Deputy Head Girl Phoebe Hoggan, 17, has a part time job at Morpeth Rugby Club and is halfway through her time in Sixth Form at King Edward VI School. She’s studying biology, chemistry, and Spanish, as well as having gained an AS Level in photography. Although she isn’t sure what she wants to do next, Phoebe is considering midwifery, and is hoping to stay in the north of England to study.
“For me, it was never really an option to go anywhere else, partly because of the grades. It’s known as a really good school and well known for getting good grades, but I feel like the teachers here care. They will always ask if you’re ok and if there was ever anything wrong they would always notice.”
On a Wednesday afternoon, Sixth Formers are offered the chance to attend enrichment sessions to supplement their academic classes. Phoebe explained: “The enrichment programme is mostly school led, but I think the school is very observant in knowing what the students want.”
In the last school year, Phoebe found smoking awareness and driving awareness presentations particularly powerful. She said: “I cried.”
Phoebe said she is “absolutely terrified” to leave Sixth Form next summer. She said: “It’s almost like leaving behind everything you’ve ever known and starting a new life. All of a sudden you’re likely to be moving away and meeting completely new people, and leaving that security behind. It really scares me.
“That said I definitely want to move away. It’s like, I want to go big or go home; if I’m going to go somewhere new, it’s got to be the whole deal.”
Asked whether staying on at Sixth Form was always the clear choice for her, she replied: “Have I questioned if I’m doing well? Absolutely, but in those moments of doubt, I’ve never thought, oh my God I should have gone to college, and I think that’s because here, during those moments of peak stress, the staff were invested in making sure I was ok, whereas from what I’ve heard, elsewhere that might not have been the case, or at least it might not have been the case to such an extent. I never doubted that this was the right place to be when I was stressed.”
Phoebe explained that King Edward has also been helpful when it comes to work experience, not just in Sixth Form but also in Year 10. “The school pushes us to be the best we can be, and to achieve, and to get somewhere which will set us up for a good life and a good career. It’s all with the best intentions and I think that really shows.
“Things like the cafe that’s due to open soon – that’s the school doing its best to make us more comfortable and to try and balance things. We might all be feeling stressed like crazy, but the school tries to bring in things that balance our experience, like the Sixth Form Centre, or the cafe. They try and give us this compensation for all the hard work.
“I also love being in Sixth Form because you can just chat to the teachers; it’s a much more friendly relationship than in lower school. The teachers acknowledge that you are investing in their subject and the more you give, the more you get back.
“The teachers recognise that you’re hard working and that really helps them to give you the support you need. Sometimes I email some teachers three times a day, and in lower school you don’t really have that.
“Across the two year groups in Sixth Form too, we have a sense of community. As soon as you’re in Sixth Form, you are sharing teachers, and sharing the working environment. You automatically sympathise and relate to each other more, so you’re more inclined to support people and you want to help people through what you’ve been through.
“So it’s definitely great to form friendships across year groups, and I feel like Sixth Form really allows you to do that.”