Durham Sixth Form Centre

Durham Sixth Form Centre

Headteacher's Update

February 2019 - Top fifth of schools in England for A-levels...

With the release of the School and College Performance Tables in mid January we have once again been in the privileged position to have much to celebrate. Congratulations to our students for topping the tables in A-level, Academic and Vocational courses against other local schools, sixth form and FE colleges. A fantastic achievement and to remain once again above the National Average in all three areas for value added (the progress a student makes from their individual starting point) is again absolutely fantastic news. Well done to staff and students for their drive, ambition, continued hard work, dedication and commitment.

  • Our A-level results are above the national average and in the top fifth of schools in England and third in County Durham for VA measures.
  • Students’ grades and points for A-level are above both the County Durham average and national average.
  • Students’ points and grades for their best 3 A-levels are also above the national average.
  • Our Applied General results (broad vocational qualifications) are above the national average and are second in County Durham for these measures.
  • Students’ grades and points for Applied General are above the County Durham average and national average.
  • Our Tech Level (occupational qualifications) grades and points are above the County Durham average and national average, and third in County Durham for these measures.

We are also very pleased to celebrate receiving the “Wellbeing for Schools Award”, which has been developed in partnership with the National Children’s Bureau to ensure that positive emotional, mental and physical well-being are all promoted for students and staff. This award has allowed us to develop and build upon the already excellent care for students and staff recognised in our March 2017 outstanding Ofsted report. Finally we are thrilled to be shortlisted for the second year running for “Sixth Form College of the Year” by the TES Awards, a national award organised by the Times Educational Supplement.

As we come toward the mid part of the academic year, this last month has been a busy one with us hosting another Criminology Conference, a national training event run by our teachers for Criminology teachers across the country. Our PE A-level students have had an exciting visit to the English Institute of Sport at Sheffield to gain a greater understanding of the development of elite athletes; our Law students have been fascinated by real-life cases at the Newcastle Crown Courts; and our Arts students have attended workshops at Northern Print in Newcastle.

In another busy year for Oxford and Cambridge University applications, we would like to congratulate the following Year 13 students on receiving their offers: Ryan DeVere, Susie Dowsett, Brandon Ho, Emma Smith, Rodrigo R.-Ramos, Tom Sheppard and Emily Watt. We wish them, along with all our Year 13 students, much success in their A-levels later this year.

For Year 12 parents this month, we are holding a Parents Careers Conference on Wednesday 6th February from 5-7.30pm where local universities such as Durham University and Newcastle University will be offering talks, alongside multinational companies such as BT, KPMG and Accenture. This is the perfect opportunity for parents to find out more about the opportunities available either in Higher Education or alternatively in the form of jobs and higher-level and degree-level apprenticeships for students post-18. Our Year 12 students will also soon be covering careers topics in their TSP sessions with their Academic Mentors later after half term and into the summer term.

Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to once again promote our Parent Matters information, published with parents in mind, to both celebrate and communicate important events in school and out of school. It is always a delight to read and informative too.

Ellen Beveridge


January 2019 - Happy New Year!

We wish you all a very Happy Christmas and peaceful New Year. Happy New Year from the staff, students and governors at Durham Sixth Form Centre.

Looking back over last term, I would like to take this opportunity to thank staff, governors, visitors and our wider community for the commitment they have continued to show to our students at Durham Sixth Form Centre. I would also like to add a special thank you to the Durham University Student Mentors who have invested so much time in supporting our students, and to our Academic Mentors and Pastoral Leaders of Learning assisting our students in their university preparations and UCAS applications. As a Centre which is dedicated solely to teaching and supporting 16-19 year olds, this is a key time to support students with the additional expertise we have to offer; with further guidance and advice from our award-winning Careers, Progression and Aspirations team. We are thrilled that this outstanding support has been recognised externally - we have been shortlisted for a second year as “Sixth Form College of the Year” in the TES Awards.

With the autumn term and Year 13 mock examinations behind us, we are now looking forward to the coming months. We start with our Year 12 mock exams which begin week commencing Monday 21st January. Assemblies will be held early in January to prepare our students fully for this first-time experience at post-16 level. Our all-important Subject Consultation Evening for Year 13 takes place this month on Thursday 24th January, when Year 13 parents are invited and encouraged to meet subject staff to discuss progress and final exam preparation. Year 12 Consultation Evenings follow soon after on Thursday 28th February and Thursday 7th March. As always we value the opportunity to work with parents and would encourage all of our parents to make appointments.

