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.

GCSE students praised for ‘resilience and character’ after tough two years

Leeds Sixth Form College and Leeds City College students have been celebrating their GCSE and BTEC results.

This was the first time exams have taken place since 2019, due to the Covid-19 pandemic. In 2020 and 2021 students received results based on teacher-assessed grades.

Grades, nationally, were as expected, lower on average this year with the government being keen to reverse ‘grade inflation’.

But at Leeds City College and Leeds Sixth Form College (LSFC) many students were happy to have secured the results they needed to move on to A levels, apprenticeships or T Levels.

Travis Daly was delighted with his results after achieving a 7 grade in English language, 5s in maths and English literature, and 4s in business and an EPQ (Extended Project Qualification).

And he was full of praise for LSFC, where he did his exams through the Step-up Pathway, which helps students aged 16 to 18 gain GCSEs.

An amazing college full of camaraderie

He said: “These results have exceeded what I was hoping for.

“I’ve found it amazing here. I really preferred the camaraderie of the college, it was significantly better than my secondary school where everyone was just in little factions fighting against each other.

“Here, everyone just gets along. It doesn’t matter where you’re from or who you are, everyone’s just together – we’re all friends. I owe the college so much – my teachers were contacting me almost every day to ask me how I was getting on. I’m so happy to know I’m now going to be doing A levels, it’s the best feeling.”

Travis is planning to do A levels in history, law and politics with Leeds Sixth Form College, and then aims to study law at the University of Toronto, in Canada.

A route back into education

Ro Elliott
Ro Elliott

Ro Elliott was also celebrating some great results despite having had to sit her five GCSEs, through LSFC’s Step-up programme, while suffering from the flu.

She achieved a grade 7 in biology and chemistry, a 6 in physics and 5s in English and maths. She is now planning to study A levels in biology, chemistry and psychology – with a goal of progressing into medicine.

She said: “My time here has been really enjoyable. 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.

“And the fact it was only three days a week as well felt like a really good introductory step to getting back into education.”

A great alternative to school

Libby Watkins
Libby Watkins

Libby Watkins is looking forward to studying science-focused A levels at LSFC after getting the GCSE grades she needed in maths, English and science.

Reflecting on her time at Leeds City College’s 14+ Academies, which provides an alternative learning environment to school for young adults, she said: “It’s been really good, I’ve enjoyed the atmosphere which is so friendly.

“The teachers here are good too, they’re nice people – human! Going back to high school wasn’t an option for me and home schooling wasn’t getting me quite as far as I needed to be. So I joined here not realising how good it actually was at first.”

Balancing studying with parenting

Kertu Babik
Kertu Babik

Many adult learners have also been celebrating their results. Kertu Babik, whose first language is Estonian, was celebrating getting all 9s and 8s in her five GCSEs (maths, English, combined science and citizenship).

She said: “It was interesting at Leeds Sixth Form College. At first I was a bit worried because it was my first time studying in the English language. It took a few weeks but then it felt good, and the teachers were inspiring and motivating, and made me feel really welcome.

“I’ve got two kids, one aged two and one four, so one of the hardest things was to be on time for classes, and to study after they had gone to sleep!”

Kertu is now heading to the University of Leeds to study an Interdisciplinary Science with Foundation Year course, with a view to progressing into medicine.

Reflecting on this year’s results, Niki McKenna, Interim Headteacher of the 14+ Academies, said: “GCSE results day is always full of all sorts of emotions but the key thing we feel today is pride, because of how our young people have dealt with a really tough year.

“Our learners have probably been most affected by Covid-19 in terms of the amount of teaching they’ve missed, but we’re really proud of the resilience, determination and character they’ve shown to push through that. And we’re really happy with the level of progress that they’ve made.

“We’ve worked really hard to make them happy and confident individuals and spent a lot of time working on holistic skills to help them be resilient, while also focusing on their academic progress.”

More details on the 14+ Academies can be found here.

Purpose-built science lab addresses healthcare skills gap

Leeds Sixth Form College, part of Luminate Education Group, is aiming to bridge the healthcare skills gap with a new state-of-the-art science laboratory.

The college has received funding from the T Levels Capital Fund in a bid to boost pupils’ awareness and interest in the medical sector. 

The specialist facility has a private consultation room and pharmacy practice room, which has been purposely designed for the college’s two new pioneering courses: Pharmacy T Level and Access to Medicine. 

Students are encouraged to get a feel for working in a healthcare environment with areas designed to practice dispensing medications and one-to-one consultations.

