Frequently Asked Questions
Before Contacting Us, Please Browse our FAQ
What will the entry requirements to this Free School be?
Entry to the Cheshire Free School is expected to be highly competitive as the opportunities it will offer are not only challenging but will open the doors to a range of exciting university and employment opportunities. Students should expect to attain the equivalent of 8 grade Bs at GCSE. Individual A Level subjects may have specific and higher entry requirements.
Will you employ unqualified teachers?
We intend that all our teaching staff will be fully qualified teachers. We will also ensure that all members of staff are well qualified in their subject and experienced, so that our students have the best opportunities to progress in their chosen A level subjects.
Where will the college be situated?
This has not yet been decided, but we are currently investigating a number of possible sites. In evaluating possible sites, it is a priority that there should be excellent access by public transport.
Why have you chosen this particular range of A levels?
It is our priority as a STEM college to focus on Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Maths and Further Maths as these are the key subjects needed to study science and engineering at leading universities. However, we are including English Literature and Psychology as we recognise that many students will prefer to study a non-STEM subject alongside their two main science A levels. Once the college is established, we intend to offer a wider range of A levels. If you would be interested in attending the college, but would like to see an A level offered that isn’t on our current list, please contact us via this website to let us know what you think.
Who is supporting this college?
We have a range of support from experienced educators, university, academics and employers. In particular, we have support from Dr. John Schollar, University of Reading, and Professor Ian Wilkinson, Professor of Therapeutics, University of Cambridge; Honorary Consultant Physician, Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust; Fellow of Trinity Hall College, University of Cambridge. We also have support from Keele University Medical School.
Once the college is established, there will be opportunities for local people to join the governing body.
Can I choose what to do in the enrichment time?
Each student will have a personal tutor who will discuss each student’s personal programme, to ensure that each student has a bespoke programme, both of academic and enrichment opportunities, that will enhance each student’s personal development and maximize their chances of success in gaining entry to their chosen career pathway. Therefore many of the enrichment opportunities we offer will be optional, so long as each student has a full and appropriate enrichment programme. Some activities, however, will be provided for all students as these will prepare students for their General Studies examination. An example of such an activity might be presentations by invited local politicians, followed by the opportunity for students to ask questions. In addition, visiting speakers will be invited to talk to groups of students taking a particular A level subject. We would expect all the students taking that A level subject to attend the relevant talk.
What is the PBL course in medicine?
Problem based learning is a style of education that is increasingly being used in British medical schools and forms the basis of undergraduate education at Manchester, Liverpool and Keele University Medical Schools.
The PBL course allows students to experience a head start to undergraduate medical education through an approach that encourages them to set and solve problems, evaluate research, work in groups, chair meetings, develop presentation skills and apply information in new circumstances.
These skills are invaluable to any student intending to study a STEM related subject at University. We hope to introduce a PBL course in Engineering as well as Chemistry in due course.
What is the value of the Extended Project Qualification?
This qualification allows you to demonstrate your transferable skills, such as research and organization, beyond those evidenced by your main A levels. These skills are greatly valued by the leading universities, because these are the skills you need to make a success of your degree course. For this reason, we will expect students to choose a topic for their Extended Project that does not relate directly to their A level subject specification.
Cambridge University states, ‘We welcome the introduction of the Extended Project and would encourage applicants to undertake one, as it will help to develop independent study and research skills, which will ease the transition from school/college to higher education.’
Oxford University says, ‘Where applicants have undertaken the Extended Project (EP), this will not be a condition of any offer but the University recognises that the EP will provide an applicant with the opportunity to develop research and academic skills relevant for study at Oxford. Candidates are encouraged to draw upon relevant EP experience when writing their personal statement.’
How long will the college day be?
It is likely that the college day will run from 8.30am to 5.00pm. We expect one day, or two half days, to be devoted to enrichment. Within the college day, students will have scheduled study periods. At the beginning of their course, students will be expected to remain in college for their scheduled study periods.
Will the college terms be longer than local school terms?
We will listen carefully to local parents and will endeavour to meet their requirements. Currently we expect the terms to follow the local pattern, but the college may well be open for up to 50 weeks a year for a variety of learning opportunities.
Is General Studies A level compulsory?
We expect all students to enter General Studies A level. While a grade in General Studies does not normally form part of the offer for competitive universities, a good grade in General Studies can sometimes make the difference between entering a university or not, should a student perform a little worse than expected in their main A level subjects. In any case, a good grade in General Studies shows that you are a rounded academic who is familiar with a range of issues beyond the confines of your main A level subjects.
What kinds of musical and performing arts activities will be offered?
Our college will offer excellence in such areas as music, performing arts and theatre. There will be regular theatrical productions of works by classical and contemporary authors. This will enable students to participate in many ways, including performance; technical roles such as sound and lighting; preparing stage sets; advertising and publicity; and preparation of costumes and props. This will help students to develop their self-confidence, and demonstrate transferable skills such as time management, organisation, taking on responsibilities, working to deadlines etc.
Music enrichment will involve high level participation in classical musical ensembles as well as involvement in contemporary music projects incorporating composition, songwriting, digital recording, video editing and live performance. The exact nature of the music groups we offer from year to year will depend on the interests and abilities of the students, but we hope to cater for all interests and abilities. Again, participation in these activities will develop transferable skills as well as allowing our students to develop their personal skills, interests and self-confidence.
I need extra support in class - will that be available at Cheshire Free Schoool?
The Cheshire Free School is committed to inclusion and supporting every student with ability and determination to achieve at the highest level. We recognise that some students, perhaps as a result of physical or learning inequalities, will need additional support to achieve their potential and where the need can be demonstrated we will ensure that appropriate access arrangements for examinations are put in place.
When will the college open?
We aim to open in Chester in September 2016.
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To meet our target for submission to the DfE, we need to ensure that Cheshire 16-19 Free School would be the school of first choice for parents and students.
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