Ice breakers, independence and developing aspirations — how students at The Crypt School are taking the next step to sixth form

With their school focused on the academic, personal and social development of all of its young people, SoGlos hears from four Year 12 students at The Crypt School Sixth Form in Gloucester about how they've been supported by staff and peers in their transition to further education.

By Jake Chown  |  Published
Year 12 students Derrick, Jack, Lizzie and Evie are part of the school's new Student Executive group which helps to inform decision making on behalf of the whole school.

Whether stepping up internally or joining a new sixth form or college, having the support of those around you is key to making a seamless transition from GCSE to A Level.

The Crypt School in Gloucester — rated Outstanding by Ofsted in March 2024 — has its own Student Executive; a group of key students which meets routinely with senior leadership staff to impact on decisions which affect the whole school and sixth form, as well as making sure their fellow students can have their say as leaders of the school's student parliament, Student Voice.

Four Year 12 students who will hold this responsibility as part of the new 'student exec' have been speaking to SoGlos about their first few months at the sixth form.

Lizzie was part of the first cohort of girls back in 2018 when the school became co-educational and has recently been elected as head girl. She is studying biology, chemistry and psychology and is aspiring to study medicine at university.

Jack has also been at Crypt since Year 7 and is the school’s new head boy. He is studying maths, physics and biology and is hoping to join the RAF as a pilot.

Derrick and Evie both attended other grammar schools in the area before joining Crypt’s sixth form in September. Derrick is studying maths, physics and economics and hopes to study mechanical engineering and Evie is studying psychology, English literature and PE, with the aim of continuing to study English literature at university.

How have you found your transition to sixth form, whether that’s been making the step up from Year 11 at Crypt or from a different school?

Derrick: I found it challenging coming from a different school and felt it was an ‘added layer’ to the transition from GCSE to A level; however, all the students and staff were kind and welcoming.

Jack: There are steps that the school put in place (eg, summer school, induction days) which were very helpful and allowed the integration process to be as smooth as possible.

Lizzie: It helped knowing people already and I felt it was a natural continuation from GCSE. I enjoy the independence in my learning but know that teachers are there to help if I need it.

Evie: The extra-curricular opportunities helped me integrate into existing friendship groups. It didn’t feel cliquey at all, which surprised me.

What do you think are the main differences between secondary school and sixth form in terms of your learning environment and the support you get from staff?

Jack: There is a definite focus on more independent learning and I really appreciate the level of trust and responsibility we are given here. It feels like the teachers treat us as adults but we are expected to put in the work — there is one-to-one support available if needed. It has been good to have the chance to talk to teachers more and know them a bit better. Teachers are human after all!

Evie: The environment here is so supportive and beneficial to learning. The teachers make the lessons engaging and relevant, which keeps me interested. Students want to learn — they have worked hard to be here!

Lizzie: I have found teachers are more collaborative in the sixth form and often as a class, we find out the answers together. I feel our input is valued and teachers all involve us in the learning process.

Derrick: There is more free time in the school day which gives you an opportunity to meet new friends and different people, which was especially important early on.

How have staff supported you to feel included in the overall school community?

Evie: At the start of the year, students coming from different schools had interviews with the head of Year 12, Mrs Hayes or head of sixth form, Mr Biggs, to ensure we were settling in okay. There is a lot of encouragement from staff; they are easy to approach if you have any problems. There is a big community feel at Crypt with lots of loyalty towards the school. I have spoken to my mum about how different this is compared to my previous school — there is definitely a greater sense of belonging. 

Lizzie: I have been fortunate during my time here to be given lots of opportunities to excel in different areas. For example, I was lucky to talk to students about the importance of Black History Month and felt trusted to have this opportunity.

Jack: As a member of student exec and having other opportunities such as being a prefect, means you are a role model to other students but also have a platform to speak on behalf of others. Having taken part in ‘Student Voice’ — you have an opinion and feel listened to.

Derrick and Evie, how have existing Crypt students made you feel welcome at sixth form?

Evie: In lessons, teachers don’t prefer existing Crypt students or have favourites. They would mix up the seating plans which helped you make new friends and get to know people. Extra-curricular activities also give you the informal opportunity to socialise with peers who enjoy the same things.

Derrick: When you join, you have interviews with staff to check you’re doing okay and the ice-breaker events and other activities also help you mix with other students. Everyone felt welcoming and open to helping new students settle in — they were very inclusive!

Outside of your studies, what opportunities does the sixth form provide for you to mix and build relationships with your peers?

Jack: There are lots of opportunities to play sport just for fun or competitively such as playing for the school teams. The squad is open to anyone and very inclusive. Playing for the school teams has helped me build upon existing skills and I’ve really enjoyed representing the school in this way.

Derrick: I have found some of the trips we have attended, such as the recent UCAS trip to Newport, really useful. It was a good opportunity to see the different universities in one place. The school does lots of things like this to help you plan what you want to do after your A levels.

Lizzie: I find the various societies useful but particularly MedSoc; a society which I attend for those students thinking about applying to medicine. MedSoc is a community where I can connect with peers who share similar aspirations and experiences and provides a space for mutual support.

In partnership with The Crypt School  |

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