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.

Bright futures beckon for Leeds Sixth Form College’s A level students

Leeds Sixth Form College students are celebrating achieving exceptional A level results, following a challenging past two years.

Despite nationwide fears about lower grades, there was an increase in the number of students achieving higher grades at the sixth form compared to 2019, the last time externally assessed examinations were held.

Many students excelled, including a number who achieved a clutch of A*-A grades.

Excelling at STEM

Some, like Poppy Middleton, shone in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) subjects. This is a skills-shortage area that the sixth form, which has just opened a new state-of-the-art science laboratory, is committed to increasing uptake in.

Poppy achieved A grades in chemistry, maths and physics along with a B in further maths, and will now go on to study aerospace engineering at the University of Leeds.

Poppy Middleton
Poppy Middleton

She said: “Studying here was pretty good! Obviously it was impacted by the pandemic, but that wasn’t the sixth form’s fault.

“I had good support from teachers and if I needed any help I knew I could always ask. All of the teachers care about you, and not just about your grades.”

Heading to university after mastering English

For others, there were challenges to overcome before even beginning their educational journey with Leeds Sixth Form College.

When Sabrina Nekkab arrived in the UK from Italy, aged 16, she knew she needed to work on her English before anything else.

She has now, a few years later, achieved the grades she needed – A*s in law and psychology, and a B in business – to progress to the University of Sheffield, where she’ll study economics.

Sabrina Nekkab
Sabrina Nekkab

She said: “I’m really happy and proud of my results. My English wasn’t perfect when I moved here so I took a year to work on it, then did five GCSEs before moving on to A levels.

“I got a lot of support from my teachers and have made a lot of friends for life, it’s been amazing!

“Every day when I came in I looked forward to the lessons and seeing my classmates, and I’d like to thank all of my A level teachers.”

Grasping a second chance following a family crisis

Jamal Mottley, meanwhile, credits the sixth form’s Step-up Pathway for helping him get his life back on track after a family crisis led to him initially failing his GCSEs. The programme helps students aged 16 to 18 work towards gaining five GCSEs.

Jamal did well through Step-up at Leeds sixth form college and went on to progress internally onto A levels in sociology, media and English language. His grades – an A in sociology and Bs in the other two subjects – mean he can now look forward to studying creative and professional writing at the University of Bangor.

Leeds Sixth Form College student Jamal Mottley
Leeds Sixth Form College student Jamal Mottley

He said: “Around the time I was doing my GCSEs my mum went into hospital, she had some mental health stuff going on, and I was living with my grandfather. It was a different environment – mum was gone, and I had to look after my sister too.

“So I failed my GCSEs when I first did them. I didn’t know you could re-sit them and thought it was a one-time thing. But 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, and now I’ve got ABB for my courses at A level, which is really exciting!

“It’s been great here. The teachers are really considerate, understanding and kind. They are great people that you can go and talk to.”

Exceptional results in the face of adversity

Leeds Sixth Form College Principal, Rachael Booth, said: “We’re delighted that many of our students have achieved some exceptional results, despite the challenges of the last two years. These grades reflect the hard work and commitment they have put into their studies.

“All our students have shown tremendous resilience and flexibility throughout their time , while they have been learning new skills and pushing themselves.

“It’s a testament to our teachers who have worked tirelessly to ensure students have been supported throughout the year. We’d like to thank them for their incredible efforts.

“Many of our students will now be progressing to higher level study, and we look forward to seeing what they will achieve in the future.

“Education changes lives, it gives people opportunities. We were happy to be here on results day to support and guide our students.

“This was a particularly special A level results day at Leeds Sixth Form College, following the disruptions that the pandemic caused to these students’ lives. Many of our students experience challenges, and I am particularly pleased to celebrate an increase in the number of young people from disadvantaged backgrounds who gained higher education places this year.”

‘Outstanding’ career advice and support at Leeds Sixth Form College

Danielle Miller is now, with three A levels just completed, looking forward to pursuing a career in marketing.

Back in 2020, however, things looked a lot less clear. Danielle was unsure about what to do after finishing Year 11 at school, so she approached Leeds Sixth Form College for advice.

She credits the ‘outstanding’ guidance she received, along with some exceptional support from her tutors over the following two years, for helping her re-focus.

She said: “I was very unsure of what to do or where to go, but the college was very understanding and the process was simple.

“I think that my experience here has been very flexible. If I wanted to be more independent the opportunity for that was there, but so was the continued support If I wanted to be more involved.

“Undoubtedly, spending much of the first year inside, due to Covid-19, was really hard for all of us. The support I received from my subject teachers and tutors, however, was outstanding. They never hesitated to give me a hand with anything I was studying, along with general advice regarding my career or self-improvement.

