Sixth Form is a time of transition from GCSEs to life after school, and as such provides exciting opportunities for focussed learning and personal development. Regardless of what your chosen path after A Levels will be – whether it be further study at University or elsewhere, an Apprenticeship, the world of work or a Gap Year – the skills you acquire during your time at Bolton School will equip you for the next step.
The range of subjects on offer is vast, enabling students to choose from a hugely diverse range of combinations. Class sizes are small and students are taught by subject specialists. Sixth Form students here also benefit from a joint Sixth Form Centre (the Riley Centre) whilst retaining single-sex lessons, thus enjoying the best of both worlds.
In addition to the focus on academic development, the variety of extra-curricular activities on offer is exceptional. Leadership opportunities are a particular feature of Sixth Form life and students are also supported in a range of volunteering activities, which we are very keen to encourage them to take part in. The development of key “employability” skills is a particularly important component of their preparation for life after school, and to that end our carefully-designed Curriculum Enrichment Programme ensures that each individual student follows a path tailored to their particular needs. The continuing emphasis we place throughout the school on pastoral care is evident in the Sixth Form as we support our students through the process of applications, interviews and examinations with skill and expertise.
At the end of Year 13, pupils automatically become members of the Bolton School Alumni Network, and through this they are able to connect with hundreds of former Bolton School pupils in their chosen field, thus providing them with unparalleled networking and career opportunities. Members of the Alumni Network also come into school to share their experiences of life after Sixth Form and to offer advice about the ever-changing world of work.
Our experience, knowledge and targeted guidance enables us to provide our students with the best possible preparation for the challenges that lie ahead. Please visit us to discover more about what we can offer you. I look forward to meeting you.
Head of Girls' Division
Welcome from the Head of Sixth Form
The Sixth Form Experience encompasses academic, extra-curricular and social activities. Our aim is twofold: to help you achieve the best possible academic qualifications whilst giving you every opportunity to develop as a person.
In short, we aim to give you the best possible preparation for the future.
Each year the vast majority of pupils in Year 11 of the Girls' Division move into the Sixth Form but we also welcome a significant number of students from other schools.
You will find this a warm and friendly place and you will quickly settle into the Sixth Form. I can guarantee that these will be two of the most important and memorable years of your life.
Our students are a lively and diverse group of people. We draw students from a wide range of backgrounds. We welcome about twenty new sixth formers into the Girls’ Division every year from a variety of other schools, bringing new perspectives and a particular vibrancy into the senior year group.
Each new girl is allocated a tutor group "buddy" to give her as much support as possible, and is invited into school before she officially joins Year 12. All new students quickly become integrated into the school community and make strong, lasting friendships.
The best way to truly appreciate our School is to come and visit us. Please join us at our Sixth Form Open Evening which takes place in the Autumn Term each year. Failing that, you can always find out more about our Sixth Form by contacting me or by arranging a personal visit to the School.
I look forward to meeting you soon.
Miss Sarah Gunshon, BSc
Head of Sixth Form
All students embark on a combination of four AS subjects in Year 12, taken from the list below.
Once students have indicated their preferences, we draw up option pools which allow for as many of your different combinations as possible. The enormous flexibility of this arrangement is illustrated by the fact that there are more than 100 different weekly timetables in operation.
- Art and Design
- Classical Civilisation
- Computer Science
- Design Technology: Product Design
- Design Technology: Fashion and Textiles
- Drama and Theatre Studies
- English Language
- English Literature
- Graphic Communication
- Mathematics and Further Mathematics
- Religious Studies
The Sixth Form offers great opportunities for students to construct their own curriculum. Most students study four subjects at AS level, and continue three in the Upper Sixth to A-Level. A few (especially double mathematicians) choose to study five AS subjects in the Lower Sixth, and continue four subjects to A-Level.
Many students are clear that they are ready to specialise. An aspiring Medic may select Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Maths; an engineer might opt for Double Maths, Physics and Technology as an excellent springboard for university study. Others will keep their options open, and might study French, Psychology, Biology and Economics; or English, Maths, Music and History.
