Life in the Sixth Form is very much based around the idea of a community, the core of which is the Sixth Form Common Room and Dining Room. Students in the Upper and Lower Sixth mix together both within the Centre itself (where most lessons are held) and through the age structure of tutor groups. We know from speaking to many of our old girls who are now at University that Abbey girls look foward to the Sixth Form and the increased leadership opportunities it offers on a day-to-day basis.
The week before they begin, students will have an Induction Day where they can see how the Sixth Form differs from the Senior School. Enrichment is a key aspect of the Sixth Form. Students are strongly encouraged to embark on some form of extra-curricular activity, such as voluntary work, buddies, Young Enterprise, Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme and applications to become School Officers.
Socially, the Sixth Form participate in a number of activities, including ice-skating, theatre trips, Christmas shopping in London, giving the girls a well-earned break form their hard work.
The school prides itself on how well its students are prepared for 'life beyond The Abbey'. There is a real emphasis on teaching the students the independent study skills which they will require for the future. We hold a Higher Education Evening giving a thorough overview; girls are encouraged to consider what courses would best suit them and look at which universities would suit them. A number of events and seminars are held - some on particular courses like Law and Medicine and others on applying for Oxbridge. Girls are guided through the UCAS application process throughout the Sixth Form.
Upper Sixth has a whole different feel to it than Lower Sixth. This is partly because girls are now the oldest in the school, marking the start of the next steps in their life after The Abbey. Although the Upper Sixth still continue to have fun, they must focus on achieving good examination marks at the end of the year and also on their applications to University. In this way, the girls start the year as they mean to go on by perfecting their UCAS Personal Statements.
In addition to focussing on Examinations and University applications the girls are now fully into their roles as School Officers. The importance of the girls taking on these roles is not to be underestimated. They do so much for the teachers and the school getting involved in everything from school events to helping out daily in school life, particularly with the younger girls.
The final few days of Sixth Form are marked by a Leavers' Assembly, which is sure to make at least half the year cry (and often the staff too) and a Leavers' Ball. This is such a special evening which always lives up to everyone's expectations and gives the girls a great opportunity to be a full year group for the last time and celebrate with the teachers they have known as they made their way up the school.
This is not the end of students' involvement with The Abbey School. Once girls have got their results and gone to university or on gap year, they return in December for Speech Day. This is a celebration of their individual and collective achievements as a year group. There is a very active alumnae network with many old girls coming back to The Abbey to give informal talks to current Sixth Formers about their experiences of gap year and university life.
Every year many girls undertake the challenge of the Duke of Edinburgh Gold award. The five parts of the award see them volunteering, improving their fitness, learning a new skill, taking part in a residential course and challenging themselves on the five day unsupported expedition. Girls find the programme challenging, rewarding and a good counterpoint to academic study. As a DofE operating authority The Abbey regularly sends a high number of girls to receive their awards at St James’ Palace. Last year 48 girls achieved their Gold award, the highest number from any authority in the South East Region.
Young Enterprise offers girls the chance to develop their business acumen, team-working and leadership skills as they start and run their own company for a year. Working with advisors they must write business plans, plan production and marketing and sell their product. The Abbey’s teams have had regular success in regional competitions over the past few years, learning valuable real-world skills along the way.