New Sixth Form facility

In 2019, the School embarked on a project to refresh and remodel our Sixth Form provision to respond to the changing nature of the career landscape. We looked at how we could prepare our Sixth form students to best navigate the world of today to achieve their dreams and aspirations in the ever-changing world of work.

It has long been the view – particularly in the independent sector – that, if you have a bright and academically able child, they should aim for a place at a good university, ideally Russell Group or Oxbridge. Other post school options, such as apprenticeships, are often viewed as an option for those who are perhaps not as academically talented who might not “get in” to a good university. A useful option – “just not for my child”. This is changing.

A growing number of blue-chip companies, such as JP Morgan and the Dyson Institute, are offering degree apprenticeships – enabling young people to work for a top-end organization and earn a salary alongside obtaining a degree. These companies are targeting the brightest and the best that schools have to offer and it will soon be the case that the competition to get onto quality apprenticeship schemes will be just as fierce as the competition for a place at a Russell Group universities.  Other high-end companies, such as Apple, Google, IBM and Ernst & Young, are no longer necessarily requiring university degrees. A good set of A-levels or a university degree no longer guarantee a seamless and successful entry into the workplace. Employers are seeking much more; industry experience, outside the box thinking, something that differentiates you from the rest of the competition.

At Woodhouse Grove, we have created a Sixth Form Pathways Programme that offers pupils a diversity of pathways and a Life Skills Programme, giving them the opportunity to shape their experience and to support different career directions. Whether this is selecting the traditional A-level route, opting for 60 days industry experience with one of our Grove Business Partners or a combination of these options; our Pathways Programme will allow students to tailor their learning based on their individual strengths and passions. Our Sixth Form Pathways Programme may lead students directly to university, straight into a career or into an apprenticeship opportunity.

We want the Grove community to be aware of all the routes open to them – the new and the more traditional. At the Grove, we are rightly proud of our heritage – but we are not tied to the old ways. We are receptive to new ideas and will always have the best interests of our young people as our priority.

Once Covid restrictions finished and our Pathways Programme was up and running in its entirety, it became apparent that our current Sixth Form provision – comprising a common room, study areas and a café – required enhancing updating to better match our new offering. We have therefore put in planning permission to utilise a currently unused area of the School to build a brand new, state-of-the-art Sixth Form facility that will meet the needs of all our students, whatever pathway they are on. The new facility will include more seminar rooms for use when our Business Partners deliver career talks, increased space for individual and collaborative working and integrated technology for the live streaming of topical issues – and, of course, the now ubiquitous Zoom calls! Elements of the space will have a much more corporate feel – preparing our students for life after Woodhouse Grove. The plans are at concept stage and we do not have a defined timeline yet; although, we do hope that the Centre will be fully operational within the academic year 2023-2024.  The Telegraph & Argus has picked up on our planning application and has run an article on our Sixth Form provision.

As parents, you chose the Grove because you embrace our forward-thinking and all-round approach to education. You have selected a school that can offer your children so much more than just exam results. This post is a heads up to make you aware of the wave of change that is coming for school leavers and to reassure you that the Grove is already well prepared, with a Sixth Form offering in place that is unique in its flexibility to accommodate all students, and a new facility which will support our vision.