Merchiston’s Bespoke Sixth Form Curriculum
6th September, 2018
The average Merchiston Upper Sixth pupil’s UCAS points tally was 141
At Merchiston, we are in the fortunate position of being able to offer to our Sixth Form two types of globally-recognised, ‘gold standard’ qualifications: English A Levels and Scottish Highers. Whilst we are, and remain, principally an A Level school, our bespoke curriculum affords us the opportunity to capitalise on the English and Scottish systems by offering uniquely tailored combinations of qualifications, with outstanding outcomes for our pupils across the board.
All Merchiston pupils take four subjects in the Lower Sixth year and the vast majority will follow the traditional ‘three A Levels route’ to university. However, in some cases, such as those in which it is the pupil’s intention or desire to keep his options open and study a wider variety of subject disciplines, it can be advantageous to pursue a combination of A Level and Higher qualifications in the Upper Sixth year. Unlike the two year A Level, the Scottish Higher is designed to be delivered in a year; but, whilst there may be less content in a Scottish Higher, this must not be confused with it being an easy option, for Highers are robust and challenging pre-university qualifications. Some of our pupils therefore opt for an Upper Sixth programme involving two A Levels and two Highers, one A Level and three Highers, or four (sometimes even five) Highers. This approach gives pupils an extra year to develop in advance of final decisions and avoids the ‘two term rush’ to Higher, which in many Scottish schools remains the default approach.
The key to Merchiston’s approach is co-teachability. In a range of subjects, our programmes are designed to branch at the end of Lower Sixth, and boys can choose to continue along our enhanced Higher or A Level routes. As such, an increasing number of our students are recognising this as an interesting alternative route to their optimal post-school pathways and very many universities (including members of the Russell Group) make offers to such pupils every year. In terms of UCAS points, our bespoke approach to Upper Sixth qualifications leads to excellent outcomes; for example, in 2018, the average Merchiston Upper Sixth pupil’s UCAS points tally was 141 (as a guide, AAA at A Level is 144 points and AAB is 136 points).
We are very fortunate at Merchiston to be able to provide genuine and intensive personalised academic support for each of our pupils, and this ability underlies our formidable record of academic success as a school. We have real confidence in this pupil-centred approach, and believe it to be sector-leading.