Breadth of Opportunity in the Sixth Form
“I believe the true strength of the College is the breadth, rather than the success of any one part. There is no other school in the area where you are able to succeed at any combination of academic, sport, drama, music and many other interest areas all at the same time, giving you the widest education possible and fulfilling your potential.” PAUL, SIXTH FORM LEAVER
Academic study is, naturally, the priority, but we believe passionately in the value of an all round education. To this end, you will find Sixth Form life at Bishop’s Stortford College packed with opportunities and our weekly timetable gives you the time and space to make the most of them.
Art - Beyond the Curriculum
The Senior School Art Department is located in a stunningly spacious Art Centre and it plays a central part in the life of the College. Opened in 2009, the purpose built Art Centre has many large studios, including a sculpture studio, a workshop, a gallery space, an IT suite, a dedicated Sixth Form studio and a well resourced departmental library. This allows pupils to become involved in painting, sculpture, ceramics, printmaking, textiles, glass, graphic design, photography, fashion, animation, computer generated imagery and film making.
There are five members of staff in the Department, one of whom is an Artist in Residence. Our teaching gives pupils a thorough knowledge of the basic elements of the Visual Language which are necessary to allow the making of the creative, experimental and innovative work that we openly encourage.
The Art Centre is open in the evenings and at weekends for pupils to use the extensive facilities that we have to offer.
Trips and tours
Every year we have a major tour, to such destinations as Florence, New York, Washington, Rome or Paris. There are also regular visits to London, Cambridge and the Henry Moore Foundation.
This is only a brief description of what happens in our Art Departments. Please do visit to talk to the pupils, see their work, and see for yourself the wide range of artistic experiences that we have to offer.
Drama - Beyond the Curriculum
Every year the Drama Department sits down, scratches its head and decides which plays are going to delight, surprise, intrigue and move audiences on The Leo Price stage over the next three terms.
This term sees us turn the College's finest student actors into an enthusiastic and highly disciplined cast, who over the last few years have performed plays as varied as Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, As You Like It and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Wycherley’s The Country Wife, Bond’s The Sea, Edgar’s adaptation of Nicholas Nickleby, Barrie’s Peter Pan, Return of the Forbidden Planet a spoof of Shakespeare's The Tempest and Gogol's The Government Inspector.
We are fortunate in having a full-time technical stage manager, who gathers a team of “techies” who love creating images with light and sound just as much as their thespian peers revel in creating characters under the lights. Our sets are ambitious and although we have a permanent proscenium arch stage, our plays are more likely to be performed in the round, traverse, or even outside!
Although most of our extra-curricular actors are Sixth Formers, talented Upper Fifth Formers may be invited to make the odd guest appearance. The plays usually run over three nights and give all those involved a real taste of the demands and joys of theatre, either on or back stage.
After we have recovered our energy, it is the turn of the Lower Fifth students to invade the stage. Recent productions include premieres of plays performed as part of The National Theatre Connections Festival, such as Ruckus in the Garden by David Farr, Vampire Story by Moira Buffini and The Things She Sees by Ben Power. More recently we performed Animal Farm adapted by Peter Hall, Goldoni’s Servant of Two Masters and Ionesco's Rhinoceros. Students work with visiting theatre professionals, giving them an opportunity to sample the life of a 'real' actor over a few weekend rehearsals.
Our Summer term production is open to all Fourth Formers (Year 9s) who are interested in performing on stage or helping with the technical side of theatre. This production forms part of the Summer Term Activities Programme and a team of teachers work alongside upwards of forty students to create something of a summer extravaganza. Most of these productions are plays which can be broken down into sections, with episodes within the play being allocated to different groups of actors. The Canterbury Tales adapted by Michael Edgar, The Coram Boy adapted by Helen Edmundson, Arabian Nights adapted by Dominic Cooke, Greek Myths and Mummers’ Plays, Victorian Melodramas have all at one time or another fired the imaginations of our students – and of course their audiences too! Last year Richard III, West Side Story and The Pardoner's Tale were all in performance.
Fourth Form (Year 9): Pupils have a weekly Drama session as part of their activities programme.
Lower Fifth and Upper Fifth Form (Years 10 and 11): GCSE Drama is offered.
Sixth Form (Years 12 and 13): AS/A2 level Drama and Theatre Studies is offered.
We have a growing number of students successfully entering Drama School or continuing their Drama studies at Higher Education level.
Duke of Edinburgh's Award
Bishop's Stortford College is once again top of the list of the 86 Duke of Edinburgh's Award Centres in Hertfordshire. Not only do we have more students enrolling and committing to the scheme than any other, we also achieve more awards than any other independent school in Hertfordshire, according to the latest statistics provided in the annual report.
In Summer 2021, 61 silver participants, 11 Upper Sixth and 18 OS Gold participants completed their awards after a year of not being able to go on expeditions due to Covid-19. Ms Chaplin and Mrs Lynch were delighted to see how far the students had come since the early Bronze level days as they put to use their knowledge of navigation, free nav and camp craft.
Preparing our Sixth Formers for the leadership roles they will take on in their lives after leaving the College is an important part of their time here. All Lower Sixth Formers take part in our well-regarded Leadership Training Course as part of that process, and the Sixth Form offers manifold opportunities for the practical exercise of leadership and the development of the skills that are involved.
Leadership roles in the Sixth Form
Many Sixth Formers will take on roles of leadership in Sport, Music, Drama and through the activities that run throughout the week; the five-a-side football competition organised and run entirely by pupils is one example; another is the Sixth Form Social Committee which organises functions for all to enjoy.
