Providing a broad, challenging and supportive environment for the study of A-Levels, Wellingborough School is ideal for every young person’s success. Choosing A-Level subjects is one of the most important decisions that a student will take and at Wellingborough School we believe in giving tailored support to every young person making this choice. Whether you are joining our Sixth Form from Year 11 or another school you will be given the opportunity to discuss your choices with members of staff who will help you make informed choices.
Our expectation is that students will study three A-Level subjects on entry to the Sixth Form. It is, however, possible for students to take four subjects if they wish to do so, providing they are able to maintain the required standard of work.
In addition, it is expected that students undertake some additional study, often in the form of an Extended Project (EPQ).
Annually we hold a Sixth Form Opening Evening during which time you will be able to speak to Heads of Department and subject teachers about the curriculum offered in the Sixth Form and your personal suitability for those courses.
We aim to have the flexibility to accommodate a wide breadth of subject choices, whilst ensuring that combinations which complement each other are always available for example, Maths, Physics and D & T, or English Literature, History and French.
At Sixth Form level students can decide to opt for Fine Art or Photography Graphics. Students have their own studio space where they can come and work during private study lessons, lunch breaks and after School. At A-Level they have six lessons per week. Students are expected to come to Art during two of their private study sessions per week.
Students who have taken Fine Art and Photography Graphics have been very successful in recent years, with many gaining 100% in both Coursework and Examination projects.
The Lower Sixth curriculum is concerned with the production of a portfolio of work which represents a year’s experimentation with different media, ideas and methods, which then develops into a final outcome.
In Fine Art, students will follow the theme through a series of taught workshops, introducing four main subject groups: Printmaking, Photography and Digital Imagery, Drawing and Painting, Felt-making and Textiles. Work from these areas may overlap. In Photography, workshops in Darkroom techniques, Photoshop and 3D Cinema, Studio Work and Animation will take place.
All the workshops are carefully taught, but pupils are then expected to develop personal responses to the theme, using the techniques learnt in each area. At the end of each workshop, a final piece is usually produced.
Final projects start in the Lower Sixth and the Upper Sixth year is very much more independent, with pupils choosing to specialise in a media, or on a theme, for the whole year, along with a 3,000 word essay. Students have a 15-hour examination, producing a major work in response to a question paper.
In recent years many students, who have studied Art/Photography at A-Level have gone on to degrees and careers in many Art related professions such as: Architecture, Fashion, Graphics, Fine Art, Gallery Curatorship, Computer Game Design and Product Design, Jewellery Design and many more.
Biology is a rapidly expanding science. It forms the basis of new and exciting fields of study, such as Biotechnology, Genetics and Ecology. Studying A-Level Biology will enable a student to follow one of these courses at university.
Pupils wishing to study Medicine, Dentistry or Veterinary Science may also take Biology as one of
their A-Level choices.
Biology is a natural Science, usually studied with other natural sciences, such as Chemistry and
Physics. However, there are no hard and fast rules about the combination of subjects. It can be
taken with Geography to form an environmental package, or indeed with any other subject that fits
the blocking. In other words, it can be taken as a subject in its own right.
In our increasingly competitive world you have to stand out from others. Of course experience matters as well, but if you can show potential employers you know the principles as well as the practice you will undoubtedly be a better practitioner and thereby more valuable to an employer. An advantage of a business course is the breadth of disciplines available to you: economics, strategy, finance, law, e-commerce, human resources, accounting and the list goes on. Most pupils start their A-Levels with little to no idea of what career they want. A business A-Level leads into many degrees and career paths suited to a range of people.
Business makes the world go round. In nearly every country in the world there is a business infrastructure. There are a huge number of pathways for someone studying business - from creating the next technology start-up company to managing a key team of pharmaceutical research scientists. Studying Business will give you a good understanding of how companies and organisations work and what the current business world is like.
