Information for Parents & Carers
The SM6 Team acknowledges the vital role of good partnerships with Parents & Carers in order to provide outstanding education for all students in our Sixth Form, and we welcome your involvement in their learning journey. Young people starting sixth form are empowered to take control of their learning, but they often still need lots of support and encouragement from teachers, support staff and parents/carers to help them adjust to new ways of working and make the most of the new levels of independence afforded to them as Level 3 students.
The evidence is clear that when parents and carers are engaged in a child's education, students:
- Are more motivated in and out of the classroom
- Develop more self-confidence, social skills, and exhibit better behaviour for learning
- Achieve better outcomes
You’ll be welcome to be involved with your child’s journey with SM6 at all stages. Feel free to join them for our Open Events, Interviews and Enrolment appointments. Once they’ve started with us, you’ll be invited to a Welcome Evening at the start of your child’s time at SM6, followed by Parent/Carer Consultation opportunities throughout the year, allowing you to meet staff and discuss their progress together. And of course, we love to see parents and students celebrating their success at Results’ Day in August!
We’ll address any concerns directly with our students, but if we deem it necessary to inform you, we’ll get in touch. Please make sure you keep your contact details up to date to allow us to contact you where necessary.
We’ve collated answers to some of the most frequently asked questions from parents and carers below, but if you can’t find an answer to your question, please contact our SM6 team who will be more than happy to help you.
What is the difference between Level 3 and Level 2 Study?
Level 3 is the natural progression for many students when they complete their Level 2 study at the end of Year 11. If students achieve predominantly Grade 4s or above in their GCSEs, they will likely progress on to a Level 3 study programme which may comprise A Levels, Level 3 BTECs/CTECs or T-Level courses.
Some students may benefit from another year of GCSE/Level 2 study. This is for students who don’t quite achieve the grades needed for a Level 3 Study Programme. For these students we offer a Level 2 Workskills Programme where they will spend the first year undertaking a Level 2 qualification alongside their Maths and/or English GCSE (if they have not previously achieved a Grade 4). With successful completion of the Level 2 programme they can move onto Level 3 study should they wish to do so, although some of our Level 2 Workskills students have also progressed into employment or apprenticeships at the end of this year.
We design all Study Programmes at Level 2 and Level 3 based on an individual's needs so that we can support them to achieve the best possible outcomes which will allow them to progress to their chosen next steps.
What is the difference between A-levels, Vocational and Technical Qualifications?
A-levels are level 3 qualifications, mainly assessed through exams which take place at the end of two years.
Level 3 Vocational BTECs and CTECs are assessed through a combination of modular exams and coursework at regular intervals during the course, with some including practical assessments or work experience.
T Levels are equivalent to three A-levels and are assessed through a mixture of exams, coursework, and controlled assessment. When studying a T-Level learners will also complete a 315 hour industry placement.
All our level 3 programmes are recognised for progression into higher education, employment and apprenticeships, and our specialist advice and guidance will help to ensure learners are enrolled on a study programme which gives them the best possible opportunity for outstanding outcomes and progression to their chosen next steps.
Should my child study 3 or 4 subjects at Level 3?
Students will normally study three subjects at A-level (or the equivalent number of BTEC/CTECs) but if they have very good GCSE results they may be able to choose four if they meet our criteria for this option. Students completing a T Level programme will receive a qualification equivalent to three A-levels. Our general entry criteria and study programme guidance can be found here - please read this carefully. Our highly experienced staff will be able to offer advice around any questions you may have. We also have some further information and guidance for parents and carers around the question of 3 or 4 subjects.
How will my child know they are choosing the right courses for them?
As well as opportunities to ask questions of subject staff at our SM6 open events, all SM6 applicants will be given individual advice and guidance from our specialist staff at interview and enrolment. We’ll ask our applicants questions around their future plans – but don’t worry if they’re not sure at this stage; many students are unsure and that’s ok! In addition, they’ll be invited to attend a Taster Day in July 2024 – this is a fantastic opportunity to try out the subjects they’ve chosen before they start college, as well as experience a little bit of life as an SM6 student. Finally, during the summer before they start, they’ll be asked to complete a short piece of transition work for each subject they’d like to study. All of this advice, guidance and preparation is designed to help ensure that our students are on the best possible study programme for them, so that they can make a flying start to sixth form life!
