Last Friday all Year 12 students went with Mr Pearson to Olympia to attend the UCAS convention in order to speak to representatives from hundreds of different universities. Few of us were prepared for the sheer size of the event and the number of universities that actually exist in the UK! Not only did we have the opportunity to ask pre-prepared questions of all the universities we have been considering but we also had the opportunity to attend seminars on personal statement writing, student finance and Oxbridge applications.
After 3 hours we all felt exhausted and daunted by the prospect of the journey home laden with bags full of university prospectuses. All together it was a really useful day and has got our minds fully focused on UCAS!
A Level Results 2012
We are delighted with our superb first set of A Level results:
A*-A - 56%
A*-B - 89%
A*-C – 100%
Shayna Ghandi and Nishma Chandegra celebrate their A level results. Shayna is now studying Maths at Bristol University and Nishma is studying dentistry at university in Budapest.
Sixth Form Retreat
The afternoon of Friday 23rd November saw a group of nine sixth formers setting off in the minibus with Miss Ryan and Mrs Cotton on their first Sixth Form Retreat. We were heading for the Cold Ash Centre, in Thatcham, Berkshire for an overnight stay. Cold Ash is a retreat centre run jointly by Franciscan sisters and brothers. We were met by members of the community who would be guiding us through the retreat; Sr Roisin, Fr Anthony, and Br Danny who welcomed us with a very refreshing cup of tea!
The theme of the weekend was ‘Transitions’ and we spent time reflecting on who we are as individuals and how we relate to others around us through a range of discussion and creative activities which really drew out the artistic side of the Sixth Formers as well as the staff.
After supper, we went on a walk through the woods – well armed with wellies and torches, and trying to avoid slipping in the mud. When we reached the centre of the woods, we paused and turned off the torches to be still and listen to the quietness of the countryside and think about our place in Creation.
We had a chance to meet some of the four legged residents of Cold Ash, including Ben, a very friendly black Labrador, who joined us for night prayer and then fell asleep and started snoring! For the Sixth Formers, it was a brief but welcome respite from their studies.
‘I found myself completely relaxed and it was nice to get to know others in the Sixth Form and bond with them. The monks were lovely and welcoming as was Sr Roisin.
I would love to go back.’
‘We enjoyed the weekend, especially the walk after dark as we felt at one with nature. The monks and nuns were very welcoming and we would love to go back as it was very beneficial.’
Aneet Gill, Anisha Chawla & Heetashi Shukla
21st November 2012
Twelve Sixth Formers, made up of proto-lawyers, politicians, criminologists, dentists, medics, historians and every possible aspirational career in between, had an action-packed day visiting the United Kingdom Supreme Court and the Palace of Westminster - via an unexpected detour into the wood panelled private office in Portcullis House of the larger-than-life MP for Mid Sussex, The Rt Hon Nicholas Soames, grandson of Sir Winston Churchill.
On arrival at the impressive neo-gothic building which now houses the new Supreme Court, we passed through the high security checks and made our way immediately to Court 1 to secure our places to watch what we had been told was a case that would attract a lot of interest. As seven (of the twelve) Justices of the Supreme Court entered, everyone remembered the etiquette: standing on the call of "All rise!" as the seven judges made their way to their particular seat in the horseshoe arrangement of the Bench, waiting for them to bow to us and then returning the compliment before finding our seats again. The command of complete silence, where one could literally hear a pin drop - no coughing, no shuffling, no low level chat -was both impressive, as it is so unusual, and majestic.
Different Judges took the lead to deliver the judgement of the Court in three earlier appeals with precision and clarity - so much so that every single person in court understood exactly what the issue had been about - and, most importantly, with utmost fairness. "I would advise everyone to go on this visit, no matter their interests or area of study" Jade Hunt
The gravity of the work undertaken by the Supreme Court was immediately apparent as the judgements ranged from dismissing the appeal of an infamous terror suspect against refusal of his application for asylum, to holding that it was fair, just and reasonable to hold an employer vicariously liable for the sexual abuse perpetrated by its employees on young children in their care (an extremely "hot topic") - all of which made a lasting impression on the St Catherine's students.
