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Sixth Form Curriculum

The Sixth Form at The Purbeck School is designed for students in our community to:

  • Provide a clear route to higher education/employment/higher level apprenticeships
  • To equip them for future learning, independent living and employment

Students select 3 or 4 subjects to study from and are offered a variety of subjects in order to create as bespoke programmes as possible to meet their needs and aspirations. Students are also involved in an extensive careers and enrichment programme.

The school offers a Route A, and B pathway

  • Route A is for the more traditional A level subjects and is accessed by students gaining 5 subjects at grade 5 at GCSE or above and a grade 6 in the subject that they have opted for.
  • Route B is a less academic route, students are encouraged to access more vocational subjects by achieving grade 4 or above at 5 GCSE subjects.

Subjects on offer at The Purbeck School

  • A levels – the facilitating subjects
    • Biology, Chemistry, English Literature, Geography, History, Maths, Further Maths, Physics and Spanish
  • A levels – further subjects
    • English Language, Fine Art, Media Studies, Photography, Product Design, Sociology, Psychology
  • 5 vocational courses
    • Applied Science, Business Studies, Criminology, Health and Social Care, Sport(single or triple award)
  • We also offer the provision to retake English and or Maths at GCSE
  • Furthermore, students may take the EPQ course in addition to their other level 3 courses upon consideration of their suitability

The rationale for this curriculum offer is that it is the next stepping stone from our KS4 provision and offers a wide range of options for our own cohort of students. It is based on our year 11 students’ achievement and aspirations.

The Student Intake

Our 2023 – 24 cohort had an average GCSE score of 63.3% compared to a national figure of 67.8%. Our current Year 12 cohort of 82 students includes 70 internal applicants (42% of Year 11 cohort) and 12 external applicants.

Sixth Form Academic Curriculum

  • The majority of subjects have 9 hours of lesson time over a fortnight.
  • Students are allocated approximately 5 lessons of Silent Study Time (SS) over the fortnight which is supervised study time.
  • There are a number of areas where students can work quietly on their studies outside of lesson time. Students are expected in school all day with the exception of break and lunch. There is a flexi-time agreement for Year 13 students who are meeting their target grades and have gained approval from their subject teachers.
  • All students are set a challenging minimum expected grade. Students are encouraged to learn independently outside of these hours via home learning and wider reading.
  • Extra support is put in place at lunchtimes and after school sessions and our school prides itself on the accessibility of staff should a student need extra assistance.

The sixth form curriculum is monitored by SLT links, Teaching and Learning reviews, and by Head of Department interviews/lesson observations/learning walks/work scrutiny/student voice. The sixth form programmes follow a mastery curriculum with the introduction of more knowledge organisers, significant formative assessment as well as end of topic formal assessments and 3 whole school tracking points through the academic year. Staff are working towards a coherent and consistent planned scheme of learning in every subject which demonstrates how the curriculum is sequenced towards building sufficient knowledge and skills for future learning and destinations (accessed by all staff in the shared area).

The Sixth Form Careers and Enrichment Curriculum

  • Our organisation is underpinned by fundamental British values and we aspire for all our students to develop their understanding of the wider world as well as academic skills and knowledge. We run a full enrichment and careers programme.

    Students register first thing in the morning and have 15 minutes of tutor time every day at 8.45am and 1.45pm. A rich set of experiences is provided through the tutor programme, enrichment sessions and extra-curricular activities, for example:

  • All year 12 undertake work experience for a week in addition to students undertaking work experience/extra curricular activities related to their courses. Year 12 and 13 students can undertake work experience every Wednesday afternoon.
  • All Year 12 students have a mock interview (carried out by our employer contacts) and further bespoke interview practice is provided in year 13 for students on application to specific courses post 18 or apprenticeships (apprenticeship and UCAS workshops are also run).
  • We have a dedicated careers programme organise of university and  apprenticeship presentations, student leadership assemblies, and trips and visits including to the Bournemouth University UCAS fair.
  • We run a ‘Speakers Programme’ inviting a number of people from commerce, industry, charities and the public sector to talk to our students; e.g. local MPs, Dorset Police, the NHS and former students who share advice and experiences from their own post-18 pathways.
  • We encourage every student to take some form of school or community responsibility/leadership and out students demonstrate highly positive attitudes to their education and community. There is a student leadership team of twelve Year 13 students who each have dedicated roles and responsibilities, and meet weekly as a cabinet.
  • Students take part in a full tutorial programme and scheduled mentoring activities.

