Rossendale Free Press
The sixth form inspiring students to be whatever they want to be
SMALL ENOUGH TO KNOW STUDENTS BY NAME, YET BIG ENOUGH TO OFFER JUST UNDER 30 A-LEVEL COURSES, THE SIXTH FORM AT ST CHRISTOPHER’S CHURCH OF ENGLAND HIGH SCHOOL ENSURES THAT THEIR STUDENTS ASPIRE TO BE THE BEST THEY CAN BE ACADEMY
After completing GCSE’s and receiving their results, young people are faced with a big question: What is the next step, and how do I make my dreams and ambitions a reality?
The Sixth Form at St Christopher’s Church of England High School in north Accrington, is an excellent school to consider for any student looking to further their education, and to find a place for themselves in the world post-18.
This incredible school enables its students to choose from a large variety of just under 30 courses, ensuring that no matter what the skills or aspirations of those who attend, the school will help them to build a rewarding future for themselves on both a personal and professional level.
The friendly, family-focused school deliberately keeps its class numbers small, so that teaching staff can know their students well, and offer close mentorship to the students who attend.
Helen Davies, the director of sixth form for the school, said: “We have a small sixth form of around 320 students which enables us to get to know all of them very well, and to ensure that we keep class sizes small in order to maximise the attainment of all students.”
“It’s very much a close community and is a warm, friendly and supportive environment for students.”
With the Christian values of forgiveness, friendship, hope, justice, love, peace and trust at the centre of all that they do, the school and its staff are dedicated to catering to the needs of all potential students, no matter what background or faith they come from.
Helen said: “We take a broad spectrum of people from all faiths and none, because it truly enriches the sixth form experience for all of our students.”
“All of our students bring something so unique and individual to the sixth form.; there is a wonderful sense of everybody working together to be the very best, both through academic studies and personal development.”
The school is holding an open evening, led by the students, on November 18 at 6pm, and prospective future students can register their attendance online to book a slot and beat the queues.
Whilst St Christopher’s has an excellent reputation for achieving highly in academic subjects, this isn’t the only focus of the school.
Helen said: “We have an excellent academic record; it’s an academically driven sixth form, but that doesn’t overlook those who are creative as well as academic.”
“Many gifted musicians, musical theatre performers and actors have gone on to study at some of the leading Conservatoires and Acting Schools in the UK. A competitive industry for students to break into. Our track record is excellent and many past students are now working in both the music and performing arts industry.”
Given the small size of the sixth form, its achievements are outstanding.
It makes a point of not being driven by money, but rather, working within their funding and budgets to give more space to focus on meeting the individual needs of their pupils, on a pupil-by-pupil basis.
“We’re small, we’re about the students and providing them with a personalised education,” said Helen.
Lois Cox, the head girl at St Christopher’s, said: “The teachers here are so attentive, and the care and support shown by all staff at the sixth form really is a unique quality that St Christopher’s has.”
“The teachers are one of the key assets of the sixth form, all of them are so passionate about the subjects they teach.”
“I have acquired a real passion for the subjects I have studied as a direct result of the teaching I have received.”
The sixth form knows that the young people in its care are there to learn, however, they also know that there are other important elements of the school experience that help to mould a young person’s future, and to shape the adult they become.
Helen and her colleagues are heavily driven by their passion for motivating young people to not just to get the best career or the best university place, but to be the very best person they can be.
“We want to inspire them all, and instil in them, that they can be whoever they want to be” Helen said.
“It’s not just about careers. It’s about the people they become.” A former student remarked.
“I’m leaving St Christopher’s not knowing what I want to be, but knowing who I want to be.”
TRANSITIONING TO SIXTH FORM AND BEYOND
Making that transition from year 11 to year 12 can be a daunting time for many young people.
However, the staff at St Christopher’s go to great lengths to ensure that this transition is as smooth as possible.
Lois Cox, head girl, shared a little about her experience when she joined the school for sixth form in September.
She explained: “I came for an open evening in September, having it as one of my first options and I left not wanting to go anywhere else.”
“I have had a different experience from those of you who will have come here from main school, but I can tell you that it has been lovely meeting so many new people and forming new friendship groups.”
With multiple programmes and schemes to get involved in, students entering the sixth form feel supported, in control and empowered to achieve greatness on their academic journey.
Helen added: “We have a unique enrichment programme which we offer every Wednesday. Students can join the Debating Society, enrol in the MAD Society for aspiring Medics, Dentists, Vets and Pharmacists, sign up for the Aim Higher Programme if they are aiming for Oxbridge, a Russell group University or high-level apprenticeship. Enrichment also offers all the students the opportunity to keep fit, get involved in music and performing arts and even play chess and squash!”
“We love working with our students to shape their futures, but getting to know them as a person, on a personal level is so special too.”
The school encourages students to strive to achieve their goals, no matter what setbacks they may encounter in life.
They endeavour to be the safety net that allows students to feel confident in reaching for the stars.
The sixth form sits in an area of low aspiration and socio-economic deprivation.
Helen said: “It’s about telling them you can aspire to do this, no matter where you’re from, it has no bearing on what you can achieve and where you can end up. We are committed to giving all our students the best opportunities available.”
THE SCHOOL DOES A LOT OF WORK WITH CHARITY
The Heads of Year work alongside the students to raise money for their year group charities. They get involved with charity fundraising projects and schemes that give back to the local community.
Helen said: “We do a lot of charity work, and many of our students are incredibly passionate about it.”
“Some regularly volunteer at local food banks, some work with the homeless, and each year group supports at least one or two charities each year, raising money throughout the year, to support those charities.”
“We have two ‘Courageous
Advocates’ within our worship team this year, and they are responsible for inspiring the students in charity work and helping support this in the local community.”
“For example, our annual ‘Sleep
Out for the Homeless’ aims to raise awareness and money for local charities who support vulnerable people. We are also very conscious of the environment that we live in and the school has recently been awarded ‘The Department for Education Sustainability Award’”
Owen Geary, who previously attended Rhyddings High School, and is now the head boy of St Christopher’s,
really admires the support that the staff give their pupils at every opportunity.
He said: “Teachers are always on hand and around to offer support outside of your timetable, going above and beyond to make sure you feel supported and confident in your ability to succeed.”
“In my experience, I have found that the structured timetable and routine has enabled me to maintain a healthy work-life balance.”
“Most importantly, St Christopher’s is a school that makes you feel welcome from the very beginning and prepares you for life after sixth form.”
Many of the students enter the sixth form with no clear idea of what they want to do in the long run.
However, the school works closely with each and every student to help them develop a career path that they are passionate about.
It’s easy to make friends in this open and friendly school, many groups will take you in as one of their own, and there are masses of opportunities to take advantage of.
The students like that they are treated like adults, and that the small numbers allow them to develop strong relationships with teachers.
To find out more about the school, explore their website https://www.st-christophers.org/