The sixth form is good. Strong and effective leadership in this area means teaching over time is effective in securing good outcomes for pupils. Meaningful information and honest advice and guidance means that pupils select courses appropriate to their need, ability and aspiration.
Leadership and management of the sixth form are highly effective. Leaders monitor and analyse assessment information in a clear and succinct way. The school’s evaluation of the sixth form is accurate: leaders know which subject areas need to improve and have appropriate strategies in place to improve them.
The curriculum covers a wide range of academic subjects and an increasing number of vocational courses that meet the needs of individuals well. It has grown in size steadily since the last inspection and rates of retention are stable, with the large majority of pupils continuing into Year 13.
Strong subject knowledge of staff coupled with high expectations underpins effective teaching in the sixth form. Planning develops analytical skills, and encourages pupils to synthesise information. Pupils value the frequent assessment and feedback from teachers, and they are clear about what they need to do to develop their learning further.
Historical information about outcomes in the sixth form shows positive progress. Achievement in vocational courses is particularly strong. The provisional assessment information for 2015 indicates a slight fall in levels of achievement in academic subjects. These are now broadly in line with national averages. This provisional information also shows gaps in the performance of disadvantaged pupils in relation to their peers to be marginal and limited only to the academic courses: there are no gaps in the vocational part of the curriculum.
At A level, English literature and mathematics are both popular and perform equally well. A very small number of pupils retake GCSE English or mathematics. Success rates in English are significantly stronger than in mathematics. The school has identified the need to eradicate this inconsistency and has now tripled the curriculum time for the teaching of GCSE mathematics in the sixth form.
A broad range of activities is effective in preparing pupils for the next steps in their education or careers. Detailed guidance on higher education means the very large majority of the sixth form go on to university, and the ‘think forward’ programme is successful in ensuring that all other pupils progress into employment or training. This year, the school aims to expand its programme of work experience to include all Year 12 pupils.
Pupils speak highly of the support they receive from the school and individual teachers. They value the wide range of activities available to them, including those related to sport and the arts. They link the relatively small size of the sixth form to the personalised support and care they receive. They can readily identify risk and know how to keep themselves safe.