Sixth Form Curriculum – Results

The majority of students have been successful in achieving their first choice at university and a number have gone on to secure higher level apprenticeships in companies such as J P Morgan, Wessex Water, Sunseeker, ExxonMobil, and Perenco. Our Oxbridge entrants include students going on to read Medicine at Oxford, Biochemistry at Oxford, English Literature at Cambridge. We have a productive relationship with Canford School, through which our students may access extended guidance related to Oxbridge applications.

Students are also supported in following courses such as Exeter University’s ‘Pathways to Law’, which can lead to them being offered lower application tariffs upon applying for related courses.


From the 2023 cohort:

  • 58% of pupils continued into higher education
  • 16.5% of students chose to take a gap year, with many holding university places to commence in 2024
  • 6% took up and apprenticeship
  • 3% took up employment

The Options Process

Students need to complete an application form for The Purbeck School Sixth Form. All students who have applied to The Purbeck School will be invited for interview. The interview allows us to have an informed conversation with your child about how well their choices fit with their future plans. 

Subject choices are not easy and students should be encouraged to take subjects that they are good at, enjoy and will lead them to their future university, apprenticeship or career direction.  Subject choices are also shaped by:

-              The grade requirements for each Sixth Form subject chosen. Please refer to the minimum entry requirements document here for help with this.

-              Choosing a maximum of one subject per column in the Year 12 curriculum offer document here. Students usually choose a maximum of three subjects, though some may elect to study an additional fourth subject – this would be discussed at interview.


Who else can help?

The School Careers Advisor is available in the Learning Resources Centre to give advice and guidance to students on Tuesday and Wednesday in Room 11. Should your child wish to make a one-to-one appointment they should email Mrs M Beale at: or Mrs M. Holden at:

The Purbeck School: Planned hours funded by the ESFA (16-19 funding)

In accordance with The Education and Skills Funding Agency guidelines (last updated June 2018), the activities in each student’s study programme in an academic year constitute the planned hours. Each student’s planned hours are agreed between the institution and the student at the start of their study programme.

Planned hours constitute all the qualification planned hours and the non-qualification planned hours.

Planned hours are timetabled by the sixth form, and at The Purbeck School Sixth Form they include:

  • planned teacher-led activity on courses leading to qualifications;
  • planned hours of tutor time and assemblies (as outlined in the Purbeck School Sixth Form Personal Development document).

Non-qualification hours

These are hours of fundable activity that are not used to take externally certified qualifications. These hours are also known as planned employability, enrichment and pastoral (EEP) hours.

EEP hours include activities that are relevant to the study programme and:

  • do not count towards a qualification as defined above
  • are for informal or in-house certificates
  • are for tutorial purposes
  • are spent on work experience and other work-related activities
  • are spent on enrichment, volunteering and/or community activities organised by or on behalf of the institution.

At The Purbeck School Sixth Form they include:

  • planned hours on other activities including weekly enrichment on Wednesdays.

At times according to individuals, other examples of activity that count towards EEP hours are:

  • tutorials and any one to one sessions such as to plan study or revision
  • mentoring and coaching
  • revision hours, structured revision, exam test papers
  • informal certificates such as citizenship awards or Duke of Edinburgh Award
  • work experience and work-related activity such as preparing CVs and practising interview skills and techniques
  • field work or a piece of work such as a survey/research which is integral to the study programme, such as a field trip with a task attached
  • completing applications for jobs or university where a tutor is supporting and helping the student
  • employer visits arranged by the institution
  • university visits arranged by the institution
  • volunteering activities and community activities
  • any activities that offer enrichment to the student such as personal and social development