Supporting Your Learning
In The Downs School Sixth Form we create an environment in which all students are provided with the care and support they need to flourish.
Our Head of Sixth Form, supported by a Deputy Head of Sixth Form, leads a team of tutors who are responsible for the day-to-day welfare and academic progress of their students. Our tutors work extremely closely with their students, providing them with the guidance and feedback they need to achieve their full potential. We know that some of our young people may need additional pastoral care, and therefore have a full time Sixth Form Student Manager to provide more intensive support to help students overcome particular challenges. Our Head of Sixth Form works closely with the SENDCO to ensure that students with special educational needs and disabilities are given the support they need to excel in their chosen courses.
We expect our students to have a professional approach to learning and have a dress code that ensures our students have the same high standards of personal appearance as our members of staff. Our expectations for attendance and organisation are also high. Our students understand the importance of independent learning to consolidate what they have learned in the classroom. We therefore provide a library and a variety of study rooms in which students work independently.
Our Sixth Form Team
- Mr Hogan – Head of Sixth Form
- Miss Duckham – Deputy Head of Sixth Form
- Mrs Peppiatt – KS5 Student Manager
- Mrs Waller – UCAS coordinator and Sixth Form administrator
Our Exam Results
120 students sat A Level examinations or BTECs at The Downs School in 2019 and once again the students have achieved an outstanding set of results, reflecting the hard work and commitment to their learning they have shown throughout their time in The Downs School. An impressive 8% of entries gained A* grades, 28% A*-A grades, 56% A*- B grades and 79% A*-C grades, which were the best results of any West Berkshire state school.
Headteacher Chris Prosser said, "Our students have produced excellent results and I am really proud of what they have achieved. There are so many wonderful success stories that lie beneath these statistics and the students, staff and parents worked so hard to make it happen - it was a real team effort! My biggest pleasure is knowing that so many of these students will now be able to access their chosen destinations, whether that will be university, apprenticeships or a career. I wish them all the best on their next adventure."
Deputy Headteacher Phil Wilson said, "Once again we are really proud of what our students have achieved. Every single result reflects a great deal of hard work, both from the students and their teachers."
Head of Sixth Form Pete Hogan said, "Right from the start, the students in this Year Group have really gelled together, creating a really positive ethos. The most pleasing part of my job is seeing the students’ hard work pay off, as they get the places on university courses and apprenticeships that they have been working towards for two years."
Supporting Your Plans For The Future
In The Downs School Sixth Form we are extremely proud of the high quality careers support we provide our students, as we know how vital this support is to our students as they make the life-changing decisions all young people have to make as they plan their futures.
The Personal Development Programme is the starting point of our careers support. Students will be given the skills and knowledge needed to access Higher Education and Apprenticeships after leaving school. The Downs School encourages interactions with local employers, both through employee representatives coming into school to speak to students about their industry, and through students visiting workplaces for taster sessions and work experience. Students will also have the opportunity to participate in a number of careers events whilst in the Sixth Form. These can be whole year events, such as the After Eighteen careers day, as well as more specialist careers events for specific industries and careers, such as medicine. Previously these have included trips to Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, Industry Spotlight events in conjunction with other local schools and attendance at Berkshire Apprenticeship Careers Fairs.
The Sixth Form students also benefit from the provision of a Student Manager, who provides individual support for students deciding which careers pathway to take. The support includes exploring the financial aspects of going to university, investigating the companies offering apprenticeships, and support with creating CVs, writing letters to companies and completing applications. As a result of the support provided by the Student Manager, increasing numbers of our students are securing places on highly regarded Higher Level Apprenticeships.
Students wishing to apply to university are provided with highly personalised support from a dedicated UCAS Co-ordinator. Supplementing the support, advice and guidance provided by tutors, the UCAS Co-ordinator ensures that all students are given the guidance they need to select courses and institutions that suit their aptitudes and career plans, resulting in extremely high numbers of students securing places at prestigious universities.
A Curriculum That Helps You Achieve Your Full Potential
Our curriculum offers all students the chance to achieve the academic success that is a springboard to achieving their long term educational and career goals. Students will begin A Level or Level Three BTEC courses in Year Twelve and complete in Year Thirteen. We also offer a Level Two Pathway, which is a one year course, intended to support some students to access Level Three courses the following year.
Level Three Courses: A Level and BTEC
Study at Level Three requires high levels of motivation and interest in the subjects taken, backed up by prior attainment in similar disciplines. Students will need to show independence and initiative, including the ability to plan and use their independent learning time effectively.
