Post 16 Blog
Advice on how to achieve your full potential in Post 16 - Hisham Shibeeb (now studying Economics at University of Sheffield)
Looking back at my time in Sixth Form, I realised that I learnt some of my most important lessons during those very quick two years. First of which is the commitment to the subjects you pick. Make sure that when you choose your subjects, you are fully committed to them for the two years. Talk to the teachers for the courses, ask them for what is required of them. I certainly learnt this lesson when I picked Physics and dropped it after the AS year was complete, I simply was not the right person for the course. Despite what some might say, A-Levels, although being notoriously tough, can also be very rewarding and challenge you to new lengths you might not have been challenged before at GCSE. They can teach you independence and how to think more creatively, or how to write your first big essay. If you do not enjoy the subject, then you can’t take advantage of your enjoyment for it and learn all these new skills. This becomes especially important when you must choose a degree to spend a lot of time and money on, make sure you know the courses well and know what they are expecting as I did when I applied to the University of Sheffield.
The second biggest lesson, which quite honestly took me some time to get adjusted to, was the reality that a lot more learning outside the classroom was needed. In GCSE most of the material is just handed to you and you are expected to know it and be able to use it in an exam. A-Levels are quite different. Whilst the basic structure is the same, a lot of the work on the subject is expected to be done at home. Even if you were as lucky as I to have excellent teachers, who will no doubt always be there to help, much more of the effort needs to come from your own time and dedication to the learning and revision. Again this relates to my point on why you need to be committed to the course you are taking on as you will likely be unable to spend a lot of time on something that you do not enjoy. In the beginning, taking on all this responsibility might seem tough, but once you get the hang of it, it becomes very natural.
Last but certainly not least, for me, was never giving up. During your two years, you will almost certainly face difficult challenges, which I am sure you will rise to. However, some of these difficulties might seem impossible to face at first and simply become added stress, trust me, everyone had their fair share of stress at Sixth Form. But you need to be able to ask for help when things get tough and to not keep it bottled away. It’s not of any use to you to be asking for help on a maths topic two day before the exam or help on a history coursework a week before the deadline. Stay on top of the content, work hard, ask for help, and you are almost always going to do well in your exams, and get to the top Russell Group universities, or apprenticeships that you are dreaming of.
All the best with your A-Levels, work hard and good luck with the new school!
Studying at Top Universities - Talk by ex student Jasaron Bajwa
One of our ex-students popped in on Friday to discuss studying at top universities with our Year 12 students. Jasaron is currently studying law at the London School of Economics (see his blog post below). He covered a variety of topics: studying law, living away from home and university societies as well as practical advice on personal statements and finding work experience. He also answered lots of thoughtful questions from our current students. Please view the slides from the presentation here.
Primary School Football Tournament - William Harris
A group of students from my Sport class organised and hosted the 2017 Packham Primary School Football Tournament. A total of 14 Primary schools from the borough competed in the annual event, which Oak Wood has hosted for the past 5 years. Our main objective was to execute the football tournament successfully. For this to run smoothly we allocated ourselves different roles and responsibilities. These included acting as referees, timekeepers, score recorders and setting up and putting down the equipment.
Taking on theses roles allowed us to develop as individuals by increasing our confidence, communication and overall team work. The day was very successful and we received a lot of positive feedback for our professionalism during the tournament.
Organising all of the Primary teams was hard work but it was also very rewarding to see the children enjoying sport and showing good sportsmanship. The experience gave me an insight into my future career in teaching. I am planning to study for a degree in Sport Science at University and then complete a Post Graduate teaching qualification. William Harris
Will on referee duty during a match (new school building in the background)
Life after Post 16 - Jasaron Bajwa
I often look back at my time in sixth form as some of the most important years in my development. I’m currently a first-year law student at the LSE, being taught by some of the most prominent lecturers in the world, surrounded by some of the brightest students in the world. It is without a shadow of a doubt, looking back, that studying at Oak Wood prepared me to be here. At sixth form, I was lucky enough to be surrounded by teachers who encouraged me to express my opinions and to create the best work possible. So, when tasked with writing an argumentative essay, I know exactly how to make a point sound compelling. During my time at Oak Wood, the school environment taught me how to work with a variety of people with a variety of different views, a soft skill which could not be more useful at the LSE – a university which has students from more countries than those represented at the UN!
