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Join us in Sixth Form


“At College, you really do get out what you put in. The opportunities are endless and there is rarely a weekend or evening without something going on. There are so many clubs, activities and societies but what I like the most is that you don’t necessarily have to be that good – you just have to want to get involved.” Current pupil

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Welcome to Upper College

Sixth Form, or Upper College as it is known here at Cheltenham College, is an exciting, challenging and rewarding experience. Each year, at least 30 new students join us for these last two years of further education, arguably the most important in a school career.

While each student’s reason for joining us may be different, what is common to all our new entrants is the desire to make the most of everything that College has to offer. We are tremendously proud of our Sixth Form community and the great diversity of talents that flourish within it. There is, we believe, no better place to prepare for life beyond school.

“I came to College because I wanted a change for Sixth Form. The teachers are so charismatic and knowledgeable about their subject and always willing to help. I feel that they respect me and give me the space I need to be independent, yet I know they are there for me when I need them, even in their free time.” Current pupil

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Academic life The A Level course Choosing what to study and which examination route to go down in the Sixth Form, whether that be A Levels, the International Baccalaureate (IB) or Pre-U, can seem a daunting decision to make. At College, we offer traditional A Levels, complemented by an Extended Project Qualification (EPQ). This enables our students to focus on their strengths and gain the kind of deep subject-specific understanding that universities value so highly, while also helping them to develop and demonstrate the kind of independent learning skills for which the IB is renowned. A Levels are also qualifications that continue to be valued and understood by universities, providing excellent preparation for the step up to undergraduate courses. We offer a varied subject choice at A Level, all of which are taught by top quality and enthusiastic subject specialists who inspire a love of their subject in their students. In addition to timetabled classes, there is a wealth of subject extension activities and societies, a dedicated tutor system and subject-specific clinics at protected times, all of which are designed to help Sixth Formers make the most of their ability. All tutors are experts in working specifically with Sixth Formers and are individually selected for each student based on their personal interests and areas of academic expertise. They not only provide guidance through A Levels but also with the UCAS process and potential career choices.

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Academic societies and lecture programmes There is a wide range of Upper College subject-specific societies within Natural Sciences, Geography and Mathematics, as well other academic societies such as the Literary Society, Philosophy Society and the Morley Society for History and Politics. There is also an extensive Upper College lecture programme of visiting speakers covering a range of eclectic topics chosen to inspire and inform. The student-led Upper College Society focuses on presentations, performance and debate, often with a cross-curricular theme. There is something to extend, challenge and pique the interest of every student. Upper College students are also encouraged to attend, and perform in, Cheltenham’s large number of cultural events, from the nationally renowned Cheltenham Music, Science, Literature and Jazz Festivals to poetry festivals, film festivals, fashion fairs, food and drink festivals and numerous sporting events.

“As a member of Upper College you are encouraged to integrate with other years which means you get to know the younger pupils and can look out for them at College. You are also treated much more like an adult and that means you get to build closer relationships with your tutors. I feel like I can turn to my tutor for any thing at any time and when you’re stressed with an essay or when things aren’t going particularly well, that really helps.” Current pupil


“In speaking with admissions tutors at Cambridge, Bristol and Bath, they were extremely positive about our inclusion of the EPQ as a means of differentiating between candidates. They want to offer places to students that have demonstrated that they can go beyond their A Levels and have experience of undertaking independent research, and consider what we offer in the Upper College to do just that.” Mr Daniel Evans, Head of Upper College

Independent learning University admissions officers consistently advocate the advantages of having undertaken independent research. For that reason, we offer the Extended Project Qualification (EPQ), entry to national essay prize competitions and an internally supported and assessed independent research project. Upper College students also have the chance to undertake an additional study course or activity beyond the confines of the syllabus. Students in the Lower Sixth can choose from a range of schemes, projects or additional classes that will complement their A Levels, support their UCAS university application and give them the tools with which to thrive whilst at university.

