your subjects. It is said, for example, that Science subjects should always be chosen if possible because there is an acute shortage of well-qualified scientists. There is indeed a shortage, yet over 60% of all advertisements for jobs do not specify either the A level subjects required, nor the degree specialism. So any choice should be made only after careful checking and consultation.
If a student enjoys Arts subjects now and is likely to get better results by choosing them, then it would be very foolish indeed to pick only Science A levels.
Better results are always earned in a subject that is enjoyed.
It is, however, important to be are aware that there are serious shortages of highly skilled people in some areas and this may affect your choice of subjects. These areas are Engineering, Computing and Science. There are also high demands for well qualified personnel in the caring professions. Clearly, final job prospects will be improved if subjects are chosen in these areas.
Please discuss such issues with Sixth Form staff and with the Careers Adviser.
This prospectus is designed to provide you with some useful information about Bishop Vaughan Sixth Form. However, it probably will not answer ALL of your questions. So please do speak to the staff and students. They will be more than willing to help you.
Working in Partnership
Bishop Vaughan School has an established tradition of working with other schools in Swansea through the Sixth Form Consortium, which has enabled students to access a wide range of courses.
At present, we enjoy a flourishing partnership with Morriston Comprehensive School, which has gone from strength to strength.
This partnership working has enabled students from Bishop Vaughan to access courses at Morriston and vice versa. This has resulted in students having a much wider choice of subjects available to them and reflects the Welsh Government’s 14-19 agenda.
Both schools are confident that there will be increased opportunities available to students in the coming academic year.