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Welcome to Birkdale School


As you contemplate the prospect of entering the Sixth Form in September, you will realize that this is a highly significant and exciting moment in your school career. It is the final step en route to university or to some other form of higher education; at the same time you will be occupying a position of status within the School which affords the opportunity of fulfilling an influential leadership role.

This is the stage when you can concentrate on a few subjects that you have chosen to study, while being taught in smaller groups and in a more informal style than you have experienced up to now. Most students take four subjects initially with a view to taking three subjects on to A level.

You will be given more responsibility for the organisation of your time and of your work, acknowledging your increased level of maturity and preparing you for still greater independence once you have left school. The co-educational environment in itself enriches the Sixth Form experience. A wide range of extra-curricular activities offer the chance to develop skills and new interests.

The Grayson Sixth Form Centre at Birkdale incorporates working and recreational facilities to help you benefit from your two years in the Sixth Form. You will find that plenty of sound advice and support is available to you when you need it, including, of course, expert guidance when decisions have to be made (as they soon will) about the future. There will be much hard work to be done as you aim towards what may well be a challenging set of A level grades, but I am sure that you will greatly enjoy your Sixth Form career.

We look forward to welcoming you into the Birkdale Sixth Form.


Paul Owen

Head Master

About us


Embarking on a Sixth Form career marks a milestone both academically and personally. New challenges lie ahead and these are accompanied by a series of privileges and responsibilities.

During the next two years, staff hope to encourage each Sixth Former:

To achieve their personal best academically.

To establish a clear goal for life beyond school. In most cases this will be a place in Higher Education; for some it may be an opportunity to broaden their horizons with a GAP year, embark on an Apprenticeship or a career in employment.

To develop their potential as an individual; to grow in confidence, maturity and wisdom and be better equipped to face life as an independent young adult.

To take, where possible, a leadership role and assist staff in the smooth running of the school.

To maximise their involvement in extra-curricular activities and play a part in shaping the life of the Birkdale community.


Sixth Formers will be expected to work hard and meet deadlines, increasingly taking responsibility for their own learning. Staff will be keen to build a new partnership with students based on a commitment to academic success and the support needed to achieve it.

Underpinning this, more open discussion is encouraged where Sixth Formers can express their opinions and views. Staff are on hand to offer advice and to listen to individual needs. A greater flexibility of approach emerges out of this relationship of mutual trust and co-operation.

Sixth Formers are key members of the Birkdale community and are expected to set an example to younger members of the school. In return, they receive a number of privileges including the facilities offered by the Sixth Form Centre in the Grayson Building.

Academically, it is expected that students entering Birkdale’s Sixth Form will have achieved a minimum of 5 passes (A* to C/ 9 to 5) at GCSE, with at least 4 at grade B/grade 6 or higher; we would expect B/6 or higher GCSE grades in those subjects being studied to A level. A grade 6 is required to study A Level English and Mathematics, although a grade 7 is preferred in Mathematics. Prospective Further Mathematicians should achieve a grade 7 in GCSE Mathematics although a grade 8 is preferred. However, at Birkdale we look beyond the academic and would wish applicants to become fully involved in the life of the school, offering their skills and abilities in one or more of a number of areas (e.g. drama, sport, music, clubs and societies, etc).

Facilities available


A Level Structure

Following the government’s reforms, from September 2017 all A Level courses are linear with all assessment being made at the end of two years of study.

Choosing a programme of study

The Sixth Form provides an opportunity for post-16 students to continue more of the subjects they have studied up to 16 and/or to commence some new ones. The choice of contrasting A levels – say, English for Science students or Mathematics for Humanities students – will be of particular value in broadening the range of subjects studied. Studying complementary A levels – Computing for Science students, for example – offers opportunities for broadening a particular area of study. A key factor in your decision-making should be to play to your academic strengths to ensure success at A level.

The number of subjects studied by students is flexible. Each subject is taught for eight periods per week.

Most Sixth Form students will study three subjects to A Level (those taking Further Mathematics will study four A Levels). At the start of the L6 year it will be possible for students to select four subjects with a view to identifying their chosen three by the end of the Christmas term. This will allow students to make a better informed judgement about the most suitable subjects for them. It is important to note that as a result of the linear course structure, and in the absence of AS examinations, students will be expected to sit an internal exam in each of their subjects at the end of the L6 year in order to demonstrate they have made sufficient progress to ensure success at A Level.


