Frequently Asked Questions

Sixth Form at Sandwell Academy

AGCE or BTEC what is the difference?

Our A level courses are split up into either AGCE or BTEC.

Some subjects such as Business Studies offer an AGCE and a BTEC in Business - and it's important to recognise which is best suited for you.

This link to the QCA website explains in detail the distinct differences between these types of A level courses..

Below is a brief summary of what the website explains:

A levels are now split into two parts, the AS and A level. AS (Advanced Subsidiary) is literally the first year of a two year A level course. It has 3 units, is valued as a stand-alone qualification, and counts as roughly half of a full A level. The second year of a full A level qualification, also has 3 units like the AS level. However it no longer takes into account the AS units and grades and stands alones from it. This means it is the units taken at the end of year 2 that now determine the total and final A level grade.

Most of these units are assessed by examination, but some are assessed by coursework. In most A levels the coursework equates to between 20% and 30% of the marks.

AS tends to cover the less demanding material in an A level course. Whereas the units in year 2 are more demanding and students need to combine knowledge, understanding and skills from across the course.

BTEC Courses?

This is a vocational qualification. These enable you to develop skills, knowledge and understanding in the area you are studying, preparing you for both the world of work and progression into higher education.

BTECs are designed to equip students with up-to-date knowledge, skills and understanding of processes and principles in the subject they are studying. Learning in BTEC courses is more student-led and active although being supported and directed by teachers.

BTECs are assessed by a combination of internal and external assessment. Usually, one-third of the overall assessment is external- however that varies with different subjects.

How do A-Levels work at Sandwell Academy?

Sandwell Academy offers a wide variety of BTEC and AGCE courses, for information on courses at Sandwell Academy see below. Each A level student studies four AS / BTECs in the first year. In line with mock results and following the AS levels/ exams in the summer of Year 12, some students may have the option to drop one of their courses to concentrate on three A levels.

Is it best to choose A-Levels / courses that I need for the future, or those that I enjoy?

Ideally it is best to balance out these two factors.

If you find you are choosing A levels you think that you need, but that you find very boring, it is probably pointing to the fact that you will find the employment you are planning to go into dull as well.

You do need to consider what A levels may help you achieve your ideal career, or at least courses you think may be useful to you when you are older.

Enjoying what you are doing is very important though while also trying to include those A levels you need, as it promotes self-motivation for the course and you will find it fun.

The best bet is combining a mixture of these two as then you will find attending higher education both a useful and interesting experience.

Sixth Form

Important Forms

"The Sixth Form is outstanding. High-quality teaching and guidance, and strong partnerships with universities, colleges of further education and industry, provide students with excellent opportunities to pursue careers of their choice. "

- OFSTED Report, January 2014