The decision to relocate schools at sixth form does not come lightly. An especially pivotal period marking the end of adolescence can be largely defined through his/her/their experiences in the latter stages of secondary education. Here are some important things to consider, from the perspective of somebody who undertook the change.
Why should we make the change?
Moving schools just before A-Levels can be extremely advantageous for a few reasons:
- A significant educational benefit to making the switch is being taught by different people with alternative methods and ideas. The chance to experience diverse teaching styles is extremely beneficial long-term, especially in preparation for the variations of academic teaching and lecturing in university.
- The opportunity to pick from a wider selection of subjects. Different schools often focus on or specialise in differing subjects. Changing schools might be the only way to be able to choose a subject not previously available. Think of subjects like Anthropology, law, philosophy and sociology – these subjects are not only uniquely taught only at some sixth forms but also give a real taste of disciplines we actually study at university.
- If previously at a same-sex school, it is a good opportunity to be in a mixed educational environment. For me, leaving an all-male school for a mixed sixth form meant the adaptation to learning in a co-educational environment at the university level was far smoother.
- The monotony of the educational life is challenged. At school, students co-exist with largely the same crowd. Disrupting this can allow for the meeting of new and interesting people. Encountering those from different backgrounds is also extremely beneficial, leading to a more open-minded and rounded outlook – which is definitely necessary at university and in the real world.
- The transition into university becomes slightly less terrifying! For so many, the social aspect of higher education feels like a monumental leap. You are thrust into an environment with people from all over the country (or even the world), and it can be extremely daunting. Changing schools at sixth form may bridge this gap.
- Switching schools at Alevels represents ‘a fresh start’. For many, the chance to reinvent your social image and gain the confidence you deserve is priceless.
- Worry, not! It’s still possible to maintain past friendships while making new friends. In fact, I found making new friends proved beneficial for my mental well-being. Now that I’m a university graduate, I still socialise regularly with friends from each of my schools, even happily merging them together.
- Changing schools can show adaptability and a willingness to embrace new situations. Adaptability is a skill your future employer will really want to see!
Why should we hold off making the change?
Regardless of the advantages, it’s important to remember that moving to a different school also has its downsides. I’ll share some of the problems that I faced, as well as potential dilemmas that others could come to deal with.
- Sometimes changes in teaching methods can be challenging. For example, I had become used to the hands-on style of teaching at my previous school. Hence, the more ‘relaxed approach’ in my sixth form took a while to adjust to.
- The pressure to establish yourself socially at the new school could also lead to a lack of focus. This was also the case for me at first. I prioritised my social life to better settle into my new school and my grades started sliding – but then I quickly caught myself. Finding a balance is essential.
- If you’re already achieving positive exam results, it may not be worth taking the risk of jeopardising this. The adage ‘If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it’ is applicable. When achieving the best grades is the absolute priority, it is usually preferable to not change schools.
- Being the new kid can always feel like you’re intruding on the pre-established social infrastructure. For me personally, it was initially difficult, so it felt easier to make friends with those also new at the school, which created somewhat of a divide amongst old and new.
- Without being able to interact with old friends in a school setting, it is possible to lose touch with them sadly. Do your best to spend quality time with old friends – they may be your life-long friends after all.
- Starting at a new school can cause some students anxiety. Maintaining positive mental health is such an essential part of modern life and must be given the utmost weight. If you feel like you’re experiencing anxiety due to the overwhelming nature of change, make sure to talk to a caring professional – they are trained to help you lower your anxiety and help you assess your emotions.
My decision to change the secondary school I had attended since year 7 had mixed outcomes but overall it was a hugely positive experience that made me more confident, well-rounded and independent. And now as a private tutor and mentor at Uber Tutors, I am able to coach students in these skills daily. What is undeniably true is that the decision to change schools at this crucial stage – both academically and socially – needs to be looked at from a very personal basis. The best skill we can all work on is self-awareness and the change from secondary school to sixth form is one that pushes us to do some internal thinking.
For more important articles and more of our expert advice on the Alevels and sixth form journey, click here.