A Levels or IB?


The International Baccalaureate or A levels?

Our girls are all individuals who have different aspirations and ambitions but share the same drive to achieve them. For this reason, the school is committed to offering a choice of pathways in the Sixth Form. Girls can choose between the ‘traditional English’ route to University – taking 3 A levels (with excellent enrichment opportunities) or, perhaps, they would prefer the broader and more holistic International Baccalaureate diploma.

Our A Level Offer
The A-level offer at the Royal High School enables students to specialise in specific areas of study, with a mind to continue within this area at University. This may suit students who feel that their specific strengths lie in a specific area, for example in the sciences or the arts and humanities. We are proud to offer a wide array of subjects at A Level, including many subjects new to GCSE students such as Psychology, and Economics. Students will typically choose to study 3 A-level subjects as this is the number that all universities use to make their offers. All subjects are taught as they have been designed, as two-year linear courses.

In addition to their main subjects, A Level students have the opportunity to carry out further study designed to enrich their Sixth Form portfolio and give them experience of scholarship and research that will stand them in excellent stead for undergraduate life. These additional options include the Cambridge Pre-U Global Perspectives course, Government and Politics AS level, GCSE or AS Level Italian, Mandarin, or Maths at AS Level (a good facilitating qualification for those wishing to go on to study Psychology or Natural Sciences). Further options include Advanced Cookery, Astronomy or AS Level Photography.

In addition to these choices, A Level students also take weekly lessons in research skills leading to the highly regarded EPQ qualification as well as a series of sessions focusing on key skills for undergraduate life, including presentation skills.

The IB Diploma Programme
There are many students who find it hard to narrow down their Sixth Form choices to just three subjects. They may prefer to prepare themselves for University with a wider variety of inter-related courses that allow them to specialise at Higher Level, whilst catering to a wider variety of interests at Standard Level.

Students take 3 subjects at Higher Level, 3 subjects at Standard Level and a trio of subjects as the ‘core’ of the diploma. These must come from 6 specific areas – studies in their native language, acquisition of a foreign language, humanities (including new subjects such as Philosophy, Psychology and Economics), a Natural Science, Mathematics (at a choice of levels to suit everyone) and a creative subject. Students may choose to forego a creative subject and take an additional choice from other areas. Higher Level subjects might typically be the ones they would have chosen at A-level – those which will facilitate their degree choice, for example, a medic should take Biology and Chemistry at HL.

In addition to the academics, the diploma core comprises of the Extended Essay (a 4,000-word research paper on a subject of the student’s choice), the highly regarded Theory of Knowledge course and enriching experiences designed to develop the whole person through CAS: Creativity, Activity and Service.

The diploma was specifically designed over 40 years ago as a gold standard in International Education to bring about key qualities such as independence, risk-taking and thinking skills. There is a coherent philosophy of education that ensures that all courses in the diploma work together to prepare the student to for university and life beyond.

Help and guidance every step of the way
We think it is very important that our Sixth Form offer allows our girls to choose a route to University that will best suit them. Whilst making their choices, they will be given help and support from the curriculum and pastoral teams in a process that includes information evenings, a subject fair, and a personal guidance interview with a senior member of staff.

Positive University Outcomes
We have proven success of excellent university outcomes for our students taking both routes. Both are well-known to university admissions tutors and our highly skilled tutors and Higher Education Advisor will work with your daughter to reach the University of her Choice. 

Finally, the Sixth Form is about broadening yourself culturally and socially as well as academically. Through initiatives such as Model United Nations, the Debating Society, the Friday Literary Lunch (involving tea and cake of course), a wide range of arts, scientific, sporting, theatre and musical visits, entry for national and international competitions and challenges, community involvement and leadership opportunities, you'll be able to ensure your course choices, your opportunities and your study pathway suits you, your personality, your abilities and your potential.