Sixth Form

Welcome to the Sixth Form at Vandyke

Vandyke Sixth Form is a place where students can aspire and are supported to achieve their full potential.  The success of the sixth form at Vandyke is based on a number of important ingredients:  high expectations, excellent teaching, high quality support and guidance and rigorous monitoring are very important.  However, just as important is our ethos which is based on a number of important values and attitudes that we support our students to develop.  We expect them to be ambitious, self-motivated, to be resilient, have integrity, be respectful and aim for personal and academic excellence.  During the sixth form at Vandyke we want, and indeed expect students to ASPIRE and aim high.



We want our students to be ambitious academically and to develop other important skills and attributes. We expect them to aim high whether that is to university or employment. We expect them to be ambitious for our school and the Sixth Form in particular and play their part in building further on the excellent reputation of Vandyke Upper School. We want them to take every opportunity through the curriculum and enrichment opportunities to become the very best that they can be.


We expect our students to develop independent learning skills and use their own initiative, taking responsibility for themselves and their learning and progress. As a minimum, students must be spending 5 hours per subject each week on independent work outside lessons if they are to achieve their potential. This will increase during examination periods and when coursework is being completed. We want them to be proactive in securing opportunities to develop their social, personal and employability skills; to develop networks that may prove helpful in their future.


We expect our students to work hard both within lessons and in personal study time. We expect them to meet challenges and be resilient: to be able to ‘bounce back’ after disappointments or setbacks. There is no place for such phrases as “I can’t do this”. It needs to be, “I can’t do this yet, but with help and perseverance I will soon!”


We expect honesty at all times. The truth matters! We expect our students to be reliable and trustworthy; to do what is right even if it is unpopular with their peers. This sets an example to younger students and supports sixth form students in becoming positive role models.


We want them to have self -respect and be respectful to all members of the school and wider community. This goes hand-in-hand with integrity. To demonstrate that respect by how they choose to dress, attend, be punctual, meet deadlines, volunteer and show care for others, whether that be by becoming a mentor for younger students or supporting our charity fund-raising activities. To respect their environment, look after it and challenge others to do the same.


We want them to aim for excellence in everything they do. Not to settle for mediocrity or second best but to develop into successful learners, confident individuals, responsible citizens and effective contributors. To be the best they can be!


 “The leadership and management of the sixth form are good” (OFSTED 2015)

Director of Sixth Form and Assistant Headteacher 

Mr Sean Downey


Tel: 01525 636709

Head of Year 13

Miss Maurlayne Hamilton


Tel: 01525 636722

Head of Year 12

Miss Robyn Silkstone


Tel: 01525 636728


Sixth Form Manager

Mrs Clare Fahy


Tel: 01525 636713


“(Sixth Form) teaching is consistently effective in ensuring that students make good progress over time….teachers have high expectations, and plan interesting activities drawing upon their secure subject knowledge. Teachers use a wide range of teaching styles, equipping students with the skills to work independently and to engage confidently in group work and discussion” (OFSTED 2015)


Our subject specialists at Vandyke offer excellent teaching and have supported students to achieve exceptional examination outcomes over the past few years (see later).  Students are allocated a tutor/mentor to provide individual support and guidance through a carefully designed tutorial programme.  We offer a wide range of traditional subjects at AS and A Level.  We also offer a number of vocational orientated courses which have become increasingly popular (see later).

Our students make excellent progress during their time in our Sixth Form, with a high percentage going on to study academic subjects at top universities.  Others choose to secure places on Higher Level Apprenticeship programmes and employment with top companies such as Ernst and Young, VW Vauxhall, Allen and Overy and BE Aerospace, to mention but just a few.

Our Sixth Form provides many opportunities for learning and development beyond the classroom, including the Extended Project (EPQ), enrichment activities and sport and social pursuits.  We pride ourselves on our students’ organisation and participation in various fundraising, sporting and social activities.

Our teachers at Vandyke Sixth Form are very experienced and many have industry experience in fields such as Science, Engineering and Law and recognise the importance of embedding employability skills.  Our focus is on personalised active learning with an emphasis on improving literacy, numeracy and IT skills.

