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.

GYMNASTICS MEDAL SUCCESS FOR A LEVEL STUDENT AIMEE

A Leeds Sixth Form College student is celebrating being part of a medal-winning gymnastics team.

Aimee Dann travelled to Switzerland to compete in the 2022 Gym for Life Challenge, with Leeds Gymnastics Club, in July.

The club, representing Great Britain (GB), achieved a silver medal to the delight of Aimee, her clubmates and her teachers.

Balancing act leads to success

Aimee, who is just about to start year 13 of her A levels at Leeds Sixth Form College, said: It was an amazing experience to represent GB at an international competition.

“I would balance out my studies with gymnastics by doing some while I was away, and revising before and after my gymnastic sessions.

“I think overall it paid off and I was so proud of myself, and my team, for getting silver in the competition.”

The value of transferable skills

Sixth form lecturer, Elizabeth Bailey, said: “What a fantastic achievement!

“Aimee is a pleasure to teach. She works hard to meet her academic goals and is keen to do well.

“Her determination and commitment to gymnastics has clearly transferred over to her academic studies in her religious studies A level, and she is starting year 13 on a really positive footing.

“Aimee is confident and articulate and works well with her peers and is able to work both collaboratively and independently, again something she has surely drawn from her experience at Leeds Gymnastics Club.

“Year 13 will see Aimee having to manage the demands of her A level courses with her gymnastics commitments, but she is sure to take this in her stride!”

Principal of Leeds Sixth Form College, Rachael Booth, added: “At the college we work with our students not only to achieve the best possible qualifications, but also to enable them to enjoy a wide range of enrichment and leadership opportunities.

“Supporting Aimee to pursue her gymnastic endeavours means that she can develop valuable transferable skills, and I look forward to watching these develop further in her final year of A levels.”

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.

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.”

Student-athlete Kyden ‘over the moon’ at signing for Leeds Rhinos

One of our student-athletes has achieved a lifelong dream by signing for Leeds Rhinos.

Kyden Frater is the latest success story to emerge from Leeds Rhinos Foundation’s Development Academy programme, which is run in partnership with Leeds Sixth Form College and Leeds City College.

He has become the second player from the Development Academy team, following the signing of Mekhi Bridgeman-Reaney earlier this year, to sign a professional contract with the Rhinos.

Fulfilling a childhood dream

Kyden is one of seven members of the Academy squad to have just signed with the rugby league club. A lifelong Rhinos fan, he declared himself ‘over the moon’ – and credited the role of his community club, Milford, and the Development Academy in helping him reach this stage.

He said: “It’s probably one of the best feelings I’ve ever had. Wearing that jersey which I’ve always wanted to wear, for the club I’ve supported since I was a little boy, is something I’ve wanted to do since I started playing rugby.”

Although usually a full-back, Kyden, who helped the Development Academy team reach the College Cup final this year, has already scored a couple of tries on the wing for the Rhinos Under-18s.

The Development Academy’s professional set-up has improved my game

He said: “It’s a good feeling scoring for the Rhinos and hearing the crowd there cheering you on and getting behind you really drives you on.

I played for Milford from a young age up until last year, when I moved into the Rhinos Academy and also played for the Development Academy team, which was great.

“I got to my first ever final and, although we didn’t get the result we needed, to play in my first final at Headingley was a special experience. Everything about the Development Academy is so professional and it’s good because you’re playing in a different environment from your club team, with a different set of mates.

“Some of those lads have never played competitively before so it’s a really good grounding and you definitely learn a lot from the coaches, which helps improve your game.

Kyden, who is studying a level 2 Fitness Instructing (gym) course, is determined to now push on and reach the very top level of his sport.

He added: “Hopefully if I keep working hard then eventually I’ll reach the first team, because that’s the next goal I want to achieve with the club.”

The Development Academy is part of Leeds Sports Connect, which offers quality education and training through a link between Leeds City College and Leeds Sixth Form College and a number of local, professional sports clubs.

Deputy Principal of Leeds Sixth Form College, Ryan Grant, said: “The Development Academy team has had a fantastic year and to see another of their players sign up with the Rhinos is testament to that.

“Kyden has thoroughly earned this opportunity and we’re confident he will achieve great things as he pushes on to the next level.

“Making amazing opportunities like this achievable is the driving force behind the development academy, and Leeds Sports Connect – so it is really rewarding to see student-athletes like Kyden take their chance.

“We’re really proud of him!”

To learn more about the Leeds Rhinos Foundation’s Development Academy click here.