Frequently Asked Questions — Solihull Sixth Form College

Frequently Asked Questions

This section should help answer the mostly commonly asked questions that students have. If what you want to know is not written down here, please ask your academic coach or post a question on the College’s Facebook or Twitter pages.

What are the entry requirements for an A level programme?

For a standard 3 A level programme, the entry requirements are:

  • At least two grade 6s at GCSE
  • At least a further three grade 4s at GCSE
  • You should have at least grade 4 in BOTH GCSE English Language AND Mathematics.

Very able students may choose to study 4 A level subjects. These students must commit to these 4 subjects for the full 2 years. This will include most students who choose to study A level Further Mathematics, who will pick Mathematics, Further Mathematics and two other subjects. Entry requirements for this programme are:

  • At least five grade 7s at GCSE
  • You should have at least grade 6 in GCSE English Language AND Mathematics.

Please note that there may be additional entry requirements specific to particular courses – please check each course listing on our website carefully to ensure you understand these entry requirements.

Are the entry requirements different for applied courses?

Yes. Those studying a BTEC Level 3 National Diploma (2 A level equivalent) plus 1 A level/A level equivalent have similar entry requirements to a 3 A level programme. The only difference is that other courses equivalent to GCSE (e.g. BTEC First Awards and OCR Nationals) count towards the entry requirements. To support your future aspirations, you must choose one from the wide selection of A level/A level equivalent courses we have on offer to complement your BTEC level 3 National Diploma. You will need:

  • At least two grade 6s at GCSE
  • At least a further three grade 4s at GCSE
  • You should have at least grade 4 in BOTH GCSE English Language AND Mathematics.

Some BTEC Level 3 National Diplomas have specific entry requirements: e.g. Science requires a minimum of two grade 4s in GCSE Science. It is important students check the individual course pages to ensure they know of any other subject-specific requirements.

Those students who choose to study a BTEC Extended Diploma or CACHE Diploma (equivalent to studying 3 A levels) will also be able to count other courses equivalent to GCSE (e.g. BTEC First Awards and OCR Nationals) towards entry requirements for BTEC/CACHE and on some courses students are accepted with either English Language OR Maths at grade 4 (see below). You will need:

  • At least two grade 6s at GCSE or merits on an equivalent course
  • At least a further three grade 4s at GCSE or equivalent, including at least grade 4 in GCSE English Language OR Mathematics, with at least grade 3 in the other one. Students who have a grade 3 in one of these two key subjects will be required to retake this GCSE in addition to the BTEC Extended Diploma.
  • Some BTEC Level 3 National Extended Diploma courses have specific entry requirements: Science requires a minimum grade 4 in Maths and two grade 4s in GCSE Science; IT requires a minimum grade 4 in Maths and IT/Computer Science; Art & Design requires a minimum grade 4 in an Arts-based GCSE.

The CACHE Level 3 Childcare Diploma requires BOTH English Language AND Maths at grade 4 or above. CACHE students wishing to move into Primary teaching in the future also require at least a grade 4 in Science.

What combination of A level subjects can I take and how many subjects can I choose?

Almost any combination is possible because our timetable is very flexible. In the rare case that some subjects cannot be studied together, these are indicated in the individual course details in the Courses section. This can be discussed at interview.

Most students taking A Levels choose 3 subjects and will commit to these courses for the full two years. This is because all A levels are two-year linear courses. Our most able and ambitious of students (who will have at least five grade 7’s at GCSE) may wish to study four subjects at A Level. This will often include students who choose to study A Level Mathematics with Further Maths. Students must commit to four subjects for the full two years.

What is the difference between A level and applied courses?

A Level is mostly assessed by external exams, although a few have a small amount of coursework e. g. 20% in English Language and English Literature. Our Applied courses (BTECs and CACHE Diplomas), have a much higher coursework element (varies by course but approx. 50- 60%), although these too include some formal external assessment.

If I start course and don’t like it can I drop it?

