Frequently Asked Questions

What grades do I need to join the Sixth Form and study Level 3 courses?

You normally need to get at least five GCSEs at Grade C/Grade 4 (or equivalent) in a range of subjects.

What does “or equivalent” mean?

A pass at BTEC is the same as a Grade C/Grade 4 at GCSE. If you are doing a double award and get a pass Grade, it is the same as getting two Grade Cs/Grade 4s at GCSE.

What if I don’t get a Grade 4 for English?

English and good literacy skills are vital to achieving success at Level 3. If you do not get a grade 4 in English, the range of courses that you can choose will be severely limited.

What if I don’t get a Grade 4 for Maths?

Maths is also important. If you do not get a Grade 4 in Maths, the range of courses that you can choose will be restricted. For example, you would not be able to study a Science course at Level 3.

What if I don’t get five C/4 grades?

You should be able to study a full time Level 2 course.

Do I have to study four A Levels?

No. Most students study three. Even top universities only make offers based on three A Levels. We encourage our most able students to take four courses as it gives them more choice and flexibility when progressing into Year 13. Students who do four AS levels usually drop down to three in Year 13 and select their strongest subjects.

What is the difference between A Levels and BTEC qualifications?

The key difference is the assessment. A Levels are mainly assessed through examinations and BTECs are mainly assessed through coursework.

Do students have to wear a uniform?

Yes. Joseph Swan Academy requires Sixth Form students to follow our Sixth Form Dress Code.

Do students have to go to registration in the morning?

Yes. Registration is an important part of the day and you need to make sure that you attend.

Are the courses full time?

Yes. All Sixth Form courses are full time.

What does ‘full time’ mean when you are in the Sixth Form?

Full time means that you will have lessons during the week from Monday to Friday and between the hours of 8:30am and 2.50pm. You will have non-contact periods when you are free to manage your own learning. You may have mornings or afternoons when you have no timetabled lessons. You would still be expected to use your time productively.

Can I get any financial support?

Yes, the Bursary. The Bursary is a payment of up to £1,200 that can be paid to students who meet certain financial criteria. If you receive Free School Meals you will be entitled to weekly payments of up to £20 (correct at time of printing).

What if I change my mind?

Some students decide to go to college and then realise that they have made a mistake. Many students think that they have already made up their minds about where they are going. This is difficult to do (but not impossible) before you get your final grades
in the summer. We do not ask you to make any final commitment until you receive your results in August. This allows you to choose the path that is best for you. We will be asking you what courses you think you will choose. This allows us to write a timetable and identify possible option clashes. It is not a final choice. Level 3 qualifications are required for admission into higher education, and they will also increase your employment opportunities.