Teaching groups at Bolton School are small (normally a maximum of 15 per class, often far fewer) and so it is easy to receive the personal attention which will help you thrive in your subjects.
Upper Sixth students have the opportunity to take the Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) in a subject of their own choosing. The EPQ is a tremendous way of learning vital research skills and developing personal academic interests.
One of the major benefits of Bolton School is not only the high standard of teaching, but the staff's willingness to go out of their way to do everything they can to help the students, whether it be by giving extra study sessions, doing further research or even marking a huge essay so they can give it you back the next day. The small classes give great accessibility to the teachers, meaning we feel comfortable talking to them, about the lessons, part of the syllabus or concerning a personal problem.
Jenni, Year 12
The Curriculum Enrichment Programme
The Curriculum Enrichment Programme has been revised for 2015/16. CEP takes place once a week. Girls follow either a whole year programme or two half year programmes. The Oxbridge Preparation course runs from Spring to Autumn across Year 12 and 13. The Head of Sixth Form may populate some groups or recommend particular choices for individuals but a significant element of student choice is exercised.
The courses offered are:
- Sign Language
- Critical Thinking (Y12 Only)
- Maths for Science
- Communication and Study skills
- Functional Maths
- Oxbridge Preparation
- Medics (Y13 Only)
- University survival (Y13 Only)
- General Studies (Y13 Only)
The courses have been selected and designed with the aim of enhancing students’ academic and professional skill sets as well as providing for areas that may not otherwise be catered for once a student narrows her subject range at A-level. This is offered in addition to our extensive extra-curricular programme. We offer Maths for Science to those students taking science subjects as well as Psychology and Geography, where the examined mathematics element has been significantly increased in the reformed A-levels, who do not take Maths A-level. We encourage students not taking any mathematical subject in sixth form to maintain their skills through Functional Maths and those who need support with written and spoken communication and well as research and revision technique to take Communication and Study Skills. Critical Thinking (OCR) and General Studies (AQA) follow the specification but girls need not opt for entry for the examination at the end of the year. University Survival offers advice with choosing and applying for university as well as teaching practical skills such as cooking and shopping on a budget. Sign Language is taught by an external provider and is certificated following an examination at the end of the year.
During their time in the Sixth Form, the students are offered the opportunity to take the AQA Extended Project Qualification as part of their A Level course. The qualification is explained to the students early in Year 12 so that they can give it careful thought before signing up in June of that year if they wish to take part.
The EPQ involves study in greater depth of a topic chosen by the student. This can be something related to one of their A Level subjects, but not on the specification, or something totally unrelated. The project can take the form of an extended essay, an artefact or model, a CD/video/DVD or a photographic record. Most students opt to write an extended essay but we have had some very interesting models, DVDs and posters. In all cases, the student is required to complete a production log which is submitted with the project. Each student is allocated to a supervisor who is available for advice throughout the whole process and will ensure that the student has chosen a feasible topic and title. The main focus is that the project is a research assignment where students are encouraged to search for a wide range of credible sources and to select appropriate information. They are also required to employ high level skills such as synthesis, evaluation and analysis.
There has been a wide range of very interesting titles over the six years we have been offering the qualification with some examples listed below.
Should Catalonia become independent from Spain?
In what ways have scientists and engineers taken inspiration from nature to create new materials and structures?
How did we benefit from the 1960s' Space Race and why do we need a new adventurous space programme in the 21st Century?
An evaluation of current treatments for Type 1 diabetes.
What does the future hold for prosthetic limb technology?
How did Fermat's Last Theorem affect the world?
An evaluation of the viability and use of some potential applications of graphene in Medicine and Technology.
To what extent can humans be held responsible for the damage to, and destruction of, the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World and how might this be avoided in the future?
Should we diagnose Dementia?
Students also attend formal sessions in the skills they will need to employ to complete the project including planning a project, research methods, assessing the credibility of evidence, referencing, project/task and time management and presentation skills.