Most of our students join our Sixth Form having completed year 11 at Vandyke, but we also welcome applications from external candidates.

“I came to Vandyke from another school and I quickly realised that expectations were very high but my teachers, tutor and the sixth form office team were really supportive in helping me to meet them.  I love it here.”


We have an increasing number of students who combine both academic and vocational options.  In addition to the core subjects such as English, Maths, Sciences and Humanities, we also offer additional subjects such as Psychology, Law and Health Social Care which are very popular.  Students must achieve at least 5 A*-C grades at GCSE, including a grade 4 in Maths and a 5 in English Language or English Literature.  Our Sixth Form Team dedicate time to each individual student to make sure they are on the right course and path for them.


In the sixth form at Vandyke students are encouraged to challenge and develop themselves through a range of opportunities, such as; Youth Speaks, Mock Trial competitions, Debating Club, Community Sports Leader Award, Duke of Edinburgh, Engineering Education Scheme, Young Enterprise, Charity Committees and a range of sporting and performing arts activities.  We have a Senior Student Team that plays a key role in supporting school and Charity events, organising the annual Senior Citizens Christmas Party and the Summer Ball, as well as leading on large projects such as our annual SMILE Malawi charity week.

Our Sixth Form subjects also provide a wide variety of trips and visits which take place through the year and enhance the curriculum.  These include trips to Criminal Courts, Museums and Galleries, the Theatre, a range of businesses, universities and even the Zoo! There are also a number of trips abroad to countries such as Germany, France, Poland, USA and China.  We also utilise a wide variety of guest speakers who provide advice, workshops and valuable links for students with prestigious companies and organisations.


We recognise that every student has individual needs and aspirations.  We offer a range of activities designed to enhance students’ career prospects and employability skills.  Tutors/Mentors work with students throughout Year 12 and 13 to give them individual guidance and support when making choices about university, employment or training opportunities.  They also provide support and guidance in relation to CV's, written applications and interviews. In addition, we have trained Careers Advisors on hand to advise students about the range of pathways available to them and to encourage them to think about their future in the long term.

“Students receive high-quality support and guidance when preparing applications for entry to university. This helps a high proportion to be successful, with some securing places at highly selective universities, including Oxford and Cambridge. Guidance and support is also of a high quality for those who decide to enter employment or undertake further training.”   (OFSTED 2015)


Attendance at Vandyke is currently excellent.  It is an expectation that year 12 students attend school for the whole day regardless of where non-contact periods fall and this promotes further study and independent learning.  The Sixth Form Team monitor attendance very closely and complete regular reviews of attendance.

“The behaviour of sixth form students is good. Students attend regularly, and attendance continues to improve. Students are punctual and make good use of the periods of time when they are not being taught to complete independent study.” (OFSTED 2015)


Sixth Form students are treated as individuals and given every opportunity to reach their full potential regardless of their needs and abilities. Achievement and wider participation of enrichment is monitored by our Sixth Form Team to ensure that all students are included and given opportunities to develop. We are given a Bursary Fund which we allocate a significant portion to students who need additional help for trips, travel and resources.


At Vandyke Sixth Form we are committed to ensuring the safety and wellbeing of our students. We have a Safeguarding and Anti-Bullying policy in place to ensure that our students remain safe. We also have an appointed Safeguarding Officer and members of our Sixth Form Team who are trained to deal with any issues that may arise. We have additional services such as Counselling and Sexual Health Advisors who are available to help. We provide students with regular reminders about keeping safe on-line.

 “Students in the sixth form feel safe, secure and well cared for.” (OFSTED 2015)

Slides from Year 12 information evening 6 October 2016


We are proud of the examination achievement of our students. For the past 2 years A2 results have been graded as significantly positive by the DFE. This means that students are making outstanding progress compared to their peers across the country. Standards in attainment are improving every year and the table below illustrates this.