To complement academic study, there is a comprehensive Enrichment programme which will provide students with the chance to cover a range of skills, values and practical experience to enhance their learning and equip them for life beyond school. Across four terms from January of Lower Sixth to Easter of U6th pupils will be able to select courses which will help them to develop the following skills and values:

  • Skills for the future (to include: Life Skills and Creative Expression: Art History, Creative Marketing, Music Appreciation, Photography or Theatrecraft)
  • Leadership/Responsibility (e.g. Sports leader Award, House activities, 6th Form Committee)
  • Independent Learning (e.g. Study Skills; London Research, etc.)
  • Citizenship (Politics/Democracy, Environmental Stewardship, Charities Work)
  • Preparing for Work/Higher Education (Higher Education & Post-18 Planning/Work Experience/Gap Years, PSHE, Admissions tests, etc.)

In addition to the above all pupils will be able to undertake an Extended Project Qualification to complete a piece of independent research of their own choosing, if they wish. Beyond the curriculum there are also a large number of extracurricular opportunities for pupils to get involved with including Sport, Music, Drama, Gold Duke of Edinburgh Award, Community Action and many more

Choosing the Right Course

Provisional choices of subjects will be sought in the Easter Term of the Fifth Form/Year 11, and the timetable will be constructed to accommodate subject options. Consultation with potential Sixth Formers and parents will ensure that the choice of subjects is in Sixth Formers’ best interests, bearing in mind career requirements and those of University entrance. Birkdale does not have a rigid blocking system this allows timetabling of courses tailored to the individual needs of our students.

The choice of a suitable combination of A Level subjects requires consideration of a number of points, including the following:

  1. Breadth and Balance

    A mixed selection of Arts and Science subjects is often satisfying educationally. However, certain University courses require certain combinations of subjects, and guidance is available.

    Academic Requirement

  2. A level study is more demanding than GCSE, therefore a minimum grade of B at GCSE is an important pre-requisite for study in that subject. The following subjects can be studied at A level without a prior qualification at GCSE: Business Studies, Classical Civilisation, Computing, Design Technology: Graphics, Drama & Theatre Studies, Economics, Government & Politics, History, Psychology, Physical Education and Religious Studies.

    Career Aspirations

  3. If you have a particular career in mind, it would be useful to research subject requirements at this stage.

    Availability of A Level Subjects

    The contents page contains a list of available A Level subjects. Further details of each subject are given later in this handbook.

Additional support


The Sixth Form Team

Mrs Parsons as Head of Sixth Form has academic and pastoral oversight of the Sixth Form. She is supported by two Assistant Heads of Sixth Form, Mrs Pickford and Mr Jones who each have particular responsibility for one year group. They lead a team of fourteen experienced Form Tutors and two Pastoral Assistants.

Form Tutor Systems

In order to provide careful counselling and guidance, students are allocated to small tutor groups under the supervision of a Form Tutor. Daily contact at registration, weekly Form meetings and regular contact in the classroom allow tutors to establish a close relationship with tutees and to provide a programme of pastoral support. Early in the Lower Sixth emphasis is placed on study skills. During the Easter and Summer terms Form Tutors offer guidance in applying to Higher Education. This culminates in the preparation of the first draft of their tutees’ UCAS reference.

The Sixth Form leadership team support Form Tutors by seeing all members of both year groups regularly. Early in the Christmas term of the Lower Sixth there is an opportunity for parents to meet Form Tutors and discuss a range of issues related to life in the Sixth Form.

Assessment and Target Setting

At approximately half-termly intervals the academic progress of each student is assessed in terms of effort and attainment, and grades are published via BirkdalePost to both parents and students. If we are concerned that a Sixth Former is experiencing difficulty with any subject, discussions will be arranged with Subject Tutors, the student and parents in order to remedy the situation.

Planning for Higher Education and Careers

From the age of 14 students at Birkdale receive group tuition and individual counselling to enable them to make informed option choices and post-GCSE decisions with smooth transitions at both stages.

At Sixth Form level careers guidance becomes even more personalised. The students have access at all times to the Careers/ICT facilities in the Grayson building, which include a host of reference books and University prospectuses. They may also use the careers guidance programmes, Kudos, Discourse and Ecctis. Individual counselling and advice are available from the Head of Careers, Form Tutors, Assistant Heads of Sixth Form, and Mrs Parsons who co-ordinates and oversees the UCAS/HE process.

