What are Level 3 courses?

All qualifications are given a level which indicates an academic ability. GCSEs at grades 9-4 are the equivalent to Level 2 and lower grades at GCSE mean students are working at Level 1. If a student achieves an average points score (APS) of 4.5 or above, they are able to move onto Level 3 courses.  A Levels are just one example of Level 3 courses, BTECs and Cambridge Technical courses are another.

Are BTECs and Cambridge Technical courses the same as A Levels?

At Southgate School, they are both Level 3 and as such considered to be equivalent. The main difference is in the method of assessment. BTECs and Cambridge Technical courses involve a portfolio and coursework to assess students. A Levels on the other hand will always involve exams and for many subjects this will make up 100% of the final grade. 

Unlike A Levels which receive A*-E grades, Level 3 technical courses award students with the following grades: Pass, Merit and Distinction.  Each unit of work will be graded (Pass, Merit or Distinction) and goes towards the final grade.   

A Pass is the equivalent of a grade E (worth 40 UCAS points), a Merit is the equivalent of a grade C (worth 80 UCAS points) and a Distinction is the equivalent of a grade A (worth 120 UCAS points)

Are some subjects considered better or more highly regarded than others?

This is quite a controversial issue; people have worried that certain universities have a secret list of A Level subjects they prefer. The reality is that all A Level subjects are of value. Some courses require specific subjects because they are relevant to the degree. For example, Music A Level is a pre-requisite for a degree in Music.  Universities such as Oxford and Cambridge, as well as Russell Group universities look for A Level subjects that indicate students can cope with challenge. They like certain combinations of subjects, because they believe they provide more effective preparation for study at their universities. The important word here is ‘combination’ of subjects so they aren’t saying there are any individual subjects that will lead to students being rejected. 

You should refer to University Prospectuses via their websites for specific entry requirements.

Can I change my course choices?

You can change your course choices between handing in your final application and the start of the course in September. You will need to follow the course change procedure by sending in your request with details to . It is important to try and get your choice right from the beginning as we can’t guarantee places will be available should you decide to change.

What do I do if I don’t get the grades I need for my course choices?

This depends on your grades. Internal applicants who score APS of 4.5 or above will receive a letter with their GCSE results inviting them to attend an interview with a member of staff to discuss course choices based on results.  We will try to offer you alternative options that will enable you to progress successfully. Applicants who do not reach the APS of 4.5 will receive a letter informing you to proceed with an alternative place of study that offers Level 2 courses.

All external applicants who were offered a conditional place will be invited to an interview after they receive their results to discuss their options and confirm their place.

How many subjects will I study?

Most students study three subjects in the Sixth Form, though students with an average GCSE points score of 7.5 or higher may be able to take a fourth subject for one year. It’s worth noting that Universities only require three results and are just as interested in student participation in the wider community that builds softer skills.

How much work will I get?

Each subject will be different, but as a rule of thumb, you should dedicate at least nine hours per fortnight to independent study in addition to nine hours a fortnight in lessons for each of your subjects.

What privileges do Sixth Form students enjoy?

Uniform is not required in the Sixth Form, student wear their own clothes in line with our dress code. In addition to this, you will have unique access to areas such as the Sixth Form café and study centre during your non-contact time. Students may leave the school site during the school day for home study periods.

What are class sizes like?

Class sizes are usually smaller than at GCSE, this allows teachers to give more of their time each lesson to each student. Class sizes can range from 20 but can be as low as 8 for some subjects and will vary from year to year.

What are independent study sessions?

Students will have independent study as part of their Sixth Form timetable. These lessons are planned in to support students achieve their best. These ‘private study’ lessons should be used to ensure work is completed to deadlines, that work is being improved, learning is reviewed regularly and for wider reading around your subjects. During these lessons, students are expected to work in the Sixth Form study centre, attendance is monitored by Mrs Lee-Walcolm and all students are expected to arrive fully prepared with work to complete.

Can Sixth Form students use mobile phones at school?

Sixth Form students are allowed to use their phones but only within Sixth Form areas – they must not be visible anywhere else within the school gates, in order to comply with the whole school policy.