As a Sixth Form pupil, we can guarantee that you will have both a challenging and stimulating experience. For young people who love their learning, we offer a strong academic focus, excellent pastoral care and a wide variety of extra-curricular activities.
While the majority of our Sixth Form have been pupils at Belfast Royal Academy since Form 1 and have completed GCSEs with us, we do have opportunities for talented and capable pupils to join us for the completion of their schooling in our Sixth Form. Your Sixth Form years are the most important, exciting, and perhaps the most rewarding years of your school life – and no one ever regrets the experience of a wonderful education for those all-important A-level years. We are proud to welcome pupils from other schools into Sixth Form and help them to integrate quickly with their peers.
Sixth Form is a very different learning experience, designed to prepare you for your chosen path after school whether that is employment, a higher education course, an apprenticeship or a further education course. At Belfast Royal Academy, we create an environment in which pupils achieve excellent examination results whilst also developing their personal and leadership skills, alongside enjoying the opportunity to become involved in other areas of school life, including Sport, Music, Performing Arts and a wide range of extra-curricular activities.
Pupils in Sixth Form enjoy more independence, are provided with leadership opportunities and are trusted with more responsibility. We encourage our Sixth Formers to develop a mature attitude to life and study – you will learn to manage your time more effectively and to use your initiative in many different situations. We nurture self-reliance and self-motivation whilst still providing strong pastoral and academic support.
Our Sixth Form Study area provides Sixth Formers with an environment conducive to independent study. This is a supervised quiet area for pupils to read, research and undertake homework and revision when they are not in class.
We also have two dedicated Sixth Form Common Rooms which provide an excellent relaxed social area in which our older pupils can meet, socialise and dine. Our Sixth Formers also have their own specific dining areas within the Common Rooms, where they can purchase hot and cold food, snacks and drinks.
Sixth Form pupils can also avail of a wide range of services and support in the Careers Suite, as well as extensive computer facilities in all departments.
One of the major advantages of our Sixth Form curriculum is the breadth of choice. We offer a wide range of A level subjects and pupils can also avail of subjects on offer in other schools within the North Belfast Area Learning Community. As a result, we are able to offer pupils a free choice of subjects to study and then build the timetable on the basis of pupil demand.
Providing guidance for Higher Education courses and choosing a career pathway are a fundamental part of being a pupil at Belfast Royal Academy. Over the two years, our Sixth Form are provided with expert guidance and support from a team of experienced Careers and UCAS advisors, subject specialists and other agencies to ensure that they choose the most appropriate route and develop the necessary career management and employability skills they will need for the future. This enables our pupils to make informed choices and decisions which will affect their future education, training and employment. Our aim is always to ensure that pupils identify educational paths which reflect their ambition and enthusiasm and which ensure that they are personally and academically fulfilled and challenged.
Belfast Royal Academy provides many leadership opportunities for pupils and this is particularly true in Sixth Form. Of course, whilst of chief importance, academic success is not the only goal of a successful Sixth Form experience. Wherever a pupil’s talents or interests lie, BRA’s extensive extra-curricular activities, Careers and work experience programme, in addition to their Prefect responsibilities, will offer our Sixth Form pupils incredible opportunities to excel and develop their leadership skills.
At the beginning of each academic year, our Middle Sixth pupils vote for and appoint a Head Girl and Head Boy, Deputy Head Girls and Boys and a team of Senior Prefects. All other pupils are made Prefects. The position of Prefect is an honour and a privilege and has a key role in terms of school organisation and liaison with staff. All Prefects and Senior Prefects set the standard by which the other pupils measure themselves and ensure that the ethos of the school carries across all areas of school life. They are expected to establish and maintain exemplary behaviour, attitude and appearance at all times and provide a positive role model for younger pupils. The Prefects and Senior Prefects are also involved in many duties around the School on a daily basis, and on public transport in the mornings and afternoons. These activities form part of their form part of the Sixth Form experience and help prepare our pupils to leave BRA as well-rounded, capable and grounded young people, well equipped to succeed in whatever path they choose in life.
Sixth Form pupils are supported in all areas of school life. There is extensive pastoral support available to all pupils, and in addition to the Principal and three Vice-Principals, there is a Head of Sixth Form and Heads of Year for both Lower and Middle Sixth boys and girls. It is the Head of Year’s responsibility to oversee the progress of the whole year group and support and assist individual pupils with any issues. As well as being a source of inspiration, the Head of Year is responsible for the guidance and personal welfare of the pupils in their year group, and is fully aware of attendance and academic progress in addition to any individual circumstances or needs a pupil may have. Heads of Year also meet regularly with the Pastoral Vice Principal in order to ensure continuity of approach across the school.
Almost all of our Sixth Form go on to take degree course, some after a Gap year out. In 2021, over 90% of Belfast Royal Academy’s Middle Sixth pupils achieved places at their chosen universities with 49% going on to Russell Group Universities. One pupil was successful in gaining a place to study at Oxford, one was successful in gaining a place to study at Cambridge and 13 students were accepted onto some of the most competitive Medicine and Law courses in the country. Local universities remained very popular, with 53 pupils being accepted to Queen’s University, Belfast and 33 onto courses at the Ulster University. We strongly believe that our pupils should choose courses that they are passionate about and that fit their ambitions. We also encourage pupils to look at wider options, including overseas universities and apprenticeships
Experiences beyond the classroom are an important part of education at Belfast Royal Academy. Our exciting annual programme of trips and tours provides unforgettable experiences for pupils – enriching their lives and expanding their capabilities and interests. Travelling to new places, experiencing different cultures, trying out new activities and challenging themselves are all life-enhancing experiences. We recognise the immense value of these excursions, and we offer pupils a vast range of opportunities to experience the world outside Belfast and Northern Ireland.
Our academic departments organise ambitious tours and visits that take our pupils all around the world. These may vary from year to year, but recent examples include a walking trip to part of the Camino de Santiago in Northern Spain organised by the Spanish Department, a History trip to Paris, the Big Scripture Union Weekend in Castlewellan, an annual ski trip to the Alps or North America and possibly a trip to Iceland next year.
These are just some of the highlights of the wide-ranging trips and tours available during the school year and holidays. They are supplemented by many more weekend and day trips throughout the year.
All of these trips and experiences are designed to challenge, inform and motivate our pupils - to take them out of their comfort zones and help them to discover new personal interests and capabilities. They inspire, bring subjects to life, raise global awareness and build life skills through challenges and immersive experiences.