“The way I see it, my Independent Project, ‘Using Nanoparticles in the Treatment and Identification of Cancer’, was much more than a summer research project. It’s about developing an interest that I don’t see slowing down anytime in the future.” Current pupil

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“ What I think makes College really special is that there is no one that doesn’t fit in. Everyone is so friendly, and having not experienced the housing system in my previous school, it is incredible how quickly you feel at home both within House and College.” Current pupil

Life in the Sixth Form Leadership and responsibility We believe leadership qualities and a wider sense of responsibility are invaluable attributes for any young person to possess. While this may be taking on a Head of School, Prefect, School Council, Combined Cadet Force or International Student Association role, to name but a few, all our Sixth Formers have the capacity to lead and to contribute positively both to College and the wider community. This may be through organising and leading events in House, participating in the peer mentoring scheme, setting examples in the classroom, or getting involved in the vast array of co-curricular opportunities on offer.

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In the Lower Sixth, we offer all students a Leadership & Life Skills programme which prepares students for the challenges of leadership. A first for an independent school in the UK, the course explores all the different elements of leadership, from the importance of self-reflection and self-motivation to teamwork, people management and looking at life’s moral and ethical dilemmas. Above all, we believe that leadership is open to all and for all. Students new to College should aspire to be Head of School or House just as much as students who have been with us since Third Form.

House life Each House, whether it is boarding or day, provides Sixth Formers with a real sense of community and a space in which they can relax from the rigours of College life. All Sixth Formers have their own rooms, giving them not only a sense of independence and privacy but also facilitating individual study. They also have their own common room, kitchen and social areas, whilst being very firmly part of the House community as a whole. Through the close-knit network of the Housemaster or Housemistress, House tutors, individual tutors, matrons, prefects, peer mentors and ‘House families’, there is always someone for each Sixth Former to turn to for academic and pastoral support.

Dinners and other social events are regular features on House calendars, both as a single House Sixth Form community and across Houses. Bed times are more relaxed, study periods can be taken in House and students are given greater independence at weekends and in evenings, especially with regards to town access. Of course, with such privilege also comes expectation and Houses take great pride in the standards that their Sixth Formers set for themselves, the younger pupils, and College as a whole.


Co-curricular opportunities ‘Co-curricular’ at Cheltenham College means a lot more than sports matches for the elite, concerts for the best musicians or theatrical performances for talented actors. While our top sports teams compete with the very best in the country, there are teams for all abilities and the vast majority of College students represent the school at some level every weekend. Several Cheltonians have, in recent years, gone on to RADA, encouraged and aided by the vast number of plays and shows put on at College. These are often produced and directed by students themselves, especially in Upper College. All students, whether they take music as an A Level or not, are encouraged to take part in extra-curricular music, from numerous choirs and close harmony groups to orchestras, jazz bands and ensembles.

Within our activities programme there is something to suit every Sixth Former, from debating and photography to clay pigeon shooting and eco projects. There are also many trips and expeditions, from as far abroad as trekking in Nepal and helping with orphans in Romania to more locallybased theatre trips, festival outings and community service work. Serving others and giving to those less fortunate than ourselves is something close to our hearts at College, especially in Sixth Form. Every year, our Sixth Form are instrumental in raising tens of thousands of pounds for charity and we are tremendously proud of our involvement with the local community.

“I was given an invaluable opportunity within College to explore my interests in theatre production by taking on the responsibilities as Stage Manager for all performances. Those responsibilities, although challenging, were undoubtedly some of the most fun I had at College. My enthusiasm was recognised by the staff and supported throughout my Sixth Form career, enabling me to make it my focus for Higher Education. Without the support given by College I never would have achieved a place at RADA, or even been able to explore my interests so fully. My time at College prepared me for university life in so many ways and I can only thank my teachers for this.” Old Cheltonian

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“The Careers department has been brilliant in helping me explore all options and making sure that both the course and university I ultimately choose is the right one for me, even taking into consideration my personality and ability. Nothing has been sugar-coated and I really appreciate that.� Current pupil

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Life after College Sixth Form studies are, for the vast majority of Cheltonians, a stepping-stone to top-level universities. Over 90% of our students apply to the elite Russell Group and/or 1994 Group universities, with the majority going to their first choice. In order to achieve this, College has a dedicated Higher Education (HE) and Careers department, offering support and guidance alongside the help received from Tutors and House staff. HE and Careers has its own library and offices situated within the main library. For those students aspiring to Oxbridge and other top universities to read competitive courses such as Medicine and Veterinary Science, there is a coordinated extension programme, weekly cross-curricular discussion groups, preparation sessions for interview and university tests and a general and subject-specific interview process.

