Introduction to Sixth Form: Durham School: independent day and boarding school in the North East of England for boys and girls
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Sixth Form

Introduction to Sixth Form

Introduction To Sixth Form

Studying at Sixth Form is a brilliant experience. Pupils are growing into young adults, with dreams, aspirations and a focus on the future.

Choosing a school that more than matches those aspiration, that nurtures and encourages, that offers the widest possible opportunities to reach academic heights, that enables pupils to engage in a vibrant array of co-curricular activities and thought-provoking societies, and that delivers all of this in a nurturing and resilient environment, is hard to find.

Durham School delivers this and more.

Unlike much larger Sixth Forms, pupils receive a highly personalised programme of teaching and support.

We recognise that all pupils begin their Sixth Form journey from a variety of different starting points academically. We aren’t an educational ‘hot house’, our focus is on ensuring all pupils reach the best destination they are capable of.

That is why we are in the top 3% nationally when it comes to the progress pupils make academically.

Whether you want to study A Levels, Cambridge Pre-U, BTEC Nationals or EPQ qualifications, you are more likely to leave school with higher grades at Durham School than you would at 97% of other schools in England. 

In the past year:

-          60% of leavers went to Russell Group universities

-          80% achieved A*-B at A Level

-          50% achieved A*-A at A Level

-          100% achieved A*-E at A Level

-          Our Maths Team ranked in the top 10 nationally at the National Maths Challenge competition above over 1,200 other leading schools

How do we achieve this when we are not highly selective?

The class sizes in the Sixth Form are small, allowing pupils to engage in personal seminar-like lessons that mirror the way pupils will learn at university. Our teaching staff are highly committed to helping our Sixth Form pupils; many provide extra lunch time clinics where pupils are able to access help outside of the classroom in a relaxed environment.

Extra-Curricular Activities

Alongside the academic opportunities, there is a huge array of extra-curricular activities, from subject-based clubs and societies, representative and participatory sport and fitness, outdoor activities, CCF, music lessons and ensembles, drama productions and LAMDA lessons. Durham School encourages Sixth Form pupils to apply to be a School Monitor, giving them the chance to take on responsibility and be a role model in school. 

Our Societies

Durham School Lecture Series - Every year Durham School welcomes a number of guests who provide interesting and informative lectures and discussion groups on a variety of topics. Leading academics, prominent public figures, authors and successful business people have all contributed to this exciting and ever-developing series which provides pupils with the opportunity to explore a range of thought- provoking and relevant issues.

Tristram Society – Aimed specifically at potential scientists, the Tristram Society offers targeted sessions focused on the world of science. Lectures from leading academics, seminars and visits allow pupils the opportunity to explore various scientific fields from a real life, practical and hands on perspective which will develop their understanding of the subject far beyond the confines of the A level syllabus.

Creighton Society – The Creighton Society is the Sixth Form History Society. It is run by pupils who invite visiting speakers, including academics, to address the group, in addition to hosting pupils talks and debates on historical topics.

Heretics Society - The Heretics Society gives pupils the opportunity both to present and debate heretical subjects. In each session, one pupil will present a defence of a controversial viewpoint before opening the subject up to debate and, ultimately, defending the argument, often against fierce opposition.

MedSoc – MedSoc is a newly formed group which aims to support and challenge pupils who are considering a career in the medical field; however, it is open to anyone with a general interest in applied science. The group is organised by pupils and involves a variety of provisions, including lectures from academics, practical ‘hands-on’ sessions at local universities, workshops with professionals relating to the various medical careers and tips on how to ensure a pupils’ application to study Medicine at university is as competitive as possible.

Sixth Form Facilities

The Sixth Form has its own building separate from the rest of the school where the pupils go during their study periods and after school for independent study. The Sixth Form Centre houses a large space with desks, PCs and WIFI. Our Head of Sixth Form, Ms Harriet Thompson, is located in the Sixth Form Centre as well as the Assistant Head of Sixth Form, the Head of Careers, and several teaching rooms which specialise in Sixth Form subjects. The Sixth Formers have the option to board full time or part time as a way to help pupils’ transition into university life.

In addition to the main Sixth Form Centre, each pupil is part of a House. This is the heartbeat of school and becomes an extended family unit for new starters. Day pupils have access to a Study and boarders have their own study space in their rooms in the boarding houses which provide effective spaces to work, while house common rooms and sports facilities offer areas to socialise.


Good mental health is the bedrock of successful Sixth Form life. Studying in Years 12 and 13 is a challenging time for any pupil and we take care to scaffold support around our pupils. This is a period where we nurture independence whilst also having a safety net in place.

In addition to Life & Wellbeing Education (LWE) lessons, students have access to our school counsellor, our pastoral team including our vicar Father Simon, House staff and their tutor.


The variety of academic and co-curricular options on offer at Durham School opens up a world of possibilities for our pupils when they move on to the next chapter in their lives.

Here are some of the places our leavers progressed to last year.

Whichever routes pupils choose, having Confidence for Life is the foundation of a brilliant future. We have captured some of the careers our Old Dunelmians have pursued here


Sixth Form Booklet 2020-2021 (1.10Mb)

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