Imagine S6 – an evolving post

Following on from my Reverse Engineering post here goes at my first draft at imagining an S6 curriculum.

This will be a different kind of post as I will publish it as it goes, i.e. THIS POST IS NOT YET COMPLETE

Purpose of Sixth Year

It will be important to see the purpose of sixth year as fitting within the overall purpose of A Curriculum for Excellence. Nevertheless, it will have some distinctive features which make it a worthwhile experience in it’s own right. It is also important to recognise that much of what students are offered in sixth year will be based upon the knowledge, skills and attitudes which  will have been developed in the preceding years.

There is a need to blur the line between school and higher education where a young person can gain additional qualifications which will enhance their employability, gain experiences which will enhance their employability, gain qualifications which will give them entry to university, and gain qualifications which allow them to follow develop areas of personal interest.

Some students will be combining vocational qualifications with serial work experience and college placement.

Exit points

Sixth year should not be seen as the most appropriate end point for every child who enters secondary education.  As described above it will have a strong academic emphasis from which students are likely to enter further or higher education. Leaving school before sixth year should be not be seen as an inferior route.

Where?

Sixth year students in East Lothian will become members of a sixth form campus -which will exist in a real and virtual sense.  The campus will include every secondary school in East Lothian, Queen Margaret University and Jewel and Esk Valley College and the community and locality within East Lothian. A student’s curriculum will be delivered within that campus. It will be important to conceptualise a student’s study programme to be very different from a traditional sixth year pupil’s timetable. 

Personalisation and Flexibility

The S4 – S6 phase should be considered as a single cohort as opposed to separate year groups. Students will have access to any course on offer in the senior phase and can construct their own study programme according to their needs and abilities.

A Programme of Study

A programme of study might be composed of a mix of the following:

  1. a  student may spend only a small part of their time in their base school;
  2. a student’s programme of study will extend beyond the normal confines of a school day and week;
  3. employment will form a part of their programme;
  4. courses might be delivered in a much more compressed period of time;
  5. many courses will be delivered through a virtual learning environment – some of which will be supported by workshops, seminars and weekly tutorials;
  6. baccalaureate courses will be a key element of the sixth year experience for many students. These courses will be delivered through the East Lothian Learning Campus.
  7. some students will undertake a formal internship with employers – perhaps for one or two days each week throughout the school year. These internships will be linked to preferred career routes.
  8. an alternative to, or in addition to work related internships, students may undertake formal voluntary service internships to support local community volunteer groups. There may some qualifications related to both of these internship experiences.

It might be possible for some students to engage in study for part of the year in another country by swapping with a “study partner”. Schools in other countries could be matched up with East Lothian Campus and students who are following similar courses could be linked together as “study partners”  – the academic year would be split inot three parts – the first term would involve the students corresponding and develpoing their link; the send term would involve one of the partners going to live and study with their partner; and the third term would involve this arrangement swapping over.

Some sixth year students may leave school at the end of December having sat their exams that month. This would give them a more significant  “gap” period before starting university.

School Responsibilities

Schools might have to rethink how they currently give responsibility to senior students, e.g prefects, etc. The change to “looking out” beyond the school to life opportunities beyond the school gates and school career might mean that the traditional responsibilities might be undertaken by younger students, e.g pre-S4.

Downsides

A lessening in the sense of attachment that students have for their particular school. One of the most  popular aspects of a sixth year experience is the sense of attachment and belonging that students have for their particular year group and school. Yet this very attachment can possibly reduce the capacity of students to operate independently.  The solution might be to try to balance these two competing elements of experience.

Attendance

Students only register at their classes – there is no school registratrion for S6 students.

Example Timetables

Here are three possible study programmes of sixth year students:

Maria

Maria gained five highers in S5 at Ross High School. She started her Higher courses in S4 and did not sit any exams below that level. She wants to study languages and law at university.

Her study programme is built around her Baccalaureate programme. She is spending one day a week working as an intern with an Edinburgh law company.  She has a study partner in Italy and she intends to spend the second term in Milan – she will maintain her studies via a VLE.  Her study partner will come back to Scotland for the third term. In addition to her Baccalaureate she is taking Higher Italian which is being taught by another teacher in East Lothian which she accesses via a video link with another East Lothian school (the six schools have matched timetables to allow such access).

Maria also attends Queen Margaret University for one a day a week to follow Baccalaureate courses and to experience university life.

Maria helps out in the school’s additional support needs class and participates in the East Lothian wide senior students’ health and well-being afternoon which offers an integrated and comprehensive programme of health and sprts related activities.  She meets her personal learning tutor at the school once a week in a one hour seminar session with fourteen other students.

She fulfills the four aspects of the curriculum as follows:

The ethos and life of the school as a community: Volunteering with ASN unit and representing the school at volleyball.

Curriculum areas and subjects: Higher Italian

Interdisciplinary projects and studies: Baccalaureate

Opportunities for personal acheivement: Internship; Bacc programme; County level representation at volleyball.

