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Sixth Form

International Baccalaureate and A-levels

The best preparation for university and beyond

We aim to prepare our Sixth Form students with the knowledge and skills to equip them for a rapidly changing world. These skills will give them the ability to think critically, the resilience and the initiative to compete in a global marketplace for university and for jobs, taking critical decisions, working collaboratively and independently, evaluating risks and seizing opportunities as they arise. Our KESW graduates leave school as confident, effective communicators, with compassion and curiosity, able to open doors and make an impact on the people they meet.

To achieve this, we offer student options through the IB Diploma or A-level route. The Sixth Form provides much more than just a set of examination results.

King Edward’s has offered the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme since 2004 with consistent success. The IB is a demanding programme, so we take a strategic approach to ensuring that our students have bespoke careers and academic advice that allows both our highly academic achievers and our all-rounders to choose courses that play to their strengths and will equip them with a rich, stimulating and productive education. 

We also offer a suite of A-levels for those students who seek to explore certain subjects in greater depth, notably in preparation for the most intensive university courses such as medicine and engineering. In September 2019, thanks to significant demand for IB, our A Level offering includes Biology, Chemistry, Economics, Physics and Maths/Further Maths. We also offer Art and Music A-levels alongside IB programmes. However, for September 2020, we will be offering a full range of arts, humanities and STEM A-level subjects. Please contact admissions for further information.

Which course is right for me?

The IB offers both the rigorous and challenging Diploma Programme, where students have to take three Higher Level subjects and three Standard Level subjects spread across a range of disciplines, as well as completing the IB Core: an extended essay, the Theory of knowledge course and a commitment to completing Creativity, Action, and Service (CAS) hours. 

Our A-level students generally take three A-levels with the option to take Further Maths which is equivalent to a fourth A-level. All must also accumulate CAS hours, as universities welcome the supervised nature of CAS as evidence that students have broader interests.  Those students taking three A-levels are also offered the opportunity to complete the Theory of Knowledge course and the extended essay, again earning UCAS points, or an alternative course in a language or other subject offered as part of our IB Electives selection. 

The IB Diploma allows pupils to keep their options open, to experience a wider range of subjects at Sixth Form level before making the final decision as to what they wish to study at university. We also find that those students who find independent study hard initially have a more structured approach that teaches them time management skills that they will be able to apply effectively throughout university. 

Some pupils have already made up their minds and wish to specialise early, in which case they may prefer to take the A-level route, particularly if they have a strong independent work ethic embedded through their GCSE years and evident in their profiles as they progress through school. 

We do know that is a considerable advantage in the workplace to continue studying Mathematics and a language throughout school to eighteen, as most international students already do. The IB requires pupils to take a broad spectrum of subjects, including their mother tongue, a foreign language, humanity, a science and Mathematics. However, if pupils really do not wish to be confined to such a rigid framework, then A-levels may suit them better.

There is clear evidence both from universities in the UK and USA that pupils who have managed their curriculum and a range of additional courses are far more likely to complete their university course.  For example, in the USA, first year retention at university is 98% for IB pupils compared with 77% nationally.  Completion of a four-year course is 79% for IB pupils compared with 39% nationally. UK statistics are similar. Both IB and A-level courses are equally respected by universities, although the IB's global reach continues to expand. 

We ensure through a mix of aptitude tests and interviews with both senior teachers and our specialist Head of Careers and Higher Education, that every student, whether opting for A-level or IB, has a course that will allow them to flourish and fulfill their potential.