Sixth Form Virtual Open Day 2020
We are sorry that you can’t join us in person to have a tour of our school site from one of our Sixth Form students and to meet our experienced team of exceptional staff.
We hope however, that reading the Sixth Form Booklet, and watching the videos on these pages, will mean that you get a really strong sense of what we have to offer students.
Please visit the subject pages by clicking on the links below to find out more.
The Application Form for entry to Sixth Form in September 2021 for internal and external applicants is available to access online from 5.00pm on 1st December 2020 with a closing date of midday on Friday 29th January 2021 at the following link: http://www.reading-school-admissions.co.uk.
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you need any further information about anything, having read the booklet and watched the relevant videos.
Mr Ashley Robson - Headmaster
Head of Sixth Form Welcome
Mr Alun Lloyd - Head of Sixth Form
Reading School at a Glance
For further information please click on the links below:
Reading School Overview
Reading School is a modern and vibrant place to study for Sixth Form, set within historic grounds, as part of a long tradition. Our vision for Reading School is that we should become a flourishing world-leading institution developing academic excellence and building good men.
Sixth Form Life
Some of our School Captaincy Team journey around the School site to give you a flavour of where you may be spending your day and to give you an insight into some of the aspects of the School they think you should know about.
The Reading Way
Mr T Evans, Assistant Head, talks about The Reading Way our whole school approach to building good men, an idea that is weaved into everything we do at the School. It is vital to us that students acknowledge that attending Reading School is about a great deal more than just academic excellence. He discusses our four pillars: Excellence, Integrity, Leadership and Community and explains how Sixth Formers play a significant role in implementing The Reading Way.
Sport at Reading School
Sport is a vital part of Reading School’s provision. We care deeply about ensuring students get access to physical activity and have the opportunity for both recreational sport and to push themselves through competitive fixtures, if they wish to.
We have a wide range of clubs, sports and teams in which students can participate and we always produce very competitive rugby, football and cricket teams that compete with a range of local schools as well as entering local leagues, local cups and national cups.
The School’s sporting facilities are ever-evolving, with the Morgan Road pitches hosting most Games lessons and many sporting fixtures, alongside the School field which will also showcase the highlight fixture of the day. The School has basketball and table tennis facilities for students to use during breaks and free periods, as well as the MUGA (Multi-Use Games Area) that Sixth Form students can use on a rota of availability. Furthermore, we have the fantastic Rodney Huggins Fitness Suite in which students can work out, when supervised, as well as the new addition of the outdoor gym equipment running along the main drive.
Plans are also in place for a new Sports Hall, new 3G pitch and a renovation of School’s swimming pool, all of which will further enhance the sporting options for students at Reading School.
Boarding is a vibrant part of our Sixth Form experience at Reading School. Typically, we have around 25 Sixth Form boarders, who live on site during the week. Students who join the School in Sixth Form and those who have already been established in boarding for the first five years of their time at the School, benefit from the independence that boarding can offer. Sixth Formers in particular benefit from this as a stepping stone to the experience of living at university, getting the chance to live with their peers, cook together, socialise together and study together, all while having the support network of a team of experienced boarding tutors on site.
Academic and Pastoral Support
Ensuring our students’ well-being is fundamental to everything we do at the School. Without the safety and happiness of our students, none of the other aims we have for their success are possible.
As a result, we strive to maximise the care and support we offer our Sixth Form students, with a dedicated Sixth Form team committed to ensuring every student has the support they need. This starts with their tutor, who will be the main point of contact for all student concerns. Additionally, we have a large Student Support Team who work with students who have special educational needs, access arrangements for exams or just need a little extra help.
Beyond that we have Miss A. Stratford and Mrs H. Majorossy-Young, who lead on Sixth Form pastoral and academic care respectively. You can hear from them in the video above, as they explain their roles and the support students get in the Sixth Form.
Learning Resource Centre (LRC)
The Learning Resource Centre (LRC) is the central hub of our Sixth Form students’ working day. They spend their free hours working upstairs, their breaks chatting downstairs, they borrow books to read around their subject and they mentor younger students there. The exceptional library staff and wonderful student librarians make this the beating heart of Sixth Form life.
Beyond Reading School
A vital part of your decision-making process for choosing your Sixth Form should be whether or not the School will facilitate the next steps you want to take. Reading School has an outstanding record with supporting university applications to the very best universities, with a devoted team who specifically work to maximise your chances of success. Mr D Whitehorn, the Sixth Form Transition Lead, talks about the School’s approach to university preparation and Careers, hopefully giving you an insight into the exceptional support you will receive for your UCAS applications and the expert guidance you will receive from our Careers Advisor.
Please explore the different departments’ pages to get a feel for what studying the different subjects at A-level will be like. Each page will have the course code, a video from the department, a description of the course, details of the specification and guidance on the entry requirements for that subject. We hope these pages helps you make your mind up about what are the best subjects for you.
(AQA 7202 Art and Design: Fine Art)
The focus of Art at A-level is to extend and develop skills learnt at GCSE, whilst aiming to encourage students to take more creative risks and really grow as artists. The course will provide you with opportunities to explore ideas in a wide range of media and forms. There are many elements you will master as the course progresses, such as being confident in taking creative risks, learning from and resolving mistakes, creating personal responses to project starting points, and developing and refining your practical skills. Additionally, working independently, and being able to contextualise your own practice through studying and understanding the work of other practitioners is of vital importance.
To be successful this course will require you to be independent and commit to extended learning outside of the classroom; it is hard work from the start, however, the more you put in, the more you will enjoy yourself, and the more rewarding the course will be.
Unit 1: Personal Investigation
- September Year 12 – February Year 13
- Portfolio of practical work showing a range of media and approaches to making
- Coherent and logically structured extended written response of between 1000 and 3000 words of continuous prose.
