How Long is Sixth Form in the UK? A Guide To Private Sixth Form In The UK 

How Long is Sixth Form in the UK
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The high school’s almost over and you’re staring down in excitement and just maybe, a bit of confusion asking, what’s next? The sixth form pops up everywhere – school talks, applications, and even chats with your friends, but what exactly is sixth form? How long is sixth form in the UK?

Imagine sixth form as a bridge between high school and the university. You can also think of it as the important years when you take the chance to explore your favorite subjects even deeper.

In this article, we will talk about sixth form in the UK, as well as all you need to know about the private sixth form and how long it is.

What is sixth form in UK?

Think of sixth form as a few leap years between high school and then the university. It is the chance to choose some of your favorite subjects and study them more in-depth. You could explore the sciences deeper, or if you are on the other end, you could master literature better, or even get better at maths.

Simply, the sixth form helps you focus on what excites you! They help prepare you for exams that act like keys to universities. If you do great at sixth form, universities will swing their doors wide open to you to study your dream course.

Read: Is Sixth Form Compulsory in the UK? Why You Should Consider A Sixth-Form College

What is Private Sixth Form in the UK?

A private sixth form in the UK is an independent educational institution that offers post-GCSE education from 16 to 18. Unlike state-funded schools, private sixth forms charge tuition fees for their programs. 

These institutions often have more specialized curriculum options and smaller class sizes, allowing for a more tailored and personalized approach to teaching.

Attending a private sixth form can offer students access to a wealth of resources and facilities that may not be available in mainstream state schools. 

Private sixth forms provide an environment focused on academic excellence, typically boasting high standards of teaching and learning. They often have strong track records of achieving excellent A-level results necessary for entry into top universities.

Attending a private sixth form allows students to receive a superior education in small classes with dedicated teachers facilitating individualized attention. 

The benefits include additional support services, extracurricular activities, and high-quality facilities that create a stimulating learning environment for young individuals aiming for academic success. 

While financial implications are associated with attending a private sixth form, many families view it as an investment in their child’s prospects and long-term career goals.

Read Also: Is Sixth Form College Classified as Higher or Further Education?

How Can I Manage My Time at Sixth Form?

Managing time effectively is crucial during the sixth form, where academics and extracurricular activities can become overwhelming. One important strategy to consider is creating a schedule that balances schoolwork, social life, and personal well-being. 

Begin by identifying your priorities and allocating specific time blocks for studying, completing assignments, and revising for exams. This will enhance your focus and ensure you stay on top of coursework.

Utilizing effective study techniques is also essential to maximize your time in sixth form. Avoid procrastination by breaking tasks into smaller, manageable chunks rather than trying to tackle everything at once. 

Consider implementing the Pomodoro Technique: using a timer to work in short bursts (such as 25 minutes) followed by brief breaks (around five minutes). This method helps maintain concentration levels and prevents burnout.

Additionally, don’t forget about self-care during this busy period. Engaging in regular physical activity or taking up hobbies can help manage stress levels and provide much-needed relaxation. 

Remember that effective time management isn’t solely about academic achievements – it’s about finding a healthy balance between work and leisure activities that contribute to your overall well-being.

By incorporating these strategies into your routine, you’ll be able to successfully navigate the challenges of sixth form while maintaining a healthy work-life balance.

Read Also: What Are Sixth Forms Colleges in the UK?

What Do You Do in Sixth Form?

In Sixth Form, students typically focus on their chosen subjects and prepare for higher education or the workforce. One of the main responsibilities during this period is studying diligently to achieve good grades in A-level exams. 

These exams are crucial in determining university admissions and can open up opportunities at renowned institutions.

Moreover, Sixth Form offers plenty of extra-curricular activities that help students develop a well-rounded skill set. Many schools organize clubs, societies, and sports teams for students to join. This enhances their interests and fosters teamwork skills and leadership qualities.

Lastly, work experience is highly recommended during Sixth Form as it provides practical knowledge about potential career paths. Students often seek internships or part-time jobs related to their desired fields of study. 

This allows them to gain valuable experience, make professional connections, and develop essential workplace skills that will benefit them.

Overall, Sixth Form is a transformative time where students dedicate themselves to academic excellence while exploring various extracurricular activities and gaining practical experience. 

They strive to strike a balance between academia and personal development to become well-prepared for the challenges that lie ahead.

Also, read: When Do Year 13 (Sixth Forms) Finish School in 2024?

Is There Free Periods at the Sixth Form?

Free sixth-form periods can be a blessing or a curse, depending on how you use them. While some schools may offer students free periods during their timetable, others may have a more structured approach with no designated free periods. Regardless of the school’s policy, students must take advantage of any available time.

During these free periods, students can undertake independent study, catch up on assignments and reading material, or even seek additional support from teachers. It is an opportunity for self-guided learning and allows students to explore subjects beyond their curriculum. 

