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Student Life at SM6

SM6, the Sixth Form at St Mary’s College continues to go from strength to strength, offering our students top quality educational provision, outstanding facilities and a commitment to the highest expectations standards.

Below we’ve tried to answer some of the most frequently asked questions about what it’s like to be an SM6 student. If there’s anything we haven’t covered, please drop one of our friendly team an email at .


What does a typical day at SM6 look like?

The usual college day runs between 8.45am and 3.35pm. There are five teaching periods of one hour each. There’s also Form Time in the morning twice a week. You’ll have your own personal timetable which will identify when you have lessons and other timetabled activities including enrichment and personal development. You’ll receive your timetable at the start of the academic year.

Do I need to stay at college if I have no timetabled activities?

No, but we would encourage you to remain on site to use our facilities to complete your homework and other independent study activities. There is an expectation that you are on site and attend all timetabled activities, including those which are not subject lessons, as these will help to develop you as a person during your time at sixth form and help you be ready for your next steps when you’ve completed your time with us!

Appointments, driving lessons, and any part-time work should all take place when you have no timetabled activities at college.

How much work should I be doing outside of lessons?

Although there may be some variation across the academic year, in general you should expect to be working on your subjects for a similar amount of time outside the classroom as you do in timetabled lessons. The work you complete might include homework activities to prepare for upcoming lessons, or independent study designed to help you revise, practice and improve areas of your work, or it could be completion of coursework. This is not an exhaustive list – your teachers will explain what work outside of lessons will entail for each of your subjects.

Do I have to be a Catholic to join SM6?

Not at all. Students are welcome to apply to SM6 whether they are Catholic, of other faiths, or of no faith at all. All are welcome.

Can I have a part-time job as an SM6 student?

Yes you can! The job should not include any hours where you have timetabled activities at college, and we would also advise that any part-time work for a sixth form student should not exceed 12 hours per week to avoid it interfering with your studies.

Can I do work experience?

Yes you can! We'd encourage students to do as many extra-curricular activities as your timetable permits – this might include work experience or other enrichment activities.

What equipment do I need as a student?

Basic stationery - pens, pencils, paper and folder, and a bag to store these in - for starters. Each course may have additional equipment expectations such as calculators and textbooks. You will find out all about the equipment you need during Taster Day, with plenty of time to plan. Feel free to ask any questions at our Open Events. Once you start with us, you will be issued with a google Chromebook (or you might choose to bring your own device and use it on our network). There will be an opportunity to hire a locker for storage of your learning materials once you start with us.

You can take your Chromebook home each day, to allow you to continue your learning at home. We ask that you bring it back charged and ready to use in lessons each day.

Our Student Financial Support Fund is there to support eligible students with funding for equipment and resources.

Is there a dress code?

We ask that SM6 dress in line with our SM6 Professional Standards. This means dressing in a way that is appropriate for a professional setting. You are free to express your own style, as long as your dress is appropriate.

What happens if I am ill or absent for any reason?

If you are ill, we ask that a parent/carer contact SM6 to inform us that you will be absent by 8.30am on each day you are absent (Tel: 01482 808878). If you are able to, you should email your teacher to ask if there is any work you can complete at home. For any other reasons why you might be absent, again, we request that a parent confirm this, and evidence is provided that will enable us to authorise the absence (such as a doctor’s appointment).

Once you return, you can work with teachers to help you get caught up with any work missed. This might entail you attending subject support sessions until you and your teachers feel that you are up to date.

Who should I talk to if I have any problems or concerns?

There are lots of people here at SM6 who are ready to help you with any concerns you have. In the first instance you should chat to your Form Tutor if you feel you are able to; your Form Tutor is your main point of contact in college, and they can liaise with other colleagues and make any necessary referrals depending on the problem or concern. Heads of Year 12 and Year 13 will also be able to help you. Basically, any member of staff wearing a blue lanyard that you feel comfortable talking to will help you!

Why do I have to wear a lanyard?

We need to ensure we know who our students and staff are. This is a part of our safeguarding policy and is really important – it helps to keep our whole school community safe. It is also good practice as many employers also require identification to be displayed in this way, also for safeguarding reasons.

If you forget your lanyard you will be required to wear a unique identification sticker while you are on the college site.

What is Personal Development, and why do I need to do it?

Personal Development (PD) is an integral part of a sixth form study programme and is part of your timetabled activity at SM6. Here at SM6 we have an unrivalled ‘World Class’ offer for personal development, which includes your Form Periods, NST, PD Immersion, subject support and enrichments. These are all part of the planned PD curriculum which helps you to develop new skills, knowledge, and behaviours linked to Higher Education and career/apprenticeship pathways, explore new experiences, and develop new interests, and talents. You’ll also make new friends along the way. Wider activities including work experience and placements, and appointments with our Careers advisors, are also part of your personal development.

What support is available to SM6 students?

At SM6 we’re really proud of the ‘World Class’ student support options available. Every student is allocated to an academic tutor; we try hard to ensure that your tutor teaches you for at least one of your 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 you 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; this takes place in Form Time, at lunchtimes and after school, depending on availability of the teachers. If there are any concerns relating to your academic progress, you 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 you 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.

SM6 Classroom Posters landscape