- 60% of A-Level
Unit 2: Externally Set Assignment
- February Year 13 – May Year 13
- Response to an externally set assignment
- Preparatory period + 15 hours supervised time
- 40% of A –Level
An A-level in Art can lead to a range of careers or university courses, whether that be focusing on Fine Art courses, animation, auctioneering, illustration, conservator, architecture, design, fashion, as well as a range of roles in the media, film or theatre.
It is wide-ranging in its potential future application and gives students a fantastic platform for a range of wonderful careers and higher education courses.
We recommend that if students wish to progress onto competitive Art-related university/training courses post-18, students need grade 7 in either the GCSE Fine Art or GCSE Art, Craft, and Design endorsements. If students do not meet these requirements, entry is still possible with a portfolio of visual work and/or discussion with the Head of Art required to assess suitability. The course requires significant independent work in addition to what is covered during lessons, so the number of subjects to be studied and subject combinations should be chosen with care.
A-level Biology will give you an exciting insight into the contemporary world of biology. It covers the key concepts in biology and practical skills are integrated throughout the course. This combination of academic challenge and practical focus makes the prospect of studying A-level Biology highly appealing. It is both an exciting and important time to be a biologist. Biologists are working to solve the biggest challenges currently faced by people and the planet – fighting global pandemics, disease, protecting the environment and feeding our growing population. Some of the most innovative and exciting work in science occurs at the boundaries where biological knowledge is combined with techniques from Chemistry, Physics, Engineering, Maths and Computer Science, such as:
- Biochemistry - investigating the chemical processes of life, combining Biology with Chemistry to study organisms at the molecular and cellular level.
- Biomaths and Computational Biology - using mathematical techniques to solve biological problems. Biotechnology - combining Biology with Chemistry and Engineering to create new biology-based technologies.
- Biophysics - using the laws of physics to better understand movement and structure and answer biological questions.
- Bioengineering - combining biological knowledge with Engineering and design to produce new and innovative products.
- Agri-science, regenerative medicine and synthetic biology - three of the UKs ‘eight great technologies’ with Biology at their core.
Biology is the study of life. It is a subject of continual advance and change. Students are encouraged to keep up to date with these many new issues and to gain an appreciation of the dynamic nature of science. Biology not only encompasses aspects of the physical sciences and mathematics related to the living world, but also provides an opportunity to consider the ethical issues arising from the rapid advances in the life sciences.
Biology teachers place great importance on learning through practical work and Reading School biologists will experience a wide variety of innovative techniques such as genetic engineering, gel electrophoresis and microscale investigations. Students are encouraged to consider extension work. All Year 12 biologists are entered for the Biology Intermediate Olympiad and the British Biology Olympiad Competition in Year 13 run by the Royal Society of Biology. We have had some students selected for the UK team and compete in the International Biology Olympiad competition.
- Module 1 – Development of practical skills
- Module 2 – Foundations in biology
- Module 3 – Exchange and transport
- Module 4 – Biodiversity, evolution and disease
- Module 5 – Communications, homeostasis and energy
- Module 6 – Genetics, evolution and ecosystems
Students will sit three examination papers in biological processes (37%), biological diversity (37%) and unified biology (26%). The practical endorsement is reported separately.
Studying Biology will provide you with valuable knowledge, skills and experience. You will gain skills that you can use no matter which career path you choose, both in and out of science will be highly valued by employers and will look great on your CV. The transferable skills you will learn are useful and can open the door to working in business and enterprise, marketing, law, hospitality, politics and policy, journalism, art, economics, biological research, medicine, environmental fields, forensics, sports and science communication and much more.
Many Reading School students go on to study Biology-related courses at undergraduate level including Medicine, Biochemistry, Biological Science, Biomechanical engineering, Neuroscience, Biomedical Science, Zoology and Veterinary Science. In the last two years we have had over 35 successful applicants to Medicine. Many medical schools request Biology as an essential component of their entry requirements (for more details see www.medschools.ac.uk). However, it should be noted that many A-level Biology students study many other degrees and combine it with non-scientific subjects there is also no requirement to study other sciences or Mathematics with it.
GCSE grade 7 in Biology or grade 7 in both Science and Additional Science.
As well as being a fascinating subject in its own right, Chemistry is the cornerstone of Medicine, Veterinary Studies, Textile and Polymer Science, Molecular Biology, Food Science, Geology and a host of other subjects. The A-level course contains a good balance of practical work supporting the Practical Endorsement supported by a carefully structured theoretical framework. The course is designed to cover the needs of many students. In addition to the obvious chemical careers, potential physicists or engineers will find much that is stimulating and challenging. There are several topics of direct relevance to the would-be medics, indeed a top A-level grade in Chemistry is essential for acceptance into a Medical School. In fact, anyone who finds Chemistry interesting, no matter what their future plans, should at least investigate the subject and examine the text books and course material.
It is the department’s policy to enrich its students’ experience and expose them to some of the applications of Chemistry in industry. Students are encouraged to attend lectures and industrial visits or work experience can be facilitated if the opportunities arise. We are also keen for students to participate in competitions, such as the Cambridge Chemistry Challenge or the highly challenging RSC Olympiad. Boys have achieved very highly in these competitions in the past and will always be encouraged to participate in activities that further their understanding of the subject.
The syllabus followed is OCR Chemistry A and is divided into six modules over two years. These include aspects of physical, inorganic and organic Chemistry.
- Module 1 – Development of practical skills in chemistry
- Module 2 – Foundations in chemistry
- Module 3 – Periodic table and energy
- Module 4 – Core organic chemistry
- Module 5 – Physical chemistry and transition elements
- Module 6 – Organic chemistry and analysis
Students sit three examination papers at the end of Year 13 on the periodic table, elements and physical chemistry (37%), synthesis and analytical techniques (37%) and unified chemistry (26%).
