Lessons for life that reach well beyond the classroom
I joined Walthamstow Hall in January 2019 and was blown away by the wealth of opportunity offered to Sixth Form students here, both within and alongside the curriculum. Since that time I have been working with the Sixth Form team and senior management to further enhance our Sixth Form provision to give our students a rich, challenging and rewarding experience which best prepares them for what’s out there, in life beyond school.
We aim to build on the interest and curiosity developed further down the School, encourage students to ask difficult questions of themselves and those around them, to challenge their own thinking and ultimately give them the skills to apply and adapt themselves to any situation that comes their way.
Whilst situated at the heart of our campus, the Sixth Form is intentionally different to other areas of the School. The bespoke Sixth Form building, The Lang Centre, where many Sixth Form subjects are taught and where students have their Common Room and study spaces, is a place where students have greater independence, a space where lessons are more akin to university tutorials and a place which students run and manage.
The vast breadth of subjects on offer is something which is very unique to Walthamstow Hall and which students respond really well to. They devise a programme of study that best suits them. It can have a completely scientific make up or a creative one or be a really interesting balance of the two, if that’s what the student chooses. The academic timetable is rebuilt every year, from the top down, starting with the individual choices of our Sixth Form students, there are no blocks to choose from, no subject boxes to tick and the result is students studying subjects which they have a real passion and flair for. The recent review of Walthamstow Hall by The Good Schools Guide noted how teachers here ‘light up’ when they speak about their subjects, this is especially notable when these specialists are teaching their subjects at the highest level, preparing their Sixth Form students for further study at university or demonstrating how the concepts they are teaching apply to future careers. Our Sixth Form teaching team’s expertise is not just palpable in the classroom, it is quantified in examination results and by value-added data; in 2019, Walthamstow Hall ranked 24th out of 440 UK schools for value-added results at A Level.
Alongside the academic rigour students here really do embrace the co-curricular on offer; Gold Duke of Edinburgh, volunteering in the local community, playing the leads in school plays, captaining sports teams and taking up leadership positions as Prefects and House Captains, are all things which they throw themselves into. These are things which they really want to do and areas where their passions lie rather than ‘this is something I need to do.’
We actively encourage students to look beyond their school bubble, to get involved in their local community and to gain a broader outlook and perspective of the world around them. The ‘Horizons’ Sixth Form Lecture Series is attended by all Sixth Formers. Each half term, inspirational speakers deliver thought-provoking lectures on a huge range of social, political, economic, environmental and philosophical topics and questions. There are also great levels of participation in The Model United Nations, Debating Society and Young Enterprise and every year Sixth Form students stand for, and often win, election to the Kent County Council Youth Council.
Beyond the Lang Centre there are subject specific field trips, cultural visits, academic masterclasses and sports tours for students. The senior lacrosse squad usually tour the USA every two years, and an exciting forthcoming project is the Global Service Initiative where we will be working alongside Girls 4 Girls and Link Ethiopia, a charity funded on the principle of shared learning and compassion.
Underpinning all of these opportunities is a support network of tutors, a tutor system which mixes Year 12 and Year 13 students, dedicated support for university applications and a careers programme specially designed to equip students with the skills needed to develop powerful CVs, successful applications and winning interview techniques.
There is no doubt that students who join the Sixth Form ready to embrace the opportunities on offer here will thrive.
Being Head of Sixth Form at Walthamstow Hall is a real privilege. The students are incredible. The work that they put in, the effort they put in and everything they do outside of School which they bring into the classroom make them a fascinating group of individuals. They are a real joy to work with.
Mrs Becky Brown
Head of Sixth Form