Last term saw a record number of new clubs and societies being set up, including Book Club, Film Club, Art and Enterprise Club, Pride Society and Radio Club, alongside already-established groups such as the Student Council, Charity Committee and Debating Society, to name but a few. These provide not only the opportunity to mix with new people and make new friends but also offer important extracurricular activities for personal statements and CVs in the future. This new term is a good time to sign up for something new!

Going into the spring term, Law students have the opportunity to visit the Crown Courts in Newcastle and head down to London on a Law and Criminology trip; Sports students will travel down to the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield; Music students will watch a performance of the Magic Flute at the Newcastle Theatre Royal. A busy start to the term!

As we focus our efforts on working towards the summer exam season, we wish you all a happy and prosperous 2019.

Ellen Beveridge


December 2018 - One term on...

It is hard to believe that the first term of the academic year 2018-2019 is nearly at an end.

The month of December brings our first mock examinations, with examinations scheduled to begin on Monday 17th December for our Year 13 students. Timetables have been distributed and sent home in good time. Year 12 administration will follow soon. The Year 12 mock examinations start in the new year, week commencing Monday 21st January. Many Year 12 parents/guardians found the recent Subject Consultation Evenings very useful and we thank you for your attendance and support.

Our award-winning Careers, Progression and Aspirations team has once again been working hard to offer a wide range of careers talks and sessions to students in both Year 12 and Year 13. Over the month of November, students have been able to attend an Inspiring Afternoon event.  They were subsequently offered mock interviews by a team from the Nationwide Building Society in Durham and had the opportunity to listen to ex-student Leah Rowe who returned to the Centre to talk about her route onto a solicitors apprenticeship, also with the Newcastle Building Society.

This last month has seen a steady increase in our UCAS applications for Year 13 students wishing to progress to university, with the final deadline just after Christmas. Students have been working closely with their LLPs, academic mentors and the Careers, Progression and Aspirations team to ensure that personal statements are competitive and professional, and additional support for Oxbridge and medical/veterinary applications is being provided. Applications for apprenticeships are also very busy and underway, we continue to offer extra sessions and guidance for students following this pathway.

Other exciting events open to students have included a day at Liverpool Hope University for Music students, Dance workshops provided by the University of Sunderland for our Year 12 and Year 13 students and a talk by Michael Waters on the creative media courses available at University of Arts London.

Looking back over this term, we are thrilled that our Charity Committee has managed to raise over  £550 since September for good causes including Macmillan Cancer Support, Breast Cancer Care, Children in Need and the Poppy Appeal.  We still have our Christmas Jumper Day to look forward to on Friday 14th December, raising money for Save the Children!

I continue year on year to be inspired by the hard work, effort, enthusiasm and passion of the students, staff, partners and parents of our community at Durham Sixth Form Centre and am always proud, privileged and honoured to be part of it.  We are now looking forward to 2019 and seeing our students flourish, grow and endeavour to succeed further.

We wish you all a very Happy Christmas and peaceful New Year.

Ellen Beveridge


November 2018 - Year 12 subject consultation evenings and Year 13 mock examinations are on their way!...

Welcome back to all of our students and their families as we enter into the second half of the autumn term. As we mark the end of World War 1 in this centenary year, we are proud to wear our poppies in remembrance of those who sacrificed so much in order that we can enjoy the freedom which some now take for granted. We also mark our respect with a period of silence and a cornet playing the Last Post as a poignant moment for students to reflect on this milestone date in our history. As well as the Poppy Appeal, I am also delighted to report our Charity Committee has been active over the past two months raising money for Macmillan Cancer Support and Breast Cancer Now, and have more events planned for Children in Need later this half term.

There have already been many opportunities this term for students to enrich and broaden their studies, including the option of signing up for one-to-one mentoring with Durham University students; English Literature students have travelled to Edinburgh to see a performance of Twelfth Night; Accounting students have been able to compete for the prestigious Henry Smith Award and prize; and our Visual Arts Centre has been host to our first artist in residence, Adam Wilson Holmes as well as the Big Draw Festival during October half term.

Year 12 parents are invited in this half term for progress reviews with subject teachers at our Consultation Evenings which take place on Thursday 22nd and 29th November from 4pm to 8pm. As we move ever closer to Christmas, mock examinations are approaching, with Year 13 examinations beginning on Monday 17th December and Year 12 examinations a couple of weeks after the Christmas break on Monday 21st January, both for one week.

We wish our students every success and to support them in their revision, there are two extra study days planned for Friday 30th November and Monday 3rd December. Please also be aware however that Year 12 Criminology students have formal assessments on these days. I look forward to my next update which will be in December, sharing the varied activities and achievements of our students and staff during the latter part of this second half term.