Perhaps most of all, when I think about my time at sixth form, I recognise the way in which my teachers encouraged me to aim high. They told me that I wouldn’t be out of my depth at a world-class institution, and that I was capable of studying a law degree. The LSE was always an ambition of mine because of its social sciences specialism, meaning that it teaches law alongside its socio-economic, historical and political context. I knew that, at the LSE, I would be surrounded by people who cared as much as I do about the world. Law appealed to me because I love the skillset it uses, and the notion of studying a subject for the first time is and was incredibly exciting. If I had to describe the study of English law to you, it would probably be best described as learning about a vast number of interesting stories, and seeing how these stories will affect the next interesting story that the world produces. It’s an exciting subject and I’m loving my time here. If it weren’t for my teachers’ assurance, I don’t think I would have been able to face the challenge of studying one of the most rigorous subjects in the world at one of the most rigorous universities in the world,
My couple of months at the LSE have been exciting, tiring and incredibly stimulating. The general workload is about 10-12 hours a day including lectures and classes, but I know that this varies dramatically between degree courses. Spending so much time with the law has made me fall in love with the subject, so I wouldn’t have it any other way. Outside of studies, I’ve been able to take part in internal debates, take up a paid role in Pathways to Law, join a committee giving talks to schools around London, and I’ll be competing in my first ever ‘moot’ (mock trial) this week – wish me luck!
Of course, London is an incredible place to have fun, and I’ve been to a variety of the galleries, restaurants, bars, nightclubs and museums here in my first few months. It can be expensive, but it’s a must after a long day or week of work. I send my best wishes back to Oak Wood, and I hope to visit the new building soon – best of luck with A-Levels!
Nuffield Research Placement - Shillan Patel
In the summer between year 12 and year 13, I completed a one-month Nuffield research placement. Luckily a previous maths teacher of mine, Dr. Miheisi, graciously allowed me a placement at Kings College London. We decided to investigate an area of pure mathematics called linear algebra and more specifically ‘the power method’. The exact title of my project was “how to efficiently compute dominant eigenvalues” which required me to pretty much learn an entire university maths module named “Linear Methods”. I did this in the first week, where I was introduced to many new concepts including: vector spaces, linear independence, gaussian elimination and eigenvalues to list just a few.
Also, I realised how different university-level maths was compared to A-Level, where the emphasis was not entirely placed on calculations but instead the articulation of definitions and proofs. Saying this, I still found a great deal of challenge and ache from tirelessly trying to write accurate proofs and precise definitions which was a very steep learning curve for me but extremely rewarding at the same time. Also, I figured the mentality used in A-Level maths problems would simply not work, as it was much more abstract yet realistic which meant I wouldn’t find a nice and straightforward solution to most questions. My message is that maths at A-Level should not be seen in the same light as maths at uni – it is different, and you shouldn’t be put off by applying for it at uni.
Moving on, I unexpectedly had the chance to learn and master various other skills through the duration of the remaining month. One notable skill I was introduced to was coding MATLAB which is essentially a program that can code maths including complex algorithms. My coding experience, like for many, was frustrating since writing a correct code can take many, many attempts.. Another skill that I heavily exercised was my report writing which I completed nearer the end of my project. This required me to learn ‘latex’, a programme that allows us to write mathematics onto a computer, since I had to write down a few proofs and definitions. I would say I am now competent at coding whereas at the beginning I had absolutely no idea, which shows how anyone can learn and develop a skill in a relatively short space of time and this would not have happened if I was not on this placement.
Overall, my placement was an eye-opening event that gave me an insight as to how research is completed at this high level as well as the skills needed to be a successful undergraduate. I feel that I am much more prepared to tackle the challenge of university as a result and this is the reason why I highly recommend it. Remember, you’ve got to be in it to win it, so even if you are hesitant about applying, just ask yourself what really is the worst that can happen?
Year 12 Work Experience - Shivam Chawla
My work experience took place at Barclays PLC in Uxbridge. In the week it took place I had surprisingly learnt a lot! Instead of the stereotypical boredom of filing, taxing and photocopying, I was almost immediately released to assist customers. At first this seemed quite daunting - not knowing how to use the machines or how to even greet the customer – but the truth is this was one of the best bits of the experience. Interacting with new people was great as I realised how much it actually improved my communication skills, and the staff there were always ready to help with any questions I had.
A great opportunity I received was to talk to Brandon, a 19 year old who was promoted twice within the year at Barclays. He also undertook work experience at Barclays, whilst attending Uxbridge College. He managed to give off such a great impression, that by the end of the work experience he was offered a job placement. It was Brandon who made me realise how hard work and persistence was extremely important for me to reach my career aspirations, and it is those qualities that I plan on utilising.
