Empowering dreams and community impact

At Leeds Sixth Form College, fostering an environment where students not only excel academically but also grow as individuals is paramount. 

Fatima joined us in September after studying English and maths at Leeds City College. She came with a clear aspiration: to pursue a career in health care. Since September, Fatima has been fully committed to her studies with an ambition to go to medical school.

Alongside her studies, Fatima has actively engaged with the sixth form’s I’m INspired programme which, through various activities, helps students hone their employability skills and prepare for higher education.

Her participation in I’m INspired has also led to her being accepted into the Reach for Excellence programme at Leeds University. This initiative helps students in Years 12 and 13 develop their confidence and prepares them for independent study as they approach higher education and professional life.

We caught up with Fatima to learn more about her studies and commitment to making a difference in the college community.

What subjects are you studying? 

Biology, Chemistry, and Maths.

Why did you decide to study these subjects? 

Firstly, I have a strong interest in chemistry and mathematics. I wanted to improve my understanding of biology, which I grew to love. I enrolled in this course to learn about various subjects, particularly medicine, as it aligns with my career aspirations. 

How have you found your time at sixth form so far?

I have enjoyed my studies because I have made many friends. My favourite aspect is the supportive teachers; their assistance motivates me and I know that I can learn a lot from them.

How have you found the support from your tutors? 

My tutor is amazing because he is always available to help me with any problems or questions I may have. His support is invaluable to me. Furthermore, I appreciate the support from both my teachers and friends.

What’s your favourite thing about Leeds Sixth Form College?

I have found the environment to be welcoming, and I have made new friends.

How have you found working in the I’m INspired programme? 

I am grateful for the team that allowed me to develop myself in a way where I could present my ideas and make changes within the college community, such as Meat-free Mondays.  I wanted to contribute to making the college a better place and to become part of a community that shares similar interests. 

Initially, I lacked confidence in speaking English but they supported me by reassuring me that I could express myself and be confident in my communication. 

They created a nice atmosphere where we learned from each other, played games, and eventually became like a family. We had a project and followed the plan that we collectively created, sharing ideas, listening to each other, being creative, and maintaining a respectful environment.

What skills have you gained from this?

Through this experience, I have developed communication, time management, and social skills. I appreciate the inclusive atmosphere where everyone’s voice is heard.

How do you balance your commitment to your studies with your involvement in extracurricular activities like the I’m INspired programme?

Extracurricular activities provide me with relaxation and allow me to explore different interests. I carefully plan my day to manage my commitments effectively.

Additionally, I volunteer as a teacher’s assistant at Leeds City College, assisting students with their questions in GCSE mathematics.

What are your plans after sixth form?

I am certain that I want to pursue a career related to medicine and aspire to make a positive impact by helping others.

What advice would you give to students starting in September? 

You should start revising and studying diligently from September onwards. It’s important to stay on top of your time management and organisation to avoid feeling overwhelmed.

Plan every minute of your free time. Believing in yourself and staying focused will help you achieve your goals.

“With a leap of faith, hard work and a good support system, your goals are attainable.”

A level student, Amy Calverley, is over the moon about her conditional offer from the University of Cambridge. 

We caught up with Amy to hear all about her experience at sixth form and the journey that led her to this remarkable achievement.

What courses are you studying? 

I study A level English Language, Politics and Philosophy.

What made you decide to study these courses? 

I chose these courses because I enjoy hearing diverse perspectives. As a result, humanities subjects at A level are the best way to broaden your horizons.

How have you found your courses?

At times, I have found aspects of the courses somewhat challenging. However, with consistency and help from my tutors, I’ve grown to enjoy my subjects and develop a deep understanding of concepts.

Did you face any barriers throughout your educational journey that you have overcome?

I have faced many barriers in my educational journey. Facing bullying at high school led me to become homeschooled. Whilst home education has its benefits, I have not had the most conventional background in comparison to others.

How have you found the support from your tutors? 

My tutors at college have been very supportive throughout my journey. Whether I wish to discuss my subjects, university applications or any concerns, there’s always somebody available to talk to.

What’s your favourite thing about Leeds Sixth Form College?

My favourite aspect of Leeds Sixth Form is the independence that you develop here. The college helps you become an independent thinker and learner, which prepares you well for life in the ‘real world’.

What are your plans after sixth form?

