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Sigma Sixth College Blog

The Head of College Reports

28th March 2022

We have had a very busy and eventful spring term at Sigma Sixth.  There have been lots of activities and opportunities going on to enhance our students’ college experience and there has been a real buzz in the air as year 12 and 13 students have embraced life within a sixth form environment.  They have also started to focus on what their futures may look like after CCHS and Sigma Sixth, whether that will be university, apprenticeship or the world of work.   At Sigma Sixth we help students to explore all of the options available, so that they make the right personal decision for themselves; year 12 are still working on their plans, year 13 have made their decisions and are now fully focused on the summer exams.  

Mock exams for year 13 students have just finished and I am delighted to report that they had a very pleasing attitude towards their studies. It has been lovely to see these students in peer led revision sessions, exchanging flashcards and modeling responses on the whiteboard. I applaud their independence and the pro-active approach to their learning.  Year 12 students have also been preparing for end of term assessments and completion of coursework units; they have been using their study time wisely. 

Earlier this term our student council proposed that year 12 students should be given the opportunity to work from home during study periods. We discussed the idea of a ‘study pass’ and agreed on a suitable criterion. The Sigma Sixth Study Pass was launched at the start of the month with 49 students being rewarded a study pass for excellent attainment, attendance and attitude to learning. We are really proud of their achievements and these students have appreciated the flexibility that the pass provides.

For our sports students, they have been out and about this term, exploring progression routes within the industry and enhancing their comprehension of the subject. In February they spent a day in London, visiting St Mary’s University in Twickenham, with activities in the morning based on campus learning about life at the University, as well as being shown around by one of their senior ambassadors. The afternoon session included a visit to Twickenham Stadium and the opportunity to tour the home of English rugby.  I loved seeing their photos and hearing their reports, particularly their account of walking through the players’ tunnel.   The year 12 students also had the opportunity to visit The University of Essex Human Performance Unit. Students spent the morning in a lab comparing their aerobic performance to their anaerobic performance and in the afternoon, they looked at the impact psychology can have on performance, focusing on attention, arousal and reaction time. Mr Horsewill said that the students were excellent and represented the college superbly.

We believe that enrichment opportunities are incredibly valuable as they can shape the individual, both thought provoking and providing experiences of subjects and places students would not normally access. This is particularly true of our recent lecture series that we launched earlier this term. This year-long lecture series is being provided by academics from The University of Essex, delivering specially designed lectures including, How to think like a…Philosopher; How to think like an…Art Historian, How to think like an…Environmentalist and How to think like a…Human Rights Advocate. All year 12 students have been involved and we have been proud of their confidence in asking questions and expressing opinions; individuals told us they found this experience ‘amazing’ and the opportunity to ‘talk to a real professor’ very motivating. We had some wonderful feedback from one of our visiting professors who said “I found the visit to be enormously stimulating — inspiring even. It is an extraordinary cohort of students at Sigma Sixth and the staff are doing amazing work with them.”

Preparing students for their post-18 pathways is a focus all year round. I often say to the new intake that sixth form is the period of self-discovery in which they can define their future. This week we have collaborated with CCHS to provide career focused events and activities. We have had ‘pop up’ stands informing students about local employment and apprenticeship offers; a session for year 13 students on managing finances at university; a drop-in with The University of Essex to discuss late applications and all aspects of applying to university and workshops for students specifically seeking employment. Our students have positively engaged with the activities and we are hopeful that it has given them an insight into their post-18 options. 

Whilst it is important to look ahead, we also want our students to be aware of what is in front of them. Our students have been following the developments in Ukraine with discussions during our mentoring programme and within lessons. When we received news of a local firm transporting supplies to the people fleeing the conflict our students eagerly responded by bringing in extras from shopping trips, tins and packets from the forgotten corners of kitchen cupboards and spare blankets and duvets. In addition to this, our students have been raising money for essentials by setting up a car washing service for staff. During their lunch breaks they have been cleaning off the Saharan sand, from our strange weather phenomenon, and giving our cars a good polish. Our ISS catering team very kindly responded by providing our students with an ice cream for their efforts, which has gone down particularly well during the slightly warmer weather.

Happy Easter to all of our families and students, let’s hope we are able to enjoy some lovely spring weather over the school break and we look forward to welcoming all of our students back on Tuesday, 19th April.
 

Sarah McKarry, Head of College


26th January 2022

Amazingly how fast time flies, we are now over half-way through our first half term of 2022, but before we leave January, I wanted to update you on some memorable events that happened on campus during the autumn term.

On the 1st November we welcomed over 600 year 11 students to Sigma Sixth Tendring for our Open Evening. During the Open Evening, parents, carers and students had the opportunity to explore our campus and facilities, meet with our teaching staff and students and find out about our enrichment opportunities. Throughout the evening, current Sigma Sixth students were on hand to help our visitors, guiding them around the site, showcasing typical sixth form lessons and providing an invaluable insight into college life. They contributed to an exciting and vibrant evening where students felt informed and supported in making decisions about the next stage in their education.