The EPQ is valued by universities as it requires much independent research and demonstrates a love of learning beyond that which is required by the A Level curriculum. It enables students to stand out in the university application process and can be the basis of discussion at interview. Moreover, the skills acquired are transferable to other areas of study and are particularly useful to students embarking on degree courses.
The results since the first cohort in 2010 have been outstanding with over 80% achieving an A or A* in the EPQ.
Community Action and Charitable Giving
There is a strong tradition of taking active part in service to the community and fundraising for charity. As part of the Community Action Programme you can visit the elderly, assist in hospitals or hospices, or go into local primary schools to help children with their reading.
You can help in school by running Clubs and Societies for younger girls, looking after our Infant children in the morning and at lunchtime, helping in the school libraries, serving on the Common Room Committee or the School Council or lending a sympathetic ear in our confidential 'listening service'.
In addition, there are one-off projects such as the Harvest Festival and the Christmas Shoebox Campaign, which involve the whole School. For the past two years, the Sixth Form have also been very active in helping a local Christmas Hamper project. In the past two years, the girls have gathered together a huge stack of Christmas puddings, mince pies and Christmas biscuits through ingenious fund-raising methods.
All girls in the Lower Sixth are expected to complete at least twenty hours’ of Community Service alongside their studies - and many do far more! At the end of the year, there is a Celebration Evening for those girls who have achieved the highest number of hours.
The range of extra-curricular activities at Bolton School provides countless opportunities for students to establish friendships and develop new skills. Over the years, I have enjoyed participating in various sports teams, music ensembles and other societies which have all enabled me to gain a variety of achievements and successes. Whether sporty, musical, creative or academic, Bolton School will undoubtedly provide something for everyone.
Sophie, Year 12
The Riley Centre
Sixth Form girls share the Riley Sixth Form Centre with Sixth Form students from the Boys' Division, where there is a shared common room and cafe as well as joint study areas. It is a warm and welcoming place equipped with the very latest technological features. Wireless internet and network access is freely available. The common room is the focal point for social activity. The atmosphere is good humoured and dynamic. It is an ideal space for students to relax, read or play music.
The Sixth Form is a time when you will deepen existing friendships and forge new relationships to sustain you for the rest of your life.
The Head of Careers and Higher Education works with girls on an extensive programme designed to prepare them for the opportunities and responsibilities of adult life.
Year 12 Autumn Term
- Business and Enterprise Skills Training (BEST): we start the year with a whole day of business activities which are designed to help develop employability skills with workshops and seminars delivered by professionals from the world of work.
- Inspirational speakers: for example, old girl and entrepreneur, Caroline Plumb, the CEO of the FreshMinds Group, who spoke about leadership and making the most of your ambitions at one of our BEST days.
- Joint Business Competition and the Enterprise Trophy: working in mixed teams with the boys, girls will come up with innovative business ideas and make a pitch, Dragons’ Den style to a panel of judges. Six teams are selected to compete for the trophy.
- A Careers Focus Day: we have introduced specialist days designed to focus on particular career areas and which girls can opt to attend. So far we have looked at Business Careers, Creative Industries, Engineering, Law and Working in the NHS.
- Higher Education and Careers Fair: every two years we run this joint event which is open to the public, housing over 100 stands and covering a wide range of areas from Architecture to Apprenticeships. Representatives from universities across the UK attend so that girls have a chance to talk about making an application without even leaving Bolton! A programme of seminars means that students and parents can listen to presentations from visiting speakers about subjects as varied as Student Finance, applying to Oxbridge or Apprenticeships.
- Launch of the CowgillHolloway Future Stars Internship programme: girls and boys are invited to apply for this competitive scheme which allows them to pursue paid work experience in the world of finance with a highly successful local company.
Year 12 Spring Term
- An Introduction to Higher Education: a number of talks take place this term. We are visited by a university liaison officer who delivers presentations separately to both girls and their parents about HE and finance.