I am extremely pleased to have received a conditional offer from the University of Cambridge to study Human, Social and Political Sciences, so that is where I intend to be after A levels.

What advice would you give to anyone looking to study A levels?

As cliché as it may sound, my advice to anyone starting A levels is to just believe in yourself. Considering my background, I didn’t expect to get anywhere with my Cambridge application. 

However, I’m living proof that with a leap of faith, hard work and a good support system, your goals are attainable.

We hope Amy’s story inspires others to take that leap no matter the obstacles they may face. Take a look at our courses here.

Phil Mark appointed as Principal of Leeds Sixth Form

We are delighted to share the appointment of our new Principal of Leeds Sixth Form: Phil Mark. 

Phil has 20 years of experience across higher education, further education and sixth form colleges and we are delighted to welcome him to lead the success of our sixth form provision. 

Across his career, he has specialised in sixth form college education, most recently at Ashton Sixth Form College. His teaching experience includes English Language, Literature, Philosophy and Religious Studies and he has taught and led at every level from sub-entry to taught MA. 

Phil most recently worked for Kirklees Council as Head of Post-16 and Progression, leading on education relationships and quality, adult and community learning, school and college volunteering, and careers education, information, advice and guidance.

Phil brings a wealth of experience and a deep understanding of and passion for the further education sector.

Phil commented: 

“I want to ensure that the voice of staff and students is always central in developing future plans, and I look forward to working with you all to further develop a fantastic learning environment.”

We caught up with Phil to find out more about him as he settles in at Park Lane campus and college life.

What’s your career highlight?

My career highlight is my recent development of supported internships in Kirklees, bringing new job training and skills opportunities to young people with a range of special educational needs and disabilities. This programme was mentioned in an Early Day motion in parliament and has led to great opportunities for young people with SEND. It has been incredibly rewarding and I hope to bring this commitment to inclusivity to the new role.

What are your passions outside of work?

Outside of work, I enjoy running and I have a passion for – though not necessarily great skills in – cooking. Family is very important to me and I have a two-year-old daughter Maisie, and now spend a lot of time reading The Gruffalo.

What’s your favourite thing about sixth form provision? 

My passion for sixth form education stems from my own experiences in Sixth Form – notably an incredible enrichment trip to Stratford-upon-Avon which set me on a path to research and lecture in Shakespeare.

Most of all, I am passionate about the power of sixth form education to provide great opportunities and impart a love for – and expertise in – a range of subjects to learners from all walks of life.

What are you looking forward to the most? 

I am looking forward to working with colleagues who share my passion for Sixth Form education and helping to build an inclusive environment where all learners can thrive. I am particularly looking forward to seeing learners supported to make great progress, and working with teachers who feel confident to be innovative and effective in the classroom. 

We wish Phil a warm welcome to the group and every success in the role. 

Top tips for a successful start to sixth form

Progressing from school to sixth form is an exciting time in your educational journey but it can also be quite daunting. 

There’s a lot of new information to think about such as timetables, what to wear, making friends and extracurricular societies.

So, to help ease that transition from GCSEs to sixth form, we’ve put together a few tips to help you feel prepared for this new chapter in your life. 

Get organised with stationery

When it comes to getting organised, it’s best to acquire the right stationery and books to ensure you have everything you need at the start.

Some courses may require specific textbooks, but your tutor will let you know during your studies.

To stay on top of your work, use tools like planners or digital calendars such as Trello and Google Calendar to keep track of deadlines, exams, and extracurricular activities. 

Prioritise your wellbeing

Taking care of your wellbeing and mental health will positively impact your academic performance. We know the summer holidays are all about spending time with friends, and doing fun activities but it’s important that you get enough sleep, eat well-balanced meals, and engage in regular physical activity. 

Sixth form can be challenging, but teachers, mentors, and counsellors are there to support you. Before you start, take a look at our Academic and Pastoral support services

Financial support 

If you are facing financial barriers, we have a range of support services including meals and travel passes to help you while you study. The amount of financial support you may be entitled to receive is based on your circumstances.

Get involved

We have a range of exciting enrichment activities that we will offer to you to help broaden your college experience and make sure you stand out as a candidate for future university or career plans. Those include the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme and an ‘I’m INspired’ programme for our Oxbridge and Russell Group applicants. 

We also host onsite activities, including the debating club, table tennis, culture days, and many more. Ask your Pastoral team for more information.