  2016 2015 2014 2013
Average points per entry 220 214 192 191
% A* - E 99 100 98 99
% A* - B 52 45 33 27


2016 A level results are here.

As is the case with the majority of schools nationally, Vandyke uses the ALPS system to measure the progress and achievement of students against their potential, which is based on their GCSE prior attainment. ALPS grades the value added performance of schools on a 1-9 scale.

ALPS grade1 better or equal to the best score achieved in the country Outstanding
ALPS grade 2 scoring between the 90th and 99th percentile Outstanding
ALPS grade 3 scoring between the 75th and 89th percentile Excellent
ALPS grade 4 scoring between the 60th and 74th percentile Very good
ALPS grade 5 scoring between the 40th and 59th percentile Satisfactory to good
ALPS grade 6 scoring between the 25th and 39th percentile Below average
ALPS grade 7 scoring between the 10th and 24th percentile Less than satisfactory
ALPS grade 8 scoring between the 1st and 9th percentile Relatively poor
ALPS grade 9 scoring below the lowest score achieved in the indicator Poor


  2016 2015 2014
AS ALPS grade 2 3 2
A2 ALPS grade 3 2 4
BTEC ALPS grade 3 1 2


We are proud of the high quality and consistency of these ALPS outcomes as they indicate that students of all abilities are consistently performing in the top 10-20% of all students nationally and their outcomes are at least excellent and often outstanding.  What is most important about these outcomes, however, is that they support the majority of our sixth form students to secure places on a range of university courses, with increasing numbers attending the most prestigious universities such as Cambridge, Durham and others belonging to the Russell Group.  As well as this, students choosing alternative routes after sixth form have secured places with some of the top employers in the country such as Ernst and Young, VW, Vauxhall, BE Aerospace and many more.

Applying to University?  

Click here for the UCAS guidance pack.

Information for parents:  UCAS is the organisation that processes all full-time applications to UK universities and colleges. It is there to support you – as well as your son or daughter – through every step of the application process. UCAS sends all applicants a monthly newsletter, full of useful information, reminders, advice and competitions. But did you know you can get information from UCAS too?   Click here for the UCAS guide for parents.

You can sign up to monthly parent newsletters quickly and simply online. They’re completely FREE and contain timely information and advice about your son or daughter’s journey to higher education and what you can do to support them.

For further information about the UCAS process, take a look at the advice for parents on


SMILE Week 2016

Yet another wildly successful Smile Week took place towards the end of October, with Vandyke’s Sixth Form once again at the helm of a whacky week’s fundraising for Smile Malawi, a charity that supports orphaned and vulnerable children in Malawi.  Thanks to excellent organisation by the Sixth Form student team and sterling support from the rest of Years 12 and 13, as well as many members of staff, an impressive total of nearly £3,000 was made.

Over the course of the week, a series of fancy-dress themes inspired Sixth Formers to come to school in a range of weird and wonderful outfits: Ninjas, Teletubbies, Thunderbirds and cross-dressing nuns were among those who walked the corridors, and as is her custom, Sixth Form Manager, Clare pulled out all the stops with a different costume every day

A series of tutor group led events including the ever-popular Krispy Kreme doughnut sales and the now traditional staff soccer match, helped boost the coffers significantly, whilst lunchtime events staged daily in the theatre pulled in full audiences and helped create a buzzing atmosphere across the school.  Few will forget the sight of Mr Downey and Mr Cooksey performing as Ant and Dec in the Lip Sync competition or ‘Duffy and Turney ‘break dancing in the week’s undisputed grand finale: the staff dance troupe’s unique interpretation of Strictly Come Dancing, in the Vandyke’s Got Talent competition.

Director of Sixth Form Mr Downey said: ‘I’m proud and delighted by the efforts of the whole sixth form. They all worked incredibly hard to deliver some excellent fundraising events, and to make such a huge sum in a short period of time is an amazing achievement.  Staff members were also extremely supportive.  As ever, there was a really special atmosphere, with staff and students having fun together to raise money for a very important cause, whilst remaining focused on the important business of teaching and learning. It was a truly great week.’