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Subjects on offer

Sixth Form subject choices 

We offer great Sixth Form subjects at Dallam so that you can create the perfect post-16 course for your interests, abilities, and career aspirations.  

Explore the course summaries, which you’ll find on our Sixth Form curriculum page, to learn how each subject is assessed, the careers it can lead to, and some suggestions for exploring the subjects further. You’ll also find full subject curriculum downloads, which show you in detail what you’ll learn over your two-year course.  

You can choose any combination of three (or four) subjects from the subject blocks in the curriculum brochure. If you are struggling to decide which three to take, have a look at our subject and career packages. 

Alongside your choice of A Level or BTEC subjects, all of our Sixth Form students choose an Enrichment course and follow our Personal Development programme.   

Exploring BTECs and A levels 

Our whole school careers guidance programme explores whether to study A Levels or BTECs.  

If you’re ready to decide your career direction, prefer practical learning to lots of theory and perform better in continual assessment than exams, then a BTEC could be a good fit for you. A-levels may be your best bet if you want to keep your career options and/or university studies as open as possible. 

Many of the questions about the differences between the two, which our Sixth Form team is commonly asked, are answered below. 

What’s the difference between BTECs and A levels?  

Broadly speaking, BTEC qualifications start to prepare you for a specific career, whereas A-levels aim to give you a solid academic grounding in a given subject. However, some BTECs can be quite academic, too, depending on the subject and the specific modules taught. BTECs revolve around coursework and often work experience, whereas A-levels are much more classroom-based and tend to be assessed mainly via final exams.  

Are BTECs easier than A-levels?  

Don’t choose a BTEC expecting an easy life. The top grade—D*—is treated as equivalent to an A* at A-level, and the lowest grade—P—is equivalent to an E (a pass at A-level). Due to the continuous assessment methods, you’ll also have to work steadily throughout your course. BTECs certainly aren’t the lazy way to an equivalent grade in the same subject.  

Of course, there may be a subject that you would be very good at that is available as a BTEC but not as an A-level.  If this is the case, you might find a BTEC easier due to the match between you and your subject.  

To figure out whether you’d find a BTEC easier than A-levels, think about what works for you personally regarding teaching and assessment style and what motivates you. These are likely to have a significant effect on the grades you get.  

What is the teaching and assessment like?  

Are you happy learning about new topics as abstract concepts, or do you find them easier to understand if you have hands-on examples and experiences? A-levels tend to be more abstract, and BTECs more hands-on. If you score much higher in coursework than exams, a BTEC may suit you better, but if you get your highest marks in exams, A-levels are a good bet.

What motivates you to work hard and push yourself?

If a love of learning motivates you to work hard and push yourself, consider A-levels. However, if you would like to develop skills and knowledge that are directly relevant to working life, a BTEC would be better suited to you.  

Where can a BTEC take me? 

After completing a BTEC Level 3 course, you can either look for work immediately (whether as an apprentice or in an entry-level job) or go to university before starting your career. BTECs are more practical than A-levels and can include elements of work experience, which should give you the skills and knowledge that employers in your relevant career area look for.  

What if you choose to go to university and haven’t taken A-levels as well as a BTEC? You are more likely to study a vocational subject that relates to your BTEC and is vocational (focused on a specific career, e.g. nursing or business studies) rather than academic.  

A-levels vs BTEC – are you ready to specialise?  

One key difference between BTECs and A levels is that BTECs focus on a particular career area. In contrast, A-levels are broader qualifications that could lead in a number of different directions. Are you comfortable deciding on your future career now, or would you prefer to keep your options open?  

For university entry, A-levels in academic subjects tend to be the best way to keep doors open to studying a range of different subjects at degree level. Taking a BTEC Extended Certificate plus two A-levels might suit you better if you’re attracted to the idea of a BTEC but don’t want to make a firm career commitment at this stage.  

If you’re ready to specialise and choose a BTEC, it’s worth researching whether relevant jobs will be available locally—even if you plan to go to university first. If not, consider whether you are happy to move to another part of the country. 

Do universities accept BTEC qualifications?  

Many universities are, in theory, happy to accept BTECs for entry to undergraduate courses.  However, for courses that are academically focused and/or place a lot of weight on exams, BTECs may not be regarded as the best preparation.  

Just because a university says that it accepts BTEC qualifications, it doesn’t necessarily mean that all staff regard them as highly as A-levels. When choosing between applicants, some admissions tutors may favour those with more traditional academic qualifications, particularly for more traditional academic courses.  

Many university courses specify that you must have A-levels in particular subjects in order to apply.  Even if you’ve studied relevant topics in your BTEC, these won’t always be accepted as an alternative. In other cases, universities may ask you to list which specific modules you’ve taken, as different schools teach different ones. 

If you have any further questions to help you decide on your options, please speak with your current subject teachers, form tutor, or any member of the Sixth Form team

Transition work

To help you with the transition from Year 11 into Year 12, we have created a library of activities, available here.

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