What Makes an Excellent Sixth Form? | Surbiton High School
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What Makes an Excellent Sixth Form?  

Posted: 11th April 2024

The transition from secondary school to sixth form is a pivotal moment for young individuals. It’s a time to explore academic passions, refine career aspirations, and cultivate the skills necessary for success in the next chapter of education. However, not all sixth forms are created equally; so what truly distinguishes an excellent Sixth Form from the rest?  

A Focus Beyond the Exams

Academic achievement is important; however, a truly exceptional sixth form offers more than just exam preparation. It fosters a holistic learning environment that caters to the needs and aspirations of every individual student. This means providing a diverse curriculum that extends beyond traditional subjects, offering opportunities for creative exploration, co-curricular activities, and personal development. Jon Owen, Director of Sixth Form at Surbiton High, notes, “a really strong sixth form requires there to be lots of opportunities for every student within the student body.”. 

Cultivating a Supportive Community

 An excellent sixth form fosters a supportive and inclusive environment where students feel valued, empowered, and respected. This sense of belonging is crucial for confidence building, academic success, and personal growth. Two practical steps to build the pillars that underpin this ethos are firstly, opportunities available to students which enable them to find what they really enjoy doing and learning about, and secondly, a culture where students are embraced for these things. Through pastoral care programmes, mentorship opportunities, and peer support networks, students can receive the guidance and encouragement they need to thrive both academically and personally. A strong sense of belonging is cultivated, ensuring that every student feels welcomed and supported in their journey. 

Nurturing Ambition and Collaboration

While fostering ambition is key, a truly excellent sixth form strikes a balance between individual drive and collaborative spirit. This means encouraging students to set high aspirations, support their peers, and celebrate shared successes. Again, a strong community ethos is paramount. Alongside their pursuits, students at Surbiton High School are frequently united in shared goals by endeavours such as fundraising for different charities as a part of the House system. Mr. Owen emphasises this balance: “Aspiration is a good thing here… It’s not seen as overly competitive or a negative.” This fosters a growth mindset within students whereby they are encouraged to learn from challenges and support one another’s journeys. 

Preparing for the Future, Not Just Exams

The best sixth forms equip students with the skills and knowledge necessary to thrive beyond the academic realm. This includes offering tailored career and UCAS guidance. This comprehensive approach ensures students are well-equipped to navigate their post-sixth form options, whether university, apprenticeships, or alternative endeavours. By focusing on preparing students for life beyond exams, a top-notch sixth form ensures that they are well-prepared for the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. 

Equipping Students with Global Awareness 

In today’s interconnected world, an excellent sixth form equips students with the cultural sensitivity and global awareness necessary to navigate complex challenges and become responsible citizens of the world.   

Surbiton High School: Embracing the Hallmarks of an Excellent Sixth Form 

Surbiton High School embodies the hallmarks of an excellent sixth form. By prioritising individuality, fostering a supportive community, and preparing students for a future beyond exams, Surbiton High empowers students to thrive, flourish, and excel in whatever direction they want to take.Mr. Owen summarises the School’s philosophy: “Students want to do as well as they possibly can. They want to go out and change the world. They want to make the world a better place. They want to become future leaders.”.   

Recognised for our excellence by the Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI), we are proud to offer a sixth form experience that fosters academic achievement, personal growth, and global awareness. To learn more about our Sixth Form and how we can support your academic and personal growth, visit our website or book an Open Day today. 



Categories: Blog Leading, Teaching and Learning