We’re a part of the Students’ Union [SU], which is there to support you with things like mental health, cost of living and academic support. Additionally, the SU offers a range of societies that you’re welcome to join and if none of them take your interest, you have the opportunity to start your own. To find out more check out this video of our SU President, Qasim Hussain. 

Have fun!

Lastly, make the most of your time with us and have fun! 
With these tips in hand, we hope that you start Leeds Sixth Form College feeling better equipped and more confident for the journey ahead.

Ready for the future – students celebrate exam success

Our students have been celebrating some fantastic A level, vocational and GCSE results.

Learners across the country faced an extra challenge this year as grading returned to tougher, pre-pandemic levels.

On top of that, many had to take their final tests without having had any experience of sitting a national exam.

Despite those obstacles, plenty of our students still had cause to cheer when they discovered their grades.

Practice makes perfect for university-bound Efe

Efe Emenuwe, for example, excelled at her A levels, gaining two A*s and an A in Politics, Sociology and History respectively. She is now looking to a gap year before heading to the University of Manchester to study law.

Speaking to a visiting BBC News crew on Level 3 results day (Thursday 17 August ), Efe touched upon the unusual circumstances leading up to her exams.

She said: “It’s been weird but after the first exam I got used to the flow of it and the idea of sitting A levels.

“And besides, with the mocks and testing we had and all of that…I guess practice makes perfect!”

Zuhal sets her sights on Oxford

Zuhal Akhundzada, meanwhile, is a step closer to fulfilling her dream of studying medicine at the University of Oxford after achieving the GCSE grades she needed.

Zuhal, who enjoyed her time on the college’s Step-Up Pathway, got high – 6 and 7 – grades in Biology, Chemistry and Physics.

She said: “I’m so happy. I tried so much and did lots of studying and got the results I wanted, so from this September I will be starting A levels in three sciences.

“I’m from Afghanistan and I’ve only been in the UK for less than two years, so English was a bit hard for me, but the sciences were fantastic.”

She also credited her teachers for their support: “The tutors helped us get these results.”

10 facts you need to know about A levels

10 facts you need to know about A levels

Doing the jump between GCSE and A levels can often be a tricky one, especially as there are many things to consider – like career paths and course options. 

But even if you haven’t decided on what career you want to do in the future, you can still make an educated decision about your, well, education.

That’s why we’ve put together a list of key things you need to know about A levels to help you feel confident and prepare you for the journey ahead. 

  1. What even is an A level? 

Advanced Level qualifications (or A levels to you and me) are subject-based qualifications that can lead to university, further training, a job or an apprenticeship. These two-year qualifications prepare you for the future by increasing your knowledge and specialism in a range of subject areas and they pack your CV full of valuable skills. 

  1. What does an A level involve?

A levels usually last for two years and involve classroom-based learning with end-of-year exams.

  1. How many A levels can you take? 

Most students in the UK usually study three or four A level subjects. This is particularly beneficial as it means that you don’t have to choose between your favourite ones and you get to learn about them at an advanced level. 

  1. Do you need A levels for university?

Not always, but A levels are the traditional route into university because most entry requirements focus on your final A level results. Some universities also take into account your AS levels and GCSEs. 

A levels aren’t the only way to get to university. Other options include an Access to Higher Education (Access to HE) diploma or adding a foundation year to an undergraduate degree course.

  1. Do universities care what A levels you study? 

If you have a career path in mind, it’s important to check university entry requirements before applying as some universities require specific A levels. For example, if you want to apply for a science degree, a university will typically expect to see a science A level among your grades. 

However, you might not know what career path you want to follow and that’s okay too. If you’re not yet sure about your university plans, it’s best to keep your options open by choosing a range of A-level subjects that play to your strengths and you enjoy studying.

  1. Are A levels harder than GCSEs? 

Are A levels hard, you ask? In short, yes. You may notice a slight jump from doing GCSEs to A levels as they are considered to be a more advanced qualification. However, there are many benefits that come with A levels that you don’t get with GCSEs. 

Thanks to the reduced number of subjects, studying A levels means flexible timetables, more opportunity to study independently and take ownership of your learning.   

  1. Can I do A levels without GCSEs?

In order to study A levels, you will need five GCSEs graded 9-4, including English and Maths (or equivalent) and three additional GCSE qualifications at grade 9-4 or BTEC equivalents. Grade 4 is equivalent to a grade C.

