We are delighted that once again over 50 of our Year 13 Sixth Form students have succeeded in meeting the demands of the Queen Elizabeth’s Sixth Form Diploma Award.
The Diploma Award evening, which was held on Thursday 4th May, celebrated our Sixth Formers exceptional achievements. The award commends not only the incredible work ethic that leads QE students to achieve some of the very best A level results in Devon, but also their outstanding participation in volunteering, community service and action.
As expected, Sixth Form study brings many challenges for students – they are faced with a sizable leap in the level of difficulty in their studies and there is a huge change in the way in which they are expected to learn. No longer the 5-lessons-a-day, every day, approach, with little requirement for independent study or reflection. They are required instead to meet the challenges that are increasingly common in higher education and working life – finding a balance between what must be done and what could be done and trying to make sense of subjects when there is so much to discover, much of it simply at the click of a mouse and so little time in which to discover it.
While the range of jobs and higher education opportunities available have never been greater, so too are the number of young people with the high academic qualifications required to do them.
What is it, in this situation, which makes QE’s students stand out from the crowd? The Diploma Award gives you just a part of the answer. The award celebrates the commitment, energy, enthusiasm and talent that QE’s students have brought to the school and to the wider community.
In order to achieve the Diploma Award, our Sixth Form Students must show their tutor that they have devoted over 80 hours to a range of activities in the areas of physical activity and sports, creative and artistic pursuits and to volunteer services that have helped others. They must also show commitment to their own personal career and study development, that they have experienced the world of work and reflected on that experience. Lastly, and at the core of their Sixth Form experience, that they have undertaken a full programme of study and have grown in their ability to direct their own study time and work independently.
During the event, some students led presentations on their experiences; some described work experience placements such as observing heart surgery or working in a London law firm, some relived their gruelling expeditions for the Duke of Edinburgh's Award and others talked about the rewarding hours they spent volunteering with the elderly in Crediton.
On top of their A levels, many students have also completed the Extended Project Qualification, a free standing qualification which gains the equivalent of half an A-Level. During this project, students described their independent research and findings, on topics ranging from the socio-cultural aspects of James Bond, to an historical perspective on education and the physics behind a bicycle.
QE is also well-known for its engagement with the arts and at the event, students spoke of their involvement in QE Academy Theatre’s production of West Side Story, with insights from their art, dance and music. The evening was supported by members of the QE jazz band, who played renditions of jazz classics that ‘brought the house down’.
All of our Sixth Form students are encouraged to work towards the Sixth Form Diploma Award, and to record their activity over the two years in the fields of creativity, action and service to meet the requirements. This not only gives the student’s university and job applications an added edge, but it is also a fundamental aspect of the ethos of the whole Sixth Form. 'We're not just about exam results,' says Lucy Jones, Head of Sixth Form. 'We want to prepare our Sixth Formers for all of the challenges that will face them in the wider world, and send them out as fully-rounded and capable young people.'
Achieving the Diploma Award shows that these students are adaptable, literate, innovative, cooperative, healthy and fit, emotionally grounded, politically aware, technologically adept, self-motivated, responsible and they possess a tremendous range of interests.
Each one of these Diploma Award winning students has done QE and our wider community proud. They give us hope and assurance that, far from the moral panic and political rhetoric we hear about youth issues, there is a more realistic and positive story to tell about the world that the young people of Queen Elizabeth’s Sixth Form will help to create.