Throughout the Sixth Form we hold workshops run by universities to help students write their personal statements as well as bringing in professional experts to offer advice on careers and gap years. We run an Enrichment Week Programme at the end of the Lower Sixth, offering careers carousel talks, CV writing and employability workshops, UCAS drop in clinics, UK and overseas university fairs and more.

“ While I know what subject I want to study at university, I had never really given much thought to where it could lead me afterwards. Through all the talks and guest speakers at College, I have been able to get a real sense of what possible career options are out there that would suit me. Above all, I’ve learnt how I can apply what I am studying to potential courses, careers and industries – it’s not just about cramming for exams.” Current pupil

The world of university applications is a highly competitive one and we do all we can to ensure that our students are one step ahead of the game.

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Q&A

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We appreciate that the idea of boarding, while exciting, may also appear a little daunting if you have not done it before. Every student is different and will react differently but you can be assured that our Housemasters and Housemistresses, together with their House staff, will do their utmost to make sure you feel settled and comfortable from day one. You will find that the community at College is hugely warm and supportive, and, without a doubt, the friendships you make in your boarding House will be ones that last well beyond the two years you will spend here. College life is incredibly varied and from the moment you join there will be a host of clubs, activities, trips, lectures, classes, socials and more for you to take part in during weekends and evenings. While all this will not, of course, stop you from feeling homesick at times in the beginning, it will ensure that there is always something to do and someone to be with.

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If I have not boarded before, will it be hard to adjust?

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What help will I get with settling in?

First and foremost, around 30 - 40 new students join our Sixth Form every year so you can be assured that you will not be the only one for whom everything is new and different. At the start of Sixth Form we run an induction course for all new Upper College students. Not only will this help you orient yourself within the College campus, it will also help you get to know staff and your fellow students. Right from the start you will be assigned your own tutor who will meet with you regularly and support you both academically and pastorally. Each House also operates its own programme of events and activities to help you meet everyone in the House, not just in your own year but in other year groups too. There are also plenty of social events throughout the first term to help you settle in and get to know other Sixth Formers.

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How many students are there in A Level classes?

You will find that A Level classes are a lot smaller than GCSE ones. On average at College there are around 10 - 12 students in a lesson although some will be much smaller. As a result, teaching is far more individualised and gives you the opportunity to explore your subjects in the kind of depth that is needed at A Level. You will also have significant contact time with your tutor who is there not only to help you in your academic subjects, but also advise on further extension work and ways in which you can broaden your knowledge. He or she will also help you manage your time effectively at College and help you make the most out of the co-curricular opportunities on offer.

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Will I be at a disadvantage over pupils who have been here since Third Form?

Not at all. Ability, commitment and attitude matter far more than time spent at College. All our new Upper College students have every opportunity to get involved with cocurricular activities, including being leaders of clubs for younger pupils. You will be able to try out for all College sports; perhaps you will even want to try something you have never played before. All leadership and Prefect opportunities are open to every student, as is participation in plays, concerts, events and activities. Don’t forget that you will be bringing with you experiences and ideas from your previous school and these can be of great value in your time here at College.

What should my next steps be?

The best thing is to come and visit us; it is only really by meeting staff and students here that you will get a real feel for the College community and how you would fit in here. We have Open Mornings in both March and October and we also welcome individual visits throughout term time. During your visit you will have the opportunity to speak to Sixth Form teachers who will also be able to help you with any questions you may have about subject choices and options here at College. Once you have decided that you would like to be considered for a place here, you will need to register with the Admissions Office and sit Entrance or Scholarship papers in either November (recommended) or March prior to your proposed year of entry. You would usually sit three papers in the subjects that you plan to study at A Level – we do, of course, appreciate that you may not know this yet! For more information on the admissions process, have a look through the Admissions and Information brochure or contact the Admissions Office on 01242 265 662, or admissions@cheltenhamcollege.org Further information is available on our website: www.cheltenhamcollege.org


“The principles that College instilled in me of balancing academic studies with sport and wider College commitments have become a core skill that I have been able to take away and apply both at university and in my first job.� Old Cheltonian

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Cheltenham College Bath Road Cheltenham Gloucestershire GL53 7LD Tel: +44 (0) 1242 265 600 Fax: +44 (0) 1242 265 630 Email: admissions@cheltenhamcollege.org www.cheltenhamcollege.org Registered Charity No. 311720

Join us in Sixth Form  
Join us in Sixth Form