Can my child change their mind about options?
We know that making decisions about courses can be daunting and things can change; we hope however that they will have received a lot of guidance at their interview from our experienced SM6 staff, and therefore will have a well-considered plan based on their predicted grades and career aspirations. Should there still be questions about courses, do not hesitate to get in touch and we will be able to offer more guidance or reassurance. Taster Day is a great opportunity to experience course choices and requests for changes can be made if they wish after this. Any changes will be subject to them having the right entry criteria for the courses they are thinking of moving to.
What are the transport options to and from SM6?
We have free travel to and from college for eligible students, and a variety of bus routes operating from across our catchment area. There is also the opportunity to purchase a subsidised bus pass for SM6 students. Full details of travel information can be found here.
Some students travel to and from college by bicycle, on foot or by car/motorcycle. Please be aware that we do have limited car parking facilities on the site and in the local neighbourhood. For those arriving on a bike we offer a safe place to store them on campus – we do ask that bikes are locked up, however, even on our campus, to ensure that only the owner can remove them at the end of the working day, and we recommend that students using a bike wear a helmet for their own safety.
Is financial support available?
Yes, we offer 16-19 Financial Support for eligible students. This will help with costs relating to travel, food, and essential trips and equipment for courses. Details of financial support, including eligibility criteria and how to apply, is available on our website, or by contacting us at email@example.com
What support is available for students?
At SM6 we pride ourselves on the ‘World Class’ student support options available. Every student is allocated to an academic tutor; we try hard to ensure that this tutor teaches the student for at least one of their subjects. The tutor is the first point of call for any concerns, whether they are related to safeguarding or wellbeing concerns, or academic progress. Tutors will meet with their students at least once on a 1-2-1 basis every half term, alongside twice-weekly group sessions.
A wide-encompassing programme of subject-specific support is also available for students; this takes place in Form Time, at lunchtimes and after school, depending on availability of the teachers. Where there are concerns relating to academic progress, students will be signposted to this support in the first instance.
Our Grad Interns are a group of high-achieving recent graduates who provide support and guidance to students both academically and pastorally. They offer a programme of more generalised ‘study skills’ support which students can opt into, and teachers may also signpost students to relevant sessions.
Our dedicated SM6 Learning support team can provide individualised support for students with a range of learning needs, including those with SEND and EHCP requirements.
Our full-time Level 6 qualified Director of Careers and Progression offers individual support to all SM6 students for progression including employment, apprenticeships and UCAS preparation.
Alongside our dedicated SM6 Safeguarding and wellbeing staff, we also work alongside a diverse group of external agencies to provide support and signposting to students for a huge range of wellbeing, physical and mental health needs.
Why do you consider attendance to be so important?
The evidence is clear that good attendance is crucial for students to succeed, and we seek to work with students and their parents/carers to maintain a high level of attendance. In addition, we see the impact of poor attendance on student wellbeing – students who miss lessons fall behind on learning and this often leads to them feeling more anxious about going back into class. All students will be made aware of reporting attendance and expectations when they start college. We ask that Parents/Carers report any absence by telephoning 01482 808878 before 8.30am. Any absence reported by students will not be authorised without evidence, for example, of a doctor’s appointment.
We will keep you informed about attendance and about any other concerns we may have. We understand that students are sometimes ill or may need time off due to special circumstances, but we do not authorise holidays or any other time out of College during term-time. If students miss lessons and need to catch up, they will be expected to attend support sessions until they are up to date.
For these reasons, we may also only extend wider opportunities such as work experience placements, sports fixtures, or places on trips which take students out of lessons, to students who can demonstrate excellent levels of attendance, are making good progress in their studies and show responsible attitudes towards catching up if they do miss lessons. We feel we would be remiss in our responsibilities towards learners if we did not do so.