A level

To see the grades required for your subject, take a look at our subject-specific entry requirements. 

  1. What if I don’t want to do A levels? 

If A levels don’t sound like your cup of tea and you’re looking for something a bit more hands on, T Levels and vocational courses are a great alternative. At Leeds Sixth Form College, we offer a range of vocational pathways that complement your A levels – allowing you to specialise in a particular subject whilst gaining industry experience. 

  1. Can I get a job with A levels and no degree?

Many students go on to higher education after studying A levels, but others choose to do an apprenticeship or enter employment. The good news is that there are a range of careers that don’t require a degree or higher education. In fact, many sectors even train you from within the career, like the hospitality industry or professions like dental hygienists, pharmacy technicians and administrators. 

  1. What happens if I need support during my studies?

Sometimes studying can be stressful, but if you are ever struggling or need that extra bit of guidance, we offer academic and pastoral support throughout the year. 

So, now that you have the scoop on A levels, all that’s left to do is choose what you’re going to study. Good luck!

How to make the most of an Open Event

How to make the most of an Open Event

Open events are a great way to get a feel for college life and discover more about the subjects you’re interested in.

If you have any friends or family that go to the college you’re interested in, you probably know a little bit about it. However, if it’s your first time experiencing it for yourself, you might not know where to start or what you need to be aware of. 

That’s why to help you make the most of an open event at Leeds Sixth Form College, we’ve put together a few handy tips.

Planning ahead

The main things you need to consider before an open event are what you are hoping to gain and what you want to see. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed with the number of options available, especially when you’re unsure of what you want to study. Researching A level subjects beforehand will help you prepare for what facilities you need to tour and who you’ll need to speak to. 

You’ll also need to plan your journey. Our sixth form college is located in the city centre, just a 10-minute walk from the train station with various bus stops located around our campus.

Tour our campus

A good way to know if a subject is right for you is to see where you’ll be studying it – which is where taking a tour of our facilities comes in. 

We have a range of exciting new facilities such as our independent learning zones situated on each floor, specially designed as quiet places to study.

When you’re not studying, our Natural Press coffee shop is a popular lunch spot which offers hot drinks, hot food and delicious confectionaries. The cafe is designed as an eco-conscious environment with plants throughout the space. 

Don’t forget to visit our modern science laboratories, as well as our new pharmaceutical suite that our STEM students use to gain experience and practical skills. 

Meet our tutors 

At every open event, there will be a tutor representing each of our courses. They’re there to chat with you about things like what you’ll learn on your course, what trips you may go on and what career opportunities the course will bring. 

They’re there to guide you on making the right choice for you and are always happy to chat with you about your subject in more detail. 

  • What does the course cover?
  • What student support is available?
  • What have previous students gone on to do for work/university after finishing this course?
  • What qualifications will I need for the course I want to apply for?

What to bring

We always advise you to bring along your booking confirmation to the event. You’re also welcome to attend with a friend, parent or guardian if you’d prefer to look around our campus with someone else. You can also bring anything else that helps you feel comfortable, such as a bottle of water. 

To book on to one of our next open events, visit our Event page.

Grab your second chance to shine at Leeds Sixth Form College

’It’s not the end of the world’ is a phrase we’ve all heard from well-meaning family or friends after a setback.

If you have just failed an important exam, however, the chances are that such words will be of little comfort. Instead, what is needed at such moments is practical help – for someone to tell you ‘you can try again, and here’s how’.

That is where Leeds Sixth Form College’s Step-Up Pathway comes in. The programme is designed specifically to help 16-18 year olds, who did not gain the GCSEs they were hoping for, get what they need to progress.

Step-Up provides a three-year route to sitting A levels, or a hybrid option of A levels plus a vocational qualification, and starts with a first year during which each student aims to gain five GCSEs. For some, like former Leeds Sixth Form College student Jamal Mottley, this option has represented a life-changing second chance.

An alternative route to success

Jamal used the Step-Up Pathway to re-sit his GCSEs before going on to achieve three A levels with Leeds Sixth Form College, and has now started university. Speaking in August after finding out his results, he explained how difficult personal circumstances had led to him failing his GCSEs the first time around.

He said: “I didn’t know you could re-sit them and thought it was a one-time thing.