In the Upper Sixth Form, all Sixth Formers will have the opportunity to motivate, persuade and lead others; most are selected to be School Prefects, House Monitors or Heads of House in their senior year.
The whole of the College’s Lower Sixth (Year 12) is involved each summer in the annual two-day leadership course, in part to prepare for the responsibilities that lie ahead in school, but also to look at the life skills they will need in their careers and society in the future. Lectures, seminars and a session of outdoor team-building challenges stretch these talented youngsters intellectually and physically.
Music - Beyond the Curriculum
Students are provided with the resources and the encouragement to develop their musicianship in the Sixth Form, giving them skills and experiences which we hope will stay with them throughout their adult lives.
With a large number of staff, excellent facilities and equipment, an enthusiastic atmosphere and numerous opportunities to take part in making music, a large proportion of our Sixth Form students are involved in some kind of musical activity and there are many opportunities for individuals and groups to practise and perform. Many students are involved in as many as four or five different groups.
- The Orchestra, numbering at full strength some fifty players, performs works from the standard orchestral repertoire each term and there are opportunities for senior players to perform as soloists.
- The Band plays a wide variety of music, both original and arranged.
- String and Woodwind Ensembles give pupils of all abilities the opportunity of playing together.
- The Choir is a mixed-voice choir, numbering around fifty, which sings at concerts and other special events. These include an annual service of Carols, Cathedral visits and foreign tours.
- The College Choir combines with parents and friends to perform a concert in the Easter or Summer term. In recent years, the Society has performed Handel’s Messiah, Mozart’s Requiem and Bach’s St Matthew Passion.
There are numerous opportunities for pupils to perform throughout the year:
- Termly concerts – Year group concerts, Pianists’ Concert, Ensembles Concert, Picnic Concert, Choral Concert
- School Assembly each Tuesday
- House Music Competition
- Stars in their Eyes – a charity event in aid of Niemann-Pick
- Local community events – as part of the Community Service Programme
Tours and Trips
Tours have seen the Chapel Choir in Italy and France and the Wind Band in New York. There are regular trips to concerts on the South Bank and at the Barbican, and to the English National Opera. Bishop’s Stortford College is well situated for visits to other centres of music including Cambridge.
Personal Development Programme
The College is a very busy place both in and beyond the world of the classroom. There are myriad opportunities for Sixth Formers to get involved, with a huge range of activities from which they can choose, designed to support their inter-personal development. All Sixth Formers will be involved in the Personal Development Programme which takes place across the week. The Personal Development programme is a vital part of the education (in the wider sense of the word) that we offer and a key part of the ways in which we develop skills, talents and self-confidence – as well as engendering a great deal of pleasure.
Of course, many other extra-curricular activities exist outside the timetable. Students at the College have a full and active timetable, but they still find time to get involved in a range of sports, activities and hobbies in their own time.
Opportunities on offer include Amnesty International, Basketball, Beekeeping, Cake Decorating, Community Action, Computer Coding and Programming, Cookery, Dissection Club, Football, Hockey Academy, Interactive Science, Ivy House Programme, Journalism, Life-Saving, Police Cadets, Power Kiting, Robotics, Rotary Club Youth Speaks Competition, Scuba Diving, Thinking Skills and Water Polo plus many more. Sixth Formers are free to take part in any of these.
On Fridays, Lower and Upper Sixth attend a series of lectures under the direction of the Head of Sixth Form (Autumn Term).
Sixth Formers may also go on our Scuba Diving PADI Open Water Diver course.
During the second half of the Spring term and the start of the Summer Term, all Sixth Formers use the PDP times on Wednesdays and Fridays to do practice examination papers under supervision.
Student Investor Challenge
The Student Investor Challenge, run by The London Institute of Banking & Finance, challenges teams of school children to invest virtual money on the London Stock Exchange and trade stocks and shares to make a profit. In 2020, a team of four Lower Sixth students battled their way into the semi-finals, beating over 9000 teams from schools around the UK and abroad.
Facing stiff competition from 499 other teams, the team did not make it to the finals, but were thrilled to have made it to the semi-final stage of the competition and thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience.
Trips and Events
Sixth Formers benefit from their involvement in a wide range of trips and visits in addition to the breadth of experience available on the College campus.
Some of these are organised by departments as extensions of A level work, for example: Biology Field Trip, Theatre visits, Art Trip (to New York or St Petersburg recently), Geography Trips (to China and India recently), Politics and Economics trips to Brussels or the House of Commons and Media Studies Trips (to Los Angeles and San Francisco this term). Often these excursions are open to non-specialists as well as A level students.
The various Sports teams are also fortunate to be involved in national and international tours: Netball to Barbados, Rugby to Italy, Hockey to Holland, etc. There are also those trips that are open to all who are interested; the College Ski Trip and the Diving Trip to Egypt are just two examples.
The Festival of Literature, Ferguson Lecture series and 'Stars in their Eyes' charity extravaganza illustrate how ideas are sown, take root and flourish at Bishop's Stortford College, thus ever increasing the range of events on offer.
These trips and events mentioned above are only a selection from a long list of exciting and stimulating opportunities, all of which are part of the College’s drive to extend, challenge and develop all Sixth Formers in ways that are academic, social and cultural.
Recent trips and events
- Physics trip to Cern
- Biology Field Trip
- Expedition to Russia
- French trip to Rouen
- Netball tour to Antigua
- History trip to Spain
- Scuba diving trip to Egypt
- Physics trip to Cern
- Physics trip to Greenwich Observatory
- Media Studies trip to Los Angeles and San Francisco