As part of the ongoing drive to raise standards and success in our Sixth Form, this academic year has seen a number of substantial changes in the way we support our sixth form students.

We are really proud to announce, that following significant research into the Literacy Changes Lives series from NLT, Thornleigh Salesain College has responded with gusto to the report’s announcement that there has been a further decline in levels of post-16 literacy. The report sees this age group as a point of ‘difficult or no return’ and so we have responded by launching the Academic Study Programme – a programme that supports academic learning, literacy skills and university preparedness. 

Students have had sessions on:

• Approaches to note taking

•  Revision and revision strategies

• Writing personal statements

• How to maximise participation and personal outcomes

• The language of examination

• The importance of accuracy

Year 12 students also took part in a new initiative launched this year called ‘Transfer Tests’. These series of tests represent the type of basic skills tests young people would be expected to take as they embark on a career pathway such as nursing, teaching, entering the police force or joining the armed forces. These tests are also used by several universities and employers to assess basic literacy levels of applicants. Students at our college have found these tests really insightful, especially those students who then received support as a consequence of test results. 

We are delighted that several other local Sixth Form providers are interested in the initiative and as always, Thornleigh Salesian College is happy to be at the forefront of leading innovation and sharing best practice.  

Celebrating the Success of our Reading Support:

One of the tests that is part of the Transfer Test initiative is a reading test. The reading test assesses four areas of reading competency and then provides an accurate reading age for the individual taking the test. For us as practitioners, this information has been extremely useful and has allowed us to support some students in developing a more competent approach to the demands of academic reading at A Level.

We have really celebrated the fact that over a 10 week programme, some students have managed to raise their reading age by up to four years. Every student who took part in the Reading Support Programme has made significant progress and all should be congratulated for their hard work and commitment to personal success. 

Maximising Outcomes:

With external examinations fast approaching, students in year 12 took part in a session called ‘Lean In’. This session looked at how student participation in class, peer discussions and asking the right kind of question, could really enhance levels of engagement and maximise the outcomes for every student in every lesson. Year 12 students participated with real enthusiasm and enjoyed the opportunity to reflect on their current levels of engagement and commitment to study. This process of self-reflection is an essential aspect of learning at Thornleigh Salesain College, and we encourage our students to be pro-active in taking time to re-group and reflect. 

Preparing for the Future:

There has been a significant flurry of activity with year 13 students this last term as personal statements, letters of application and preparing for university interviews has been high on the agenda. The Academic Study Programme has supported students in writing personal statements and passing basic skills tests and a large number of students have worked alongside staff and subject experts to prepare themselves for interviews and auditions at colleges and universities across the country. 

AM tuition:

As part of an ongoing drive to raise aspirations and aptitude in our post 16 students, we are launching a new exam intervention programme called AM Tuition. AM tuition is a ‘quick input’ intervention that will take place during AM registration. Each session will be a short 15 minute burst of information or challenge that will help support students with their written accuracy and their ability to understand examination questions.

The AM Tuition programme follows the already successful Reading Support programme which saw some of our students raise their reading age by four years in just 10 weeks. We are certain that the AM Tuition programme will have a similar impact on student progress and success. There are currently 22 students on the AM Tuition programme, for whom this kind of academic support can be transformational. We look forward to seeing their success in the summer.