University and Careers Guidance
Considering their next steps can be a daunting prospect for Sixth Form students and, here at SGS, we have developed a personalised and collaborative system of guidance and support that ensures our students go on to pursue their ambitions.
Support from a dedicated UCAS Adviser
Every student works closely with their UCAS (University and College Admissions System) Adviser, alongside their form and subject tutors, to ensure that university applications show each student in the best possible light as a prospective undergraduate. Our UCAS Advisers each work annually with a small group of students, enabling them to build a rapport with each student and offer support and wise counsel in equal measure.
Each UCAS Adviser brings personal expertise and experience of the Higher Education application process, and is trained to support students in their applications irrespective of their chosen course. UCAS Advisers also work closely with the Head of Careers in supporting students applying to Higher and Degree Level apprenticeships.
The UCAS Application process
UCAS preparation officially starts in the spring of the lower sixth, with each applicant being encouraged to begin decision making about which courses they would like to do and which universities they might like to attend.
The school organises a visit to the UCAS higher education convention held in Manchester, where pupils tour exhibition stands hosted by universities, apprenticeship providers and gap year organisations.
The school hosts a UCAS Higher Education Conference each year in June and students are able to take part in career talks and presentations by Old Stopfordians and university visitors, as well as beginning their UCAS applications.
Over the summer holiday, applicants are asked to begin to draft a personal statement. This is for the section of the UCAS form where applicants can tell universities about themselves. This is the best chance applicants have to recommend themselves to a particular university or college, unless they are later called for interview.
In the autumn term of upper sixth, students complete their online application form and personal statement. The UCAS advisers write references using information from form tutors, subject teachers and co-curricular staff. The reference is attached to the form and the application is sent to UCAS. Mock interviews are available to help students to prepare if they are called for interview.
Our Extension Coordinators work with UCAS Advisers to support students with ambitions to study at Oxbridge or highly competitive courses, such as Medicine, Veterinary Science and Dentistry. In the last four years, 28 pupils have received offers to study at Oxbridge and 24 pupils have gone on to study Dentistry, Veterinary Science and Dentistry. Preparation classes begin early in the Lower Sixth form.
Links with universities and employers
We have strongly established links with leading universities in the UK, with the Universities of Manchester, Nottingham and Lancaster supporting our work with pupils at our annual Higher Education Conference. In recent years, pupils have made successful applications to competitive courses in Europe and the United States, supported by the Sixth Form team and the Careers department.
Pupils are also supported by their UCAS Adviser in making applications for Higher and Degree Apprenticeships, either alongside or in preference to a university application. Again, close liaison with the Greater Manchester Learning Provider Network and apprenticeship providers ensures our pupils have plenty of information and support upon which to make informed decisions.
Our Careers department organises a Careers Convention every two years with over 20 universities and 40 different job areas represented. Sixth Form students have open access to the Careers room and can organise a one-to-one careers interview or come along at lunchtime for an informal chat.
Support on A Level exam results day
In August when the A-level results are published, the Head of Sixth Form and the UCAS Advisers, as well as other members of staff, are in school to congratulate students and also to help and advise if necessary.
Once the pupils are in the Sixth Form they have open access to the Careers room and again are free to organise a one-to-one careers interview. In the June of Lower Sixth they attend two full days to prepare them for university applications or the world of work. They are assigned a UCAS advisor who works closely with them on preparing their personal statement and advising them on the most suitable courses and universities to apply for.