Academic Programme

A vital element for the two year A Level course is your commitment to your own learning.

With over 20 subjects on offer, you can choose to pursue what you love, stretch your intellectual curiosity, and take ownership of your learning journey.

Please see more details and testimonials on current A Level subjects on offer in the Curriculum Guide below.


We offer a linear A Level programme and do not enter candidates for AS examinations in Year 12. This uniform approach aims at increasing valuable teaching time in the first year of Sixth Form and providing greater opportunities for academic enrichment, volunteering and work experience. In certain subjects, it may be possible for a student to enter for an AS Level in Year 13 by arrangement with the Head of Sixth Form and the Head of Department.

The Academic Programme

At A Level, the value of an inquisitive mind really comes to the fore, and it is something we aim to draw out through our teaching during this time. In Year 12, you will select three or four subjects to study from a diverse range of options, with no pre-determined blocks, which allows you to blend the arts, languages and sciences as you choose. The majority of our students then concentrate on three subjects in their final A Level year, although there is the possibility of continuing with all four.

Every two weeks, you spend an afternoon participating in our Wider Perspectives Programme. Its strong focus on citizenship, PSHE and careers futures helps prepare you for life beyond Sixth Form. Year 12 students also have the opportunity to complete the Extended Project Qualification, which is based on conducting a piece of independent research on a topic of your choice or undertaking a project to make an artefact.

Academic wellbeing and progress are supervised at an individual level by a designated tutor, who keeps in close contact with subject teachers. Leadership and direction are provided by the Head of Sixth Form.

Tutorial Support

The Head of Sixth Form leads a team of Sixth Form tutors.

The Sixth Form has a vertical tutorial structure. Each tutor group consists of up to eight Year 12 and eight Year 13 students. This means your tutor gets to know you really well in the course of the Sixth Form and Year 12 can benefit from the experience of their older peers.

Your academic progress and personal wellbeing are supervised closely by your tutor in regular one-to-one tutorials. These tutorials follow a coaching model, empowering you to take responsibility for your own progress and to develop strategies to meet your long-term goals.

Tutors keep in close contact with subject teachers and parents, ensuring accuracy of knowledge about their students. A rigorous tracking system is used to monitor academic progress using national data and individual aspirational targets.

We have an open-door policy in the Sixth Form and students or families can request a meeting with one of the Sixth Form team at any time.

In Year 13, the Sixth Form tutor also acts as your university or apprenticeship application referee, offering high quality expert advice on your university choices and personal statement.

Read more about our Higher Education and Careers programme.


Broader Curriculum

Striking a balance between our academic and co-curricular programmes is non-negotiable for us, and there are plenty of enrichment opportunities on offer, including sports, Performing Arts, the Extended Project Qualification and Community Action.

This specifically allows you to explore opportunities outside the classroom, including teaching in local primary schools or mentoring our Prep School pupils, doing your Duke of Edinburgh Awards or volunteering abroad.

Whatever you choose, these real-world experiences will help you build skills, resilience and confidence for life. All students attend philosophy lessons that examine the great questions which have been addressed by humanity throughout history. The Citizenship Programme also develops in the Sixth Form. The St James Senior Girls’ and Senior Boys’ Schools meet each year to take part in a St James Model United Nations conference which always leads to lively debate!


Sixth Formers have the opportunity to go on a number of trips to support their academic studies.

These include a geography field trip undertaken with Sixth Formers from the Senior Boys’ School to investigate beach and river work. Year 12 biologists go on a 2-day field trip to study biodiversity. Enrichment trips are also offered to the whole sixth form, with a variety of activities and locations on offer every two years. Recent trips have included Berlin, Iceland and Auschwitz. We have introduced an exciting biennial trip to Berlin and in 2018 we ran our first trip to Iceland. In 2019 we introduced a trip to Auschwitz for Year 12 students.


Sixth Form students have one afternoon of sport a week.

In addition to our main school sports of lacrosse, netball, athletics and football, you have the option of taking part in a wider range of physical activities including kick-boxing or using the facilities of a local sports club.

Performing Arts

All Sixth Form students can join one of our choirs and, if you play a musical instrument, you can also join one of our orchestras.

You will have the opportunity to take part in regular productions whether on stage or behind the scenes.

Each year, the Sixth Form organises a musical evening to raise money for their Leavers’ Ball. Most recently they have organised a Best of British Night, a Night at the Movies, a Golden Oldies Night and a Legendary Ladies Night.

Learn more about our Academy of Performing Arts here


The Duke of Edinburgh Award

Many of our Sixth Formers take the opportunity to pursue The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award.

As well as being a fun and rewarding initiative, many universities and employers look favourably on students who have taken the Award as it promotes physical fitness, self-discipline, practical leadership and the ability to work successfully as a member of a team.

See more here


Community Service

Community Service is a very significant feature of our school.

In Year 12, activities include the opportunity to teach Latin and help at two local primary schools or be a reading mentor in our own Prep School. You can also plan and fundraise for a community service project abroad in South Africa in July which includes trekking in the Umfolozi nature reserve and undertaking community projects in a Zulu village.

Social Events

There are many community events, some which are regular fixtures in the calendar, such as the Sixth Form Dinners held in the Autumn and Summer Terms.

For these, year groups take it in turns to invite an Amazing Alumna (one of our St James old girls) who gives an inspiring presentation on their career. This is followed by a delicious dinner and the opportunity to ask questions. Apart from being immensely enjoyable occasions, these events teach students how to organise and conduct themselves at a formal dinner. Also a tradition are the Dinner Dances, and Quiz Nights in conjunction with the Sixth Form Boys.

At the end of the Summer Term, a Leavers’ Dinner is organised and a Leavers’ Ball is hosted by Year 13 to thank parents and teachers, which is funded by the students’ own efforts.

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