Alongside your studies in the classroom you will have ample opportunities to develop your subject knowledge and skills through the range of extracurricular activities. As a Department we run and support a number of competitions which develop and challenge you in a number of ways. The Micro Tyco competition challenges you to use you entrepreneurial skills and return as much money as you can within a month from £1 of investment. The ICAEW Base competition gives you an opportunity to test your business knowledge and skills against competing schools and gain advice regarding the opportunities for accounting paths and careers. The Department also supports whole School related competitions and enrichments such as Young Enterprise and Shares4schools, which you can opt to choose as an extracurricular timetabled option. The Business Department runs a number of trips related to the course, which support the topics learnt within the classroom and help provide real life examples needed within your exams. Current visits include Jaguar Land Rover and Mini which are joint Business and D&T visits. We also look to run smaller more localised visits within lesson time to support different topic areas.
Chemistry is everywhere and chemical reactions are taking place all around you all the time; when you charge your phone, when you cook and eat, when you use cosmetic products…even when you breathe in! Chemistry is sometimes known as the "central science" because it helps to connect physical sciences, like Maths and Physics, with applied sciences, like Biology, Medicine and Engineering.
The A-Level Chemistry course will develop some of the topics you have studied at GCSE, such as atoms, bonding, calculations, rates of reaction and energy changes, as well as introduce new topics including transition metals, organic mechanisms and synthesis, redox reactions, thermodynamics and electrochemistry.
All Lower Sixth students have the opportunity to pursue areas of interest relevant to the Chemistry course through a research essay and participate in the C3L6 competition run by Cambridge University each year. All Sixth Form pupils have the opportunity to attend lecture days, which cover wide-ranging topics and give exposure to a number of different Chemistry related careers.
The Design & Technology specification at A-Level is designed to offer candidates opportunities to study, propose and realise prototype solutions to designing and making links to the real world of product design.
It offers candidates opportunities to acquire and demonstrate their own technological capabilities through the design and making of quality outcomes. The specification is designed to enable students to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of materials and processes.
The course aims to provide an opportunity for students to develop their own creativity, capability and entrepreneurial skills, apply knowledge and understanding to a range of technological activities and develop critical thinking and collaborative skills.
The political slogan ‘it’s the economy, stupid’ illustrates the central importance of a successful economy to peoples' opportunities, livelihoods and standards of living. We are all affected by the economy and the decisions that individuals, firms and the Government make on a daily basis, from the price of your weekly shop to the rate of exchange you get for your holiday abroad. The central question for any economy is to decide how to allocate the limited resources it has available. Should fracking be allowed in the UK? How best can we reduce congestion in our towns and cities? Is trade or aid best for helping the poorest nations of the world out of poverty? These examples illustrate some of the challenging questions that economists face and you will soon learn that the answers are just as complex with different views and opinions at every turn. This is what makes Economics such a fascinating subject to study. It gives you an understanding of the economic world around you and allows you to come to an informed judgement about the key economic issues of the day.
The Department encourages all pupils to extend their learning beyond the confines of the classroom. The Upper 6th attend an Economics Conference in London each December, always with an array of interesting speakers from the world of economic research, journalism and politics. In addition, the Department encourages wider reading around the subject with the FT being available online as well as the Economist magazine and other publications being available in the library. The library also provides a range of wider reading that can enhance learning in the classroom as well as supporting applications to university and other institutions. Other opportunities for extended learning include the Target 2.0 monetary policy competition, which the School now runs as part of the Sixth Form enrichment programme, whilst those thinking of applying for Economics or Economics related degrees are encouraged to enter the Royal Economic Society essay writing competition each year.
The study of English Language in the Sixth Form represents a significant departure from experiences of the subject to the end of GCSE. This is a creative and research-based course, which develops understanding of the many and varied aspects of the field of Linguistics and looks closely at the ways in which our Language works within society. We work with language data rather than texts, looking at the use of language, both spoken and written, and how it is significantly influenced by the various contexts in which it is produced and received. As well as having an opportunity to produce texts of their own, our pupils investigate such areas as the influence of Gender, Power and Technology on linguistic choices, as well as Child Language Acquisition and the many ways in which the language has changed during the last few centuries.