- Getting Ready for the Future: a PSHEE session looking at how to plan for the future, whether it is preparing for university, a gap year, apprenticeships or applying for work. Girls will write a Year 12 Personal Statement allowing them to reflect on the year so far and consider their plans for the near future.
- Another optional Careers Focus Day
- Joint World of Work Morning: a whole morning is dedicated to talks given by visiting speakers who cover a wide range of career options. After a whole year talk about the job market, students attend the three talks that most interest them so that they can make contacts for work experience if possible.
- Applications for the KPMG Summer Scheme: girls and boys are invited to apply for a four week paid work placement with KPMG, one of the largest professional services companies in the world. This gives them the opportunity to put themselves through a rigorous selection process, including an interview at their Manchester office.
Year 12 Summer Term
- CV Skills and Interview Practice: whatever a student’s aspirations, whether she wants to go straight into work or onto university, the two interview skills evenings provide an invaluable opportunity to have their CVs scrutinised by a professional who will then give a challenging interview followed by written and verbal feedback.
- Meet recent leavers: an early evening event where students can meet old girls and old boys who are first year undergraduates and keen to pass on their newly acquired insights face to face.
- Work Experience: all are encouraged to continue to build up a portfolio of work experience, using the contacts established throughout the year.
- Apprenticeships: we can give the most up to date information about modern apprenticeships to help girls make informed choices about their future.
- Psychometric Testing: new entrants to the Sixth Form may like the option of taking the Morrisby test which will give a detailed profile of strengths and aptitudes as well as suggested career areas to research.
- Beyond Bolton School: after AS exams girls spend a whole day considering their future and can choose from a wide range of talks covering student life, interview skills, apprenticeships etc. Every girls is also encouraged to register with UCAS and attend a guidance talk on Personal Statements.
Further Specialist Support Throughout Year 12 and 13
In the first instance girls are interviewed by their form tutors about progress and career plans for the future.
- Careers/Job/Scholarship Interviews: at any time girls are welcome to arrange an interview with the Head of Careers to discuss applications for work or university.
- University Interviews: if girls are interested in applying to a university which requires them to undergo an interview, we are happy to offer a mock interview.
Medicine, Dentistry and Veterinary Science
We recognise how competitive it is to make an application for these vocational degrees and we have a well-established programme of support which enables girls to give themselves the best possible chance of success.
- CEP course for Medics and Dentists.
- Specialist UKCAT training delivered by a professional company in school. BMAT training will be done in-house.
- Visits and talks from Medical and Dental school admissions managers/tutors to give advice.
- Girls can buddy up with a recent leaver who will provide support and advice as well.
- As part of the CEP course, help and practice is given preparing for multi mini interviews.
- Face to face interviews with practising doctors/dentists.
Applying to Oxford and Cambridge
Numbers of applicants to Oxbridge have risen dramatically over the past 10 years and it is getting more difficult to win a coveted place at either of these two universities. We aim to support you if you wish to make an application by offering the following:
- An evening talk for you and your parents about Oxbridge applications.
- A trip to the Oxbridge conference for schools in the North West.
- One to one support in the Summer Term of Year 12 when choosing course and college.
- Departments offer specialist support and teaching in their subjects along with practice for any aptitude tests in the Summer and Autumn Terms.
- Mock interviews are arranged with a member of staff in the Boys’ Division.
- A Saturday morning of mock interviews in the Autumn Term to replicate the real experience as closely as possible.
- Year 12 Oxbridge CEP course: Introduction to Oxbridge – Spring & Summer terms.
- Year 13 Oxbridge CEP course: Oxbridge Preparation – Autumn term.
- Year 12 Oxford / Cambridge Open Days – two-day trip, including a night in a university college.
- Liaison with Old Girls – current Oxbridge undergraduates offer support to sixth form girls.
- Support and guidance from our Coordinator for Oxbridge Applications.
Whatever a girl's aspirations for the future, we are keen to support her throughout the sixth form. We aim for students to leave Bolton School feeling confident that they are able to make well informed choices about their immediate and long term plans where possible.