How many A levels do students need to take?

Students should take a minimum of three A levels.  Most universities in the UK, including the very best institutions, ask for only three subjects for the vast majority of their courses.   Many students add a fourth subject either at A or AS level and a few do more than this, but they are monitored very carefully to endure they do not over-stretch themselves.

Why does Concord suggest that students start their studies by taking as many as four A levels and two AS levels?

We do this to allow students to get a taste of a range of subjects before they decide which subjects to study.  This approach also allows students to keep their options open for longer with regard to university choices. Subjects can be dropped at any time, but this is most likely to happen at the end of the first year of study.

What is the best way to prepare for applying for Oxford or Cambridge?

It is important to understand that good A level results are merely the starting point in the application process.  These universities are looking for students who not only achieve highly, but can demonstrate a genuine interest in their subjects through extended reading, work placements and participation in subject Olympiads or essay competitions

How many pupils go on to Oxford or Cambridge?

This varies from year to year, but in recent years 20 or more students from Concord have usually received offers from Oxford or Cambridge.

What assistance is given to students in the university application process?

There is a programme of talks, events and visits which begins in January for 6.1 students each year.  There are trips to the universities of Cambridge, Oxford, Warwick and Birmingham and the four top London colleges (LSE, Imperial, UCL and King’s) send representatives to speak to our students at Concord every year.  Dedicated staff act as University Counsellors in key subjects including Medicine, Engineering, Mathematics, Economics, Architecture, Law and Finance/Accounting.  In addition, personal tutors guide students individually through the application process. We have also established a support system where our alumni who are already at university meet our students online to give advice about how to apply.

When does the School need to know A level subject choices?

We prefer students to choose these at least nine months before arriving at Concord.

Why does Concord do A levels and not the IB or Pre-U?

We have looked at these alternative options carefully and have decided that A levels suit the skill set of our students the best.  IB is good for students who are equally good at a range of subjects, but it perhaps does not allow enough room for depth of study in a student’s favourite subjects.  It is not generally known, but IB accounts for only 3% of university entries.  Pre-U is not widely used and seems to be fading in popularity.

Does Concord follow the GCSE or IGCSE curriculum? How closely does Concord follow the National Curriculum?

Individual Heads of Department are given responsibility for deciding which qualification is best for our students.  At present about 50% prefer GCSE and 50% opt for iGCSE. The two qualifications are treated equally by university admissions officers.

When do pupils make their subject choices for GCSEs?

New students should let us know at least six months before arrival.  Current Form 3 students are asked to decide during the Spring Term.

What subjects are studied in Form 3 (first year)?

At Form 3 (Year 9) students follow a broad curriculum to encourage a range of interests and to give a grounding in a wide range of subjects including Maths, English, Science, History, Geography, French, Spanish, German, Computer Studies, Art, Music and Drama.  Students who need extra English support are withdrawn from French, Spanish and History for extra lessons.

What are the average class sizes?

Our target is a maximum of 14 at A level and 16 for GCSE.  A very small number of classes are bigger than this, but a larger number are smaller.

What provision is there for Personal and Social & Health Education?

Lower School students are given one dedicated lesson of PSHE each week, delivered by their form tutor. Sixth Form students have a lesson every fortnight in their extended tutor time and occasional supplementary talks or lectures on certain topics during Twilight (after lessons at 4.15 pm).

How is work monitored?

Students sit two or three tests each Saturday morning which gives teachers a clear view of how well students are absorbing the lesson content.  Sixth Form students have a test in each A level subject every two weeks and Lower School students have a test for each subject every three weeks. Prep is also routinely set and marked by subject teachers.

How do parents find out about their son’s or daughter’s progress?

Most parents find out about test performance directly from their children. Results are also sent every week to parents via an App and the end of term report includes the mark for every test for every subject.