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Rochester Independent College Sixth Form

Aiming Higher, Switching Schools and Retaking A levels

Rochester Independent College describes why some students choose to switch schools for sixth form or sometimes just for their Year 13 or a one year A level resit courses. Over half of the College’s intake is from the Kent grammar schools. The average class size is 8.

RIC 6th 2

Why retake or switch schools?
Previous students perhaps sum it up best. One said: "Studying at RIC raised my confidence and ambition - my previous school told me I would never get into a Russell Group university." Another adds: “At RIC the teachers prepared me for the exams, inspired me and made me love English Literature again. I went from a D to an A.”

The Good Schools Guide, reviewing RIC said: “Many students transfer here after poor progress at AS or A level and the effect can be dramatic. Parents all speak highly of the pastoral care and the growth in confidence witnessed. It’s a sound investment- among the retakers all got into university and three-quarters won Russell Group places.” 

Students sometimes choose to revisit their options, changing subjects completely or opting to combine retakes with one year intensive A levels.

Do RIC offer normal two year A level courses or just retakes?
We welcome about 70 new Year 12 students each year, both from local schools and boarders from further afield. We offer a wide range of traditional academic A levels as well as more creative and applied options such as Music Technology, Film Studies, Computer Science, Graphic Design and Photography.

Former student Laurence Routledge who studied Maths, Further Maths, Physics, Geography and Theatre Studies at the College says: "I joined RIC after GCSEs at Gad’s Hill. After leaving, I spent 4 years studying for my Masters in Astrophysics at Sussex, graduating with 1st class Honours. I am now in my first year studying for my DPhil at Oxford. Studying at RIC was great fun; I met a lot of good people and still keep in touch with many of them. I'll never forget the Rochester's Got Talent competitions and our rendition of The Village People's greatest hits."

Entry to Year 12 at RIC is non-selective and it is sometimes possible to start sixth form while retaking a few GCSEs alongside A levels.  Sometimes students have narrowly missed the GCSE grades needed for grammar school sixth form entry and opt for RIC as an alternative.

RIC 6th 3

Is RIC just a crammer or an exam factory?
Absolutely not, we welcome children from the age of 11 although we are clear that in later years the focus is on exam-oriented tuition to make sure students have the best chance of getting to where they want to go.

Natasha Alford who joined RIC from The Judd School says: “Although I attended Rochester to gain good A levels what I actually gained during my time there was so much more." Conor McManaman who joined from Gravesend Grammar says: I know that after my time here I’m less one dimensional and the College has helped me think about different things in different ways.” Becky Dolman who was at Invicta Grammar until the end of year 12 says: “The moment we came to the interview at RIC I knew it was the right place. When I came there were lots of people in the same boat. All the teachers have been brilliant. If you get something wrong they make you see how you can change and improve it yourself. They make you think and don’t spoonfeed.” 

The Good Schools Guide adds: “Pupils have come from grammars where they felt under too much pressure, or from large schools where they felt overwhelmed, and all say they are learning better and enjoying school more here. ‘I worried a lot at my old school, here it’s a better environment,’ said one. ‘At my old school if you improved, they didn’t notice,’ said another.”

What about preparation for Medicine?
It’s very difficult for students who need to retake A levels to get medical, dental and vet school places. A small number will consider you and RIC students in this position are successful each year but it’s even more competitive than applying first time.
RIC 2

Students who transfer into Year 13 or join us for Year 12 are often doing so to help ensure they have the best chance of securing the top grades they need for medicine and related subjects within the normal two years of sixth form. The UCAS support given is carefully tailored to students aiming for these courses.

RIC student Abi Wong who joined from Simon Langton says: “Having set my heart on medicine, I was devastated when I fell short of the grades I needed for the offer I held at Bart’s. I soon realised that if my dream was to become a reality, I needed to keep at it and resit. This year has only better prepared me for university and I now feel fully equipped to take on the new challenge. With the fantastic help of RIC, I was over the moon to achieve two offers for medicine.”

What do you need to know about retaking A levels or switching to sixth form at RIC?
Abi continues: “Small class sizes mean you get to know people very quickly and I always felt well supported. The staff are so dedicated and passionate, they make A levels as easy and enjoyable as possible. I couldn’t have asked for a more supportive and encouraging community and here I am at the other end excited and ready to start at Exeter Medical School in September.”
 
Is RIC, where there’s no uniform, just too relaxed for school?
The Independent Schools Inspectorate judged that the personal development and behaviour of RIC students was “excellent,” saying: “The use of first names and informal attire generate a relaxed environment. Sanctions are few in an atmosphere which values respect highly, and rudeness is not tolerated.”

At RIC students adopt a formal approach to their studies and treat exam preparation seriously. Oxbridge offers are received every year, this year for subjects ranging from Psychology at Oxford to Natural Sciences at Cambridge. Exeter University is currently the most popular choice for RIC students, 30 students have won places there in the last five years.

What are the creative and visual arts like at RIC?
The Good Schools Guide says “it’s hard to imagine better provision for an artist.” We were one of the first independent schools in Kent to receive an Artsmark back in 2008.

There’s an art college atmosphere and teachers are all practioners in their own right. Students have use of the fully equipped darkroom; ceramics studios with potters’ wheels and kiln; textiles studio with computer-aided embroidery machines; two large dedicated art studios; and two mac labs for design work. History of Art is a popular A level.

RIC 6th 4

A high number of students leave RIC each year for fine art, design, fashion, film and photography courses at university with recent destinations including Central Saint Martins, UCL’s The Slade, UCA, London College of Fashion, Edinburgh and Falmouth.

Is RIC really just for international students?
One of the elements of the winning formula at RIC is the dynamic mix of local students from a variety of backgrounds with inspirational young people from overseas.

The College is though only 15% international alongside 85% from the local area or the rest of the UK. We have 300 students on roll each year.

Having an international Gold Medal Olympian
in the class can be a real advantage, as
aspiring Canterbury Medic Joe McManners who was previously at Tonbridge School can attest. He gained A*A*A
in Chemistry Biology and Physics, all completed in one year from scratch, having shared a Chemistry class
with Jiratheep ‘Boom’ Pruchayathamkorn.


Boom came to RIC on the Thai Government Scholarship programme and achieved the feat of 5 A* grades in Chemistry, Physics, Maths, Further Maths and Statistics in one year. He won a place at Merton College, Oxford to read Chemistry while Joe joined him at St Catherine’s to read Medicine.

Where can people get more information?
To find out more about retaking A levels, switching to Year 13 or joining Year 12 at Rochester Independent College, visit their website here: www.rochester-college.org