Individuals are encouraged to develop an investigative analytical eye for the uses of English in the world around them, in specialist as well as everyday contexts, to the point where they are moved to conduct linguistic investigations of their own, in whatever area they choose. This style of learning and testing their own hypotheses sets them up ideally for the challenges of working at university level. The course is a lot of fun; once you have experienced it, you will never see your Language in quite the same way.
This is a subject which expects you to think for yourself. It offers sixth formers an opportunity not only to extend their reading and their understanding of cultural inheritance, but also to develop a range of skills, in research, analysis and communication, which will set them up for the world of work, or of further study. We aim to give our pupils an opportunity to engage with the best of modern fiction, drama and poetry, to be aware of literary movement and debates, as well as to immerse them in the range of texts one would expect to see from the established literary cannon. In order to make the most of the experience as a whole, we endeavour to show them as many aspects as possible of the cultures within which literary texts are written and received.
This broader education usually takes us far beyond the classroom to other contexts. In recent terms, this has included a visit to Strawberry Hill House in Richmond to expand on our reading of Gothic texts, as well as building upon the many theatre visits made available to our pupils at IGCSE. Within the last year, we have seen 'Hamlet' at the Almeida in London and performed by the RSC in Stratford, a production of Ibsen's 'Hedda Gabler' at the National Theatre, and Alan Bennett's 'The History Boys' at the Playhouse Theatre, Northampton. We recently visited the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust Conference on contexts and criticism for 'Hamlet'. These visits are a vital part of what we do in Sixth Form because A-Level candidates need to be able to write about drama texts as theatre rather than simply as books.
Geography is a popular option at A Level. The subject continues with its division into ‘Physical’ and ‘Human’ units of study, but the synoptic nature of the discipline rewards pupils who can appreciate the interconnections between different aspects of Geography.
As a subject which complements both ‘sciences’ and ‘arts/humanities’ subjects, Geography enjoys a flexibility that appeals to employers, and allows pupils to keep their options open when looking at Higher Education and Careers. Taken with Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry or Biology, Geography supports applications for almost any science-based university course, such as engineering, environmental sciences, medicine, oceanography and geology. Taken with English, French, Business Studies, Economics, Politics or History, Geography supports an equally wide range of university courses, such as business, law, media, international relations and social studies.
Although many pupils will have had previous experience of the subject, it is not a requirement that pupils should have studied Geography at GCSE in order to take an A Level in the subject. What is more important is that pupils have a lively and enquiring mind, an interest in the environment and current affairs, a willingness to explore new ideas, and an ability to communicate their own ideas effectively.
Research forms a key part of studying Geography in the Sixth Form. The department has its own dedicated dual-purpose teaching and IT suite, containing 24-networked PCs. In addition, pupils have access to the department’s set of iPads, as well as the school’s Wi-Fi. A huge bank of electronic resources is available on the school network to facilitate in-depth research and independent learning. The department has also produced electronic books for pupils of A/A* ability, and these are available to download from Apple’s iBooks Store or Amazon’s Kindle Store.
Enrichment and fieldwork opportunities continue to be important features of the department’s work. A UK-based residential fieldtrip is compulsory for Lower Sixth pupils, while overseas trips take place in alternate years, the most recent trips being to Iceland and China. These trips have proved to be exceptionally popular, and valuable learning experiences for our Sixth Form Geography pupils, many recalling them as the highlight of their time at Wellingborough School!
History is of fundamental importance in helping you make sense of the world you live in today. It is not only a highly respected subject for those going on to study the arts and humanities but can also complement science based courses. History provides an excellent background for careers in politics, law, civil service, government, journalism, marketing, accountancy and business, amongst many others. Employers value History graduates as they have an excellent ability to use facts selectively, create coherent arguments, organise complex information quickly and identify bias in sources.
