Guidance & Support

How big is the leap between school and College?

Most students joining the College are studying Advanced level courses which are, by definition, more challenging than GCSE level studies. However, staff are well aware of the difficulties students face in respect of their subjects and set work at levels appropriate to students’ abilities.The initial ‘induction’ period enables students to find out more about the subjects they are studying and includes introductions to the skills needed for successful study, and students are allowed to make changes to their programme during the first 3 weeks if approved by the College.

What does the Personal Tutor do?

Your son or daughter has a Personal Tutor who will provide the support needed to settle down to work at College. During weekly tutorials the Personal Tutor helps students prepare for examinations and progression to Universities and employment, as well as completing a range of activities, including Citizenship related themes and study skillsExamples of areas covered in the tutorial programme are :

  •  Student life
  • Organising time and using resources at OSFC
  • Citizenship
  • Equal Opportunities
  • Careers Education
  • Support for University/ Job Applications, including ‘Russell Group’ University applications
  • Staying Safe & Being Healthy
  • Progress Monitoring.

Who do I contact if I want to discuss my son/ daughter’s progress?

The Personal Tutor monitors the progress of each individual student in their Tutor group and will help a student sort out problems that may be affecting their work. If parents feel they need to discuss issues relating to or affecting their son or daughter, the Personal Tutor is usually the first port of call.Should you wish to speak to a senior member of staff, the Vice Principal (Curriculum and Quality), Peter Roberts, will also be happy to discuss any concerns with you.

When can I expect to receive reports on my son/ daughter’s progress?

Reports detailing performance against minimum expected grades, attendance and punctuality are posted home every half-term, including in advance of the Parents’ Evenings in November and March. The November report also includes detailed comments from your son/daughter’s Personal Tutor. Dates for Parents’ Evenings are on the website.

What help can my son/daughter expect with applying to University?

Whether applying to University or looking for employment, the College has a well-equipped Careers area and Library, staffed throughout the week. A Personal Advisor from the Careers Service is based in College, working alongside our own Careers staff, and students are able to make appointments for careers interviews with a them.From early in their first year we encourage students to think about possible career and Higher Education alternatives. The Tutorial programme includes a comprehensive Careers Education and students have the opportunity to attend Higher Education and Job talks and to visit Universities.We also provide information for parents about finance and Higher Education in April and hold a Careers Week for our students in May.

What if my son or daughter wants to apply to Oxford, Cambridge or ‘Russell Group’/ elite Universities for the subject?

Students in ‘Russell Group’ Tutor Groups will receive additional advice and guidance specifically on applying to these highly competitive Universities, while extra support is also available for students applying to the Universities of Oxford or Cambridge and for students wanting to enter competitive courses such as Medicine.We encourage students to attend a weekly meeting from the Spring Term, in order to build confidence, to arrange Open Day visits and to attend talks by Oxbridge tutors and students.We also have a number of ‘extension workshops’ with the same remit across a range of subject areas, led by teachers with specialist knowledge of supporting students applying to ‘traditional’/elite Universities. These specialist staff will support students with their research and applications, ensuring these are the best they can be.

What advice do you give about part time work?

Excessive part time work is a common problem. Whilst a few hours a week, for instance a Saturday job, may seem reasonable, some students want to do considerably more. We do not encourage this. Being a full time student means just that.To be successful on their courses Advanced Level students should expect to spend around 8 to 16 hours a week in additional study, such as homework or independent learning, as well as attending time-tabled classes. Experience has shown that students with extensive part time work have difficulty coping with the demands of their College course and we would welcome the support of parents in emphasising our concerns on this issue.Research evidence shows that more than 12 hours part-time work each week has a negative effect on final grades.