When students join the three-year GCSE resits programme at Birkenhead Sixth Form College, they are given no targets and there is no focus on final outcomes. The clear message from staff to students is: concentrate on the process and the outcomes will take care of themselves.
Hundreds of thousands of students resit their maths and English GCSEs every year, often arriving at college with their confidence shot and motivation low. Through encouraging a can-do approach and hardworking ethos, Birkenhead Sixth Form College aims to provide these students with the tools they need to succeed.
Students are given a bespoke curriculum that ensures intervention for their individual deficits. The college offers support including writing, mentoring, skills, wellbeing, engagement and bursary programmes, and assigns each student a personal tutor who offers pastoral care. The constant push to cement effective study habits in the foundation year serves students well as they progress to A levels or BTECs.
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The results speak for themselves: 66 per cent of students achieved at least a grade 4 in GCSE maths in 2018-19, triple the national average of 22.3 per cent. In English, 86 per cent of students achieved this standard – two and a half times the national figure.
The judges loved the college’s ethos and approach to GCSE resits. They said: “At Birkenhead Sixth Form College, they don’t just drill students for an exam, they focus on the whole learner and it pays off. Their achievements – given that they are in one of the most deprived areas of the country – are outstanding."