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A selective, free Sixth Form in central London Ambition. Perseverance. Legacy.

“With an outstanding set of results, Harris Westminster is now firmly established in the educational elite. It is marvellous that such an opportunity should be available to students from all backgrounds.� Sir Dan Moynihan, CEO, Harris Federation

Welcome Thank you for considering the Harris Westminster Sixth Form. If you join us next September you will be part of the most amazing peer group in the country. You and your fellow students will support, encourage and challenge each other through two years of outstanding teaching, learning and personal development. You will be able to achieve outstanding qualifications and be equipped to go on to the best universities in this country and in the world. In fact, the environment of Harris Westminster Sixth Form will make you ready not just to face the world, but to change it. In addition to the obvious advantages of an outstanding peer group, excellent teaching and wide ranging expertise, Harris Westminster Sixth Form offers the perfect location for study. In central London we are located at the heart of a world-class city with all the opportunities for enrichment and inspiration that offers. First-class universities, theatres, museums, hospitals and art galleries are within a stone’s throw of the school doors, as are the amazingly beautiful buildings of Westminster Abbey and the corridors of power in Parliament and along Whitehall. I am often asked about the sorts of people who should apply to this Sixth Form. The truthful answer is that all sorts of students achieve success here. If you enjoy developing new skills and knowledge; if you have the ambition and perseverance to make the most of your talents; and if, on reading the rest of this prospectus, you feel that this is your kind of school then you should apply.

Our key objective is to transform the education of the most able London students, giving them the skills and encouragement they need to aim for the highest achievements. Since we opened in September 2014, Harris Westminster Sixth Form has had great success in meeting that objective: hundreds of students have had their ambitions raised and have gone on to achieve those challenging aims. This is due in part to the effective ongoing support provided by two of the UK’s foremost educational organisations: the Harris Federation and Westminster School. In Mr Handscombe, we have a Principal who embodies the qualities we seek to develop in our students. Having been educated at a comprehensive school in Sheffield he went on to study Mathematics at both Oxford and Harvard. He has had excellent experience in educational practice and we are absolutely confident that his intelligence, enthusiasm and determination will continue to be contagious and inspiring for our students and staff. The Very Reverend Dr John Hall Dean of Westminster Chair of Governors of Harris Westminster Sixth Form and Westminster School @DeanWestminster

I look forward to meeting you. Mr James Handscombe Principal @JamesHandscombe


Learning is amazing! Ambition. Perseverance. Legacy. After two years of outstanding education and personal development our students will be ready not just to face the world but to change it. By the time they leave Year 13, students are prepared for study at the best universities in the UK and abroad and know how to get the most out of their experiences at these great institutions. At Harris Westminster, students learn to recognise their own talents and develop the ambition to use these to greatest effect. They enjoy facing new challenges and persevere in the face of obstacles, developing the skills and understanding they need to reach their goals; and they are aware of the impact they have on the world around them and of the legacy they leave behind.

Ambition Our students have high expectations of themselves. They believe in their own abilities and in their capacity to learn, developing new skills and knowledge. They are unafraid of competition, seeking out new challenges and collaborating successfully to meet them. Their long-term goals are stretching and exciting, and they know how to take the next step on the road to meeting them.

Perseverance Our students understand the value of hard work and are able to concentrate on medium and longterm goals. They are not dismayed by mistakes but learn from them and seek opportunities to use their learning. They use different approaches to solve problems and do not give up if they don’t succeed at the first attempt. They encourage each other and accept encouragement: they celebrate not just their own successes but those of their peers.

Legacy Our students are developing a strong moral code and a desire to help others. They understand the impact that their words and actions have and make their choices accordingly. They are learning about cultures and groups other than their own and are interested in the ideas of others. After two years with us they will have the courage to stand up for what is right even when it is difficult and will leave enterprises of all kinds and scales better for their involvement.