Studying A-level Chemistry can lead to a wide range of university courses such as Chemistry, Natural Sciences, Medicine, Pharmacology, Biochemistry, Chemical Engineering and Dentistry.
Chemistry can also lead to a wide range of jobs in both the academic and private sectors. Research roles are common jobs but Chemistry can also lead to jobs in forensics, food science and teaching. Chemistry can also lead to non-science roles in areas such as finance and law.
GCSE grade 7 in Chemistry or grade 7 in both Science and Additional Science. GCSE grade 7 in Maths is also required. If Chemistry is to be studied as one of four subjects, a minimum of 60 points from best 8 GCSEs and a grade 8 in Chemistry and Maths are required.
No prior knowledge of the Classical World is required in order to study this course.
The study of Classical Civilisation equally allows students to explore a new subject area or to extend their interest within this field. It is a very accessible course, as students explore the history and cultures of the Romans and Greeks, using English translations of the original source material. Students have succeeded in this subject regardless of previous experience and a good proportion continue with the subject beyond A-level.
The OCR course provides the opportunity to study:
- Classical thought (Democracy of the Athenians)
- Classical visual and material culture (Imperial Image – focusing on the first Roman emperor Augustus)
- Classical literature (including Virgil’s Aeneid and Homer’s Odyssey, both epic tales of love, battles and blood)
On this course you will gain an in depth understanding of a wide range of themes and topics in the study of the classical world. You'll read and analyse a range of classical texts and gain an appreciation of a number of archaeological objects, ancient images and monuments.
You will be introduced to themes, methods and theories in the study of the literature and history of the ancient world as well as exploring works of art from ancient Greece and Rome, looking not only at the objects themselves, but also on the contexts within which they were produced and used. Myths and mythology are studied throughout the course, exploring the uses of mythological stories, characters and motifs since antiquity right up to the present day.
This course balances the academic study of Classics and Ancient History today with excellent preparation for the 21st-century workplace. You will leave knowing how to identify, select, organise and interpret information, write analytically and develop independent thinking.
A-Level Classical Civilisation is good preparation for anyone considering a degree in History, Politics, Law, Classics, Ancient History, Archaeology, Journalism or Social Studies. It is a multi-purpose subject with a focus on culture and writing skills and it is certainly not limited to these degrees, it provides transferable skills and academic rigour making it beneficial for preparing for Higher Education and the workplace.
The most common sectors for employment for Classics graduates are: government and public services; the media and publishing; arts and heritage; banking and investment; advertising, marketing and communication; the law; and of course education.
It is also an excellent additional course for students with a scientific focus for their other A-levels, as medical students will often select it as an essay-based subject to supplement their applications.
No prior knowledge of the Classical World is required in order to study this course.
GCSE grade 6 in English Language and grade 7 in at least one of English Literature, History or Ancient History.
Computer Science is a fascinating and constantly evolving, futuristic subject that is incorporated into a multitude of industries. Extending a student’s ability to design complex computational algorithms by abstracting from real life situations is a key learning objective on this course.
The Computer Science course provides the opportunity to meld both technical and creative skills, whilst cultivating a depth of knowledge of the standards and historical reasons as to how society arrived at the current level of computational ability. The syllabus provides the opportunity to develop a deep appreciation of the fundamentals of programming and data structures, moving on to understand the importance of adopting a systematic approach to problem solving. A review of the structure of computer systems, systems architecture and the features of communication and networking are the precursors to appreciating the consequences of the uses of computing. As well as considering a systematic approach to problem solving, big data and aspects of functional programming, students embark on a voyage of discovery, where they complete a programming coursework project to provide a computerised system to implement a solution to a real-world challenge.
Success on this course will require the student to be independent and committed to extending their learning outside of the classroom. It is essential that the student has a home computer in order to fully engage with the material and concepts covered.
The AQA Computer Science course structure over two years is as follows:
- Paper 1 - On screen programming exam, with the questions based on a preliminary program studied prior to the exam. (40% of the A-level)
- Paper 2 – Written theory topics. (40% of the A-level)
- NEA – Investigation of a practical problem, leading to the development of a solution. Both knowledge and skills acquired during the course will be required. (20% of the A-level)
An A-level in Computer Science opens a wide variety of doors, leading naturally to a range of Computing and Computer Science courses, as well as having obvious connections to Video Game Design courses and courses linked to Web Design, IT and Data Analysis.
Equally, in an ever-changing world, computer literacy and the ability to code can be a vital skill to have for a wide-range of careers, not least in app design, video games, a range of tech industries, engineering or even Formula 1.
GCSE grade 7 in Mathematics. Computer Science GCSE is not a requirement, but if it has been studied, then a grade 6 is required.
Prior programming or algorithmic experience is desirable, but not a prerequisite, as a practical approach is taken from the onset of the course.
Economics is a lively and evolving social science that studies the choices individuals, businesses, governments and entire societies make. Economics helps you to look more deeply into the world around you, allowing you to develop a broader appreciation of how and why it functions as it does. It can also give you new perspectives on some of the most pressing and challenging problems facing the world today; the causes and consequences of the 2008 financial crash; the operation of the financial markets; growing income inequality; unemployment and underemployment; the economic implications of Brexit; action to reduce carbon emissions; interest rates; the issues surrounding government borrowing and debt; migration and the impact of an ageing population – to name but a few.
Students studying Economics combine it with subjects across the curriculum and it complements Mathematics, Sciences, Humanities and Languages.
The two main components of the subject are:
- Microeconomics, which involves a study of the behaviour of consumers and businesses, analysing how markets work and may often fail. Closer examination of housing, energy, labour, financial, health and education markets help students explore the real-world application of microeconomic theories and concepts. We also look at the theory behind the operations of firms and business enterprises, and the rationale for government intervention.
