A level Curriculum

A level Subjects

The University of Birmingham School offers a traditional academic curriculum in the Sixth Form; we want our students to have the widest range of options when they consider their next steps into employment or higher education so our curriculum is based around the 'Facilitating Subjects' recommended by the Russell Group of leading UK universities. These are outlined in the Informed Choices guide which includes advice on the best subject combinations for a wide range of university courses, as well as advice on the best choices if you don’t know what you want to study after school and need to keep your options open. We recommend all potential applicants read this useful guide.

At A Level, you have the choice of humanities subjects including Art, English Literature, Geography, French, History, Music and Religious Studies, and more science and technology based subjects such as Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Product Design, Mathematics, Further Mathematics and Physics. Each A Level course is led by experienced subject specialists, supported by a team of well qualified teachers and talented trainees and utilises our links to the relevant University departments.

Students are required to study at least four AS Levels and at least three A levels, and receive nine hours of tuition per fortnight in their subjects. In addition there are subject specific sessions for development, including dissection master classes in Biology and conversational workshops with native speakers in French. All students will sit AS examinations in their four subjects in May/June of Year 12. All A level subjects will continue to be taught in Year 13, enabling students to choose openly which three subjects to continue studying, provided they achieve a minimum of a pass grade in their AS examination. If you do extremely well in your AS examinations it will be possible for you to continue with all four subjects at A level. 

If you are interested in studying a subject that is not currently on offer at the University of Birmingham School, please do get in touch with us. We are keen to discuss with you what alternative subject choices we can offer to help you achieve your long term goals. There are also extensive opportunities available to use the resources of the University of Birmingham to nurture your current interests alongside the academic curriculum, which could include access to sports and cultural facilities and training, guest lectures or workshop programmes in different subjects, or involvement in clubs and societies.

Independent study

Otherwise known as homework, independent study plays an important role in our School. There is always be a purpose to the work that we set and, whatever year you are in, self-directed learning, research and preparatory work plays a critical role in your development and in enabling you to fulfill your potential.

We recognise that this sort of self discipline does not come naturally to everyone. At the start of Year 12, we focus on building the study skills required to excel at A Level. As students' time at Sixth Form continues this will evolve into the development of research and personal skills which will support a successful and confident start at university.

To make sure everyone has the right environment to study effectively, our School building remains open until 6pm to support those who would like to complete their homework in School, and have access to one of our ICT suites, our dedicated Sixth Form centre, or our peaceful Library.

Assessment, Targets and Support

At the start of Year 12, all students undertake a baseline assessment test online. The results of this, coupled with your GCSE grades are used to help predict your Minimum Expected Grades at AS and A level. Our pastoral support and Sixth Form mentoring system provides a minimum of two opportunities a year for students to formally meet with their Form Tutor to review progress and express concerns.  These interviews can be used to give practical support, set targets and agree improvement strategies. These interviews are recorded for later review by both student and Form Tutor. All students are actively encouraged to seek help and advice from their form and subject tutors throughout their time in the Sixth Form. For any Year 12 student who struggles with any aspects of a subject, we are able to offer a link to a peer subject mentor undergraduate who will be able to offer support and advice.

Examinations and Reporting to Parents/Carers

All Year 12 students are internally assessed students half-termly and results will be made available to parents/carers.  An annual Parents’ Evening is held in December. The intention at this evening is to monitor and discuss students’ initial approach to AS levels and to the School. Parents of any students who give cause for concern will be invited to meet with the Head of sixth From to agree a programme of support at school. 

The majority of students will be successful at AS level and progress easily into Year 13 to complete their chosen three subjects at A levels. However, it should be noted that this is not guaranteed; we expect that all students should achieve a minimum of a pass grade in the three AS subjects they wish to continue at A level. Where students under perform, it may not be feasible that they continue studying to A level and they may not be allowed to progress into Year 13.

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