“But then my mum got out of hospital and helped me look for somewhere to re-sit my GCSEs, and found Leeds Sixth Form College. I don’t know where I’d be without Step-up!”

Ro Elliott, meanwhile, has just started her A level courses at the college after successfully gaining five GCSEs through Step-Up.

She said: “I wasn’t really in full-time education for a lot of secondary school which is why I didn’t get the opportunity to do my GCSEs properly, so the fact the college introduced this course was really beneficial to me.”

Helping to tackle inequality

In a recently published study on education inequalities, the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) argued that one of the key shortcomings of the country’s education system was the ‘lack of adequate second chances’.

Step-Up, which is especially helpful for English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) students, allows them to develop their language skills.

Principal of Leeds Sixth Form College, Rachael Booth, said: “We are very proud of our Step-Up Pathway and the route it provides for students who want to study A levels but haven’t, for whatever reason, got the qualifications they need yet.

“Each year we hear from so many talented young people, like Ro and Jamal, about how much having this second opportunity to achieve, and excel, means to them.

“Education, like life, isn’t always a straight line, often due to things we can’t control. This pathway ensures that students can try again for the qualifications they need to progress and shine in whatever they choose to do.”

More information on the Step-Up Pathway can be found here. The IFS study can be viewed here.

A college with its sights set high

We are forging ahead into the new academic year with a ‘Good’ with ‘Outstanding’ features Ofsted rating under our belt.

Based in the heart of Leeds and driven by a belief that every student has the ability to excel, Leeds Sixth Form College impressed the inspectors when they visited earlier this year.

Our passionate and expert staff, and the partnership work they do to ensure our educational programmes meet the needs of local employers, were singled out for praise.

Our A level programme, which helps students take the next step in their educational or career journey, is at the heart of what we do.

A tailored approach for each student, full of enrichment opportunities

But our offering is much broader than that, which is why we give every new student a guidance interview before advising them on which of four pathways to follow. This ensures that their courses will help them move on to the job, university degree, or higher apprenticeship they have in mind.

And for 16 to 18 year olds who need extra GCSEs, or higher grades in those they already have, we offer the Step-up Pathway. This one-year programme helps students gain five GCSEs in preparation for taking on A levels.

The college also aims to ensure that students have an exceptional experience during their time with us, which is why we are always working to secure enrichment opportunities.

In June this year, for example, 61 of our politics, law and history students enjoyed a two-day educational trip to London. Their stay included a tour of Hampton Court Palace, a visit to the Supreme Court, meeting a High Court judge and a trip to the Houses of Parliament.

Our Principal, Rachael Booth, said: “We are fully committed to helping every student, whatever their background or field of interest, reach their full potential and excel.

“To help us achieve that we have a dedicated, expert teaching staff and top-class facilities, to give each of our students the very best chance of success.

“We are also always looking at experiences that can enrich students’ studies and bolster their confidence and self-belief.

“Education transforms lives and opens up new opportunities. We are always excited to welcome new students, and to learn how we can best help them take their vital next step. So please get in touch – we look forward to hearing from you!”

State-of-the-art facilities

Our courses are taught in dedicated, well-equipped teaching rooms in the college’s Park Lane campus. Our students also have access to a permanently staffed Independent Learning Zone, where a suite of 60 chrome-books are provided.

Keen to address the country’s healthcare skills gap and promote STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) subjects, the college recently opened a brand new science laboratory.

This specialist facility features a private consultation room and a pharmacy practice room which have been designed to support the college’s two new pioneering courses, Pharmacy T Level and Access to Medicine.

STEM is a key focus for us and we had some fantastic success stories in this area recently among our A level students. Poppy Middleton, for example, achieved A grades in chemistry, maths and physics along with a B in further maths this year. She is now going on to study aerospace engineering at the University of Leeds.

Sporting, as well as academic, excellence

Thanks to our partnerships with some of the region’s leading sporting organisations, through Leeds Sports Connect, we also offer outstanding opportunities for student-athletes.

Under this pioneering scheme, students can pursue a high-quality education with the college, studying three A levels, without sacrificing development in their chosen sport.

The courses are built around training schedules so participants can enjoy outstanding coaching, in top-class facilities, while pursuing their studies.

Our partners include Leeds Rhinos Foundation, Leeds United Foundation, The Hunslet Club, Ultimate Football Coaching Academy, and Let’s Do More. Click here to find out more about courses at Leeds Sixth Form College.