Set across brand new purpose-built buildings at both The Stockwood Park Academy and The Chalkhills Academy in Luton, the school’s attractions include:
● Excellent private study facilities
● Smaller teaching classes
● Five distinct pathway courses
● A personalised curriculum, and
● Lots of leadership development opportunities
The Shared Learning Trust will be showcasing the sixth form during a “virtual open evening” on Thursday, November 19, that will highlight its latest initiative - a Cricket Academy.
“Sport plays a huge role for us,” says Louise Lee, Executive Principal at The Chalkhills Academy.
“The new cricket pathway will run from September 2021 in conjunction with Wickets, the Rising Star Cricket Academy and national charity The Lords’ Taverners and we think it is unique - probably the only one in the country.
“Donations from Cricket East include an automatic bowling machine, and other high tech equipment that will enable boys, in particular, to go on to a number of cricketing pathways up to potentially county and national level.
“Students will follow a specialist Level 3 BTEC sports course, but we also expect them to give back through charity work and by undertaking cricketing programmes with younger students within our local communities. We also hope they will take part in local cricket leagues.
“We are being aided by ex-Worcester and England A-Team player Shaftab Khalid.”
The sixth form also offers a Football Pathway Academy in partnership with Championship club Luton Town FC, along with traditional sports such as netball, rounders and table tennis.
Both the cricket and football academies are expected to attract students from a wider area, such as Milton Keynes.
Students also have access to an “amazing” state-of-the art gym and 3G sports pitches, as the school seeks to promote “the whole expectation of health and looking after yourself well”.
Academic offerings at The Shared Learning Trust’s sixth form cover a huge range of subjects from the humanities to the social sciences and business.
Topics on offer include: art and design, fine arts, photography, biology, chemistry, drama, economics, geography, law, criminology, psychology and sociology.
There’s A-Level physics, maths, an applied criminology course and, from September 2021, a BTEC in accountancy.
“Some of our students go on to study paramedic science, radiology, physiotherapy, pharmacy - lots of degrees where they will work in a medical setting,” says Louise. “We do a lot of work supporting universities and higher education applications.
“We have got lots of links with local businesses, universities and training providers, and we have got specialist facilities in science, IT, media and sport.”
The Shared Learning Trust’s sixth form currently has about 170 students, but can cope with well over 200 on each site.
Both The Chalkhills Academy and The Stockwood Park Academy have dedicated careers officers to help children develop employability skills.
They also support students who go on to apprenticeships - in engineering in particular - as well as degree level apprenticeships.
“We are totally inclusive,” says Louise. “There are five different pathways at post-16 education for our very academic students. But not everybody will have straight A-Levels, so most institutions now appreciate the breadth and depth of BTEC qualifications.
“They give our students the opportunity to continue to learn and be tested over a two-year period. There is a substantial practical element to the courses, which is really setting them up ready for a degree.”
The schools also offer a variety of enrichment programmes, along with the Duke of Edinburgh scheme, extended project qualifications (EPQs) and the opportunity to be a sports ambassador.
There is a ‘dragons den’ programme where students can learn to sell and become an entrepreneur, first aid courses, free driving lessons for those who have performed “exceptionally well” and other rewards - such as £20 Amazon vouchers for “student of the month”.
Life and social skills are vitally important.
“Universities and employers are looking for wider social skills,” says Louise. “We make sure our students can network, give a speech, know how to balance and manage a budget, and cook a well-balanced meal.
“There is also a focus on local national and international politics and social issues.
“We run a modern sixth form with traditional values, but we start at Year 7.
“Staff on the gate wearing branded hi-vis clothing say ‘good morning’, ‘good afternoon’ and check that students are dressed properly.
“We expect children to make eye contact and smile - it is integral to the Chalkhills/Stockwood way.
“If a teacher goes into a lesson - any year group - the students automatically stand up. That may seem ‘old school’ but it is really important to me. The aim is to teach students to function as a decent member of society.
“It’s about learning teamwork, taking turns on when to lead and learning when to stay quiet and show you are actively listening.”
The coronavirus pandemic has created challenges for schools, but Louise says: “We offer all our sixth form students face-to-face teaching experience. They might not be in every day, but all their lessons are in a new building with a physical teacher - it is really important that we offer that.”
The deadline for Sixth form applications is January 22 and fill details can be found online here.