- Macroeconomics, which is the study of the whole economy – topics such as inflation, unemployment, economic growth, the balance of payments, government policy and international trade are all key issues. Is the government meeting its major economic objectives? Could UK government policy be more effective?
The A-level Economic course is a two-year ‘linear’ course and is structured to develop both microeconomic and macroeconomic concepts and theories in a variety of contemporary contexts. The course is externally assessed by three examinations at the end of Year 13, and quantitative skills are embedded within the assessment.
Studying Economics can lead to a number of university courses and career options. Students from Economics go onto study:
- Pure Economics
- Economics and Finance
- Economics and Management
- Politics, Philosophy and Economics
- Psychology and Economics
- Mathematics & Operational Research & Statistics & Economics (MORSE)
- History and Economics
- Journalism and Economics
Economists carry out research and collect information on a wide variety of topics such as interest rates, taxation, transport, international development, energy, health and many more. The aim is to use the information to produce forecasts of economic trends and make recommendations to improve efficiency. Those with Economics degrees can therefore go on to have a wide range of career options including roles in in the private sector, roles in government including policy advisory roles, banking and finance, management consulting, business, politics or journalism.
GCSE grade 7 in Mathematics. Economics GCSE is not a requirement, but if it has been studied then a grade 7 is required. If Economics is to be studied as one of four subjects a minimum of 60 points from best 8 GCSEs and a grade 8 in Maths is required.
Whether you are a committed literature lover, a budding writer, or even a science purist, the English Department offers a course which will engage your intellect and help you to improve how you express yourself. Carrying on studying English Literature to A-level makes you a much better and more interesting university and employment candidate. It will sharpen your skills of analysis, make you a better constructor of critical argument and discussion, and ensure you can sprinkle your influential ideas with magic fairy dust.
A-level English Literature is a two-year linear qualification. It comprises three components, two of which will be examined at the end of Year 13: two 150 minute examinations (worth 40% of the overall qualification each) and a 3,000 word non-examined assessment folder (worth 20% of the overall qualification). Texts which are being studied by the current cohorts include ‘Hamlet’, ‘The Great Gatsby’ and ‘Paradise Lost’.
English Literature A-level is considered to be a facilitating subject by university admissions tutors: the skills you will learn stand you in good stead for a very wide range of undergraduate degrees and also careers. Past Reading School students have used their English Literature A-level to win places at universities to read Engineering, Maths, Medicine, Veterinary Science and Economics, as well as English, Drama, Languages, Sociology and PPE. As for future employment: the opportunities are boundless. In the past few years, Reading School English Literature A-level students have become journalists, actors, theatre directors, events organisers, international sports administrators, professional athletes, Parliamentary researchers, online content creators, authors, publishers, musicians, and, in some woeful cases, teachers.
GCSE grade 6 in both English Language and English Literature.
Extended Project Qualification (EPQ)
Extended Project Qualification (EPQ)
If there’s an area of study you really love – whether it’s Engineering, Medicine, Economics or anything else – an Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) gives you the chance to develop your skills and knowledge by engaging in undergraduate style research.
You’ll have a research skills lesson every week and regular meetings with your appointed supervisor; other than that it is up to you to manage your time. It is anticipated that you will complete your project by the end of Year 12 and it will be submitted in November of Year 13. Successful students on the EPQ are self-motivated, well-organised, and up for an academic challenge.
The EPQ is worth a maximum of 70 UCAS points, which is slightly more than an AS-level (60 points). At some universities (e.g. Southampton, Birmingham), applicants who take an EPQ and meet the offer criteria will be made an alternative offer which will be one grade lower, plus a grade A in the EPQ. For all universities, the EPQ offers an opportunity to become an expert in a particular area, an invaluable source of discussion in both your UCAS personal statement and potential university interviews.
You’ll be required to complete a project based on a research topic of your choice. This can be related to your A-levels or a subject outside of your current areas of study (e.g. Law, Medicine, Psychology, Philosophy, Sociology – the possibilities are limitless). Your project can be in the form of a 5,000 word essay or report; an artefact, musical composition or dramatic project, with a 2,000 word research report.
The EPQ will facilitate you in a number of ways, firstly as a qualification that forces you to become a more effective learner, researcher and planner, all of which are vital skills for the next phase of your education.
It is also valuable as a mechanism to maximise your chances in the UCAS application process, being valued by many universities as an indication of your academic prowess and worth 70 UCAS points in addition to this.
Finally, you can select the subject you choose to do your EPQ on, so it is a fantastic opportunity to gain real knowledge in an area of your preference, which can prove vital in facilitating your future learning or even your career.
GCSE grade 6 in English Language and grade 7 in at least one of English Literature, History or Ancient History.
Geography is a popular A-level choice nationally, as well as in Reading School. Teaching is characterised by a lively approach, aimed at developing the geographer’s natural curiosity and concern about major contemporary issues. It is Geography’s ability to integrate the study of Earth’s places, peoples, environments and societies that makes it so relevant to the understanding of the increasingly interconnected world in which we all live and work. Geography is a diverse discipline that bridges the arts and social and natural sciences, providing a broad education that addresses many pressing issues.
The Geography department at Reading School is staffed with experienced, enthusiastic teachers who are passionate about the world and the role people can play within it.
The AQA A-level course comprises of a Physical Geography paper (40%), a Human Geography paper (40%) and the NEA, Non-Examined Assessment (20%). The Human and Physical Geography sections are taught simultaneously by different teachers across the two years. The topics covered in each section are as follows:
- Physical Geography – coastal systems and landscapes, hazards and carbon and water cycles.
- Human Geography – changing places, global systems and governance and resources security.
At the beginning of Year 13, there is also a required element of a five-day curriculum trip to the coast to collect data for the NEA.
