Jan Elgood, head of sixth form at Ysgol Penglais, was the guest speaker at Aberystwyth Rotary Club's recent lunchtime meeting.
In her talk, she outlined the school’s strategic priorities for Years 12 and 13, which are to develop independent, resilient and effective learning.
A high percentage of sixth-formers go on to university, and they are supported and guided by a team of learning coaches, by means of one-to-one meetings, and opportunities for students to visit higher education open-days and exhibitions, she said.
There is an established methodology for supporting students, with GCSE grades being used as a basis for assessing the minimum A-level grades expected for each individual student.
Progress is assessed through 5-point ‘VESPA’ benchmarks: Vision, having a clear goal; Effort, hours of work put into study; Systems, organising learning resources and time; Practice; Attitude, consistency, resilience and positivity.
Jan mentioned how the range of higher education disciplines had greatly expanded in recent years, and the way in which socio-economic backgrounds can influence the percentage of students moving on to university.
Rural deprivation and isolation, and a lack of inclination to test new possibilities are challenges which schools such as Penglais are aware of and actively addressing in their sixth-form strategy.
She added that outside organisations such as Rotary could help by offering practical voluntary support.