THS Sixth Form students benefit from extensive progression support through lockdownThursday 18 June 2020 | By Samantha Hockney
Students at THS Sixth Form have been benefitting from an extensive range of progression support and guidance opportunities through lockdown.
Students in Year 12 have started the exciting process of applying to university. Last week they all began negotiating the complex UCAS application form for the first time, with a live session to get everyone registered and logged in, together with a step-by-step audio visual guide to the application process for students and parents. For THS Sixth Form, it’s business as usual: our summer term always includes a trip to a UCAS fair and a visit to Northumbria University, and our students are still actively engaged in this, visiting a range of higher education providers for taster days in subjects like Law and American Studies, which they won’t have come across at school. Our Year 12 cohort is attending a virtual universities fair this week, and students are being encouraged to dial in to Northumbria University’s brilliant weekly webinars on choosing a course, choosing a university, finance and student life.
Further open day opportunities continue virtually with THS Sixth Form students invited to a broad cross-section of the UK’s 106 institutions. While it can be hard to weigh up the advantages and disadvantages of each university, our unique online UCAS tracker and risk calculator allows students to reflect on their choices, and work out the suitability of each course, allowing the whole application process to be done remotely but with personalised guidance.
Students have also had a headstart when it comes to planning the all-important Personal Statement section of the universities’ UCAS application form. Our comprehensive support, which can all be accessed remotely, includes the chance to learn from a bank of more than 150 successful personal statements from the past five years for a total of more than 72 subjects, from Aeronautical Engineering, Medicine and Psychology to Quantity Surveying, History and Zookeeping. With regular opportunities for personal feedback built in to our robust monitoring system, all our students benefit from one-to-one guidance every step of the way.
Staff are already beginning to compile UCAS references for students, too. At a time when universities are relying more than ever on school references to make offers, Teesside High School students benefit hugely from the fact that small classes mean teachers know students really well, tailoring their references to individuals’ strengths and aspirations. Our full distance learning programme has meant that students joining us in Year 12 have the same advantages in terms of engagement with subject teachers, having had a full academic year of teaching and learning. In times of uncertainty, it is reassuring for universities to know our UCAS predicted grades can be trusted, too; our predicted grade accuracy as calculated by UCAS is 34% better than the national average, with several subjects achieving 100% accuracy over five years.
Year 11 students due to join THS Sixth Form in September are making the most of our transition programme which bridges the gap to Sixth Form. There are daily opportunities for pastoral support and careers suggestions such as virtual internships and work experience. Subject teachers have relished the chance to show their passion for their subjects, providing detailed reading lists and suggestions of appropriate TED Talks to pique intellectual curiosity. Students also have access to interactive activities such as theatre productions, Café Scientifique talks and actual pre-sessional teaching to give all our prospective Sixth Form pupils a head start with A-level material. Subject teachers are setting fun weekly challenges and competitions, as well as holding relaxed Google Meets and assignments on relevant topics, like the geography of Coronavirus or how economists measure happiness.
Words from a new Sixth Form student
The THS Sixth Form virtual transition classroom is such a great idea! It has made me feel connected with my new teachers, making me feel confident and welcomed ready for starting in September… although I already felt like part of THS from my times visiting the school.
The taster days in the Sixth Form helped me to get an idea of what college will be like, and what doing A-levels will be like compared to GCSEs. (I am so excited to start!)
Being invited to events such as the school Fireworks Display and the Christmas Fayre have been such wonderful times that have introduced me to classmates, as well as the whole THS community.
The activities in the online classroom have done a great job of keeping me engaged with my new subjects, and great to fill time while we’ve been in lockdown. The teachers have been so fantastic at providing fun and inspirational posts each day, from riddles to mindfulness videos. And not to mention being there to reply to my many questions, and answer them with such interest and on a personal level, too.
THS Sixth Form applicant and student from September 2020