Sixth Form

Maida Vale Sixth Form – a World Ready Education

by Dena Dedaat, Head of Sixth Form

Walking into the airy, industrial-chic loft spaces of our Maida Vale Sixth Form feels like walking into a world light-years more grown-up than the school-kid world of GCSEs. There is a clarity here, a transparency – not just in the architecture of open space and huge internal and external windows – but in the lack of clutter around school traditions, no old school ties or masters in gowns, and a collegiate atmosphere free of hierarchy.

Clarity is what you need, after all, when you emerge, blinking, from the drudgery and gloom of GCSEs and GCSE results, into the sunny upland vistas of a Sixth Form study programme.

Freedom from the usual educational straitjackets extends to the selection of subjects for study. Here in the Maida Vale Sixth Form, there are no ‘either-or’ rules that say you have to do A Levels or BTechs, vocational or creative, STEM subjects or humanities. It’s that Pick’n’Mix approach that makes choice at MVS so sweet. And with all the opportunities of London at your fingertips a tube ride away, the classroom is just the start.

One of our current Sixth Formers is studying DT, Economics and Psychology, heading off to the BBC Natural History London unit or the Kent House series of private lectures for extra inspiration. Another chose Physics, Maths and Art, with a most recent trip to the V&A Fragile exhibition. Others combine, say, BTechs in Hospitality or Digital Media Production with A Levels in Languages or Politics, all with relevant outings and explorations.

We have a broad academic focus with an emphasis on tailoring a study programme to a student’s wants and expectations, and the facilities to deliver them. Our first two cohorts of leavers, in 2025 and 2026, are both set to have wonderfully diverse outcomes: aiming for top Russell Group universities, US colleges, arts schools, apprenticeships, creative placements and into the world of work.

Each personal tutor works with their charge, meeting every morning, to ensure that their highest ambitions are worked towards and realised, their anxieties and wellbeing tackled at source.

That shared drive ensures a partnership of enthusiasm and positive energy. It couldn’t be further than the usual teacher-pupil relationship: here, we treat the Sixth Formers like adults, and equip you with life skills, partly because some of you will be going from us straight into a grown-up environment. Those Sixth Formers need to be world-ready, so we make sure you all are.

With the liberating combination of topnotch specialist teaching and a lack of snobbery about subjects, the pathways of learning chosen are many and varied, mixing creative with academic. The choice of EPQs (Extended Project Qualifications) in 2024 is telling: from a 20 minute podcast on ADHD to a music video to an analysis of Genghis Khan and a thesis, ‘Is HipHop Poetry?’ In the art room, the graduation projects range from textiles to vast oil canvases, fashion garments tacked around mannequins to digital fractals.

There is a confidence in the teaching here that sparks engagement. Just spending a few minutes in a Year 12 lesson taught by Richard, the Design Technology teacher, is enough to feel swept up by his enthusiasm for industrially-grounded, project-based atelier learning, turning student ideas into professional reality, converting the DT workshop into an enzyme-based sustainable space. Richard himself – Dr.Barrett – has a PhD, returning to academia from a stint at the Unit for Future Skills initiative at the Dept of Education; the Computer Science teacher is also a tech entrepreneur; the Maths teacher used to work in private equity & finance. Sophie, the art teacher, who is herself an artist, sums up the feeling in the staff room by saying, ‘I am in teacher heaven…’…

The parent base is equally inspiring. Where the school is sited, in West London, the residents are some of the capital’s most innovative, creative, best-connected big hitters; our parents are consummate networkers, mentors and motivators: we have them in for talks, they provide placements, they even lay on extra, bespoke trips for behind-the-scenes access to theatres, film sets, hospitals and workplaces. They are our secret extra resource.

Even applying for the Maida Vale Sixth Form is a bespoke process, popular with incomers: 80% of external applicants, having enjoyed their admissions day with us, choose us over other sixth forms.

A handwritten application lets us see how you organise your thoughts, then there’s no exam but an interview, with a 4-5 minute spoken presentation: a stimulus for further questions. This is followed by a group task to ensure a good year-group balance. We give academic scholarships and those for art, performing arts, sport, DT, all with a small fee remuneration and an expectation that the awarded student will ‘give back’ by mentoring the younger students in Years 8-11.

It’s a light-touch, but world-class admission process that mirrors graduate recruitment and garners us a diverse and interesting cohort to add to our existing base, dovetailing with the ethos of Maida Vale. It’s also your welcome to the Sixth Form – and your first phase of integrating with the real world beyond.

We look forward to meeting you!

 

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