Ellen Beveridge


September 2018 - Welcome!

A big welcome to all of our new students, parents, families and colleagues and students returning into year 13 and 14.  What a wonderful start to a new term. Lots of new faces, energy and enthusiasm coupled with bright blue skies in early September.

In August 2018, our students at Durham Sixth Form Centre achieved excellent exam success.  Over half of our A level entries achieved grades A*-B and our Average Point Score per student was above both National and Local Authority averages.  Furthermore, our vocational courses also had tremendous success, the vast majority of entries were at Distinction and Distinction* level, again, well above National and Local averages.  Our students have done especially well given the changes to examination specifications over the last couple of years which have seen significant changes to the A level qualification.

We are also delighted that once again well over ¾ of our year 13 students not only progressed into higher education and university but also achieved their first choice. Students who decided to go onto apprenticeships have done so with equal success and have secured some of the top national apprenticeships. This is a tremendous accomplishment and achievement by all of our students and staff.  Well done, all of the hard work and effort was worth it.

From such a fantastic start and with over 100 years in sixth form education we are now once again looking forward to the new academic year which I am delighted to say will also bring with it lots of new and exciting opportunities and challenges for our students.

I look forward to reporting further on our achievements throughout the year.

Ellen Beveridge


August 2018 – Congratulations to our students on yet another year of record-breaking results!

I am delighted to report that students at Durham Sixth Form Centre are celebrating success today following the publication of A-Level results, marking yet another year of excellent academic and personal achievements. This includes a 100% A-level pass rate, which is higher than previous national averages, with the best three A-levels expressed as a grade B, and well-over half of students achieving a grade A*-B.  Vocational results are also strong with 87% of students achieving Distinction*-Distinction grades, which is, on average, a Distinction+ grade, in the newly reformed qualifications.

Every year, I continue to be inspired by the hard work and dedication of our students. I am pleased that this hard work has been rewarded with such fantastic academic success, which has allowed students to take up their places at university, including some of the top universities, on prestigious school leaver programmes or on higher-level apprenticeships. These results, coupled with our outstanding grading from Ofsted, demonstrate that the school is continuously providing high-quality education to students in the region and, more importantly, that students feel challenged and supported to achieve their very best.

Amongst the many Durham Sixth Form Centre students celebrating outstanding A-Level and vocational results today are:

  • Declan Ballan (previous school: Greenfield Community College) who has achieved four A* grades in Law, Sociology, Psychology and Criminology.
  • Freya Wilson (previous school: Tanfield School) who has secured three A* grades in Graphics, Literature and Psychology, and two A grades in Business and the Extended Project Qualification.
  • Caitlin Edwards (previous school: All Saints Academy, Cheltenham) who has secured four A* grades in Classics, the Extended Project Qualification, Law and Politics.
  • Ethan Whiting (previous school: St Bede’s, Peterlee) who has achieved an A* grade in Maths and three A grades in Further Maths, Chemistry and Physics.
  • Humphrey Stride (previous school: Whitworth Park) who has secured an A* in Literature, three A grades in Classics, Maths and the Extended Project Qualification and a grade B in Computer Science.
  • Lucas Priest (previous school: St Leonard’s) who has achieved three A grades in Graphics, Film Studies and Media Studies.
  • Kieran Rose (previous school: Fyndoune Community College) who has achieved an A* in Criminology and three Distinction* in Applied Law, Business and IT.
  • Rio Jones (previous school: Venerable Bede) who has secured three Distinction* grades in the Extended Diploma in Sport.
  • Chloe Pirt (previous school: Tanfield School) who has achieved a Distinction* in Applied Law and three A grades in Creative Writing, the Extended Project Qualification and Psychology.

Once again, well done and congratulations to all of our students for their hard work and effort.  We wish you every success for your future.

Ellen Beveridge


July 2018 – Last words for the academic year 2017-2018 ...

As we near the end of the academic year I would like to take time to thank our students and parents for their continued hard work and support.  2017-2018 has been a truly memorable year, a one which started with excellent exam results from the previous year. We have delighted in so many successes including national recognition in the arts, media, sport and sciences; we were both privileged and honoured to host many visitors and lectures and colleagues from the DfE this year and have been humbled by the determination of our students in their endeavours to raise money for those less fortunate.

As we break for the summer I have outlined both in writing and in our end of year assemblies our arrangements for examination results day on Thursday 16th August.  Year 13 results are released at 8.00am.  Re-enrolment for our current year 12 students takes place during the week commencing Monday 16th July.  

