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How to switch your school half way through your A level course

Quite a few students half way through their A levels realise that they have chosen the wrong school, that the environment doesn’t suit them or that they haven’t done as well as they wanted to.  Others have lost confidence, want to change the subjects they are studying and welcome a fresh start in a new environment.  Some may have under-performed in their first year and have been asked to leave their current Sixth Form, or cannot continue with the subjects of their choice.  However, far from being a time to panic, help is at hand and transition is easier than you would think.

The advantage of transferring directly into Year 13, is that it enables students to catch up by revising the first year of A Levels comprehensively, alongside the second year material, and still complete their Sixth Form within the standard two-year period and go to a good university. 

One of the leading providers is Rochester Independent College in Kent who take 60 such students every year into Year 13 and is expert at improving grades and enabling students to gain access to the university of their choice.  Able to offer teaching on all exam boards for most subjects - often a worry for those who have done their first year with AQA, Edexcel or OCR - the first year is not wasted.  However, students can also switch boards - a far easier transition with the new linear A Level courses than it was previously for those studying under the old modular system. Students can board at the College in Year 13 or attend as day students. 

Former students perhaps sum up the success that can come from switching best: “Studying at Rochester Independent College has raised my confidence and ambition – my previous school told me I would never get into a Russell Group university” said one. 

This time last year the subsequently judged illegal exclusion on academic grounds of Year 12 students from the super selective St Olave’s Grammar School in Bromley hit the national headlines and a number of the affected students ended up finishing their A levels at Rochester Independent College. Students join the College every year though from a range of schools, local and international, independent and state.    
Theodora Penny who this time last year had grades CDE in her Year 12 exams was worried she would not fulfil her ambition to study Economics at a top university.  After switching to Rochester Independent College from a local grammar school she is now celebrating grades of AAB and has a place studying Economics at Sheffield University.

According to Alistair Brownlow, Principal of the College, integration is seamless: “As so many students join us just for Year 13 integrating is easy as there are lots of people in a similar situation” he said.  “Tuition methods at Rochester Independent College are aimed at helping each student to understand and realise their own potential.  Small classes, with an average of eight in a group, and the easy accessibility of staff ensure that students receive a great deal of individual help and attention. Regular tests under examination conditions are designed to help those who summer from examination nerves and prepare them for public examinations.”

However, do be warned.  There are no short cuts and doing your A Levels in a year means hard work.  Year 13 at Rochester Independent College is intensive with no bank holidays, no study leave and often teaching over Easter and half term breaks.

For those aiming for high level universities such as Oxbridge or Medical School with their early October deadlines, Rochester Independent College is also on the ball as regards making grade predictions and writing references.  “Our tutors and UCAS advisors are often able to quickly make credible grade predictions based on assessment of potential over the year here rather than prior achievement elsewhere.  Students who transfer into Year 13 are often doing so to help ensure they have the best chance of securing the top grades they need for medicine and related subjects within the normal two years of Sixth Form” adds Alistair.  “UCAS support is carefully tailored to students aiming for these courses.”

The Good Schools Guide rate RIC as a Year 13 option as well. They say: “Many students transfer here after poor progress at AS or A level and the effect can be dramatic. Parents all speak highly of the pastoral care and the growth in confidence witnessed. It’s a sound investment.”

Importantly however Rochester Independent College is keen to stress that a transfer directly into Year 13 isn’t for everyone. Alistair says: “Some students are best advised to take a deep breath and go back and restart a two year programme where they can build up the foundations of their subjects at a less intense pace. We often have students who choose to do this and use the opportunity to take a fresh look at their subject choices.” 

So, if your A Levels haven’t gone completely to plan in Year 12 there are options at hand to help students mature, get back on track and still have the world as their oyster.

Click here to find out more about the transfer options at Rochester Independent College. 

This article is sponsored content.