The course is examined in the summer months and requires a good degree of literacy. You need to enjoy reading and writing essays. You must be interested in the fundamental question ‘why’ and ultimately have an enquiring mind. You should enjoy discussion and debate and be prepared to develop your skills of analysis, evaluation and independent research.
Latin is taught at Wellingborough from Year 7 to A-Level and Oxbridge entry. In Years 7, 8 & 9 the study of the Latin Language is accompanied by opportunities to look at classical Mythology and History as well as an appreciation of how much English and other European languages have developed from Latin.
Latin is a popular GCSE and A-Level choice. Both courses involve the study of Roman Literature in Latin by a variety of authors as well as the Language and thus involve the student in the literature, history and culture of the classical world as well as in the Language. The study of Latin grammar is of huge help to understanding and using the English language as well as French and Spanish, Italian and Romanian. Latin itself is also a wonderful and logical language and has produced some of the finest poetry, and political and historical writings, as well as wonderful mythology.
In addition to following the OCR exam syllabus we offer the following:
- A trip to Rome and the Bay of Naples (Pompeii, Herculaneum and Vesuvius)
- An annual set text study day with local schools in the East midlands
- A theatre trip to RSC Stratford as this year they are staging the Cicero novels of Robert Harris
- An opportunity to study for a GCSE in Classical Greek at lunchtime
The Mathematics Department offers A-Level courses in Mathematics - in addition, some students opt to study an additional A-Level in Further Mathematics.
All courses involve the study of Pure Mathematics. This is the extension of those branches of the subject already encountered at GCSE, namely algebra, trigonometry and geometry, together with new topics, the most important of which being calculus techniques.
Pure Mathematics is combined with units in Statistics and Mechanics, giving all pupils experience of the three principal areas of the subject.
Statistics extends the elementary ideas of probability and data handling met at GCSE, and Mechanics applies the skills learnt in the pure section to the simple mathematical modelling of mechanical situations (statics and dynamics).
A-Level courses in French and Spanish are for those who have successfully completed GCSE. The advanced specifications are designed to follow on naturally from GCSE higher tier work, and they aim to prepare candidates for a variety of possible future activities in the spheres of higher education, employment and leisure. Great emphasis is therefore placed on the practical application of language skills and to this end tasks and authentic materials are used which encourage the acquisition of these skills. The courses also aim to foster an awareness and understanding of the foreign culture. The course books studied focus on aspects of life in the countries where French and Spanish are spoken and use is also made of a wide range of audio and video resources. Pupils are expected to extend their knowledge beyond the work covered in class by personal study of listening material, books, magazines and Internet sites.
Through the detailed study of these topic areas, pupils deepen their understanding of the spoken and written forms of the language and learn to communicate in both speech and writing using increasingly accurate, varied and complex language.
A stay in a French or Spanish-speaking country before or during the course can be of enormous benefit to the Sixth Form linguist and is strongly recommended for good progress. The Department is able to suggest arrangements for such visits through various organisations if so desired.
A-Level Music gives you the opportunity to explore the music of a wide range of different genres and style periods through listening, performing and composing. If you have a real curiosity about music, as both a listener and a performer, the course will offer you many stimulating challenges.
Our main focus is on Western classical music of the last 450 years. You will learn about composers whose music you may already have played or who may be little more than names to you at the moment. You might also study film music, world music or jazz and popular music. You will do composition exercises in the styles of important composers, in order to understand them better, and you will compose pieces of your own, probably for your main instrument.
GCSE Music is a helpful grounding for A-Level, but it is not essential. It is essential that you are an enthusiastic instrumentalist or singer. Most students at Wellingborough have passed Grade 5 or higher by the time they start the first year of the A-Level; other candidates with a strong interest will be considered on their merits. Your instrument or voice lessons will be an important part of your studies in Lower Sixth, because a significant proportion of the marks in the examination are awarded for a performance you will give during the year. There are no set pieces to perform, however, so you can choose your own repertoire. You can achieve maximum marks by performing pieces of Grade 5 standard.
