5 Reasons To Study GCSEs At A College

Choosing to study GCSEs at a college rather than in a traditional school setting may seem unorthodox and potentially risky. Staying where you are and completing your GCSEs just seems like the most sensible and safe route for many.

However, as we learn more and more about the multiplicity of learning styles, traditional schools often have a
 one size fits all approach, and you may want to go elsewhere to continue your learning.

This is where independent colleges can play a crucial role. Many students across the country will choose to attend institutions like these to study A-Levels, however,  independent colleges also offer intensive and comprehensive GCSE courses as well. These are great for students who do not feel like they fit into a traditional school setting.

When researching this article I came across a host of benefits to studying GCSEs at an independent college. I discussed with a leading independent college in London, Ashbourne College, some of the factors that can make for a highly enjoyable, and most importantly impactful, educational experience at independent colleges. Here are the results. 

1. Fresh Environment

Many students remain at secondary school all the way from Year 7 (11 years old) to Year 11 (16 years old) or even Year 13 (18 years old!). Five years is an extremely long time to be in the same place every day, often being taught by the same teachers. Students are an entirely different person at 16 than they were when they started school. I am sure many parents have had the experience of their child missing a deadline or performing poorly early on in their secondary school tenure, for which they are then profiled and pigeonholed for the rest of their studies.

This situation does not help students develop. Moving to a college for GCSEs or IGCSE allows students to make a fresh start, leaving behind any silly mistakes they made whilst
adjusting to secondary school life, with teachers who truly want them to succeed in the most important stage of their education.

2. Small Class Size

We have all had experiences of secondary school classes that are at absolute maximum capacity with 30 students crammed into one room. It can be hard to see the board, difficult to get the teacher’s attention and is simply an ineffective learning environment.

At a private college, class sizes are kept small, often not more than 10 students in a class. This means that students can become more engaged in the lesson and no one is left behind. The individual attention that teachers are able to provide students means that many can gain the very top grades in their examinations. If your student is not one to pick concepts up instantly without support this kind of setting is absolutely key.

3. Focused Teaching

The fact that colleges are entirely focused on success in GCSE and A-Level examinations means that teachers’ time and knowledge is dedicated entirely to the specifications for these exams. Their knowledge of the courses will be more in-depth than teachers who are stretched to teach Year 7, Year 8 and Year 9 as well as GCSEs.

In colleges, students are taught to the exam from day one, which is the most effective method for students who are coasting at a ‘B’ grade, who want to access the very top A and A* grades. Overall, this can mean better lessons, more focussed advice and greater success in exams.

4. Mature Cohort

When studying GCSEs at college, students go from being one of the oldest students in the setting to being one of the youngest. Whilst this can be daunting at first, having older students around them means they have many to look up to. There will always be a student in Year 13 who is interested in the same subjects as them who can provide advice on tricky things like university applications and revision techniques.

Colleges also often have an extensive mentoring programme, in which Year 13 students are paired with younger students for homework support. An older cohort also means better student behaviour and fewer disturbances. Students can remain focused and get things done. Overall, a cohort of students ranging from 15 to 18 or 19 simply creates an environment that is more conducive to learning and achievement, particularly for students who struggle with distractions in a larger school environment.

5. Guaranteed Entry Into The Sixth Form

Colleges such as Ashbourne, which offer GCSE and A-Level courses will often offer guaranteed entry from GCSEs into A-Levels. Many larger private secondary schools have very strict entry requirements for students looking to stay on for A-Levels.

Ashbourne’s statistics for grade improvement are some of the best in the country and, as a result, they are able to commit to students and guarantee them a place in their sixth form for A-Levels. On average, students studying there will improve their grades by 1.5 levels, meaning if a student does not achieve their desired grades right away, they will very likely improve by the time they leave. The attitude is, therefore, the earlier they join, the more they will improve.

So these are 5 reasons to study GCSEs at a college. Let me know if your children are considering studying at college.  


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