“ The passion the teachers taught you with is inspirational, as well as how hard they work you. In the end, it pays off.� Nora, Year 13 Student, Now studying History at Oxford University


“The teacher makes Maths lessons really interesting; I can see his passion – I want to have that passion.” Ateequr, Year 12 Student


Our track record Harris Westminster Sixth Form was founded in September 2014 by two leading educational organisations: Westminster School and the Harris Foundation. The strengths of Westminster School in teaching academically able young people have been combined with the Harris Federation’s experience in establishing and running outstanding maintained sector schools across London to create this new institution, designed to educate the next generation of leaders, thinkers and innovators. Westminster is one of the country’s leading independent schools. It has an unrivalled record of getting pupils into the best universities worldwide, regularly sending 50% of its Sixth Formers to Oxford and Cambridge. It has produced Prime Ministers and politicians throughout history as well as some of this country’s most significant writers, philosophers, scientists, musicians, lawyers, artists, architects, academics, bankers and entrepreneurs.

The Harris Federation is a not-for profit charity that has been running schools and academies in London for almost twenty five years. Three-quarters of the Harris secondary academies so far inspected by Ofsted have been judged to be ‘outstanding’ – compared to around a fifth nationally. This is an unmatched record. Harris Westminster Sixth Form is the Harris Federation’s only academically selective school and has already brought together some of the most able teachers and students in London to form a vibrant and exciting centre of scholarship. Students from Harris Westminster have gone on to study at top UK universities including Oxford, Cambridge, Bristol, Warwick and Imperial College but this is not the only route on from HWSF – other students have gone on to study in the USA or have taken up prestigious apprenticeships in the City of London.


Two years unlike any others you will ever spend The next two years will be unlike any others. You will develop new enthusiasms and deepen old ones, you will make new friendships that will last for decades and you will form opinions and attitudes that will shape your life. At Harris Westminster Sixth Form, we open a window to everything the world has to offer: an unparalleled array of intellectual and cultural influences. Some of what you do here will be examined, but much of it won’t. Every experience will be an opportunity for learning and all of the learning will be worthwhile.

Assessed subjects The curriculum will be assessed by A-levels and their equivalents: International A-levels and Cambridge Pre-U examinations. Our courses and subjects have been chosen because they have interesting and challenging content that students will enjoy, because they match the requirements for admission to Oxford, Cambridge and other top universities in the UK and because they are valued by top employers. Class sizes are around 15 – 20 and you will be able to choose four subjects. Our teachers have been recruited from the best of the state and independent sectors. They share a love of their subject and the ability to ensure bright students are given the stretch and challenge they need to fulfil their potential. In addition to your subject choices, there will be weekly classes to develop the high-level analytical skills that underpin successful learning. Typical topics will be ‘the language of argument’, ‘unpacking examination questions’ and ‘planning and structuring essays’. Our Course Guide sets out the information you need about the syllabus of each course, together with our suggestions for interesting reading around the subject. If you do not already have a copy of our Course Guide, please contact us to ask for one to be sent to you or download it from our website.


Inspiring examination classes are vital, forming the backbone of students’ timetables and, indeed, of the school. However, there is much more to preparing for university and the world beyond than even these can offer. Additional breadth is provided by:

Cultural Perspectives Students take part in three Cultural Perspectives classes a week, choosing new courses each term from a wide menu of options. These encourage students to develop new skills and to explore new ideas, developing their ability to debate and argue; to form and communicate their own opinions; and to wrestle with thorny ethical issues to which there is no simple, widely accepted answer. The menu of choices changes from term to term and has included “Antarctica: its past, present and future”; “Beginners’ Mandarin”; “Feminism, the road to equality”; “The Application of Medical Ethics in practice”; “European Cinema” and “Research Mathematics: 8 Easy(ish) Steps to an Unsolved Problem”.

Cultural Enrichment One of the advantages of going to a Sixth Form in the centre of London is the close proximity to a wide range of cultural influences. Students visit art galleries, museums and cultural events and these trips are followed up in lessons afterwards.

Our central location also makes it easy to attract prominent speakers from a range of fields and our weekly “Lab” lectures offer a unique learning experience and are very popular: we have had speakers from both houses of parliament, all branches of academia and business.

