Frequently Asked Questions

What is the ethos of the Sixth Form?

Sixth Formers are treated like adults in a mature environment to help prepare them for the next stage in their academic careers. Students are given independence and a degree of freedom, but, in return, we ask that they conduct themselves as adults. Sixth Formers are given privileges not available to other pupils and they are, in the main, governed by the same professional standards which apply to teaching staff.

Is there a uniform?

No but we expected students to dress appropriately. Raines students are expected to dress in a manner appropriate to a purposeful, safe, secure and diverse sixth form. Whilst we recognise that self expression is part of being an emerging adult, items of dress that may reasonably be expected to cause offence to any member of the school community, such as T-shirts bearing inappropriate languages or images, or particularly revealing items of clothing, are not allowed to be worn

I am not sure whether to stay at school or go to College. Should I still apply?

Yes. It is better to apply to all of the places you may consider, than not to. It is far easier to withdraw from a location than to be ‘added in’ as an additional student when classes may already be full.

How is the day structured?

The Sixth Form day will follow the same structure as the rest of the Upper School, with six periods of potential teaching time and a register take in every lesson.

Will I be able to go to university with Applied and BTEC qualifications?

Yes. Most university courses are accessible from BTEC Extended Diploma and CACHE Diploma courses. There are a few exceptions, for example Medicine and related courses, where high GCSE and A Level grades are required.

If I start an A Level and don’t like it can I drop it?

You are advised to think carefully about your choice because subject change is not usually advisable and may not be possible once lessons have started. In any event, you must continue to study a full A level programme. Students can change subjects within the first month of starting the course.

What are universities looking for?

Universities look for students who not only have good grades, but grades in the right subjects for the course they want to apply for. For those that know what they want to study at university, now is the time to think about choosing subjects which give the best possible preparation for the chosen degree course. If no decision has yet been made on what to study at university, it is important to choose subjects which will leave as many options open as possible.


Many courses at university build on knowledge and skills which students gain while still at school. For this reason, some university courses require a particular subject to have been studied already. For example, for general engineering degrees, mathematics and physics are typically essential A Level qualifications.


Some advanced level subjects are more frequently required for entry to degree courses than others. These are called ‘facilitating’ subjects because choosing them at advanced level leaves open a wide range of options for university study. These facilitating subjects are:


  • Biology Chemistry • English literature • Geography • History • Physics • Modern languages • Maths and Further Maths


For those who do not know what they want to study at university then it is a really good ‘rule of thumb’ that taking two facilitating subjects will keep a wide range of degree courses open.

Are applied and BTEC courses easier than A-levels?

No. They have different demands. For applied courses you need to be able to organise yourself to complete coursework assignments to deadlines. In many courses you also need to be able to work well with others.

What happens if my GCSE results do not meet my expectations?

If you are holding an offer to come to The Sixth Form College,  Raines we will write to you in July/August and invite you to come in and enrol in late August or early September, after GCSE results are known. If you do not get the grades you need, come in and see us anyway. We will talk your options through with you and will treat each case on its own merits. You should have at least a grade 4 or C grade in GCSE English Language or Mathematics, with at least a grade 3 or D grade in the other one. If you do have a grade 3 or D in one of these two key subjects, you will be required to re-take this GCSE in addition to your A level or BTEC.

Can students leave the premises during the day?

 Students are not required to be on the premises when they do not have lessons. Of course, we encourage all students to use their day productively and take advantage of the library and learning centre for private study. However, students are expected to be available for lessons or individual meetings at any time during the College day (8.35am – 3.05pm).

What are the entry requirements for an A-level programme?

For a 3 A Level programme, entry criteria are:

  • At least two B grades/grade 6s at GCSE
  • At least a further three C grades/grade 4s at GCSE
  • You should have at least a grade 4 or C grade in GCSE English Language or Mathematics, with at least a grade 3 or D grade in the other one. If you do have a grade 3 or D in one of these key subjects, you will be required to re-take this GCSE in addition to your A level studies.


For a 4 A Level programme, entry criteria are:

  • At least 5 A/A* grades or grade 7’s at GCSE
  • You should have at least a grade 4 or C grade in GCSE English Language and Mathematics.
  • Students picking Mathematics and Further Mathematics will need to get at least a grade 7 in GCSE Mathematics.


Please note that while most GCSE courses are grades A*-G, GCSE Mathematics and GCSE English Language and GCSE English Literature will be graded 9-1 (grade 9 being the top grade) from 2017 onwards. This is due to reforms being introduced nationwide by the Department of Education.  All GCSE courses will be graded by the new system in coming years, but for 2017, it will only be Mathematics and English that adopt this new grading system. If you sat your English and/or Maths exams before 2017, you will still be graded A*-G. Grade 4 is roughly equivalent to a C grade in the old system.

What combination of A-Level subjects can I study?

Almost any combination is possible because our timetable is very flexible. In the rare case that some subjects cannot be studied together, these are indicated in the individual course details in the Courses section. This can be discussed at interview.

What is the difference between A-level and applied courses?

A Level is mostly assessed by external exams, the amount of coursework is one-third or less in nearly all subjects. Our Applied courses are BTEC Extended Diplomas and CACHE Diplomas, which have a much higher coursework element. Please check the subject pages for specific details on coursework and exams.

How many A-levels can I take?

Most students taking A Levels choose 3 subjects and will commit to these courses for the full two years. This is because A levels have changed to become two-year linear courses (see A levels for more information). Our most able and ambitious of students (usually with at least five A/A* grades at GCSE) may wish to study four subjects at A Level. This will often include students who choose to study A Level Mathematics with Further Maths. Students must commit to four subjects for the full two years.

What are the bursaries and who can apply?

The Bursary Fund is a payment made to eligible students. The purpose of the Fund is to support students who may be at risk of leaving college due to financial hardship. Support may be given on assessment in a variety of ways, including support with travel costs, equipment, books and other course related costs. To receive regular support from the Fund, students must have 95% attendance and punctuality. Unsatisfactory effort and behaviour can result in the support being withdrawn for a period of time. An information pack which outlines the application process and lists the eligibility criteria is available from the sixth form manager.

I have studied AS levels at another sixth form, can I transfer to Raines Sixth Form to complete my A2 year?

We have a number of students who transfer to Raines from other school sixth forms and colleges, every year. Being able to transfer to us depends on which exam boards you are currently studying with, and the subject content that you have already covered during your AS year.


If you would like more information about this process, please call us on 0208 981 1231