Rachael Booth, Principal at Leeds Sixth Form College, said: “We hope our new bespoke science laboratory will inspire the next generation to consider a career in healthcare. We’re committed to putting Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) at the top of our agenda, as it assists in problem-solving and innovative learning which fuels success across a variety of disciplines.

“Recent figures revealed that 84% of the UK healthcare sector were suffering from a lack of skilled workers. This figure, combined with the immense pressure that the industry is facing due to Covid-19, means that we have a responsibility to empower young people to pursue healthcare roles, by showcasing the wide range of incredibly fulfilling and rewarding careers within the sector.”

Lab 1
Lab 1

The innovative Access to Medicine course will launch in the new academic year, which has been designed to help plug a national shortage of doctors. The fast track, one-year programme is aimed at adult learners who want to progress to university to pursue a medical career but lack the required A levels.

T Level Pharmacy Services will be running from September 2023, which fuses academic theory with on-the-job experience. This two-year course is developed in partnership with various local pharmacies to ensure the content matches the industry needs.

The college has recently received a £2k grant from The Ogden Trust to launch an astronomical society.

David Shelton, lecturer at Leeds Sixth Form College, commented: “This enrichment activity allows students to experience stargazing and build skills in using telescopes and cameras for astronomy. The project is directed as students mainly from under-represented groups in STEM, including women, Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic groups and those from disadvantaged backgrounds.

“We strongly believe that everyone should have the opportunity to pursue a career in STEM, especially as our world becomes more reliant on STEM careers with productions of vaccines and exploring the universe. We have been able to buy two specialist telescopes and a camera, which we will use to develop skills in observing the night sky. Through this project, we hope to set an example for inclusivity within STEM.”

Sixth form students achieve degree standard grades

Six diligent and dedicated students from Leeds Sixth Form College are celebrating their outstanding results after achieving high grades in the The Scholars Programme.

The programme gives pupils aged 9-17 from schools and colleges in the UK the opportunity to work with a PhD researcher across a range of disciplines  including science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), arts and humanities and social sciences.  

The 12-week course also helps students develop knowledge, skills and confidence to progress to the most competitive universities in the country.

Students, Alifa Rahman and Muhao Mwangala attained first class honours in a STEM subject, while Mujib Osmani and Grace Tingay attained a lower second class. Humanities students, Mila Appleby and Qasim Hussein also achieved high honours.

To launch the Autumn term, students attended a series of live, online events with university partners such as Bath University, Exeter University and University of Bristol, among others. 

The live events introduced pupils to the programme and gave them a taster of student life at one of the most competitive universities.

Graduation event at University of Exeter

Students took part in a remote graduation event with the University of Exeter to celebrate their achievements. The event included a welcome from The Brilliant Club, and a session led by the university of X, to give pupils further information, advice and guidance.

Dr. Elisabeth Protopapa,Head of Academic Studies in Leeds Sixth Form College, said: “This is another fantastic year for our students who have really applied themselves to the additional work required to successfully complete the programme. 

“I am proud of them as they persevered through a very challenging time to complete the final elements of the project remotely, following  lockdown. They all rose to the challenge and I have no doubt that they will go on to achieve great things at university and in their chosen careers.

“The scholars programme is a well-known and respected initiative across the education sector. It is highly sought after by Russell Group universities as it recognises and celebrates students for having the right academic approach for continuing their studies at degree level and beyond.”

Dr Lawson, Programme Officer for the scholars programme, said: “The final assignment is supposed to be challenging, being pitched at a level above where the students are currently working at in college. We recognise that this academic year has continued to present challenges for schools and colleges, and so we are particularly pleased that the students were able to submit their assignments and do so well.”

More than 200 researchers across the UK worked with over 4,000 pupils in 263 schools to deliver the programme this academic year.

Enrichment programme launched to boost Year 7 pupils’ career aspirations

700 pupils from Leeds City Academy, Leeds East Academy and Leeds West Academy are participating in the Year 7 programme, whereby curriculum staff members from Leeds Sixth Form College and Leeds City College host practical and academic sessions in order to raise aspirations of the pupils.

This year, some activities are being delivered in partnership with the Leeds United Foundation, focusing on confidence building and resilience. The overall initiative aims to enhance future employability prospects for pupils by offering a diverse range of extra curricular activities in areas such as science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM), sport, digital technologies, business, art, music, dance, creative styling and food production.

The programme gives students the opportunity to walk in the shoes of a university student, as they will be invited to a graduation ceremony at the University of Leeds in June.

Rachael Booth, Principal at Leeds Sixth Form College, said: “This pioneering programme not only enriches the lives of pupils by embedding a culture of enterprise, personal development and independent thinking, but also reflects the priorities of the Leeds City Region. We’re striving to foster the next generation of skilled individuals, who will play a key role in boosting the local economy in priority areas, such as STEM and digital.