In the Lower Sixth students have to make important decisions about their future. At a time of increasing competition for entry to both Higher Education and employment, all options have to be carefully researched and applications have to be planned ready to be put into action by the beginning of the Upper sixth year. To assist them in their final choices there is a well-defined sequence of events.


Learner success


Birkdale’s Sixth Form comprises about 100 pupils in each of the two year groups. Places are therefore limited. The application procedure for new pupils to the school and for pupils already studying at Birkdale, whilst similar, differs in some important respects. Both procedures are outlined below.


Whenever a potential pupil expresses an interest in coming to Birkdale, a pack of information is delivered and a tour of the school, with a current member of the Sixth Form, is arranged. The pupil also has an informal chat with the Head of Sixth Form and the Head Master. This process helps clarify to the pupil whether or not Birkdale is the right school for them. It may, therefore, lead to the submission of a Sixth Form Application form. It is preferable for applications to be received before Easter 2018 in order to allow greater flexibility of subject choice.

Whilst the tour and submission of application form can happen at any time, the following events occur at certain fixed times in the year:

  • Open Evening Tuesday 14 November 2017

An opportunity for parents and pupils to see the facilities available to Sixth Form students and to gain a taste of what A level study is like in subjects in which they are interested.

  • Examination for Scholarships & Bursaries Saturday 20 January 2018

Birkdale offers a number of scholarships for academically able pupils. Music scholarships are decided at a later date. A limited number of bursaries are available to enable pupils who would benefit from being members of Birkdale’s Sixth Form but who would otherwise be prevented on financial grounds. Some bursaries may be available at a later date. Further details of both scholarships and bursaries can be found in a separate booklet.

  • Taster Day February/March 2018

Taster Days are arranged as necessary in order to give an opportunity to experience what life at Birkdale is like by attending lessons and chatting with current Sixth Formers on a range of issues.

  • Option of further discussion of A level subject choices

The Head and Assistant Heads of Sixth Form are available to help pupils refine their choices of A level subjects.

  • 6th Form Induction Course 9-12 July 2018

Not to be missed! See below for details.

  • Post GCSE Interviews August 2018

See below for details.


  • 6th Form Handbook October 2017

Sessions are organised in Form Periods to issue the handbook, explain how to make the most of Open Evening and to introduce some of the subjects offered at A level that were unavailable at GCSE.

  • Open Evening Tuesday 14 November 2017

An opportunity for parents and pupils to see the facilities available to Sixth Form students and to gain a taste of what A level study is like in subjects in which they are interested.

  • Straw Poll of likely A level subjects January 2018

A first opportunity to indicate A level subject choices.

  • Scholarship Examination Day Saturday 20 January 2018
  • 6th Form Interviews February/March 2018

Each pupil has an interview with a member of Senior Staff to further refine A level subject choices in the light of mock examination results and career ideas.

  • Completion of Sixth Form Application form Easter 2018

Completed forms to be handed to the Director of Studies. Option blocks are formed on the information contained in these forms, so it is important to identify preferences as requested.

  • 6th Form Induction Course 9-12 July 2018

See below for details.

  • Post GCSE Interviews August 2018

See below for details.

Sixth Form Induction Course

All potential students who are interested in joining Birkdale’s Sixth Form are required to attend an Induction Course at the end of the Summer Term. The programme has been developed to give students an opportunity to sample life in the Sixth Form, and to spend some time investigating the courses which have been chosen for A level.

  • A level classes give a flavour of the way subjects develop beyond GCSE. Some teachers suggest background reading matter to prepare for a crisp start in September. Others encourage serious thought about coursework.
  • There are further opportunities for one-to-one guidance on A level subject choice.
  • There is time to learn about the successful Young Enterprise scheme, the Community Action initiative and a variety of clubs and societies.
  • Also included in the programme is input about Higher Education and Sixth Form life.

The Induction Course provides a valuable introduction to the Birkdale Sixth Form. Participants appreciate the opportunity to get to know their new peers before the start of the Christmas Term.

Post GCSE Interviews — The Final Choice

Interviews with Senior Staff are arranged after the publication of GCSE results. These interviews allow final discussion of the subjects to be studied. Subject to timetabling and number constraints, changes to subject choice are still possible at this late stage.


How to apply

You can apply for courses at Birkdale School through UCAS Progress. Add courses to your favourites to apply to this provider.

Last updated date: 26 October 2017

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