Sixth Form is the launchpad for a successful, rewarding future and studying in a nurturing environment can make all the difference and help your teenager realise their potential.  

“Before picking a Sixth Form, it's crucial that you and your child consider every angle – examine the academic provision, pastoral support and extra-curricular opportunities that the institution offers,” explains James Passam, headmaster at Farlington School in Horsham, West Sussex. “This will ensure you pick the best place for your child to help them acquire the skills they need for the future.” 

Below, James reveals how to choose the right Sixth Form and why it’s important to build self-confidence, resilience and academic passion in students. 


Great British Life: Smaller class sizes ensure that Sixth Form students get plenty of time with teachersSmaller class sizes ensure that Sixth Form students get plenty of time with teachers (Image: Farlington School)

Q: What should prospective students and parents look for in a Sixth Form? 

A: First and foremost, look at the breadth of subjects that are available. Encourage your child to think about their aspirations, interests and potential career goals to help with this decision. Research how much success the Sixth Form has had in helping previous students achieve their goals, whether that was heading to university for further study or starting an apprenticeship. 

Another aspect that is just as important as academic achievement is the quality of pastoral care. Without a sufficient network of support, from both staff and fellow students, it can be very difficult for pupils to deal with increasing pressure and perform to the best of their abilities.  

Q: Why is academic guidance so important during the Sixth Form years? 

A: Before reaching a conclusion on a university course or career path, every student will need certain qualifications to achieve their desired outcome. There is a significant step up in academic rigour at Sixth Form compared to GCSE level, which is why it’s vital that students learn in an environment that helps them tackle these new challenges. 

At Farlington, we have a well-established and personalised process for new Sixth Formers. Each student is invited to meet the head of our senior school for a Pathway Planning meeting. This gives everyone an opportunity to discuss their aspirations and experience of education so far.  

Depending on their interests and GCSE results, we can advise a suitable combinations of A-level subjects that will suit their needs. Our smaller class sizes ensure that students get plenty of personal time with their teachers across all subjects.  

The benefits of solid tutoring are evident throughout the Sixth Form, with Year 12 and 13s producing breath-taking art that has won national competitions. Many of our leavers regularly go on to study veterinary science and medicine, and the overall grade outcome throughout the traditional areas such as history, geography and English literature is very strong.  


Great British Life: Sixth Form students at Farlington build strong friendships and collaborative rapportSixth Form students at Farlington build strong friendships and collaborative rapport (Image: Farlington School)

Q: How would you describe your approach to pastoral support? 

A: Our approach reflects the ethos of Farlington which prioritises integrity, compassion and resilience as well as the physical and mental wellbeing of our students. Being a slightly smaller Sixth Form has great advantages in this regard, as students build a strong rapport, encourage each other and have open, honest conversations.  

Creating a community-orientated atmosphere that values everyone is extremely important, but another side to our ethos is building self-reliance. In order to have a positive outlook, it's important for students to feel encouraged, able to push themselves and step out of their comfort zone. 

For example, one of our previous Year 13 students singlehandedly put together an editorial team of her peers, ranging from Year 9 to A-level students, to produce our inaugral student magazine FLIC (Farlington Life in Colour). The team conducted interviews, took photographs, wrote articles and were responsible for publishing the very first of the magazine before Christmas 2022. 

The launch of FLIC epitomises the importance of allowing students to take charge and achieve their ambitions, by working together or taking the first steps individually. Having these demonstratable examples of self-reliance also gives them a major advantage during interviews for university or the workplace. 


Great British Life: Farlington offer a wide range of subjects to study at A-LevelFarlington offer a wide range of subjects to study at A-Level (Image: Farlington School)

Q: Are there opportunities to develop soft skills at Farlington School? 

A: Absolutely, all of our Sixth Formers can take part in sports, charity organisations or leadership projects. As part of our focus on health and wellbeing, students are encouraged to join in with games during the week and practice a number of team and individual sports.  

We also motivate them to take on leadership roles such as Head Students, Senior Prefects, Sports and House Captains as well as join the Student Council. Far from being a ceremonial position, if elected they will play a key role in many activities throughout the school.  

Additionally, we are a member of the Bellevue Education group, a partnership of 21 schools that organise trips for the students. Recently, students studying history had the opportunity to visit WW1 battlefields in France and Belgium, and in October 2022 we hosted the Sixth Form Conference for students from several Bellevue schools. 

Being part of Bellevue group enables our Sixth Formers to meet with fellow students from many different backgrounds and take part in events on a much larger scale. These experiences help students mature into well-rounded and accomplished adults.  


Great British Life: Farlington's Sixth Form encourages students to build self-confidence and resilience for later lifeFarlington's Sixth Form encourages students to build self-confidence and resilience for later life (Image: Farlington School)

Q: How does Sixth Form prepare students for their future? 

A: The level of preparation for later life provided in our Sixth Form is very difficult to match elsewhere. We encourage students to take initiative and discover more about their passions, whilst ensuring they learn in a nurturing, supportive environment. 

The UCAS process can be daunting, even for students that know what they wish to study and where they want to go after college. We mirror our Pathway Planning system to match the UCAS application set-up, offering each student highly personalised advice based on their preferences. This can ease stress and help them take those all-important next steps.  

As well as tutoring them in personal statement writing, key staff members take the time to write each student’s references. Having read plenty of them myself, I can safely say that they truly capture the personality and character of each student.  

Ultimately, Sixth Form provides the groundwork for young adults to tackle new challenges that excite them and inspires them to pursue their interests. Every student is different – it's our job to recognise that and then help them build self-confidence and gain the skills they’ll need to succeed in later life.  

To learn more about Farlington’s Sixth Form or attend an open day, visit or call 01403 254967.