Geography combines well with both arts and science subjects at A-level and is highly valued by universities. A Russell Group report named Geography as one of eight facilitating subjects. Geography is therefore one of the subjects most likely to be required or preferred for entry to competitive degree courses. In 2016, students who studied Geography at A-level went on to study university courses in the Sciences (Biology, Medicine, Computer Science and physical sciences), Geography, Engineering and the arts, humanities and social sciences (Law, languages, Business, History and Economics).
The broad set of transferable skills means Geography graduates have a wide range of career opportunities. In recent years Geography students have entered careers in management consultancy, local and central government, the civil service, environmental management and conservation, heritage management, law, banking/finance, media, teaching, retail, charities, planning and politics.
Geography is an obvious choice for careers relating to issues of sustainability, green issues, urban regeneration and managing the effects of hazards and climate change. For business related careers, Geography provides an understanding of global economics. If you are considering careers in law, human rights, international relations or welfare, then Geography gives you the opportunity consider relevant and contemporary global issues. If you are considering studying Medicine or Veterinary Medicine then Geography will give your A-level options the breadth that universities seek, as you will gain an understanding of how the environment affects the health and survival of people, animals and ecosystems as well as enhancing your skills in essay writing essay and extended reports.
GCSE grade 6 in English Language. Geography GCSE is not a requirement, but if it has been studied then a grade 6 is required.
History is an exciting, interesting and constantly stimulating subject. History is a highly regarded subject for courses at degree level, including Medicine, as well as for a wide variety of professions. It is the most popular degree amongst MPs, popular with lawyers and, at A-level, it is a fantastic complement to scientific courses as it trains students to take in information from a range of sources. Within our experienced and innovative department there is also a determination to make the course as relevant and enjoyable as possible.
Students will study two taught modules for A-level History. Firstly, they will study the Cold War, 1945-1991. Many students will have touched upon the relevant global themes of the 20th century in their GCSEs and we build upon this by investigating the Cold War in fascinating depth. The students have to fully immerse themselves in the political drama, the apocalyptic tension and ideological suspicion as this depth study gets to the heart of one of the most interesting human dramas the world has seen, one which continues to affect us today.
Secondly, they will study the Tudors, 1485 – 1603. England’s most famous family have continued to ignite imaginations across the world for a reason: they carried out one of history’s most exciting soap operas and they continue to matter to this day. Henry VII’s successful invasion, Henry VIII’s break with Rome and subsequent creation of the Church of England, Mary’s burning of heretics and Elizabeth’s defeat of the Armada are just the headlines, behind which lie dark plots, dastardly rebellions and delicious intrigues. Both these modules are taught by teachers who love the content and know the exam board’s demands, and are studied by students who become deeply passionate about the subject.
As part of the course, students will also complete an independent investigation into an historical issue. The three they can choose from are: The Crusades, the American Civil War or the French Revolution. This extended piece of writing will involve bringing together a vast array of evidence that students have located themselves and reaching substantiated conclusions.
A Level History is good preparation for anyone considering a degree in History, Politics, Law, Journalism and Social Studies. History is a multipurpose subject and is not limited to these degrees, it provides transferable skills and academic rigour making it beneficial for preparing for Higher Education and the workplace.
The most common sectors for employment for History graduates are: government and public services; the media and publishing; arts and heritage; banking and investment; advertising, marketing and communication; the law; and of course, education.
That doesn’t mean that if you are considering a job in a different sector that History won’t be any benefit to you. For example, you will improve your skills from independent research and working with journal articles which can be useful when going to work in the medical profession.
GCSE grade 6 in English Language. History GCSE is not a requirement, but if it has been studied then a minimum of a grade 6 is required.
The study of Latin helps to develop logical thinking, as well as enhancing analytical and evaluative abilities. As such, many students that opt for Latin do so to complement the Maths/Further Maths and Physics subjects that require many of the same skills.
At the same time the study of literature augments other subjects, most particularly English Literature and History; the study of this language obviously provides the basis for other Romantic Languages. During the course students will have the privilege to study some of the greatest Classical works, as well as exploring the nuances of translating them. Latin is an extremely well-regarded A-level subject, however the most important reason for taking Latin is that the students really enjoy the course.
The OCR course roughly equates to 50% language and 50% literature. Students will study both poetry and prose. The course is assessed by four examinations:
- Unseen translation 33%
- Prose composition or comprehension 17%
- Prose literature 25%
- Verse literature 25%
On account of its versatility the study of Latin can lead directly to a whole plethora of careers, including the civil service, law, computer programming, journalism or accountancy; and indirectly to becoming a mathematician, scientist, medic or engineer.
GCSE grade 7 in Latin.
Maths and Further Maths
Mathematics and Further Mathematics
A-level Mathematics (H240)
AS-Level Further Mathematics (H235) and A-level Further Mathematics (H245)
Mathematics is an extremely popular choice at AS and A-level providing an intellectually stimulating and analytically rigorous course that develops a systematic, yet intuitive, method of tackling problems that is highly regarded by both Higher Education and employers.
Often described as ‘The Queen of the Sciences’, Mathematics provides the backbone to numerous disciplines. The majority of students who opt for Mathematics choose it as a ‘service’ subject to enable them to pursue a course in a science-related subject or the social sciences such as Economics, Actuarial Science and Accountancy. However, a significant number do go on to read Mathematics at university.
There are three courses offered in the Sixth Form to AS or A-level:
- A-level Mathematics
- A-level Mathematics plus AS-Level Further Maths
- A-level Mathematics plus A-level Further Maths (in either one or two option blocks)
For Further Maths applicants, the designation of the Further Maths options will depend on an internal examination set in September 2021, as this test is used to assign sets in Mathematics and Further Maths. Some sets will be sitting Maths and Further Maths in one block, others in two and some will have the option of AS Further Maths.
