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Higher Education

Our aim is to provide a coherent programme of careers’ education to support our pupils moving forward into higher education. They have the support of their senior house staff, tutors and subject teachers as well as the school UCAS Advisor & Careers’ Advisor (Deputy Heads of Sixth Form) to enable them to make realistic and achievable university course choices knowing that they have the skills to bring their plans to fruition.

Almost all St John’s pupils go on to higher education, with the vast majority of these achieving their first choice. The School places a great deal of emphasis on preparing the pupils throughout their Sixth Form to achieve this aim, by providing information, guidance, and opportunities to make reasoned choices before the application process begins. The timeline for this can be seen below.

Autumn Term

  • Early in the Lower Sixth pupils will be asked to complete a CV as though applying for a job the following summer. This is to get them to think carefully about their strengths and weaknesses and what potential employers will want to see. Material from this will help make up the Personal Statement found in the UCAS form.
  • Lower Sixth Tutors introduce the pupils to the UCAS website. The tutors demonstrate how the course search feature works. In addition to this the tutor leads pupils through the information available on each university in particular course requirements, assessment type, modules and other options that include Year in Industry, Erasmus Programme, Year Abroad etc.
  • The tutors also inform the pupils of summer school programmes. There are a broad range of summer school programmes available to pupils. Many universities run these as taster opportunities for the pupils. The options are vast and include (but are not limited to) medicine, engineering, languages, humanities, sciences, design, aviation, health care etc. Many are residential; some are funded or sponsored by the university. An early application is essential to secure a place as there is a great deal of interest in these courses.
  • All pupils will complete a ‘Coursefinder’ questionnaire. In light of their interests, aptitude and academic ability, an individual report is produced for each pupil which outlines the type of course they may consider at university. This is not a definitive answer but part of an on-going process that a pupil should be engaged in during their time in the Lower Sixth.

Spring Term

  • The School organises a number of events. University Admissions’ Officers are invited to the school and present directly to the parents on the application process to their university. There is usually representation from Oxford/Cambridge and other mainstream universities.
  • There is a careers’ convention in which we expect all Lower Sixth to take part. The pupils themselves select careers they wish to receive information on and the delivery is first class, involving pupils in discussion and activities and pupils are able to attend a broad range of career talks.
  • The Lower Sixth attend a subject access day at Reading University and pre-book a series of subject lectures that may interest them. This opportunity provides them with unprecedented access to Admissions’ Officers, Lecturers and Undergraduates for advice.
  • There are a growing number of subject-based talks organised throughout the year using Old Johnians, Parents and Friends of the School. There are also a number of career courses available from ISCO and others, details of which are available through the Deputy Head of Sixth Form (Careers). In the late Spring and Summer Terms, pupils are encouraged to use the university taster days to fine tune their choices for university.

Summer Term

  • After the Lower Sixth examinations the School organises two opportunities to support the pupils’ applications. The first opportunity is a workshop on how to prepare and write the personal statement section of the application. Pupils submit their first draft to their Senior House Staff and Form Tutor.
  • In this final part of the term, all pupils are registered on the UCAS online application system. This enables them to access the application through the summer so that they can return ready to finalise their choices and send off an early application.
  • All pupils are encouraged to use the set days to attend university open days. The universities to be visited and the time spent using these open days should be carefully considered and a great deal of footwork must be done before arriving on the campus. Pupils are encouraged to look very closely at their aspirations, entry requirements, preferred course of study, type of institution, modular content etc. before booking open days. All visits are monitored and feedback given on their experience.
  • The last piece of the picture is the possibility of work experience, work shadowing, summer school and the head start programme. This is best organised by the pupils themselves, though we are very grateful to receive offers from parents and friends who may be able to help. We feel that this is the best way of doing it as experience has taught us that the School organising work experience placements directly for the entire Lower Sixth is sometimes counterproductive.

Sponsored Degree Programmes

Sponsored degree programmes are an alternative route to university. If a pupil is determined to get an undergraduate degree through a company while earning a salary, then a sponsored degree programme is a good option. A variety of different types of sponsored degree programmes are available

  • The usual method is to work full-time for a company whilst studying part-time for a degree. This may be on a day release or in a block of time. There is very little choice in the institution you will attend as the course is tailored to the company’s need. Alternatively, you might get a scholarship from an employer and combine it with a series of work experience placements at the firm; this is usually done during the summer recess and can be combined with a year in industry.
  • An increasing number of companies are now offering sponsored degree programmes but demand is out-stripping availability and competition is very high for each place. Sponsored degree programmes are still very restricted to a limited number of industries and employers and tend to offer career-based qualifications; it is unlikely that a pupil would find many sponsored degree opportunities for traditional degree subjects.
  • It is up to individual pupils to do research and find out which is the best option for them and this should be backed up with full and meaningful discussion at home. Following the traditional route of going to university might fit in better with career plans although the alternative of a sponsored degree programme is increasingly popular (if competitive). Pupils are made aware of resources they can access to help them choose their preferred option. Regardless of their intended route into third level education, support and guidance is always to hand.