Later in the same month we hosted a three-day experience event where we not only welcomed students from Clacton County High School, but also, The Colne Community School and College and Harwich and Dovercourt High School. Year 11 students from these Sigma Trust Schools have the opportunity to access courses from our campus to extend their curriculum offer.  

It was wonderful to meet and speak with so many prospective students from both CCHS and across Tendring and to discuss with them their plans for post-16, the subjects they wish to pursue and their future career aspirations.

Throughout the autumn term, year 12 and 13 students continued to be busy as they prepared for their mock examinations. Whilst year 13 have previously had a number of assessment opportunities this was year 12’s first experience.   In preparation, they attended a revision strategy session prior to their study week. During this session they participated in a range of activities and were provided with resources that they could use to construct their own revision material. This was well received by our students and many proudly presented their resources to teachers and peers.

Mock exams took place at the end of November and into December and once they had finished the College Council, made up of sixth form councillors, felt that the college community needed to feel the festive buzz!  Overnight our council members transformed the campus into a winter wonderland.  The final week of term provided much diversion for everyone after the intensity of the mocks and the college hosted a Sigma Sixth Christmas Bazaar.  The council organised a number of classic games such as ‘hook a duck’, ‘hoopla’ and ‘splat the rat’.  There were also cake stands, a penalty shoot out competition with Mr Crabb and ‘Pie the Teacher’ with me as the member of staff to aim for! As you can imagine, no-one wanted to miss out on this opportunity and the queue was quite long for target practice at the Head of College!  All in good humour and for a good cause, and overall the College Council raised £132 for Essex Age UK.

Following the return in the new year, as with all schools and colleges, students once again made adjustments to meet the government guidelines.  As they have for almost 2 years now, our students showed their resilience by positively responding to the mandatory changes, with masks on in lessons and communal areas, showing their commitment to protecting our college community.

Early January was a particularly exciting time for many of our year 13 students who were eager to share news about university interviews and offers, whilst others continue to work on their UCAS applications. With a mid-January deadline, Ms Locksmith and Mrs Reed are working tirelessly to provide guidance to assist students meet the UCAS deadline and we are delighted that so many more of our students have made the decision to move on to higher education.

Sigma Sixth students have been aspirational in their choices of universities and so far 20% of our students have received offers for Russell Group Universities.  University is just one career pathway available for post-18 options and, as we move into the next half term, we will be providing support with apprenticeships and employment opportunities.

Finally, last week, I had the pleasure of attending a song writing and musical composition workshop, which included our year 12 students working collaboratively with younger year groups to write and present a song within a day!  It was wonderful to observe their leadership and communication skills as they tackled this rather challenging task. They were perfect role models and I was extremely proud of their attitude, patience and encouragement towards their lower school peers.

As ever, the Sigma Sixth calendar is very busy for the rest of the year and I look forward to keeping you updated on events and activities as we progress through the spring term.

Sarah McKarry, Head of College


30th September 2021

This month the college has been a hive of activity with our students settling into the new academic year. It was a joy to welcome the class of 2021 at the start of the month with a full year group induction in our large and airy atrium. Students were arranged in a conference style and embarked on team building tasks to 'break the ice' and get to know each other. The activity where students had to work collaboratively to build the largest spaghetti tower was surprisingly competitive but also very entertaining. It was great to see them conversing at ease whilst also finding imaginative ways to be the most successful. This is definitely a skill we want to see our young people embrace as they move into their future studies and the competitive world of work.

Our year 13 students have returned with a renewed sense of purpose, ready to embark on the final year of their A Level and Applied Level studies. In our first assembly we looked at our new Academic Mentoring Programme which are small group or 1:1 sessions that will take place each morning before lessons to support students with any gaps they may have in their learning. Our subject specialist mentors identify students based on recent assessments and their knowledge of the individual. Despite the slightly early start for some, this was well received by students and they have been engaging with the programme, it has also been an opportunity for them to discuss any concerns they have and to help us identify any additional support that can be put in place.

A number of our year 12 students are now out on their one day a week work experience placement and are having a wonderful time exploring the world of work. Students are supported by their mentor and work experience coordinator in finding a high-quality work experience placement. This increased self-understanding, maturing and independence compliments their studies and future career prospects. Along with our enrichment curriculum in year 12 we have been encouraging students to engage with 'super-curricular' opportunities to enhance their college experience. 'Super-curricular' is a popular term used in higher education to describe activities that go beyond course content. These activities range from being involved in our extracurricular clubs to writing a sixth form blog about a topic. We have explained to students that involving themselves in activities outside of their normal school work whilst still related to their academic studies, will make them stand out from the crowd during university or work interviews.

This week students received their first relationships and sex education talk from the RAP foundation. The organisation has been set up to empower students by educating them on UK laws and defining consent and sexual offences. Students were attentive and engaged during the mature talk, learning valuable information about a very relevant and current topic, with a real focus on ‘consent’. We are committed to helping students develop as individuals ready for life in the wider world and this is the first of many sessions that will be provided during the academic year.

Thank you for taking the time to read our Sigma Sixth blog, I look forward to sharing more stories about college life in the coming weeks.

Sarah McKarry, Head of College