Make sure you attend the subject sessions at the Welcome to College days at the end of the summer term. You are also strongly advised to think carefully about your choices between your interview, GCSE results release and your enrolment in College at the end of August. Take careers advice at your school and here at enrolment if you are still unsure. Look at the full subject specifications on the exam board websites so you know exactly the content of your chosen courses and how they are assessed. Subject change is not be possible once lessons have started.

Are applied courses easier than A levels?

No. They have different demands. For applied courses you need to be able to organise yourself to complete coursework assignments to deadlines. In many courses you also need to be able to work well with others. Students on Applied courses are required to complete work experience in both years.

Will I be able to go to university with applied qualifications?

Yes. Most university courses are accessible from BTEC and CACHE Diploma/T level courses. There are a few exceptions, for example Medicine and related courses, where high GCSE and A Level grades are required.

Do I need to pass Maths and English to get into the Sixth Form College?

You should have at least a grade 4 in GCSE English Language and Mathematics for A level courses. There are a number of BTEC courses which you may be able to take with a minimum of a grade 3 in either English Language or Mathematics. If you do have a grade 3 in one of these two key subjects, you will be required to re-take this GCSE in addition to your BTEC. Students who get a grade 3 or below in both English Language and Maths will not be able to take up a place with us.

What happens if my GCSE grades do not meet my expectations?

If you are holding an offer to come to Solihull Sixth Form College we will write to you in July and invite you to come in and enrol in late August, after GCSE results are known. Students must fulfil our entry requirements to enrol, but if you do not get the grades you hoped for, don’t panic! There may still be a course that is suitable for you at College. We will ask you to input your grades onto Applicaa (where you made your original application) and the system will indicate if you are able to offer you an enrolment interview. Depending on your grades, this may be to enrol you on your chosen programme of study or discuss an alternative. Those students who do not meet the entry requirements for an course with us will be provided with information about alternative provision at other colleges.

How do I apply?

Students should apply online via the Applying section of the website. Check out our step-by-step guide to applying to see the process you will go through. You will be taken to a website called Applicaa and asked to create an account, before inputting personal information, predicted grades and what you want to apply for. The deadline for applications is 31 March.

What is an academic coach?

Every student will be allocated an academic coach to support them during their time at College. They are non-teaching support staff, who are specially trained to support students in a range of different and important ways. They will work with you, helping you to think about your goals, set targets to enable you to reach those goals and monitor your progress. They will also help you with UCAS applications to university or applications for employment. They are also on hand to offer advice and help you access other support services at the College.

What sports can I take part in at the College?

A wide range of sports are available. There are sport performance squads in cricket, rugby, football, basketball and netball. These squads have regular professional coaching and matches. Basketball enjoys a fruitful association with the City of Birmingham Rockets Basketball Club, while Rugby work with Moseley Rugby Club. There are also opportunities to play badminton, indoor football and other recreational sport. Additionally, students may make use of the College’s Fitness Suite following a short induction

What is Enrichment?

Enrichment consists of a wide range of additional courses or opportunities to participate in on top of your main programme of study. Options range from courses giving you a qualification such as the Extended Project or Core Maths, to sport, music, drama, etc. We have academic enrichments aligned to courses and careers, which we called Specialist Academies and students are involved in many of their own societies as well. See our full list of enrichments in the Enrichment Guide.

What are the fees at the Sixth Form?

There are no fees, as we only take students from the UK and the European Union, and those under the age of 18 years. We do ask for a voluntary contribution to the College Fund of £50, which supports the College and its work and helps fund enrichment courses. This can be paid by cash, cheque or online via Parentpay (login required). It can be paid in instalments and Gift Aided.

How long are lessons?

The College day starts at 9.00am and continues until 4.05pm. There is a 15-minute break in the morning. The lunch break is 30-40 minutes long and is staggered for Year 12 and Year 13 (except on Wednesdays) to ensure the refectory is not over-crowded. Students are only required to be on campus when they have timetabled commitments, such as lessons, coaching seminars, supervised study or meetings with staff.

How many lessons will I have per week?