Moreover, it provides flexibility in managing one’s workload and offers valuable time for extracurricular activities or pursuing hobbies outside of academics.

However, with freedom comes responsibility. Free periods require discipline and self-motivation, as no teacher monitors your progress. 

Procrastination becomes the enemy if misused; instead of utilizing these slots effectively, they quickly become wasted hours scrolling through social media or engaging in idle conversations with classmates. Hence, students must plan their free periods wisely and prioritize tasks effectively.

Read Also: Is There a Maximum Age for University in the UK?

How Much Contact Time Do You Have at Sixth Form?

At sixth form, your contact time can vary depending on your timetable and the courses you are taking. Students can expect around 15-20 hours of contact time per week. This includes face-to-face lessons with teachers, tutorials, and additional study support sessions.

However, it is essential to remember that this number is approximate and might differ between schools or individual students.

The limited contact time at sixth form means that independent study becomes crucial for success. With fewer scheduled classes than in secondary school, students must take responsibility for their learning and effectively use their free periods. 

Sixth form offers a valuable opportunity to develop self-discipline and independent study skills, which will be invaluable in higher education or the working world.

While some argue that more contact time would benefit academic progress, others believe that the extra freedom allows students to pursue their interests outside the classroom. 

This independence enables them to explore areas they are passionate about or engage in work experience opportunities relevant to their future career aspirations. 

Ultimately, the amount of contact time you have at sixth form is a balance between gaining essential knowledge from teachers and developing valuable life skills through independent learning.

The Difference Between Public Vs. Private Sixth Form 

Several key differences exist when choosing between a public and private sixth form. One of the most notable distinctions is the approach to education. 

Public sixth forms often follow a more traditional curriculum and strongly emphasize academic subjects, preparing students for university entry exams. 

On the other hand, private sixth forms may offer a wider range of subject options, including vocational courses or alternative qualifications.

Another significant contrast lies in class sizes and teacher-student ratios. In public sixth forms, class sizes tend to be larger, making it challenging for individual students to receive personalized attention from teachers. 

However, smaller class sizes in private sixth forms allow for more one-on-one instructor interaction. This can foster a closer student-teacher relationship and provide enhanced support and guidance throughout their academic journey.

While public sixth forms provide a more traditional and exam-focused education environment, private institutions often offer greater flexibility regarding subjects offered and personalized teaching approaches. 

Weighing these factors carefully will help students determine which option best suits their goals and learning style as they embark on their final years of secondary education.

Also, read: How Many Sixth Forms Can You Apply to? All You Need To Know About Sixth Form

How Much Does it Cost to Study in a Sixth Form?

Sixth Form lasts for two years of a student’s educational life and is typically the same period spent in college if they choose that choice since it is denoted as Years 12 and 13 in schools.

What is the Curriculum and Program Structure like in a Sixth Form College?

At a Sixth Form College, the curriculum and program structure are designed to provide students with a comprehensive and specialized education.

The curriculum typically includes English literature, mathematics, sciences, humanities, and languages. Students can select their subjects based on their interests and future career aspirations.

One unique aspect of Sixth Form College’s program structure is its flexibility. Students can choose between pathways, such as A levels or BTEC courses.

Levels are traditional academic qualifications that focus on specific subjects in depth, while BTEC courses are more vocational, providing practical skills in areas such as business studies or engineering. This allows students to tailor their education based on their strengths and goals.

Moreover, Sixth Form Colleges often emphasize independent learning and critical thinking skills through methods like coursework assignments and research projects.

This approach encourages students to take ownership of their learning journey and develop valuable skills to benefit them in higher education or professional careers.

Read Also: What Counts as Student ID? Does Student ID Count as ID in the UK?


What is the minimum age for Sixth Form in the UK?

Students are typically 16 years old when they enter Sixth Form.

Can I switch from a state school to a private Sixth Form?

Yes, it is possible to transition from a state school to a private Sixth Form if you meet the admission criteria.

Do private Sixth Form schools offer scholarships?

Many private Sixth Form institutions offer scholarships based on academic merit, talent, or financial need.

Is Sixth Form mandatory in the UK?

Sixth Form is not compulsory but a common pathway for students pursuing higher education.

What qualifications do I need to enter the Sixth Form?

Entry requirements vary, but most institutions require a set of GCSE qualifications.


The length of sixth form in the UK varies depending on the educational institution. Private sixth forms typically offer a two-year program, with students entering Year 12 and graduating in Year 13. 

This allows students ample time to study various subjects and prepare for their A-level exams. The flexibility and individualized attention provided by private sixth forms make them an attractive option for many students seeking a high-quality education. 

Whether considering a career in medicine, engineering, or the humanities, the private sixth form can provide the foundation you need to succeed. Take the time to research and visit different institutions to find the right fit for your academic goals and aspirations.



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