Our mission: to ensure you can go to a good university or directly into a career of your choice
As our mission statement shows, we are very clear on our fundamental priority of helping you progress to a great destination after you have completed your sixth form education. We expect most of our students will choose to continue studying at university – for many this is a long-held ambition, and is certainly the most established route into a wide range of professional careers.
Increasingly employers are developing school leaver programmes, higher apprenticeships and degree apprenticeships that are good alternatives to university as a route into many professional careers like accountancy, IT and financial services. This route involves going straight into paid employment, and gaining work experience at the same time as training in a particular sector. You can still gain a degree qualification, depending on the route you take, but without any student debt from paying for tuition fees as these will be covered by your employer.
For most students, the cost of going to university is deferred – this is done by applying for student finance. You then receive loans to cover the cost of your tuition fees and living expenses. Importantly, the loans are offered at a relatively low rate of interest and you do not start to pay back the loans until you are employed and earning a good salary (currently £21,000). For more information about student finance visit www.gov.uk/student-finance.
Students at Ark’s sixth forms are also able to apply to the Ark University Bursary Programme. This programme gives out dozens of awards each year ranging from £30,000 over three years of study to £3,000 over one year of study.
Applying to university
A place at a good university is the primary target for most of our students. UCAS is the organisation that handles all university applications in the UK, and the UCAS application involves completion of an online form. Most students will complete their UCAS application in September and October of Year 13. You can apply to up to five universities, and it is important that you choose universities and courses that match both your academic profile and interests.
Prior to making the application you should think about which subject you wish to study at university before you think about where to apply. The choice of course should be your decision, based on what you are most interested in and your academic strengths. It should not be based on parental aspirations, nor what your friends think. For some careers (e.g. engineering, medicine) there are obviously required university degrees, but for the large majority of students there is no need to consider particular careers at this stage. A good degree from a good university will be recognised and valued by employers – it will have helped you develop core skills of reading, research, analysis, logical thought, co-operation, communication and presentation. About two thirds of graduate jobs do not require a specific subject or subjects to have been studied.
The choice of university is a question of individual taste as the range of type, size, location and prestige is very wide. Some universities, especially new institutions with lower entry requirements, are less highly regarded than others when employers are recruiting graduates. You will be provided with support and guidance to help you make your choices, but you should also be proactive in researching online, ordering prospectuses of potential universities and attending open days in your holidays and weekends.
Many of our students will be first generation graduates – as such, we will deliver a bespoke university preparation programme from the start of Year 12, a programme that raises aspirations for university, as well as providing practical support in selecting and applying for relevant university courses.
Support you will receive
- Dedicated and expert support from your tutor and the sixth form team for all UCAS applications.
- Regular speakers from top universities to provide advice and guidance about the application process.
- Speakers from a range of professionals through our corporate links to highlight graduate career opportunities.
- Professional work experience placements to support your application.
- Enrichment opportunities focused on helping you develop deeper subject knowledge and the mindset and skills required to be successful at university and beyond.
- A weekly Opportunities Board will display details of work placements, university talks and information, and university/career schemes available.
You will be applying for university in one year – get started today!
|Sept-April Year 12||
|June-July Year 12||
|September-October Year 13||
|March Year 13||
|August Year 13||
For information on courses, applying to university, and entry requirements go to www.ucas.co.uk.
To compare universities based upon the National Student Survey results, including employment data, go to: www.unistats.direct.gov.uk.
To find out more information about careers and employers, including short video clips focussing on specific jobs and companies, visit www.careersbox.co.uk.
To view the rank order of Universities for your chosen subject area, visit www.guardian.co.uk/education/table/2011/may/17/university-league-table.
Applying for Apprenticeships
Higher and degree apprenticeships are the most advanced forms of apprenticeship. Undertaking one of these programmes lets you work towards Level 4 or Degree-Level qualifications.
What is an apprenticeship?
An apprenticeship provides you with the opportunity to blend work and study. You will spend most of your time with an employer – working for the company and being taught new skills by colleagues and mentors – and some of your time completing theory-based study with a college or university.
What is the difference between a higher and degree apprenticeship?
