Sixth Form advice: “Do what you are good at and enjoy”

Interesting to see the IB vs A Level debate taking a new turn with King’s Wimbledon deciding to re-introduce A Levels after 10 years of only offering IB.  This is an interesting reversal of the trend over the past few years whereby a  number of large boarding schools have sought to introduce IB to run alongside A Level. You need to have a very large sixth form to make this affordable and even so, the immediate contrast with A Level and the fact that the extra-curricular activities of a boarding school already ensure that most students will be fulfilling that side of the IB requirement mean that the IB take up has sometimes been disappointing. In short, the IB’s high standing amongst educationalists (Anthony Seldon in The Times on Saturday) isn’t always shared by the students who see A Levels as a perfectly good way to get to the university of their choice. In many cases, certainly here, students want to take programmes which plays unashamedly to their strengths, whether that is Maths, Physics, Chemistry and French; or Art, Politics, English and Spanish. My short advice is do what you are good at and what you like – and then just do a check to ensure it isn’t cutting you out from potential career choices (medical or engineering, usually) and that the chosen subjects offer enough weight to enable you to show your academic mettle to the most demanding universities if that is your likely route.

By Keith Budge, Headmaster, Bedales Schools


Bedales School is one of the UK’s top independent private co-education boarding schools. Bedales comprises three schools situated in Steep, near Petersfield, Hampshire: Dunannie (ages 3–8), Dunhurst (ages 8–13) and Bedales itself (ages 13–18). Established in 1893 Bedales School puts emphasis on the Arts, Sciences, voluntary service, pastoral care, and listening to students’ views. Bedales is acclaimed for its drama, theatre, art and music school. The Headmaster is Keith Budge.