Sixth Year – some alternatives

Following on from my recent post on Sixth Year here are some possibilities:

Highers (two-year programme) or direct route Advanced Highers are taken in Sixth Year and not fifth.

Offer an International Baccalaureate (16-19) for students who wish to undertake such study – one term of which is completed abroad – or perhaps something more akin to the Welsh Bac

Work experience – or internship (thanks Steven Heppell) – is built into the year – up to 30% of available time.

One month in the year can be taken as a travel time where the student is encouraged to travel in the UK or Europe.

Subjects are blocked into intense periods of study – you could complete a Higher course in six weeks.

All classes have at least 25% of adults present in class

Our schools specialise in particular subjects – we create an East Lothian Campus – pupils can move between schools.

All students are required to complete a personal on-line project which they will submit as part of their portfolio for future employment or education.

It is not compulsory for students to attend lectures/classes – they design the learning programme for themselves – on-line/lecture/ seminar/one-to-one/group study and fit it round their own personal learning programnme for the year.

We link the year to the four capacities identified within A Curriculum for Excellence: successful learners; responsible citizens; effective contributors; and confident individuals. Students have to plan, “collect” and record experiences which relate to the four capacities.

All students must spend the equivalent of 30 hours working for local voluntary services.

Schools link with a university to enable students to complete some of their studies in the university environment.

Students are grouped into “learning cells” who design their own curriculum and negotiate with teachers about the learning programme and monitor and support each others progress.

All students must undertake a “personal challenge” over the course of the year – something which requires planning, commitment and extends them beyond their existing comfort zone.

Language immersion programme – all subjects are taught in selected language.

Virtual learning groups are established within East Lothian where students with a common interest work together on-line in a particular area of study.

All students have a community mentor/buddy who works with them to support them in their studies and transition from school.

A proportion of  jobs in the school are kept open for students to be paid to formally support the learning process of other pupils – 3 jobs (one day per week) could make up 15 Days employment.

Local employers sponsor some students through their studies and devise joint programmes of study.

“Scholarships” are awarded to some students who have exceptional ability in certain areas of the curriculum to specialise on their own development, e.g sport, art, dance, science, business etc.

The year includes a series of “challenges” akin to Dragon’s Den/Apprentice etc which the students must undertake individidually and in groups.  “Challenges” can be linked to formal elements of the curriculum.

Parental week – for one week in the year a parent joins their child and shares and supports their learning experiences.

I’m sure there will be more but that will do for now!

4 thoughts on “Sixth Year – some alternatives

  1. wow – a lot of ideas! For me the three concepts which stand out are getting in some work experience, and travelling (abroad?) which is supported by an individual learning plan.

    Work experience? Allowing teenagers to gain a wider perspective of options open for them. Perhaps confirm what they already want to do?

    Travelling? A holistic way of maturing, offering opportunities for those who would otherwise be unable to travel. This is a transitional time and an opportunity to see the wider world in a supportive educational environment, in my opinion would be excellent.

    Individual Learning? I couldn’t really comment on the in’s and out’s of this, but it makes sense as teenagers are branching out and wanting to do things for themselves.

    If I had been offered some of the things that you’re suggesting – perhaps I would have stayed on!

  2. I love this. The notion of an East Lothian campus is great, and I like the ideas promoting travelling and community work. In fact, I would love to see the community / voluntary work as young as S4….

  3. There are some great ideas in there and I am sure most 6th years would be able to find something that they were motivated to do! If this develops I would encourage you to include some way of recognising and evaluating the experience in any of those activities. Young people setting out in the world – into further or higher education or work – will be challenged to “sell” their talents, skills and experiences and rather than scratching around for something to include in a personal statement or CV at a later date this could build into a “work in progress”.

  4. Some very interesting ideas here Don. I’m looking forward to working with you to move this forward. The virtual learning is an interesting point. I recall using WebCT in the past as a tool for sharing ideas and working collaboratively with other students.

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