There are also additional opportunities offered to Sixth Form mathematicians. The Senior Maths Challenge gives pupils the chance to progress to the Mathematical Olympiads and demonstrate their prowess. A team challenge and various other master classes may also be on offer during the two-year course. Pupils wishing to study Mathematics at Cambridge and other prestigious universities, will be required to sit STEP, AEA or other such admissions tests either at the end or during the Upper Sixth. Help and guidance is available within the department for these tests.
The courses followed in the Sixth Form lead to the OCR qualifications. They are all examined by linear examinations at the end of the two years.
A-level Mathematics specification - https://www.ocr.org.uk/qualifications/as-and-a-level/mathematics-a-h230-h240-from-2017/specification-at-a-glance/
A-level and AS Further Mathematics specifications - https://www.ocr.org.uk/qualifications/as-and-a-level/further-mathematics-a-h235-h245-from-2017/specification-at-a-glance/
A-level Mathematics only:
To embark on an A-level Mathematics course it is essential to have a complete grasp of GCSE work, in particular an ability to manipulate algebra. Experience shows that pupils who achieve less than a Grade 7 at GCSE struggle to succeed at A-level. For this reason, a Grade 7 at GCSE is a requirement.
A-level Further Maths or AS Level Further Maths (in addition to A-level Mathematics):
The final decision on those students able to do the Maths and Further Maths options will be based on a collection exam at the start of September 2021, but the following is a good guide of what is needed.
A-level Mathematics and Further Maths can be studied in a single block, or as a double block option. Very able mathematicians have the option of pursuing this course from a single option block. Most likely these pupils are in the top set in Year 11 (if they currently attend Reading School) and they must achieve a grade 9 for GCSE and a grade A for Additional Maths (FSMQ – 6993/01). Current Reading School pupils should also be recommended by their Year 11 teacher for this course. Those joining Reading School for their A-level studies will need to have gained a grade 9 at GCSE and a grade A in Additional Maths (FSMQ – 6993/01) in order to be considered to study Further Maths in a single option block.
Further Maths is also offered in two option blocks for boys who will benefit from a more measured pace. Such pupils will need to have achieved a grade 9 at GCSE. No additional qualification is needed. If Further Mathematics A-level is under-subscribed, pupils with a grade 8 will be considered. These pupils (with grade 8s) will be ranked by their raw score and any available places in Further Mathematics will be filled from working through the list from the highest score achieved down until all places have been allocated.
Provided there is a suitable demand for such a course, pupils may opt to study A-level Mathematics and AS Further Maths in one option block. There is no AS Further Maths in two blocks. The entry requirement is a grade 9 at GCSE and a grade B in the Additional Maths qualification, if it has been studied.
Within the School, there are additional opportunities offered to Sixth Form mathematicians. The Senior Maths Challenge gives pupils the chance to progress to the Mathematical Olympiads and demonstrate their prowess. A team challenge and various other master classes may also be on offer during the two-year course. Pupils wishing to study Mathematics at Cambridge and other prestigious universities, will be required to sit STEP, AEA or other such admissions tests either at the end or during the Upper Sixth. Help and guidance is available within the department for these tests.
For university, Mathematics is an access subject and many seemingly unrelated university courses look for you to have an A level in mathematics or mathematics and further mathematics. These include accounting, economics, computer science, engineering, physics and chemistry. Jobs that require mathematics are wide ranging, from being an actuary, a meteorologist or a software engineer.
Alongside all of the other career options for those who enjoy mathematics, you can also study a mathematics degree and perhaps follow this with a PhD in mathematics.
Modern Foreign Languages
Modern Foreign Languages – French, German and Spanish
French (AQA 7652)
German (AQA 7662)
Spanish (AQA 7692)
‘A different language is a different vision of life’, Frederico Fellini, Italian film director.
Learning a language is a challenging and rewarding experience. You will have the opportunity to interact with people from many backgrounds whilst developing your verbal, written and presentation skills. Being able to engage directly with native speakers, whether on holiday or whilst working for a multi-national company, will enable you to see things from their perspective and gain insight into their culture and society. It is our intention to offer students the opportunity to spend time in the target language country in the form of a study visit or a work experience placement. The skills involved in learning a language lend themselves to the world of work, enabling you to demonstrate your presentation skills, adaptability, open-mindedness and creativity.
To succeed you need to develop your knowledge of grammar and extend your range of vocabulary. Following the AQA course you will study social issues and trends such as modern and traditional values, cyberspace, equal rights, artistic culture (like modern day idols or cultural heritage, or cultural landscape).
You will develop your reading and listening skills so that you can access information and ideas on a range of topics. You will be able to develop your oral fluency and conversational skills. You will be encouraged to develop the ability to communicate your ideas in written tasks in a clear and logical manner. The course encourages you to reflect on important issues and gives you the opportunity to talk about topics which are of interest to you and which you have researched.
Languages are considered to be facilitating subjects, so they are a fantastic option to sit alongside any A-level for any potential university course. They demonstrate your linguistic skill, but also your mental flexibility and retention skills, which are all vital for university study. They also open up the option for joint honours degrees with a range of other subjects. These are often less-subscribed and provide less-competitive avenues into elite universities.
In terms of career opportunities, languages again serve to facilitate your options. Whether your career intentions are in business, where being able to communicate in a different language could enhance your relationship with a future client, or if it’s in medicine and you are able to use your language skills to soothe a concerned patient, languages are a gateway to all sorts of career opportunities.
French - GCSE grade 7 in French.
German - GCSE grade 7 in German.
Spanish - GCSE grade 7 in Spanish.
Since September 2019, Music in the Sixth Form has followed the EDUQAS specification. The course is divided into the disciplines of performance, composition and listening, but there is naturally a considerable increase in the rigour of these areas when compared with GCSE.
Through the range of genres, styles and eras contained in the Areas of Study they will explore musical context, musical language and performance and composition skills. The EDUQAS course has options and pathways designed to appeal to, and cater for, a wide range of interests, instruments and personal creative strengths.