“Data shows that participation in extracurricular activities can positively impact a pupil’s attainment, self-confidence and resilience. Therefore, we’re dedicated to bridging the current attainment gap by creating a level playing field of opportunity for students from all backgrounds.”

As part of the programme, school pupils attend the sessions once a week and can accrue praise stamps in recognition of their achievements leading to the final graduation next year.

Leeds Sixth Form College secures grant for STEM skills project

A science teacher at Leeds Sixth Form College has been awarded £3000 of funding for his skills development project as part of the Let Teachers SHINE competition.

Luke Helstrip, who has been with the college for a year, has developed a project that supports students to enhance their soft skills, such as creative thinking, communication, problem solving and collaboration, enabling them to make faster progress in lessons.

Run by education charity SHINE and Times Education Supplement, the competition offers a funding lifeline to innovative teachers with pioneering project ideas. With the aim to boost the attainment of young people from disadvantaged backgrounds, the organisation provides advice and training to allow teachers to make a difference within the student community.

Luke hopes his ‘Impact of STEM 7’ project will help students improve exam results and apply for jobs and university places. He said: “I grew up in an area of high deprivation, so I appreciate the challenges that students face when completing applications and progressing through education. I hope to develop students’ self-confidence and ability to reflect on their own skill development by making changes to teaching practices which highlight soft skill development. 

“Information on students’ skill reflections will then be analysed, providing us with data on progress over time and the impact of the strategy. Initially, I will be running the programme as a pilot study within my own class. If this is successful, we hope to roll this scheme out across all A level subjects at Leeds Sixth Form College.”

All grantees will receive one-to-one sessions with the School of Social Entrepreneurs and the University of Manchester to determine individual needs and develop a bespoke training package.

Helen Rafferty, interim chief executive of SHINE, said: “Congratulations to all the winners of this year’s Let Teachers SHINE competition. This year’s awards were held during some of the most challenging times teachers have ever faced, making the quality of the applications all the more impressive. 

“Each of the teachers who took part in the competition demonstrated their innovation and commitment to really make a difference to the futures of children from low-income families. 

“We look forward to working with the winners to help them develop their ideas and help hundreds of children to succeed at school.” 

A level student heads to Kings College London after getting second chance

Shaheen Alghofar is one of the many students at Leeds Sixth Form College who received fantastic A level results this year. He received two As and an A* in biology, chemistry and maths respectively.

He came to study at Leeds Sixth Form College to re-sit biology and maths as his school sixth form wouldn’t allow him to do so.

Despite joining the college two weeks late, Shaheen felt welcomed by the team. He said: “I felt like I belonged straight away. I was accepted and was supported from day one.

“Leeds Sixth Form College gave me a second chance. There were occasions when I felt like giving up but my tutors gave me the motivation and encouragement to keep going and I’m so glad I did.

“The college gave me the independence and a taster of what university life would be like. A lot of study was done in my own time and tutors pushed me to go even higher.”

Shaheen would like to pursue a career in dentistry while swimming competitively in his spare time. He said: “I want to do something that is academically challenging that would also make an impact in the community. I would love to engage with local people and make a difference in their lives.

Shaheen will now be heading to Kings College London to pursue his dentistry dreams with the hopes of coming back to Leeds to open a practice in the future.

Leeds Sixth Form Student of the Year picks up glowing results

Damilola Akinbolu was this year’s Leeds Sixth Form Student of the Year at the college’s annual Star Awards ceremony.

An international student with less than three years in the country, the talented 19 year old achieved A* in maths, B in further maths and C in physics. We caught up with him to find out what he’ll be doing next.

How was your time at Leeds Sixth Form?

It has been a wonderful experience. The support I received from the teachers and staff was invaluable.

Coming from Nigeria, I could already speak English but it was a different education environment, so I found it difficult to adjust at first.

What was your reaction when you opened your results envelope?

I was really pleased to see my results and I’ve got my place at university, which is great.

I got support from Leeds City College staff with everything related to UCAS; they really helped me a lot with it and I can’t thank them enough.

What advice would you give to students who are thinking of studying A levels?

A levels are hard work, but also enjoyable. If you put your mind to it, you can do it. No exam is hard if you make sure you prepare and study beforehand.

For international students, adjusting is challenging, but you will meet lovely, friendly people at the college who will help you every step of the way and support you to achieve your goals.

What’s next for you?

I will be going to the University of Leeds to study electronic and electrical engineering, but I’m taking a gap year to study electronics with Leeds City College.

In the future, I would like to work for an electric company, and improve the electricity supplies in my home country.