Hannah

When Hannah entered S4 she planned to leave school after that year and selected five courses at the level below Higher. However, she did so well in S4 that she decided to try to gain enough qualifications to gain entry to university after S6. She chose to study three Highers over S5 and S6 and to try for one Advanced Higher over the same period in her favourite subject – PE.  Hannah wants to be a PE teacher. Her learning programme in S6 is dominated by her subject studies but she still manages to undertake a work placement with the local council’s Sport and Leisure Department.

All of Hannah’s Highers are taught in school. Her Advanced Higher class is taught at a neighbouring school which she has to travel to over the lunch break. She attends the local further education college on a Friday afternoon to take a Certificate in Sports Coaching.

On a Friday mornings she is working through a self study programme to improve her numeracy.  The university have stipulated that candidates must reach a minimum level in numeracy before they can gain entry.

She fulfills the four aspects of the curriculum as follows:

The ethos and life of the school as a community: Hannah does lunch duty twice a week and coahes the S2 Hockey team which she supervises on a saturday morning. She is also on the Dance Committee which organises all the various school dances

Curriculum areas and subjects: Higher English, Higher Business Management, Higher Art and Design and Advanced Higher PE.

Interdisciplinary projects and studies: Numeracy programme – one of the key parts of this assessment is a project in which she has to demonstrate a facility to use and apply numbers. Hannah is undertaking analysing a statistical analysis of game stats for her S2 Hockey team and a data review of their fitness levels.

Opportunities for personal achievement: Work Placement; Sports certificate; coaching S2; Hannah is a star of the school show and hopes to audition for a lead role in this years school production.

Toby

Toby has some learning difficulties which make him quite vulnerable.  He finds the school environment very secure and his parents did not want him to leave.  He would like to work in the building industry.

Toby did not reach the minimum levels of literacy or numeracy when he was assessed at the end of S3.  His learning programme in S4 and S5 focused upon improving these areas and he has now reached the minimum level in numeracy and surpassed that level in literacy.  Both Literacy and Numeracy feature as key parts of the employability programme which Toby has been working on for three years.  The employability programme has involved a three way partnership between the school, Jewel and Esk Valley College and a local building company.  Toby started long term work experience with this company in S3 and has now extended this to two days each week.  The company have placed him on a apprenticeship as a joiner.

More to follow………..

 

 

 MARIA

1

 

2

 

3

Monday

 Internship – Edinburgh

 Internship – Edinburgh

 Internship – Edinburgh

Tuesday

 QMU Bacc programme

 

 QMU Bacc programme

 QMU study

Wednesday

 Meet with personal learning tutor to review the week and to plan ahead.

 Higher Italian

 Health and Well Being AfternoonDance/Swimming

Thursday

 Volunteering Helping  students with additional support needs

 Bacc programme – school based

 Higher Italian 

Friday

 Bacc programme – another school

 

 Home study

 part-time job

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

 HANNAH

 

1

 

2

3

Monday

  Work Placement 

Work Placement

 Work Placement

Tuesday

 

Higher English 

 Higher Business     Management

 

 Advanced Higher PE

Wednesday

 Meet with personal learning tutor to review the week and to plan ahead.

 Higher English

 Health and Well Being

Thursday

Higher Art and Design 

 Higher Business Management

 Advanced Higher PE

Friday

Numeracy Programme 

 Higher Art and Design

 Attends College for Sports Coaching Certificate

       

 TOBY

 

1

 

2

3

Monday

 Work Placement

 Work placement

 Work Placement

Tuesday

 

Work Placement 

 Work Placement

 

 Work Placement

Wednesday

 Meet with personal learning tutor to review the week and to plan ahead.

 Numeracy

 Health and Well Being Afternoon

Thursday

Volunteering 

 Literacy

 College

Friday

 

Numeracy

 Literacy

 College

 

3 thoughts on “Imagine S6 – an evolving post

  1. What data do you have about pupil’s S6 experience?
    What are the retention rates (during the year) and how do you measure success?
    How flexible is your model to alternate aspirations?
    Last thought – if a year of undergraduate study is equivalent to 1200 hours of effort and a school pupil has 1072.5 hours of class contact, how much time will they spend in 6th year?

  2. Kenneth

    I don’t think the questions should be about the S6 experience – but rather about whether or not such students are ready for university life, i.e. are high drop out rates at university due to a faiure ot prepare young people properly for that independent learning experience?

    Hopefully the other two model programmes will demonstrate some of the flexibility I have in mind.

    Sorry to bounce a question back about class contact but how much of the 1200 hours of an undergraduate’s year is spent in class contact?

  3. If I put myself in my own shoes as a sixth former, I’d think I would have loved the flexibility offered by your ideas Don. And now as a teacher I also see the benefits of providing a transitional year at this stage if development. The pupils would be much more motivated when in class I reckon.

    There are, however, the obvious timetabling, traveling and communication/coordination issues!

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