The Sixth-Form Debate: Why You Should Stay Put After GCSEs

By School House

6 years ago

Wendy Griffiths, headmistress of Tudor Hall, a boarding and day girls' school in Oxfordshire, explains why moving just isn't worth it

There is no one reason that motivates pupils to consider moving for sixth form. However, the simple idea of the grass being greener and fear of missing out, or FOMO as they would say, is a reality. It is rare to hear of a boy considering a change of school for sixth form at this increasingly challenging time in their education, whereas
a large number of girls may think about it and up to five per cent of any given year group may decide to make the move.

However, having considered the alternative options, most do remain at their school and have a hugely positive sixth-form experience. Asking sixth-form girls who have considered a move as to why they remain many explain, ‘it’s just not worth it’.

Friendships Like No Other

So why do the majority of GCSE pupils believe it is not worth making the move? The answer is multifaceted in my experience. They have come to value the friendships they have made with boarders, in particular, citing very close bonds. They know and trust their teachers and understand how important these relationships will be in the sixth form if they are to do their best academically, while maintaining and developing their co-curricular interests.

They also know that the relationship between teacher and pupil is a critical part of the supporting mechanisms in place when they face the challenges that the sixth-form years bring. Pupils also do not want to miss out on the leadership opportunities that exist within the sixth form, with many thrilled to be given positions of responsibility that not only add to their skill base but stand them in great stead when applying for future jobs.

Finally, for most girls who have been educated in a single-sex environment, they are relieved not to have the additional social pressure that a co-ed environment can bring. At Tudor Hall, girls often state that they do not want to worry about what they look like and are relieved that they can ‘just be themselves’.

Making the Most of Opportunities

As educationalists, we always give young people our honest advice and, for a few, a move for sixth form may be beneficial. This year, a talented pupil whose confidence has blossomed since joining us from an English prep school at 13+ has decided to relocate to mainland Europe with her parents and immerse herself fully in the language and culture before applying to Oxbridge to study modern languages. This is an opportunity of a lifetime.

Another girl, who has always had a strong creative leaning, has decided to take a vocational route and transfer to a school for the performing arts. We couldn’t be more delighted for these girls and will track their progress, knowing we will see them at the many Old Tudorians’ Association events we organise every year.

If girls do decide to leave, the advice we give them is to be themselves and to keep their personal values, interview their future academic and pastoral staff thoroughly and to choose a house where they feel most comfortable, be it vertically-integrated or in a sixth form house where they can join the rest of the year group and be surrounded by existing pupils who ‘know the ropes’. And lastly, although they have A-levels coming up, get stuck in to all that is on offer and step up when an opportunity arises.

The Importance of Grades

This is good advice to follow regardless of whether they stay or go. And for the vast majority of girls who decide that leaving is ‘just not worth it’ we would suggest it is a SMART move, to Stay, Make A-level Results Terrific. Sixth form in the same school provides continuity, reliability, deepens friendships and encourages, dare I say it, better grades.

READ THE  OTHER SIDE OF THE ARGUMENT: Why You Should Move Schools for Sixth-Form