The Downs School Sixth Form offers a range of Level Three BTEC courses equivalent to A Level. These can be studied exclusively or alongside A Level courses. Although BTECs are as challenging as A Levels, some students are better suited to the BTEC style of ongoing assessment, and we encourage all students to carefully consider what is the right course for them.
Year Twelve students can take up to five but not less than three Level Three courses and, while three courses is the usual minimum to gain entry to higher education or employment, we believe that high achieving students should have the freedom to choose more than three courses if they wish to do so.
Level Two Course
Our Level Two course is a one year course, intended to provide students with an opportunity to increase their numbers of GCSE passes in order to progress to studying at Level Three the following year.
As well as resitting GCSEs when necessary, students study English and mathematics functional skills, develop key work skills and participate in a broad and engaging BTEC programme of study.
GCSE resit courses are available to students who need to retake English Language or Mathematics.
Challenge For All
The Downs School Sixth Form’s academic success is based on exceptional teaching, high expectations and highly motivated students. Our staff are passionate about teaching and learning opportunity for all our students. Every teacher aims to engage, inspire and challenge every student, in every lesson, every day, to ensure that all students are able to thrive.
We challenge our students to extend their learning by participating in a programme of super-curricular learning. Set by their teachers, the super-curricular learning activities support students to explore their subjects beyond the confines of the curriculum, guiding students to develop a broader appreciation of the richness and diversity of their subjects.
Our Sixth Form students also help younger students develop their learning. Our long-standing paired literacy and numeracy programmes, in which Sixth Form students work closely with younger students to develop the skills they need to achieve success across the curriculum, are an example of the positive impact Sixth Form students have upon the rest of the school. Similarly, many of our Sixth Form students are subject ambassadors, working with teachers and younger students on projects that celebrate the subjects they feel passionate about, and also contributing to the on-going development of teaching and learning across the school.
Develop Your Leadership
In The Downs we believe that all young people have the capacity to become leaders. We expect our Sixth Form students to view themselves as leaders. Our student leadership programme provides our Sixth Form students with opportunities to act as role models to the rest of the school, using their leadership to make an invaluable contribution to the whole school community.
The Head of Sixth Form works with the Head Boy and Head Girl to run a cabinet style of Sixth Form student leadership. The Head Boy and Head Girl are the ambassadors of the school, meeting with students and parents and presenting at major events such as Open Evenings and end of term assemblies. Some leaders focus on running Sixth Form events, such as the Pink and Blue charity day; some edit and contribute to the school magazine; some organise sports events that involve the whole Sixth Form. Other Sixth Form leaders focus on student voice and work in collaboration with younger students on the School Council on projects to enrich the school community.
Whatever individual skills and attributes our students have, there are leadership opportunities that enable them to use their talents to enrich the school community.
Learning Beyond the Classroom
Learning extends beyond the classroom through a wide range of extra-curricular activities, including a variety number of trips, both within the UK and overseas. This allows our Sixth Form students to develop their interests in their subjects, develop skills that help them become well rounded individuals, and just as importantly, to have fun.
Lessons are brought to life through a wide range of educational trips both in the UK and abroad. Our students visit galleries and museums in Oxford and London, and take advantage of highly professional local theatres, as well as travelling to Stratford and the West End. Our Performing Arts and Media teachers take students to New York, many of our subjects run residential field trips and the Geography Department run an annual trip to Iceland. Every two years, our Sixth Form students have the opportunity to take part on a ski trip. For the even more adventurous, we run regular expeditions, which in previous years have gone to Ecuador, Norway and India.
Many of our Sixth Form students are keen sports men and women, and successfully represent the school in a variety of sports such as netball, hockey, football and rugby. There are many other opportunities to take part in sport, such as participating in the weekly recreational sport events or visiting the school gym, or getting involved in highly competitive House matches.
The Arts, including drama, music and dance, showcase the immense talent of our Sixth Form students, who compete in regular House competitions and also take leading roles in our annual productions, the most recent of which have been Calamity Jane, Billy Elliot and The Little Shop of Horrors.
Helping You Achieve Success Beyond The Downs
In The Downs School we see our students as individuals on journeys of self-discovery. Our most important goal is to provide each of our students with the opportunities to discover their individual strengths and talents, enabling them to realise their full potential by the time they leave The Downs School.
An extremely high number of our students achieve places in elite Russell Group universities, including Oxford and Cambridge; our students become doctors and vets, lawyers and engineers, actors and artists, Civil Servants and members of the Armed Forces; our students secure places on competitive and prestigious apprenticeships; our students enter the world of work with the qualifications and attributes they need to achieve success.
At whichever stage in their educational journeys our students join us, we provide them with high quality teaching and learning, pastoral care and careers guidance that enables them, at the end of their time in The Downs, to take the next step of their journey with confidence.