Following on from the judgements, we were then lucky enough to observe the start of the fascinating appeal in the case of O'Brien v The Ministry of Justice. I do not think I was alone in noticing how the only female Supreme Court Justice, Lady Hale, was in complete and utter control of the proceedings and how - always of course maintaining the utmost courtesy and respect - she was able to convey to everyone listening and watching that the unfortunate QC ("Queen's Counsel") acting for the Respondent was, in her view, not really up to the mark as far as legal arguments that he was placing before the Court were concerned.
To say that the poor man was getting a bit of a savaging from Lady Justice Hale is probably overstating it, but I do not think that I was alone in cringing as she fired off volley after volley of damning questions that put him on the spot and, on occasion reduced him to an embarrassed, stuttering, apologetic schoolboy! We only saw the first half hour of the mauling and the chronology of proceedings indicated that he had been allotted a three hour slot for his arguments. One cannot imagine the state he must have been in by the end!
Unfortunately we then had to move on to the next part of our experience, which was the talk about the Supreme Court. The students , by now seated in Court 3, the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, surrounded by all the flags of the Commonwealth, were intrigued by the Education Officer Peter Jarrold as he recounted the history of the House of Lords and, more recently, the Supreme Court.
After the Supreme Court, we rushed over to Portcullis House to meet the Rt Honourable Nicholas Soames, MP for Mid Sussex in his extraordinarily small (and cluttered!) office. He had quite a number of choice words in answer to the question whether he thought Nadine Dorries was right to go on "I'M A CELEBRITY. Get Me Out Of Here!" - none of which are printable here! When I told the girls later that they had just shaken hands with the grandson of Winston Churchill, I think some of them thought I was pulling their leg! This was certainly a glimpse of life as an MP at the coal face which we were extremely fortunate to get. "The whole day was extremely informative and exciting and opened my eyes to the world of Law; also meeting and speaking to Sir Winston Churchill's grandson, The Rt Hon Nicholas Soames MP, was an unexpected surprise!" Aneet Gill
In the afternoon we joined a number of other schools in a Panel discussion with three MPs from different Parties and one Member of the House of Lords, Lord Tyler, where there were some very lively debates on such diverse topics as whether the voting age should be reduced to 16 , whether there should be new legislation setting out a mechanism to recall MPs (perhaps particularly relevant since the "I'm a Celebrity" affair!) and whether there should be reform of the House of Lords to create an elected Second Chamber.
After this, we went through the underground passage to the Palace of Westminster where we caught up once more with Lord Tyler (who had rushed over quickly too), this time taking part in a rather soporific debate in the House of Lords. After this we climbed the many stairs up to the public gallery in the House of Commons and observed a much livelier affair.
All in all, it was a terrifically eye-opening experience for everyone concerned - lawyer and non-lawyer alike. (I suspect there might even be a couple of converts over to the "Legal Dark Side"!) "The visit has given me more inspiration to pursue my interest in Law and Politics" Rushnay Sikander
I know that I was not alone in coming away from the day with a true sense not only of awe because of the sheer majesty of the buildings, their architectural grandeur and significance and their beautiful interiors, but with a genuine sense of pride in our national heritage and the unique and special traditions that we uphold so powerfully in this country. "It was a fascinating experience, in fact, the opportunity of a lifetime! I felt extremely privileged to have visited the highest court in the land to watch a real life case" Emmeline Wear
Mrs J Bailey
Head of Law, Director of Gifted and Talented Learning and Provision
Sixth Form Open Evening
On Wednesday, 19th September, the school hosted the first of its two annual Sixth Form Open Evenings.
The evening began with a talk by our Head of Sixth Form, Mr Angus Pearson, who spoke about the benefits to our girls of continuing their A level education at St Catherine’s.
