Getting ahead of the game: preparing Year 11 for their A-level studies

Getting ahead of the game: preparing Year 11 for their A-level studies

A major component of QE’s remote learning study programme has been specially tailored for Year 11 to provide a bridge so that boys can cross over successfully into their A-level studies.

The GCSE to A-Level Transition area of study will be a prominent focus for current Year 11 pupils in the coming weeks, together with a distance-learning course on academic research skills run by Eton College, which will be used to complement the in-school study programme.

In a letter to Year 11, Year Head Simon Walker wrote of the importance of the transition programme: “You as a year group have an opportunity to be uniquely well-prepared for starting your A-Level studies, and it is by harnessing the activities within this component that you will do so.

“These activities will prepare you…in all the key areas in which Sixth Form study differs from and develops upon GCSE: they will help you to deepen and enrich your subject knowledge and understanding of concepts that are central to your chosen subjects; and to explore those subjects in an independent and self-motivated way, drawing on research skills and a wide range of physical and online resources in order to read widely within those subjects. In doing so, the activities will provide a foundation for success in AS and A-level examinations.”

Acknowledging that the activities are very different from those that Year 11 would normally be undertaking at this stage, he states that the School’s expectations of excellence remain unchanged: “Your teachers, tutors and I will all be expecting to see thorough and thoughtful work reflecting a conscientious and enthusiastic approach.”

From now on, the boys will be completing activities only for subjects they intend studying at AS-level, thus focusing on fewer subjects and investing commensurately more time in each.

“Those of you who have A-level courses confirmed know which courses to consider at this stage; those of you who are still uncertain should start with those for which you have a definite offer at this stage,” Mr Walker wrote. “You will be assigned three tasks over the course of the term – two this half-term and one next – and should focus on using all the time available to complete the work in as much detail and depth as possible, rather than prioritising quick completion of the tasks: think of this work as something that can be continually refined, extended and developed rather than as something with a clear-cut end-point beyond which there is no scope for further improvement.”

The Eton College distance-learning course, which will run in parallel with the transition initiative, is an online course to help boys develop their skills of academic research – skills that will play an integral part in their AS and A-level and, ultimately, undergraduate studies.

The course is provided by EtonX, a branch of the public school that provides online-learning courses globally. EtonX have made the course available free-of-charge to UK state schools to support the distance-learning programmes being implemented in response to the global pandemic. The course offers a systematic and structured introduction to all the key components of academic research, including managing time effectively, using research tools and databases, evaluating sources, using reading strategies and referencing.