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Highdown School
and Sixth Form Centre

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Post-16 Entry Requirements

In the Sixth Form you will study subjects you choose within an agreed study programme. This may involve the study of purely academic A-Levels or Technical (vocational) subjects at either Level 2 or Level 3, or a mixture of these.

A-Levels and Level 3 qualifications are studied over two years with terminal examinations at the end of the second year of study.

In addition to your chosen subjects, your Study Programme will also include a daily mentor period, a weekly period of enrichment, and may include independent study periods as part of your timetable. You will also participate in a week of Work Experience during Year 12.

Entry Requirements for Year 12 

Study Programme

KS4 Minimum Attainment


Pathway 1 with 7+ in English and Maths

10+ GCSEs at Grade A*/A (9-7)


Up to 4 A Levels and EPQ


Pathway 2 with 7+ in English and Maths 8+ GCSEs at grade A*/A (9-7) Up to 4 A Levels or 3 A Levels and EPQ

Pathway 3 with 4+ in English and Maths

6+ GCSEs at grade A*-C (9-4)


3 A-Levels


Pathway 4 with 4+ in English and Maths 5+ GCSEs at Grade A*-C (9-4) Up to 3 qualifications, e.g. 3 A-Levels or 2 A-Levels and 1 Level 3 qualification

Pathway 5a with 4+ in English or Maths

5+ GCSEs at grade A*-C (9-4)

1 Level 3 qualification and 2 A-Levels [as recommended by enrolment team and as appropriate to English/Maths pass] and GCSE retake

Pathway 5b with 5+ in English and Maths


4+ GCSEs at grade A*-C (9-4)

1 Level 3 qualification and 2 A-Levels [as recommended by enrolment team]

Pathway 6 4+ GCSEs at D [3] Level 2 qualifications + GCSE retake(s)

‘English’ refers to either English Language or English Literature

Students with GCSE grade 3 or less in English Language and/or Mathematics will be expected to retake the subject(s) as part of their Study Programme. Students with Grade 4 in English Language and/or Mathematics, may wish to retake the subject with the intention of passing at Grade 5.


Subject Specific Eligibility Criteria

Subject Minimum Key Stage 4 Attainment


Art & Design (Fine Art)


4+ in Art/Art Graphics/Photography or portfolio evidence

Art & Design (Photography) 4+ in Art/Art Graphics/Photography or portfolio evidence
Art Fashion (Textiles)

4+ in Textiles or Art, or portfolio evidence

Biology 6+ in Biology or 6/6 in Trilogy Science and 5+ in Maths
Business Studies

4+ in English and Maths, C+ in Business Studies (if studied)


6+ in Chemistry or 6/6 in Trilogy Science and 5+ in Maths


5+ in Maths and 5+ in Computing (if studied)

Drama & Theatre Studies

4+ in Drama and 5+ in English


5+ in Maths

English Language and Literature

5+ in both English Language and English Literature

English Literature 

5+ in English Language and English Literature

Further Mathematics

8+ in Maths or 7+ in Maths and A* in Further Maths (if studied)


4+ in Geography and 5+ in English


5+ in History and 5+ in English

ICT (Level 3) 5 GCSEs at A*-C (9-4), including 4+ in English or Maths
Languages B+ in Chinese Mandarin or 6+ in French/Spanish (as appropriate)

7+ in Maths

Mathematical Studies (2 year AS) 4+ in Maths
Media Studies

4+ in English Language and Literature

Music Technology

5+ in Music or Music technology and 5+ in Maths


4+ in English


6+ in Physics or 6/6 in Trilogy Science & 5+ in Maths

Politics 4+ in English
Psychology 4+ in a Science or 4/4 in Trilogy Science and 4+ in English

4+ in English

Sport (Level 3) 4+ in Biology or 4/4 in Trilogy Science. Must be involved in facilitating competitive sport(s). Eligibility to be discussed with Curriculum Leader

Students who achieve a Merit in the Level 2 qualification may use this to qualify for a recommended Level 3 pathway.


Progression to Year 13

Students must pass their Year 12 Pre-Public Examinations [PPEs] in order to continue studying the subject in Year 13, although it is desirable to achieve at least a D grade at this stage. If students are at risk of not achieving passes at the end of A-Level courses, students will be required to have a formal interview with the Head of Sixth Form. Students will be given the opportunity to retake any PPEs in which they have failed before the end of the Summer Term of Year 12. Students will not be excluded from the Sixth Form on the basis of their Year 12 PPE results, however, careful and independent information, advice and guidance will be provided to ensure students follow the best possible route for success. Students will not be permitted to repeat Year 12 except for in exceptional circumstances. Any restart will require students to study a different set of subjects. 


Russell Group Universities

To help in your Sixth Form decision making, please see the guide below produced by the Russell Group of universities regarding post-16 education.