What makes a great Sixth Form?


Rebecca Parrish, Director of Sixth Form at Sydenham High School, GDST, on successfully navigating the leap from GCSE to A Level


Sixth form is a key period of academic, social and emotional development. There is a seismic shift in expectations for independent study and wider research, as well as the constant thoughts of future paths. The transition is challenging so it is key to choose a Sixth Form which supports the individual, whatever the path ahead, and can provide opportunities for growth and development both personally and academically.

It is important to remember that educating young adults requires a fine balance between focusing on developing a passion for their subjects but also a curiosity for, and the strength of character to deal with, the working world beyond.


  • high-quality, inspiring teaching
  • an innovative curriculum
  • outstanding pastoral care and support
  • the ability to role model leadership
  • higher education and careers guidance
  • the understanding that equally important to academic success is the participation in co-curricular activities to develop a well-rounded, balanced sense of self

It is widely agreed by business leaders that schools should focus on employability skills as well as attainment. “Young people must impress with their willingness to learn, commitment and motivation. New recruits must show they can work in a team, communicate, solve problems and have commercial awareness.” So says the Director of Global Student Recruitment at the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales.

At Sydenham High School Sixth Form we set high targets to foster ambition, but equally value the personal skills which make students successful in life. We are educating our girls not only for further education and careers but also to be valuable citizens. Of course academic results matter but it is the education of the whole girl that creates a young person who is ready to take on the challenges of further education or the leap straight into industry.

Alongside A-Level studies, the Extended Project Qualification and Stretch Programme enrich our girls’ learning by fostering critical thinking, problem solving, creativity and social development, and our Professional Skills Programme provides all year 12 students with specialist training in corporate communication, matching each student with a professional mentor whilst completing a self-directed project in order to build on and develop their work skills.

At Sydenham High, our Sixth Form is very much the jewel in our crown. Our girls are role models and leaders to the lower years and are ambitious and confident about their futures. They are curious, considerate and fearless, often exceeding their own expectations. Our drive to create fearless girls is best exemplified by them. They have the courage and self-belief to believe that anything and everything is possible, be that at school, masterminding a national STEM competition, visiting 10 Downing Street to discuss charitable activities, launching a new fashion brand or making molecular discoveries. A Sydenham High girl possesses the intelligence and the inner strength and spirit to be whatever she wants to be. Nothing should hold a girl back and with Sydenham High girls we couldn’t, even if we tried.