Our Year 11 and Year 13 pupils have now come to the end of their GCSE and A-Level courses and for the first time in recent history, schools will begin to generate grades for these students following the decision to cancel all exams in Summer 2020 due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

During these incredibly uncertain times, we’re proud to roll out our specially created ‘bridging materials’, designed to ensure pupils move seamlessly onto the next stage of their education.

For our Year 11 students, these materials have everything they require to ensure a smooth transition to Sixth Form and their A-Level studies, including our bespoke ‘Beyond GCSEs’ course. Each A-Level subject has created a range of resources and activities to be completed before September to equip students with the skills and knowledge to make a successful start to their chosen A-Level courses.

Alongside these bridging materials, pupils will start work on their Extended Project Qualification (EPQ). The EPQ aims to link A-Levels with the skills pupils need at university, encouraging them to study independently and produce their own research investigation. It is widely supported by universities and can be used as part of a university application.

We are also encouraging our Year 11 students to look at MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) as well as launching an initiative to produce a short video or presentation about a career that interests them. This is in place of the work experience which many of our Year 11s choose to undertake, but are unable to do so in the current circumstances. The videos they produce will then be used by pupils in our partner primary schools as part of their careers education.

For our Year 13 students we have worked with colleagues across the GDST to develop a bespoke programme called GDST Limitless Learning. This consists of two elements; firstly a series of university bridging seminars organised around the course choices of the Year 13s across the GDST. In a series of four seminars, pupils will meet a member of GDST staff who is a specialist in their chosen subject area as well as other Year 13 students from across the GDST who are going on to university to study the same or a similar subject. The second part of the programme is a series of Real World Ready modules designed to help prepare pupils for aspects of their life beyond the purely academic preparation for university. The courses include learning new skills in cookery, languages, leadership, public speaking and managing personal finances

In addition to this, pupils will be able to access presentations and courses by partner organisations including The Raising Awareness and Prevention Project (RAP Project), where they can access inforamtion on handling Freshers Week, GAP Years, Safety Issues, Sex and Alcohol amongst others.

The Positive Project is offering our Year 13 students access to their online programme ‘Managing your Mind’ to help individuals better manage uncertainty and its associated challenges. Pupils will be able to access their ‘Managing Your Mind’ toolkit, which will take the form of a five week course, to help Sixth Form students cope with the uncertainty surrounding coronavirus.

And for both year groups, they will have the unique opportunity to take part in the GDST Inspiring Change Makers summit which takes place at the end of May. This online summit is a GDST wide event and will enable pupils to access a wide range of online sessions offered by a variety of inspiring speakers to create their own conference day to enjoy from the comfort of their own home.

Despite the challenges this period has presented us with, we are so proud of the resilience shown by our pupils. With this positive attitude, paired with our support, we’re confident they are well equipped to enjoy a smooth transition onto the next level of their education.