Work experience was a fantastic experience, which enabled me to learn things I don’t learn at school. It was also the main reason that I chose management as a degree, in hopes that one day I could be leading a team, just like the branch managers I witnessed. I also plan on writing about this opportunity in my UCAS statement which will definitely give me an upper hand over all other applicants.
3 Top tips for getting the most out of work experience:
- Pick something that you consider doing for a degree, for example I knew I wanted to do something business related, I just did not know what. So I just decided to work in a bank.
- Put 100% of your effort in. It is crucial you work hard, to fully maximise your experience. Brandon was one example of someone who worked hard and then got a job placement…
- Always ask questions. Sometimes you receive answers that may surprise you, or you might learn something new.
PwC Apprenticeship - Danny Mandla
We are very pleased to report that Danny is making excellent progress with his application for an apprenticeship programme next summer. Here is an account of his journey so far:
In Year 12 I arranged to do my work experience at PwC, an accountancy firm that is one of the big four auditors, I went in aiming to gain more knowledge about the job I wanted to do as a career. Over the week I learnt key things about the life and job of an auditor at PwC and I found it very interesting, the team I was part of helped me through the challenging but enjoyable work. The experience also helped me improve multiple skills such as communication and teamwork. By the end of the week I had realised that this is the career for me. I managed to talk to almost a dozen people who worked in the Uxbridge office about how they like working at PwC, how they got to where they are today and where they want to be.
After my experience and the advice I was given I looked into PwC's school and college leaver apprentice jobs. At the start of Year 13 I began to work on making my CV as good as possible and I applied for the apprenticeship. So far I have made it past the first application and test process and I am going to the next stage at one of their assessment centres very soon.
My whole sixth form journey so far has helped me realise that there are more possible routes to where I want to end up. When I started sixth form I thought that the only real way to become a chartered accountant was university, but now I know there are alternatives such as apprenticeships. As I entered Year 13 I began to think that maybe university was not the choice for me, but I still investigated this avenue before making my decision to really push hard to get an apprenticeship. This will also ensure that if things don't go as planned with PwC, despite all my best efforts, then I have back up options.
Summer Internships 2018
We were visited by our work experience partner Spark during our PSHCE lesson on Friday 3 November. The Year 12 students were able to find out all about Work Experience and how this will help them in their future careers. For more information – please have a look through the slides below:
Kings College Mentor Scheme
We are delighted that Abu Sufian Salam 12TE has been accepted onto the K+ Mentor scheme. This a fantastic opportunity to complete a programme which only takes students with the best GCSEs. There were around 3000 applicants this year for only 300 placements so this is a fantastic achievement for Abu. He will be receiving mentorship in the hope of studying Pharmacy in the future.
September 2017 - Year 13 Brilliant Club students Graduate
Seven Year 13 students received their Brilliant Club graduation certificates at Warwick University this week. Well done, a fantastic achievement.
Cameron Hallhit, one of the students that graduated, has written an account of the 'brilliant club experience'.
A group of seven students, including me, were lucky enough to be selected for the Brilliant Club, where we studied “How transgenic models help us understand disease”. We started our journey by going to Southampton University, where we were introduced to what the Brilliant Club is about and why we had been selected - because we are high achieving students. At Southampton we got a tour of the campus and it’s a great place with lots of modern facilities and great surroundings. We also got to meet our tutor, Ahmed Salmon and he gave us our first tutorial on our topic of study.
We had five tutorials in school, one every week with Ahmed in which we developed our knowledge about genes to a much higher level, which is just under university understanding. After every tutorial we were set to do independent work such as strategy models and summarizing scientific journals. All of this led to us finishing our course with a 2000 word essay, in which we had to answer the question - "How transgenic models help us understand disease”. In this essay we had to describe the structure of genes and how to manipulate DNA construct. In this essay we combined GCSE knowledge with our newly developed understanding to produce a university type essay.
We got our final grades back after the summer holidays, when Ahmed came back to our school. Everyone got a 2.1 or higher which was exceptional and then we ended the course by graduating at the University of Warwick, one of the best universities in England. Here we had a tour of the campus and a graduation event in which we all went up in front of other schools and got our certificates to show we had graduated.
The Brilliant club was a great experience and was extremely valuable in giving us a brief introduction of how university study is. It taught me to work independently and that work outside of lessons is key to succeeding. It also taught us how to structure our assignments for university and that structure is key to having a good assignment. Cameron Hallhit
Post 16 Students Lead History Trip to IWM London and Churchill's War Rooms