Dr Marcus J. Allen FSB
Higher Education & Careers Adviser, Ashford School

How do you ensure that each student is guided towards the most fitting GCSE and A Level choices for their strengths? I am the school’s specialist Higher Education & Careers adviser and our advice programme is designed to ensure that students have maximum choice. Students are given talks, subject booklets and opportunities for one-to-one meetings with an external adviser at age 13 and 15. All GCSE students are welcomed to an individual interview (with their parents) to discuss the most suitable choices of A Levels based on what they want to be doing when they are aged 25-30.

Is it possible to take an A Level for which a student has no related studies at GCSE and AS? It is and we happily support this if they are likely to be successful and it helps their career aspirations. It all depends on the individual and what is in their best interest. There are several subjects that you can study at A Level for which there is no related GCSE and we look at skills learnt in other subjects. We have also had students who have studied an additional A Level in one year to help them gain the university place they wanted.

How can you help students with the university/college application process? We take pride in helping our students to be successful in applying to university; over 85% go to their first choice. Students get one-to-one, specialist guidance starting in Year 12 including help with writing their applications as well as tutorials and seminars on the applications process, visits to universities and opportunities to quiz admission tutors. They are advised to apply to a range of universities so that they maximise their chances. All these are critical to ensuring a successful application.

What can be done if a student doesn’t achieve their predicted grades? The school receives the A Level results 24 hours before they are made public. This means we know which students are unlikely to have achieved their university offers. On results day, we have a team of senior staff available to help students obtain a university place through Clearing, advise on other courses and options, or simply help the student formulate an immediate plan for their next steps.

How do you ensure that students don’t get too stressed out during busy exam periods? The most important way we combat stress is by preparing the students thoroughly throughout their courses so they feel confident when they enter the exam hall. When students do feel anxiety, our strong pastoral house system means that every student is able to receive the appropriate support and reassurance needed.

Ashford School is a co-educational nursery, day and boarding school for children aged 0-18 years.

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