Candidates can choose to major in either performance or composition.
- Minimum ten-minute performance externally assessed by a visiting examiner.
- A minimum of three pieces.
- At least one of these pieces must be as a soloist. The other pieces may be either as a soloist or as part of an ensemble or a combination of both.
- One piece must reflect the musical characteristics of one area of study.
- At least one other piece must reflect the musical characteristics of one other, different area of study.
- If taking this option then candidate must minor in composition.
- Minimum six-minute performance externally assessed by a visiting examiner.
- A minimum of two pieces either as a soloist or as part of an ensemble or a combination of both.
- One piece must reflect the musical characteristics of one area of study.
- If taking this option then candidate must major in composition.
- Compositions with a combined duration of eight to ten minutes.
- One to a brief set by WJEC (linked to Areas of Study A)
- Second must reflect the musical characteristics of a different area of study
- The third composition is a free composition.
- Compositions with a combined duration of four to six minutes.
- One to a brief set by WJEC (linked to Areas of Study A)
- Second composition is a free composition.
Assessment of Areas of Study A (40 marks)
- A question on an unprepared extract with a skeleton score provided.
- A detailed analysis question on a choice of either set work.
- An essay-based question which assesses knowledge of the development of the symphony in relation to both set symphonies and to the wider social, cultural and historical context.
Assessment of Areas of Study B, C or D (30 marks)
- One question on an unprepared musical extract
- A comparison question based on two unprepared extracts assessing wider understanding of the area of study.
Assessment of Areas of Study E or F (30 marks)
- An analysis question on one of the two set works
- A question on an unprepared musical extract.
- Learners will not be expected to identify the composer of unprepared extracts.
Areas of Study
We currently study Areas of Study A, D and E.
The Western Classical Tradition: The Development of the Symphony 1750-1900 is currently compulsory with prescribed works
Optional (2 to be studied)
Choose one from Areas of Study B, C or D and a second from Areas of Study E or F.
- Areas of Study B: Rock and Pop
- Areas of Study C: Musical Theatre
- Areas of Study D: Jazz
- Areas of Study E: Into the Twentieth Century
- Areas of Study F: Into the Twenty-first Century
Area of Study A
Choose one set work for detailed analysis and the other for general study.
- Symphony No. 104 in D major, 'London': Haydn
- Symphony No. 4 in A major, 'Italian': Mendelssohn
Area of Study E
The following two set works are studied in depth.
- Trio for Oboe, Bassoon and Piano, Movement II: Poulenc
- Three Nocturnes, Number 1, Nuages: Debussy
Music is a subject that is well-regarded and provides a great number of avenues. The perception that you only study Music A-level if you intend to take it on to university study is not true, as it is a fantastic accompanying subject to most academic pathways, but many of our students do decide to take that route. We have had a number of students take forward their music study to university or conservatoires, so this is a route to be considered.
GCSE grade 7 in Music and success at Grade VI level on your primary instrument (the study of a secondary instrument to at least Grade IV level is highly recommended). For candidates who have not studied GCSE, Music Grade VII on an instrument and Grade VI theory is acceptable. A-level music also requires that students make prominent and consistent contributions to the school’s extra-curricular music activities.
Philosophy and Religious Studies
Philosophy / Religious Studies
There is potential to run Philosophy and/or Religious Studies, depending on interest. The much more likely course to run is Philosophy, based on projected interest, but if you are interested in Religious Studies and you have questions about the course, please email email@example.com and they will pass your questions onto the Head of Department, Mr Miller.
Philosophy has three main aspects:
- Metaphysics - the study of what exists;
- Moral Philosophy - the study of ethics;
- Epistemology - the study of knowledge.
Epistemology and Moral Philosophy are the first two topics, constituting the AS course, and the two A-level topics of metaphysics - The Metaphysics of Mind and The Metaphysics of God are studied for the A-level. The Metaphysics of Mind section centres on the single question of the relation between the mind and the body (including the brain). The Metaphysics of God is more diverse, considering arguments to try to prove, and arguments to try to disprove, the existence of a God, and asking whether traditional language about God is philosophically consistent or meaningful.
The A-level Philosophy course works mainly by getting you to do a lot of thinking. There is learning of material, but you are learning new ideas, and to learn a new idea is not just to become acquainted with it and remember it, but to think about it until you truly understand and can employ it.
The assessment is purely by examination. There are two papers of three hours each. Within each paper there are two sections, each one covering one of the four areas of the syllabus (Paper 1, Epistemology and Moral Philosophy; Paper 2, The Metaphysics of God and The Metaphysics of Mind). Each section has five questions with no choice (so you need to know the whole syllabus), and is a graded series of essay questions. The first four examine knowledge and understanding, building up from mere definitions (which must however be philosophically precise) to longer explanations of ideas and standard arguments. Finally, there is a major argument and evaluation question, where you must debate and decide a philosophical problem such as ‘Is there anything that we know for certain?’
People enjoy Philosophy from all sorts of backgrounds: arts, maths, humanities, sciences. You may love precision; you may love opening up of the mind to see in a different way; you may love constructive arguing. The abilities and capacities which will serve you best are things like tenacity and clarity of thought, willingness to listen and to try to understand, concentration and focus.
GCSE grade 6 in English Language.
Physical Education is a new A-level we are hoping to launch next academic year. As increasing numbers of students have selected this subject at GCSE, we hope that we will have sufficient interest to run this A-level in 2021.
Physical Education is a practical and rigorous course that covers a range of challenging aspects of sporting performance, physiology, psychology and sport’s societal impact. This breadth of topics means it ties in well with science subjects as well as humanities.
It is not a subject to be taken on lightly and students without an elite level of sporting performance will struggle to achieve top grades, due to the heavy weighting of the sporting performance element in this qualification.