Students who take Music in Upper Sixth will continue to listen, to perform and to compose but the work will be more demanding. In the performing element, maximum marks can be achieved by performing pieces of grade 6 standard.
Music combines well with both arts and science subjects and leads to all sorts of careers. In the last sixteen years, A level Music students at Wellingborough have gone on to read a variety of subjects at the best universities, including Oxford (Maths, Medicine) and Cambridge (Music, Physics); another continued his musical studies as an Army bandsman and is now a police officer.
Psychology is the scientific study of human and animal behaviour. It has feet in both the social and natural science camps. As a social science, psychology is concerned with the concepts and theories of self-perception and the way in which we interact collectively. At the other end of the spectrum, cognitive, comparative and bio-psychology are more firmly located within the biological and medical sciences – concerned with how sensory and nervous systems work, memory, the acquisition of language and evolution. Linking the two approaches are areas such as developmental psychology and psychopathology.
The above introduces only a small number of the topics encountered in the A-Level Psychology course, but indicates that a wide range of interests and choices can fruitfully be combined with the subject. There are a variety of A-Level courses which Psychology would complement. Combinations of Psychology, Biology and Physics are particularly appropriate, whilst others might include Geography, English and the Languages. The course requires competence in English and Mathematics.
Physics is the study of everything. It’s the study of the really small, tiny sub-atomic particles, and the really big, Galaxies and stars. It forms the basis for all other Science, showing how elements were formed and how atoms can be broken. It explores the way the world works from reality to the downright weird. Every action follows a set of Mathematical rules, particles can exist in two places at once, time speeds up and slows down, black holes bend light and you are just a collection of waves in empty space. Want to find out more? Study Physics.
At A-Level we’ll explore Electricity, Mechanics and materials, Particles and Radiation, Waves, Fields and their consequences, Further Mechanics and thermal physics and Nuclear Physics. You’ll also have the option to study either Astrophysics, Medical Physics, Engineering Physics, Turning Points in our understanding or Electronics.
The Department works closely in collaboration with four other schools in Wellingborough, the Open University and the Ogden Trust to provide a wide range of extra-curricular activities. Recent highlights include a trip to the Large Hadron Collider at CERN in Geneva, a Physics Careers event at the Cavendish Laboratory, Cambridge University and a Year 9 Conference on Medical Physics and the increasing use of technology in medicine.
At a time of great political volatility and change in Britain and America this is an A-Level that will help you understand the complex causes and possible consequences of events like Brexit and the Trump presidency. It is a course that will not tell you what to think, nor will it provide you with a crystal ball into the future. Instead it will enable you to explore a wide range of political topics and questions, such as whether the UK is truly democratic, and equip you with the skills to think analytically and evaluatively for yourself.
The Politics Department has two highly experienced and enthusiastic teachers who will encourage you to debate and discuss a broad range of questions, as well as engage with the rapidly changing world of current affairs. There is also a regular trip to Parliament in which students get the chance to question an MP and talk to researchers and others who work there. Finally, the Department’s strong work ethos has ensured consistently excellent examination results.
The Religious Studies syllabus covers an introduction to the Philosophy of Ethics from a religious perspective. It can be studied by students of all faiths and none. While it is an advantage to have done the GCSE Religious Studies examination, it is by no means essential.
Religious Studies is a fully-fledged academic subject, taught at most universities and particularly valuable for anyone thinking of a career which will involve working with people and understanding issues from more than one angle – that is what Religious Studies A-Level will equip you to do. It will combine with any subject, but is particularly useful when combining with the sciences for future careers in medicine, and with other humanities subjects such as English and History to qualify for work in areas such as personnel management or the caring professions, as well as teaching.
Studying Physical Education will give you a fantastic insight into the amazing world of sports performance. Not only is there the chance to perform sport through the non-exam assessment component, the combination of physical performance and academic challenge provides an exciting opportunity for anyone interested in the ever evolving world of sport.