He spoke of the advantages of a single sex education and the confidence that this gives girls when faced with the challenges of a more rigorous academic curriculum. He also emphasised the benefit of studying A levels in a relatively small establishment where the teachers have a good prior understanding of the students; their strengths and weaknesses. Mr Pearson went on to give a picture of the busy life that a girl at St Catherine’s can expect to lead when she is in Year 12 and 13 but stressed how supported she would feel with good communication being key to her happiness and success.
We then heard from our Head Girl, Simrin Grewall, who gave us a view of what life is like from a Sixth Former’s point of view. She talked about the support that she had received in writing her UCAS application and the standard of teaching that she had received since coming to St Catherine’s in Year 12: ‘simply excellent’. Sim also spoke about some of the privileges enjoyed by the students: being allowed off site, wearing business dress, make up and so on. Sister Paula concluded the talks with a clear and positive message: that we are a rapidly expanding Sixth Form, already with some excellent A level exam results to be proud of (2012: 78% A*-B) but that the ethos of our Sixth Form will always be preserved: through the expertise and experience of its teachers and tutors, a Sixth Former at St Catherine’s can be assured of a challenging education which will provide her with the confidence and skills to succeed in her future life.
There then followed opportunities to tour around the school, meet the Heads of various departments and view the school’s extensive facilities.
It was lovely to see so many new faces present, from families outside St Catherine’s as well as more familiar ones from lower year groups.
Some key dates:
- Next Sixth Form Open Evening: May 1st 2013 (6.30pm)
- Deadline for Sixth Form scholarships applications: 5th November 2012
What will studying at a Russell Group University REALLY be like?
As part of the Extended Project Qualification Programme and general Sixth Form Studies, Chris Fuller from the University of Southampton ’s “Learning With Us” Programme visited St Catherine’s to give our Year 12 and 13 students a taste of what will be expected of them should they go on to study at a Russell Group University.
The girls discovered that the days of having learning handed to them on a plate will be well and truly over once they get to a university like Southampton, where the emphasis is quite different from School: it is less about lecturing and teaching and much more about cutting edge research intensive learning.
Chris Fuller began by literally throwing our girls in at the deep end with a fascinating lecture entitled “The Only Game in Town?” Unmanned Drones in US Counterterrorism and Wider Foreign Policy.
Although the students were initially rather daunted, thanks to Chris’s totally engrossing style and delivery, impressive use of a Powerpoint presentation of maps, charts and video clips (plus the
novelty factor of each girl having her own hand held voting device!) – the lecture quickly became very interactive with the girls being invited to cast their vote on different key issues thrown up as the talk progressed.
An informal seminar followed the lecture - mimicking what would happen at university - where Chris handed over the floor to the girls to debate whether or not the US, having declared “War on Terrorism” had “just cause” and whether the use of proactive military force such as unmanned drones designed to kill leading members of al-Qaeda were, in fact, effective, legal or, ultimately, moral. The argument between torture, killing and legal methods is a precarious one and it was fascinating to see how the girls battled to formulate an argument for or against the different aspects of the matter under discussion.
The topic was then made startlingly relevant when, the very next morning, the issue of America’s use of unmanned drones was on the BBC News – providing a clear evidence of how academic study relates to real world events.
The final element of the session provided valuable advice to those students who will be beginning to research and write their EPQ paper over the summer to makes sure they “explode” the terms of their proposed titles so that they are not impossibly wide and also to use as many primary sources as possible.
All in all, it was a highly informative and interesting series of talks which will have given the girls an invaluable taste of the exciting and different challenges that lie ahead for them in Higher Education.
Mrs J Bailey
Director, Gifted and Talented Programme
In September 2010, after a 30 year break, St Catherine's was delighted to open its doors once again to welcome Sixth Form students wanting to study A levels in a highly regarded independent Catholic Girls' School.
Here we offer a supportive and caring environment where the standard of teaching is outstanding and where each student can be assured of the very best tailor-made guidance regarding further education and career prospects.
At a time when pressure on university places has never been greater, with employers becoming increasingly overwhelmed by the number of graduates applying for jobs, never has finding the right place to study for the Sixth Form been so crucial.