Student Leadership Students have numerous opportunities to develop their leadership skills and are able to take on positions of formal responsibility. House Captains and Vice-Captains marshal their teams to engage in a range of competitions including mixed football and netball, debating and poetry-writing; the Student President and Senate advise the Principal and represent the school on formal occasions; and weekly subject societies offer students an opportunity to take the lead in academic matters, choosing and presenting on areas of their own interest. Learning is not limited to academic pursuits and students are encouraged to develop physical as well as mental fitness. Every week, all students have the opportunity to take part in a variety of individual and team sports in locations around London. There are also two options for students who opt to stay in Westminster – debating society and bridge club meet and train during this time.


The perfect place to be Harris Westminster Sixth Form is located on Tothill Street in central Westminster, the heart of London’s political and cultural quarter. Our building has been refurbished to meet our needs with state-of-the-art facilities across all subject areas. It is totally wireless with a Harris Westminster Cloud which pupils can access on-site, at home and when they are on the move. To grow up in London is to live in one of only a handful of truly “world cities”. For centuries, a childhood in London has proved to be the stepping stone to a life of success and achievement. The past five hundred years have seen global figures in every field of every human endeavour spend time here: learning, living and playing. In many ways London itself has been the world’s classroom. At Harris Westminster Sixth Form, we take our role as custodians of London seriously. As one of our students you will be an advocate for London. You will have the opportunity to work with the businesses and arts, sports, community and faith groups that comprise this city.


London is our extra strength: an extension of our curriculum; a library of experiences; a stimulus for our learning. Our home at Steel House has been thoroughly equipped with high-quality classrooms, laboratories, study areas and, at the heart of the school, the Wigoder Library: a world-class repository of knowledge, a place of scholarship and a springboard to further learning.

Applying for a place 275 places are available for students starting in Year 12. Competition for these places will be intense but we know this won’t put off the students we are looking to attract. Applications open at the beginning of November: see our website for more details. If you don’t already have a copy of our application form, you can ask us to send it to you or you can download it from our website. There is no geographic catchment area and anyone living within a reasonable commute of Westminster can apply, but priority is given to those living in the thirty-two boroughs of London. Entrance is by academic test and interview. The offer of a place will be conditional on performance at GCSE, with an expectation of at least six A*–B grades including A or A* grades in the subjects applied for. Through the entrance test and interview, we will be looking for students with the academic potential and ambition to make the most of what is on offer.

Not all students will have extensive knowledge of their chosen subjects before they get here, but we will identify their potential and know they will be capable of working at a high academic level once they arrive. The entrance exam will take place in January and interviews will be scheduled during February. Offers will be made in mid-March. Harris Westminster Sixth Form caters for able students no matter what their socio-economic background. The admissions policy gives due preference to those currently receiving free school meals or who have done so in the past although everyone offered places will need to have met the required entry threshold. There are travel grants and a full range of other bursaries to support eligible students. The Sixth Form is not faith-based: we welcome students of all faiths and no faith.

“ I feel like I’m learning immense amounts. The pace we’re going at is ferocious – it’s brilliant because it means that I’m being stretched every day.” Matthew, Year 13 Student, Now studying Theology at Bristol University

Case Study: Edward “I chose Harris Westminster Sixth Form because I wanted to get into a top university and, after looking at a range of sixth forms, I felt that HWSF would make that easiest. I’ve had a wonderful time here: it’s amazing to look back and see the progress I’ve made as a student and a person. Maths at Harris Westminster was fantastic, it’s always been my favourite subject and the passion my teachers had was inspiring: they were always stretching me and challenging me. The atmosphere at HWSF is focused but comfortably so – I always felt that I could talk to my tutor or another member of staff if anything got too much to handle and, of course, lunchtime in the cafeteria having a laugh with friends was a chance to unwind between the periods of learning. My three pieces of advice to anyone joining Harris Westminster would be to enjoy and appreciate knowledge, be disciplined in your studies and don’t be afraid to get things wrong.” Edward was one of the 2014 cohort and is now studying Mathematics at King’s College, Cambridge.


11 Tothill St, SW1H 9LH T: 020 3772 4555  E:


Harris Westminster Sixth Form Prospectus  

If you join us next September you will be part of the most amazing peer group in the country. You and your fellow students will support, enc...

Harris Westminster Sixth Form Prospectus  

If you join us next September you will be part of the most amazing peer group in the country. You and your fellow students will support, enc...