The transition from Year 11 to the sixth form is an important one. Here voices from Kendal's Kirkbie Kendal School describe the changes, challenge sand opportunities it brings.

Phil Hyman, Headteacher

"Post-16 students have more independence and control over their learning in the sixth form compared to year 11.

Students often say they see a new side to their teachers, who are, of course, graduates in the area in which they are teaching.

Teachers tell of the additional freedom at post-16 level with greater opportunity to inspire the students with their love of their specialist subject. The demise of ‘AS’ levels and modular exams has allowed in-depth study of each subject.

There is a dress code, but within that the opportunity to be individual.

There is a great social experience and a sixth form ball, positions of responsibility, creative and performing arts opportunities and sports teams and clubs.

Students have chosen to come back to school and are now specialising in a narrower range of subjects.

KKS recommends that students take three A levels or their equivalent and, where appropriate, encourages students to study for an EPQ.

The EPQ Extended Project Qualification is a great way to research an area of interest to the student. It provides an excellent taste of the style of working as a university student.

You choose your area of interest and frame a question such as “The effect that music has on the brain, particularly Alzheimer’s disease and dementia” and then keep a log of your research in the area.

The project culminates in a 5,000-word essay and a presentation on what you learned.

As well as the EPQ, all students experience enrichment programmes with guidance from dedicated tutors and visits from and to external speakers."

Elissa Knowles

Year 12 Kirkbie Kendal School

"Not only have I transitioned out of Year 11 (GCSE) to Year 12 (A Level), I have also transitioned across schools. As daunting as this may have been, the atmosphere for education in sixth fForm was impressive and still is one year later.

As a student of Psychology, Sociology and Literature, the initial reception I received from my A Level teachers was a warm one; on introduction to the new courses they, without a doubt, understood how big a jump this may feel to students and therefore eased us into the new content gently.

From learning 12 GCSEs in Year 11, to beginning 3 A levels in Year 12, my overall feeling was excitement.

However, although I was reducing my range of subjects greatly, it was no secret that the workload was about to double: this is something I feel everyone should be prepared for.

Very quickly I began to understand the dedication and commitment my sixth form experience would require.

In saying that, as the workload increased, so did my passion for the subjects I had chosen.

The teachers were thoroughly engaging, the courses had a depth that allowed real exploration and there was always the right amount of study periods in my timetable for me to get the work completed.

Overall the new rhythm of education had felt unfamiliar, yet the independence sixth form students were given allowed room for us to develop into mature individuals.

With this trust came the appropriate mind-set for learning, preparing us for courses that required a driven, independent thinker."

Jemima Longcake

Year 12 Kirkbie Kendal School

"The move from year 11 to the busy years of sixth form seems rather daunting at first. However, as a year 12 student, I can say that the transition happens before you even know it.

Of course, many of us stay at our own secondary schools and so the transition might not seem so big. However, wherever you decide to make your transition to, there are some key changes you can look forward to.

In my first few weeks into year 12, there were some definite changes; free periods and in-depth topics meant that educational independence became a key skill to develop, to stand myself in good stead for sixth form life.

It's a key time to develop both your own power, and responsibility; sixth form gives you the opportunity to take pride in your work, and shape your own future, whether or not you know what that future will entail yet.

More than ever, sixth form has given me the chance to be immersed in the heart of school, offering so many wonderful opportunities. I've had the chance to take on roles as senior student, deputy head girl, the founder of climate council, and much more, including work experience, enrichment experiences, team building and clubs.

Moreover, sixth form gave me the chance to immerse myself fully into my subjects. The breadth of wider reading available has been very enjoyable for me, and I've loved the in-depth discussions that can be had in lessons.

It's important that students harness an enjoyment and passion for their subjects, because that has definitely allowed me to get the most out of my time in sixth form so far.

Sixth form, and the opportunities that arise through it, allow students to gain both qualifications and memories."