“In our second year it was difficult to get back into a college-based routine, but the teachers were very persistent and gave us the motivation to just get on with it.”

Shining a light on alternative paths

Danielle also credits the college staff for helping her realise there were other options to follow, apart from the expected university route, to pursue her chosen career.

She said: “I really struggled with coming to terms with the idea that university was not for me.

“But the career advice from the college helped to change my attitude towards getting an apprenticeship, and consider it as an alternative option.

“The consistent job and opportunity notifications from my tutors also really helped me to get an idea of this alternative; it was a huge support.”

Danielle, who is currently waiting for her results, is aiming to begin her marketing career through a higher apprenticeship.

Aiming for triple A grades at A level

A level student Junior Boateng takes his studies and his charity work seriously.

Junior will sit exams in Biology, Chemistry and Psychology in July and has set his heights high –  aiming to achieve As in each.

Three A grades is what he needs to go on and study medicine at university, after which he hopes to specialise in orthopaedics.

But Junior has managed to balance those tough academic demands with volunteering, in his spare time, to help some of Leeds’ most vulnerable residents.

A supportive learning environment

He credits Leeds Sixth Form College for providing vital support for both pursuits.

He said: “Leeds Sixth Form College is a good place to study because the teachers are always willing to help.

“They always make you aware that they are here to assist so when I don’t get stuff at first I know I can go to them and they’re happy to explain to me, whether that be in person or online. They are always very responsive.”

Junior’s charity work, meanwhile, is done through a church in Leeds and focuses on those who are living on the streets or have hit a low point.

Offering a helping hand

He said: “We seek out people who are in need and are easily forgotten by society.

“Through our Night Angels programme, for example, we go out around town in the evenings and meet homeless people who come for food and drink. You meet all kinds of people, sometimes even university students who are struggling.

“We also put up notes on the bridges around Leeds to give a message to those who might be despairing, so they know there’s somebody out there who cares and can help.

“The college has been very supportive of this work and when I was organising a foodbank drive staff gladly helped by creating posters. Quite a few people also brought in donations, which really helped us be able to serve hot meals to people in need.”

Taking strides towards medical school

Student Nicholas Sappor Charles credits strong support from his tutors for helping him take important steps towards medical school.

Nicholas, who moved to the UK from Ghana, is also grateful for the flexibility that Leeds Sixth Form College has granted him as he works towards his goal.

His first experience of the college was when he enrolled on the Access Foundation GCSE programme last year. He ended up completing that course with six GCSEs, including in Combined Science Synergy – a double qualification which combines biology, chemistry and physics.

Nicholas is now busy studying chemistry, biology and maths A levels – and is grateful for all the guidance he has received.

The benefits of a flexible approach

He said: “Leeds Sixth Form College has been a good experience so far. I enrolled on the Access GCSE course after speaking with a career advisor at college, who told me what I needed to do to get into medical school. 

“I was enrolled on a five GCSE programme but, in order to increase my chances of getting into as many universities as possible, the college also allowed me to do one extra GCSE, in business.

“That was a great opportunity which I am very grateful for. It was a bit tricky because timetables would clash, but my tutor was always there to help and explain things, plus give feedback on tests.”

An enriching and welcoming environment

Nicholas is also appreciative of the many enrichment activities that the college has arranged during his A level studies, and for making him feel welcome.

He said: “The teachers are friendly and helpful and are always ready to answer your questions. I am also highly impressed by the number of opportunities – including work experience, massive open online courses, and virtual skills development programmes – they try to make available to us.

“I was shy and a bit anxious due to the change of environment when I came to the UK, but college has really helped me grow in confidence and make me feel like I belong.”

‘An Amazing Journey That Will Help Me Make a Difference’

That is how Aanam Munawwar describes her time at Leeds Sixth Form College as she looks forward to a career in medicine.

Aanam, who only moved to England in 2019, has just excelled in her A levels – securing three A*sgrades in biology, chemistry and psychology respectively.

Those results have ensured that she can take another step towards realising her dream of working for the NHS by studying MBChB (Medicine and Surgery) at the University of Leeds this September.

Aanam began her academic journey in the UK two years ago when she attended an open day at Leeds Sixth Form College – and went on to enjoy the ‘immense support’ that was offered to guide her in her studies.

Speaking at Leeds Sixth Form College just after finding out her grades, Aanam was full of praise for her teachers. She said: “I’ve had a very nice time and loved the two years that I spent here, where I’ve had very nice teachers who have been really supportive.