For our new students in September enrolment begins on Tuesday 28th August, we look forward to meeting you all again during this period.  You should have received a letter outlining the arrangements for enrolment, should this not be the case please ring us on 0191 383 0708 or alternatively email at enrolment@durhamsixthformcentre.org.uk and we will be pleased to help.  If you have not already applied for a place to study at Durham Sixth Form Centre it’s not too late.  You too can contact us in the same way.

Thank you once again to all who support us and work with us at Durham Sixth Form Centre.  We have had a wonderful year and hope once again to see great results this summer and see our students progress to some of the top universities in the country and oversees.  We look forward to welcoming our current and new students in September and wish our year 13 students prosperous futures in the next stage of their lives.

Ellen Beveridge


May 2018 – Examination Season...

Welcome to Durham Sixth Form Centre.  The summer term always proves to be busy as the examination season commences.  For our current students and parents you can access further updates and a copy of our examination timetable through this link which will inform and support examination preparation.

I would like to take this opportunity to formally wish our students the best of luck.  I am sure the continued hard work and determination of you all will pay dividends. We look forward with anticipation to the summer results; our Year 13 students securing their university places and our year 12 students joining us again as upper sixth students in September.
The summer term is also a busy and important time for our prospective students who are currently sitting their GCSE examinations.  We wish you all every success.
We look forward to meeting you at our Open Day on Thursday 19th July prior to enrolment which starts on Tuesday 28th August 2018.  We will notify you by post of the specifics relating to enrolment later this term.

Finally, I would like to take a moment to say thank you to all who work, study and support us at Durham Sixth Form Centre and who contribute to the thriving, positive and aspirational climate which makes us so successful.

Ellen Beveridge


March 2018 – A lot to celebrate!

This month marks a significant point in Durham Sixth Form Centre’s ongoing commitment to creative and cultural learning as we are delighted to announce we have been awarded the Artsmark Platinum Award by Arts Council England.

Investors in People Logo

The Award recognises the school's commitment to the arts and every student's right to access creativity and culture. We were highly commended on the:

  • 'continued commitment to the arts and the wide impact this is having on, not only your own school community, but on colleagues and students at a national level.'
  • 'contributions to national arts organisations, and the work that you do to support others through the CPD programme with the Local Authority, which influences a wide sphere of colleagues across numerous sectors.'
  • 'advocacy of the arts, and utilisation of them as a vehicle for social mobility, which is impressive.'

As a school we already have strong partnerships with arts and cultural organisations and intend to develop them further with a view to broadening arts provision across the local community.

I am also delighted to announce this month that Durham Sixth Form Centre were shortlisted for the Sixth-Form College of the Year Award at the national TES FE Awards 2018, which was held in London and hosted by Alan Davies. Although a runner up we were delighted to receive such high accolade and recognition.

Investors in People Logo

Stephen Exley, TES FE Editor said, 'This year, our judges were in agreement that the field was the strongest yet. The standard was exceptionally high across the categories, reflecting the passion and professionalism of those who work in FE.' Well done to Birkenhead Sixth Form College who won the category.

With so much going on the Easter break will soon be upon us. We break up on Thursday 29th March for two weeks and 1 day, returning on Monday 16th April, by which point many of our students will be well underway with revision and finalising coursework.

In the words of Mother Teresa, Tutor Group 26N quote for the week, 'Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.' A message to us all!

Ellen Beveridge


April 2017 - Outstanding...

I am both delighted and proud to report in my April update that Durham Sixth Form Centre; our students, staff and partners, have been recognised as 'Outstanding' by Ofsted. We are a thriving, aspirational 16-19 school in the heart of Durham City, who is also in the top 12% of schools and colleges nationally for academic results according to the DfE Performance Tables. Our 'Outstanding' grading is a great achievement and recognises the hard work and dedication of our school community both in the classroom and beyond. Well done and well deserved.

As our students are only too aware final coursework deadlines are looming and AS formal examinations commence mid-May (A-level commence early June). Both students and staff are focused, determined and gearing themselves up in preparation for what lies ahead.

Colleagues continue to support students academically with various drop-in sessions, revision classes and intervention sessions throughout the summer term and I am delighted to report student uptake so far positively reflects their ambition, drive and motivation to succeed. In addition the extra sessions on presentation skills, public speaking techniques, debating, discussion and wider reading are also proving to be as popular as ever.

I will leave you with a quote highlighted by our students from Tutor Group 32K which may support us in our reflections:

"I run on the road, long before I dance under the lights. I hated every minute of training, but I said: Don't quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion." Muhammed Ali.

Ellen Beveridge


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