Physical Education is studied though a range of different contexts and the impact it has on both ours and others everyday lives. The course explains the reasons why some people out-perform others both mentally and physically. It delves into the ethical considerations behind the use of drugs and also the influence that modern technology is having in and on physical activity and sport.
By performing practically the knowledge and understanding gained on the course can be applied as a sportsperson and used to improve personal performance. As well as developing the academic skills of a scientist the courses allow pupils to also become a psychologist, physiologist, sociologist and even a philosopher!
In the Sixth Form there is an opportunity to complete a piece of extended research (an Extended Project Qualification) into an area of study that is of interest to you.
This could be an extension of one of your A-Level subjects or an exploration of a subject that you might be planning to study at university. Many of the most effective projects have a cross curricular element or ask ethical questions of processes or events; certainly your project should allow you to explore the ideas of others and come to a judgement of your own.
It is also possible to do something more practical: creating an artefact in Art or DT, writing a string quartet for Music or producing a play or film. In this case you are asked to write a report on that process and document the research that you undertake in order to complete your final product. This would include some kind of testing and evaluation of your success.
Students produce either a 6,000-word written dissertation or an artefact (product) with a 2,000-word report to accompany it. While you are researching you will complete an Activity Log: essentially a diary that is a record of your process.
How is it taught?
The EPQ is taught as an A-Level lesson. Early lessons consist of full group sessions, teaching you the skills necessary to complete your EPQ successfully, as well as helping individual students decide on topics. Later sessions are given over to independent research and one-to-one or group tutorials with your supervisor.
It is possible to complete an EPQ even if it doesn’t fit into your timetabled lessons (for example, as a fifth A-Level); this can be discussed on an individual basis.
How is it assessed?
The assessment is made both on your process or Activity Log and on your essay or report, as well as an oral presentation given at the end of the process. The final outcome is graded A* to E and is equivalent to half an A-Level.
Why should I do it?
Because you are particularly interested in an academic area that you may not necessarily be able to study in appropriate depth as part of an A-Level syllabus.
Because you are interested and excited by independent research.
Because universities value independence and the skills of critical thinking, communication and organisation that are assessed.
Because these skills will be of value to you in the future.
I think I might be interested but I am not sure - what do I do now?
If you have any questions, please contact Mrs Curley (EPQ Coordinator) at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or to discuss possible topics of study.
Wellingborough School has a well-established Learning Development team, led by Mrs Samantha Bell and Mrs Sharon Lawson. We are based in excellent accommodation at the heart of the School, operating across the Family of Schools from Nursery to the Upper Sixth.
We recognise that every pupil at Wellingborough School is a unique individual and are dedicated to ensuring that every pupil is both successful and happy. Therefore, our aim is to support pupils who experience difficulties in any aspect of their learning and to help build their confidence and self-esteem, and through appropriate support, enable them to realise their full potential.
We are qualified to assess ability, attainment and learning skills, and to identify any specific learning difficulties (SpLD), which may be a barrier to learning, and to use these results to inform pupils, teachers and parents regarding appropriate support strategies to adopt at school and at home. We work closely with parents and encourage communication and the sharing of ideas through meetings in School, email and telephone contact. All pupils take part in literacy baseline testing in Years 7 and 9. Following this testing, if further assessment is needed, we contact parents and, with agreement, are able to offer further assessment to consider, as appropriate, reasonable adjustments in examinations, including extra time and use of a word-processor for assessments and public examinations.
Learning Development in the Sixth Form
Our specialist teaching enables support to be tailored to the individual pupil and care is taken to assess both strengths and weaknesses; any additional support is then personalised and focused. One to one sessions compliment attendance at curriculum clinics and when in place, regular half-termly contact is maintained between the specialist teacher, the relevant teaching staff and the parents, to ensure that all parties can offer cohesive support. In the Sixth Form, as far as possible, all support sessions take place before or after-school, or during lunchtimes, to ensure that the learning alongside peers is not compromised.