“I’m looking forward to having just a little celebration at home, enjoying some cakes with my family.”

An experience that exceeded all expectations

Recalling her first visit to the college, she added: “When I attended the open day in 2019 I was a bit concerned because I had Indian qualifications but I found the staff members to be so welcoming and supportive, and they helped me to get an equivalency check for my qualifications.

“All my subjects were equivalent to GCSEs except English so I had to take the winter  exam for that, which I passed.

“I also got the opportunity during the open day to attend subject taster sessions and really enjoyed the way everything was taught and how engaging it was.

“I chose to study at Leeds Sixth Form College because it provides a diverse and inclusive learning environment where I knew I could meet new people and make amazing friends.

 “I have had an excellent experience studying at the college which has definitely exceeded all my expectations. I have received a lot of support from my teachers, be it online or in person, and they always encouraged me to do my best.

“I have also enjoyed studying with my peers in the classrooms and by myself, in the Independent learning zones and libraries. And I have loved the food at the canteen and met fantastic people from so many cultures, learned a lot from them and made some great friends for life.”

Top marks in research project

Aanam also completed an Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) at Leeds Sixth Form College while studying her A levels.

For EPQs students produce an in-depth piece of research on a topic of their choice for which they receive extra UCAS points.

Aanam received the top grade – and so maximum possible UCAS points – for her essay, which was entitled Can Mobile Health Bridge the Gap Between Patients and Healthcare Providers?

She said: “I am glad that I chose to do an EPQ not only because I got an A* and it looked good on my UCAS application, but because it helped me to develop my critical thinking and decision making skills.

“The amount of research I did allowed me to get a better understanding of healthcare systems and patients’ concerns, which is also beneficial for my career aspirations.”

Medical ambitions

She is now fully focused on the next stage of her education – and then beginning her healthcare career.

She said: “Initially, it was due to my interest in human physiology that I wanted to do medicine.

“But I made the decision to study medicine after attending taster sessions and completing my work experience, which allowed me to reflect on the challenges that the healthcare workers face.

“I also enjoy teamwork and want to become a part of a multidisciplinary team to help in patients’ management and treatment.

“I wish to make my family proud of me. Looking ahead, I am determined to pursue a career in medicine and contribute towards our NHS.”

Referring to her time at Leeds Sixth Form College, she added: “I have had an amazing journey and most enjoyable experience whilst studying here. I hope to use the skills and knowledge that I have gained as a Leeds Sixth Form College student to make a difference to people’s lives.”

To find out more about learning opportunities at Leeds Sixth Form College, visit leedssixthform.ac.uk/our-courses/courses, call 0113 386 1997 or email courses@leedssixthform.ac.uk.

‘BELIEVE IN YOURSELF’ – INSPIRATIONAL STUDENT RAHIM’S A LEVELS MESSAGE

For Rahim Karim, artificial intelligence is not just a fascinating field – it is also a potentially revolutionary tool to help the deaf community.

Leeds Sixth Form College student Rahim, who is profoundly deaf, is celebrating achieving A grades in A level maths, further maths and physics.

Those grades were achieved with the assistance of his sign language partner, Fiona Hudson, who has been supporting the 22 year old throughout his education.

He is now looking forward to starting a Computer Science with AI degree at the University of Leeds. Rahim is fascinated by the possibilities that artificial intelligence could open up and wrote his EPQ (Extended Project Qualification) on the subject of how AI could help people with hearing loss.

First class support

Speaking at Leeds Sixth Form College on A level results day, he credited his ‘amazing’ teachers for his success and is now looking forward to the next stage of his educational journey.

He said: “I feel good!

“Maths and further maths were very enjoyable because we had excellent teachers and I got along really well with them; that made it easy to remember what I learnt.

“I enjoyed physics too and the teacher was great, easy to get on with, had a lot of deaf awareness and was good at making everything visual.

“And the management team at the college were also really helpful and supportive.”

Overcoming barriers

As well as the extra educational challenges posed by having a hearing disability, Rahim also had to contend, like all students, with remote learning.

He said: “I was ok working at home and knew I could ask if I got stuck. It was difficult to start with but we got used to it.

“I got on with everything pretty well though there were some barriers in everyday situations – for example if I was in the library and my interpreter wasn’t with me, but I wanted to ask something.

“But we usually managed, and all the teachers had a lot of deaf awareness.”

Looking forward

He added: “I haven’t really got a celebration planned, I’ll go home to tell my family and maybe go out with my friends.

“I’m just really excited about going to university!

“For others who are about to start their A levels I’d say believe in yourself, work out what you’re capable of achieving and form strong relationships with your teachers and those you can work with to achieve your goals.”