‘Higher Apprenticeship’ refers to all apprenticeships that include the achievement of academic/vocational qualifications from Level 4 up to bachelor’s and master’s degree at Level 6-7.
Degree Apprenticeships are the latest model to be developed as part of higher apprenticeship standards, seeing apprentices achieving a full bachelor’s or master’s degree (Levels 6 and 7).
Both Higher and Degree Apprenticeships must last a minimum of one year; Degree Apprenticeships in particular will last longer, typically up to four years, though there is no fixed maximum duration.
Why should I do an apprenticeship?
One of the reasons you should is because you’ll be able to work towards high-level qualifications –up to studying for a university degree – without racking up student debt. You’ll be paid a salary while working towards your qualifications, and will gain experience with an employer who will be very likely to offer you a full-time role once you have finished your training.
Not only do you benefit in the short-term by acquiring key skills, qualifications, getting paid, and avoiding student debt, but you benefit in the long-run too. school leavers who enrol on higher and degree apprenticeships can realistically expect to earn more during their careers than many university graduates.
What are the entry requirements for these schemes?
These programmes are intended for young people who’ve completed their A Levels or BTEC Level 3, and will require you to achieve good grades in these qualifications. Entry requirements start at 2 A*- C or Distinctions/Merits in BTEC, but some of the top programmes will require three As or Distinctions/Distinctions* in BTEC. You will also need Cs in Maths and English GCSEs, and some employers may require Bs in particular subjects.
How do I apply?
The key difference from university applications is that you will need to apply directly to an employer. Even if you want to complete a degree apprenticeship, you will need to apply to the company who will then partner with a university to teach you the theory.
The application process will be similar to applying for a job. You will need to fill in an application form, send a CV, and complete either a cover letter or written questions. If you pass this stage, then you will be invited to an interview or assessment centre.
To find out more apprenticeships visit www.gov.uk/apprenticeships-guide. To search for opportunities, visit www.findapprenticeship.service.gov.uk/apprenticeshipsearch. You will need to select ‘Higher’ or ‘Degree’ from the drop down list to narrow your search.
Creating a professional CV
While many employers will ask you to complete a specific application form, a great CV is still key to helping you find work – whether a part-time role while you are studying, or your first full time job as a school leaver or graduate. It’s a great document to have on file as it also gives you a starting point for any application form, including UCAS. The key sections that a professional looking CV should have are as follows:
- Name, address, contact details
- Personal statement – brief (a few sentences) outline of why you are applying for the role and how it fits with your career aim.
- Work experience and volunteering – most recent first; job title/role, key responsibilities, skills gained. This can include roles in school that have allowed you to develop key employability skills such as teamwork, planning/organisation, negotiation and presentation.
- Education – most recent institution first; qualifications gained (or pending)
- Personal interests and additional qualifications – anything you do outside school that demonstrates initiative, energy, drive and employability.
- References – usually your tutor/a teacher and one other responsible adult. Make sure you ask before including their name and email address in your CV.
Writing a great UCAS personal statement
The personal statement on your UCAS application form is your main opportunity to show universities why they should offer you a place ahead of other applicants. It’s a chance to explain why you want to study the course, what you have done to extend your subject knowledge and to demonstrate all the other skills, attributes and character you will contribute both to the course and to the university.
The majority of your personal statement (about two thirds, see section 1-3 below) should focus on your course. You should include your motivation for wanting to study the subject in greater depth, a topic that you have particularly enjoyed and why, the understanding and skills you have developed through your academic studies, and the wider reading and other activities you have undertaken to broaden your knowledge.
The remainder of the personal statement can then draw examples from extra-curricular activities (in and out of school) and work readiness activities that show relevant skills and attributes that good universities are looking for in their students.
The development log at the back of this planner allows you to capture and reflect on these experiences – this will be very useful when it is time to start writing your personal statement.
Structuring your personal statement
|Why do you want to study this course?
|Section 2||Explaining a topic of interest within your subject
|Section 3||Other skills you have developed through your wider studies
|Section 4||Skills developed through voluntary work and work experience
|Section 5||Skills developed through extra-curricular activities
If you have any question or would like more advice please e mail the Sixth form team on firstname.lastname@example.org