Moving into any Sixth Form should be an exciting and challenging time and, with our wonderful new Sixth Form Centre, students cannot fail to be inspired here. With a highly modern and fully equipped Common Room and separate Study Area the facilities available to Sixth Form students at St Catherine's are simply exceptional.
What you can expect as a Sixth Former at StCatherine's…
St Catherine's already has a reputation for providing the very highest level of pastoral care and in the Sixth Form we pride ourselves on ensuring that each student is part of a small tutor group (5-8 tutees), whose tutor really does know each student inside out!
Your tutor will not only liaise closely and regularly with your teachers to ensure you are on track academically but will also help you discover possible career paths and identify the relevant work-experience and courses you would need to study to pursue them. (That is not to say that all learning should be undertaken simply with a particular career in mind; we fervently believe that learning simply for the sake of learning is a truly enriching and valuable experience in its own right.)
Excellent Teaching and Facilities
In the Sixth Form you will have access to the very best resources and facilities. The most important resources, of course, are your teachers and you can expect to be taught by a team of truly committed and highly qualified staff.
In Year 12 you would expect to study for 4 AS levels and receive 6 x 45 minute lessons for each subject. In Year 13 you would probably take 3 subjects through to the full A level.
To help foster an atmosphere of true independent learning, each student is presented with a free lap-top computer on entry to Year 12. Such a tool is invaluable, not only for writing assignments and carrying out academic research but also for researching Further Education Institutions and carrying out the UCAS university application process which is now all done on-line.
We also believe that independence and freedom go together and you will notice there are greater opportunities in the Sixth Form to leave the school site and manage your time in a way that is preferable to you.
With freedom, of course, comes responsibility, not only towards yourself and your future but also to your fellow students, teachers, family and members of the local community. All our Sixth Formers are expected to exercise leadership in all aspects of their life at St Catherine's and they receive extensive training in this along with all the school's prefects as part of their Sixth Form Induction programme at the beginning of September.
A Breadth of Education…
Education in a Sixth Form should be more than simply attaining excellent academic results and applying to universities. Our General Studies programme sets out to equip our students with a whole range of 'Survival Skills' ranging from CV writing and Study Skills to First Aid and Car Maintenance. Furthermore, a variety of speakers from the world of politics, academia, medicine and media provide colourful insight into an exciting and meaningful world beyond St Catherine's.
St Catherine's produces many concerts and plays and if you're a keen musician or actor, there will almost certainly be a platform which suits your ability level. In terms of sports, our Sixth Form combine with Year 11 to produce senior school representative sides in Netball, Hockey and Tennis but there are also opportunities for Rowing, Sailing, Canoeing, Swimming and from 2011 we will be offering Real Tennis, Fencing, Triathlon and Polo. If you want to play a sport or learn a new skill or try any extra curricula activity which is not already offered by St Catherine's we will do all we can to find the right venue and time for you to pursue this interest. We encourage our students to adopt a Can Do attitude and if we cannot offer it we will find someone who can!
At least 8 Bs at GCSE (including Maths and English Language) with at least an A in your chosen AS subjects, if applicable.
Sixth Form Scholarships and Bursaries
Sixth Form Scholarships are available, as are means-tested Bursaries. Please speak to our Head of Sixth Form for further details.
To carry a subject through to Yr 13 you would expect to have got at least a B at AS.
Subjects on offer for study in the Sixth Form:
Art and Design
Drama and Theatre Studies
Governement and Politics
History of Art
Philosophy and Ethics
For any further questions or to arrange a time to visit, please email Angus Pearson (Head of Sixth Form) at:
or call him on: 0203 261 0136
And to keep up to date with what is going on in our Sixth Form or find useful links, do visit our blog at:
- Art & Design
- Business Studies
- Classical Civilization
- Drama & Theatre Studies
- English Literature
- Food Technology
- Government & Politics
- Graphic Communication
- History of Art
- Further Mathematics
- Music Technology
- Philosophy and Ethics
- Sport & Physical Education