A level students will have three 90-minute lessons per subject per week (nine lessons for three A levels or 12 lessons for 4 A levels), while BTEC/CACHE students will have nine 90-minute lessons per week. In column C students have a 1-hour lesson, one 1½-hour lesson and one two-hour lesson. The different length lessons in Column C are to ensure we can stagger start and finish times for each year group and avoid congestion on campus. Time will also be allocated to academic coaching, study skills and enrichment.

30-minute intervention slots for each column have been added to the timetable every other week to allow teachers to provide one-to-one support for the students who need it. Students must make sure they are available at these times. They may also be asked to stay until 4.30pm on some days if further intervention is deemed necessary. Intervention exists to narrow the achievement gaps. We recognise that while some students have embraced the independent study model very effectively, there are others who would benefit from greater intervention. Support for all students from their teachers remains a priority and we believe this strategy will help all students to maximise their potential.

Can I leave the premises during the day?

Students are not required to be on the premises when they do not have lessons. Of course, we encourage all students to use their day productively and take advantage of the library and learning centre for private study. However, students are expected to be available for lessons or individual meetings at any time during the College day (9.00am – 4.05pm).

Is there somewhere to leave my books and equipment?

There are lockers available on a first-come-first-serve basis. If you would like a locker, please pay your £15 refundable deposit for a locker key at and then come along to Student Reception in Hampton Building.

Can I apply for a bus pass?

Yes. Network West Midlands provide bus travel for students at a reduced rate. To apply for a 16-18 photocard, visit their website at You can then pay in cash every time you use the bus or load your Swift-enabled card with termly passes.

Can I bring my bike into College?

Yes. There is space available for students to secure their bikes while they are in College in our bike shed in front of the Sports Centre and Dance Studio and, given the restrictions on the number of car parking spaces available, this is a good alternative for students.

Is car parking available?

Although car parking space is tight at the College, a limited number of parking permits are available to purchase. If you have a current blue disability badge, parking will be free of charge. Otherwise, parking does incur a fee and is charged termly and permits will be issued on a first come, first served basis. Charges are made for the whole term based on the number of teaching days per term with the exception of the summer term where a reduced cost is applied to reflect the exam period. Students can choose to pay £326 to guarantee a space for three terms or choose to pay termly (Autumn Term: £140; Spring Term: £118; Summer Term: £68). Payment can be made by Parentpay. ParentPay login details can be requested by email.

Is there any financial support available?

The 16-19 Bursary Funds helps 16 to 19 year olds continue in education where they might otherwise struggle for financial reasons. There are two types of 16 -19 bursary: a bursary for students in vulnerable groups (such as students in care) and a discretionary bursary. Both bursary types require an application which will look at students’ individual financial circumstances. Bursary funds can help with course-related costs such as books, equipment and travel to College. Funds are limited and may only provide a contribution towards such costs. Free Meals may also be available as well to students who meet certain criteria.

Who should I speak to if I have questions?

Your Academic Coach should be your first point of contact. He/she will be able to guide you on a range of issues. The best way to book a one-to-one appointment with your coach is by sending them a message on Arbor. You can also post questions on the College’s Facebook ( and Twitter ( pages too. We will endeavour to answer your questions as quickly as possible. Remember, staff on Main Reception in Hampton building are always available to help with information and queries as well.

Where can I go for Careers advice?

Your Academic Coach will provide lots of guidance if you ask for it, but you can also book appointments to see specialist Careers staff in the Careers Office in the Learning Resource Centre, Kitson building or send an Arbor message to Emma Podmore.

How do I find out more about College Colours?

Please see your Academic Coach for further information, including how to apply for this prestigious award, which will boost your university and job applications.

How do I find out what my exam timetable is?

All the important exam information you need is on Arbor and Moodle. The Exams Office will work on room availability and seating plans for exams and once this work is done a timetable personalised to you will appear on Arbor under your Exams tab. We will update you via Arbor as to when timetables are ready to view. Rules and regulations for the taking of exams are found on the Exams page of the Student Services section of Moodle.


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