An interview with Sarah Baxby – Head of Sixth Form at Wellingborough School
What is Sixth Form life like at Wellingborough School?
Life in Sixth Form is always busy. There are different expectations on students as Sixth Formers, not only in terms of their studies but also the part they play in the wider aspects of the school. However, we always find that our students meet these challenges and thoroughly enjoy their two years with us.
What makes it different to other Sixth Forms?
I believe that Wellingborough Sixth Form is unique in the fact that we place equal priority and expectation on developing the student through the learning, co-curricular programme, and community-based activities we provide. From the moment students join us we are working towards preparing them for life beyond the school, with both the academic qualifications and life experiences that ensure they are well equipped for their life ahead.
How many A Level subjects do you offer?
We offer over 20 high-quality A Level subjects in the Sixth Form. We constantly review our offer to ensure that we provide a varied but relevant range of subjects for our students.
As well as the main A Level subjects we also offer the Extended Project Qualification (EPQ), a course that is keenly welcomed by universities and employers.
How many pupils are there in Sixth Form?
We have over 150 students within the Sixth Form. We welcome students who are already at the school as well as new students from a range of schools both locally and even from abroad.
What GCSE grades do you need to qualify for entry?
We look for students to be achieving four subjects at grade 6 and two at grade 5; however, students taking Maths A Level need to achieve a grade 7 in Maths.
Tell us more about the EPQ?
The EPQ is a sought-after qualification with a high take-up within our student body. This qualification allows our students to take on a project of their choosing, which they will research, plan and complete with the support of Sixth Form staff to guide them. This qualification can be a production, written research project or an artefact. Topics have ranged from a selection of poetry to revamping a VW Beetle.
What opportunities do you offer beyond the classroom?
There are so many opportunities available throughout a student’s time at the school; from academic enrichment, where students can gain qualifications such as the Sports Leaders award, to the Finance Level 2 qualification. Sixth Formers can also gain leadership and careers experience from being an NCO within the Combined Cadet Force or taking part in several community events and placements. We also have a vast range of creative and artistic choices from our music groups and the Sixth Form drama production both held at the Castle Theatre, in Wellingborough.
Tell us about the new Sixth Form Centre – how are the plans coming along?
The Sixth Form Centre plans are well under way, and our current Year 12 students are having a direct input into design elements of the build. The build is due to be completed and ready for Easter 2022.
Is university the best choice for all students?
Many of our students do choose this route, around 90% of our cohort this year alone. However, a number of our students are also actively investigating the apprenticeship route, either via degree apprenticeships through top multinational businesses in conjunction with top universities, or as qualifications in their own right undertaken in the workplace. Accounting and finance qualifications in particular have proven popular, this year also saw one student take up a prestigious digital marketing apprenticeship with a major London
What do you most enjoy about your role as Head of Sixth Form?
I really enjoy getting to know the students and helping them to ensure the subjects they are taking are right for them. I am currently working closely with the students applying to university, helping them with their UCAS applications and careers choices. I enjoy finding out what they are interested in and looking at how we can support them to make the most of their time within the school and to help prepare them for the journey ahead.
Are you concerned about the impact that lockdown has had on this year’s A Level students?
Lockdown certainly posed challenges for us as it did for schools across the country.
As a school, however, we were able to act quickly and move our teaching online, ensuring that the students had a full academic diet for the whole summer term. The response from students and staff was fantastic and it has put our students in a strong position to face their A Level exams.
Book a place for the upcoming Virtual Sixth Form Open Evening at www.wellingboroughschool.org/open-events or contact the Admissions Team via firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more about Sixth Form at Wellingborough School.