The AQA course focuses on the following key areas
1. Applied anatomy and physiology
2. Skill acquisition
3. Sport and society
4. Exercise physiology
5. Biomechanical movement
6. Sport psychology
7. Sport and society and the role of technology in physical activity and sport
These seven topics are assessed through two, two-hour exams, which make up 70% of the overall grade, with the final 30% coming from a practical performance assessment which requires students to demonstrate high levels of sporting skill as either a coach or performer, plus a verbal analysis of performance.
This A-level is a useful complement to Biology and it leads naturally into a range of sports science-based degrees. Anyone with an interest in this area should strongly consider this course.
The careers options opened up by studying Physical Education are broad and cover, but are not limited to: physiotherapy, coaching, personal training, policy advisor on sport, sports consultancy, OPTA data analyst, PE teacher, dietician, sports scientist.
For any students who have studied PE at GCSE, a minimum of a grade 8 is required, and be able to evidence either regional representation in a sport or a recognised governing body coaching qualification.
If a student has not done GCSE PE, they must have at least a grade 7 in Biology and be able to evidence either regional representation in a sport or a recognised governing body coaching qualification.
Physics is perhaps the most fundamental of all the sciences, seeking to explain the science of stellar evolution, the nature of the fundamental particles that form the “fabric” of the Universe and everything in between. Physics is a challenging and interesting subject which will help you to understand the world and universe around you. A-level Physics is a vitally important qualification for many careers.
At Reading School, we follow the AQA A-level syllabus (7408). The core content consists of the following topics: Measurements and their errors, particles and radiation, waves, mechanics and materials, electricity, further mechanics and thermal physics, fields and their consequences, nuclear physics and turning points.
A-level Physics is a two-year ‘linear’ course which is examined externally at the end of Year 13. A very broad practical approach is built in to the syllabus which allows students to develop their scientific analytical skills to a very high level. The course has a high level of mathematical content which students will learn how to use in theoretical and practical situations.
Your experience in advanced level physics will support your application for any undergraduate course and career that requires people who are proven to think logically, to solve problems, to handle numbers, to work together, are creative and love a challenge. Physics can help you develop a flexible portfolio of skills that will equip you for a satisfying career, wherever your ambitions lie.
With a background in Physics, you will have so many future opportunities opened to you! Here are the most common examples provided by the Institute of Physics:
Aeronautical Engineer, Agricultural Engineer, Airline Pilot, Archaeologist, Architect, Astronomer, Broadcasting, Cartographer, Chartered Surveyor, Civil Engineer, Climatologist, Clinical Scientist, Computing, Designer, Doctor, Electrical Engineer, Energy Engineer, Environmental Scientist, Forensic Scientist, Geologist, Health Services, Journalist, Marine Engineer, Mathematician, Mechanical Engineer, Medical Physicist, Meteorologist, Naval Architect, Nuclear Scientist, Oceanographer, Pharmacist, Radiation Protection, Radiographer, Government Scientific Officer, Sound Engineer, Teacher, Transport, Water Management.
GCSE grade 7 in Physics or 7 in both Science and Additional Science. GCSE grade 7 in Maths is also required. If Physics is to be studied as one of four subjects a minimum of 60 points from best 8 GCSEs and a grade 8 in Physics and Maths are required.
(AQA Drama and Theatre 7262)
The course consists of a balance between practical and written work. One of the most exciting aspects of the AQA A-level course is that you are given several opportunities to work on a production as performer, director or designer. This work is accompanied by a working notebook and a reflective report, but by and large, they are performance led components which in total are worth 60% of your final grade. In one component you devise your own piece of theatre and for the other component you work on the presentation of three extracts from different plays. The choice of material is very wide and governed by you.
The written paper includes the study of two set texts from a performance perspective and analysis of live theatre seen. The emphasis at A-level is very much on theatre as a performance art and everything is explored from a practical perspective. The plays are taught not as literary texts but as productions to be bought alive which makes the subject vibrant and interesting. You will be asked to form opinions and to analyse every aspect of the work, a useful and difficult skill to master. Visits to the theatre are vital and the focus is on seeing professional work. We will experience a wide variety of style and genre throughout our studies. It is important to remember that there is a significant amount of written work and self-directed study, so a real enthusiasm and genuine interest in the subject is important.
The subject content for A-level Drama and Theatre is divided into three components:
- Drama and theatre – assessing knowledge and understanding of theatre analysis, including two plays and analysis and evaluation of the work of live theatre.
- Creating original drama – assessing the process of creating devised drama through devising a piece influenced by the work and methodologies of one prescribed practitioner; this can be as performer, designer or director.
- Making theatre – a practical exploration and interpretation of three extracts each from a different play and one performed as a final piece; students can contribute as performer, designer or director.
Drama does not only lead to becoming an actor or a director, and so it follows that Drama and Theatre A-level does not only lead into the same field.
Of course, any Arts based university course or career will benefit massively from taking A-level Drama and Theatre but, coupled with English or History for example, this research based A-level complements brilliantly as a side car for university application, where it's value is recognised.
The Washington Post published an article a few years ago on research at Google where they found soft skills to rate far higher than stem skills when recruiting. The critical thinking, flexibility of thought and process that Drama gives a student is sought after by employers across all work areas. The ability to empathise with colleagues and clients, the ability to communicate with confidence and authority, to become a good coach and a problem solver, all these skills - central to success in Drama A-level are now rightly seen as key by employers.
A Drama A-level or degree being seen as a fluffy option is long gone, and students who take and commit to the subject find themselves armed with skills for life that stand them in good stead wherever the meandering path of a career takes them.
GCSE grade 6 in either GCSE English Language or English Literature. Drama GCSE is not a requirement, but if it has been studied then a grade 7 is required. A genuine interest in theatre is essential.