Looking To The Future for the Sixth Form at Birkenhead School


19 January 2021

Driving continued academic excellence and widening accessibility are two key themes that will characterise the coming years for Birkenhead School’s Sixth Form. 

Since September 2016, student numbers across the School have increased by almost 15%. This demand has necessitated a move to a four-form entry into Year 7 and planned refurbishment of the Sixth Form Centre over the next 18 months to accommodate anticipated growth towards approximately 140 A Level students by 2023-24.

Much of the Sixth Form increase comes from a growing trend for students to enter the Sixth Form having completed their GCSEs elsewhere. They are attracted by the School’s academic pedigree, alongside a strong sense of community and focus on the individual. Each student is fully supported by their Form Tutor and the Futures Team throughout their A Level career, as well as guided in the development of core skills in preparation for the ever-changing 21st Century workplace. 

Birkenhead School has announced that fully-funded Sixth Form places are available for September 2021.

Each year, Sixth Form Access Scholarships are available to those students outside of the independent school system who achieve excellent GCSE grades and impress at interview; a good and positive attitude, a desire to seek out opportunities and give back to the community are attributes desired of all the School’s Sixth Formers. 

Paul Vicars, Headmaster, comments: ‘These are exciting times at Birkenhead School. The last year has been tough for society as a whole but the students’ approach to remote learning, their desire to learn and resilience to disruption since the September return has been both humbling and uplifting. It has also strengthened my personal belief, and that of the School, of the importance of community, hence our commitment to both Sixth Form Access Scholarships and means-tested transformational bursaries (up to 100% of fees). We are passionate about broadening accessibility to a Birkenhead School education at every opportunity, one that places a positive attitude and commitment to a broad co-curricular offering alongside academic excellence for all.’

Louise Smeaton, Head of Sixth Form writes, “We pride ourselves on the wealth of opportunities afforded to our students at Birkenhead School and, as I reflect on the first term of the academic year, I cannot fail to have been impressed by the way in which our Lower Sixth formers have embraced the academic challenges of Covid whilst continuing to enjoy the balance provided by a range of co-curricular activities including Music and Sport. Naturally, we are extremely proud of our academic success, but being a member of the Sixth Form is about so much more than examination results, and the opportunities offered outside of the classroom are designed to inspire creativity, encourage self-discipline and develop leadership. We aim to teach our Sixth Formers to be independent thinkers and to foster a lifelong love of learning. Whether their interests lie in the Arts and Humanities, the Sciences, or both, superb facilities and excellent resources allow our students to excel in their chosen field.”

Chloe, joined in September 2019, comments, ‘The results in Chemistry and the sciences initially attracted me along with the small class sizes which are a significant advantage. You get to know your teachers and the teaching is more personal with teachers being able to tailor their teaching to suit you.”

Applications for Sixth Form Scholarships are encouraged from students who are predicted a strong GCSE profile of Grades 7-9. Each year the School adds significant value to students studying A Level courses and the School wants to open up the academic offering to those who may not have yet had the opportunity to access all that an independent education offers.

Being a member of the Sixth Form is about so much more than examination results and the opportunities offered outside of the classroom are designed to inspire creativity, encourage self-discipline and develop leadership.

A particularly exciting feature of the Sixth Form is Birkenhead Futures, a programme designed to prepare students for Higher Education and the world of work. The Futures team comprises of specialist advisers who provide students with opportunities to develop their wider perspectives, critical thinking and research skills, as well as support with interview practice and tailored preparation for the selection tests required by some of the most competitive university courses. The team also host regular industry-specific careers conferences for students across Wirral to help inform their choices about a range of careers.

A number of students progress onto Oxbridge each year and benefit from the School’s bespoke Oxbridge mentoring programme. For those looking to pursue a career in medicine, the School’s established Medics Pathway draws on the School’s alumni and parental network to offer access to leading medical professionals, who in November, helped by conducting mock interviews with this year’s current Medics cohort. 

As part of the School’s commitment to personal development, students can take part in a Discovering Personal Effectiveness Programme run by an external leadership development organisation that encourages students to explore their self-awareness and gain a better understanding of others’ preferred way of working. This enables them to better adapt, connect and engage with their peers, an interviewer or potential employer and in doing so, develop greater authenticity, assertiveness, leadership skills and personal resilience – key skills in the contemporary workplace. 

The Beyond the Curriculum programme also forms an important part of the Sixth Form timetable outside of academic studies. Designed to encourage the development of new skills and interests, it offers students a range of courses which develop new aptitudes and broaden their personal horizons. The programme includes an eight-week core course in interview, presentation and research skills, as well as in critical thinking, all of which provide students with the very best and bespoke preparation for the years ahead of them. Students also benefit from weekly lectures as part of the Nicholls Lecture Series. The guest series, going back several decades, provides students with an opportunity to listen to a range of thought-provoking talks from a range of eminent speakers.

Louise Smeaton, Head of Sixth Form comments, “Students who joined us in September, have quickly become part of our School community, and it is a delight to see them embrace the opportunities on offer and flourish in their studies. I am looking forward to seeing them take up leadership opportunities as their time progresses and firmly believe that the opportunities on offer will set them apart when it comes to university and future employment.”

Sixth Form Virtual Open Evening

Tuesday 26th January 


If you are interested in joining the Sixth Form at Birkenhead School or applying for an Access Scholarship we encouraged you to contact Ms Smeaton, Head of Sixth Form, for an informal discussion via seniorsadmissions@birkenheadschool.co.uk.

The deadline for applications is Thursday 11th February.