Ifield Sixth Form was established in September 2006 at North West Kent College in Gravesham for learners aged 16 to 19. The course runs from one to three years, dependent on the student’s needs. It is a progressive course and allows for plenty of ‘over-learning’. It is designed to meet the hopes and aspirations of more vulnerable students for whom a mainstream college course would be too great a step.
Some of our teachers work both at Ifield School and at Ifield 6th Form - this is how we are able to provide a broad-based and exciting curriculum as part of our 14-19 pathways. All students are offered at least one overnight stay at Ifield Life, a fully furnished log cabin in the school grounds. At Ifield School, students also have access to an additional range of support and activities such as after-school clubs. They participate in a new sports enrichment afternoon involving offsite instruction.
Ifield Sixth Form is uniquely placed at the college’s Gravesend Campus, where we work closely with Connexions, Student Services and our colleagues in the School of Supported Learning. We try to ease the student’s transition to a college course, supported employment or a residential programme. Joint sports, games and leisure activities with NWKC students using campus facilities ensure the student’s gradual integration. They enjoy the best of both worlds!
The student will begin an Individual Learning Plan tailored to needs and aspirations – a Foundation Learning programme with a main emphasis on personal and social development. Students generally work in one of three ability groups, mostly at Entry Level. We aim to support the students to develop their communication and interaction skills and prepare them for their intended destination.
We aim to engage each learner to ensure progression to a higher level of learning or an appropriate destination. In other words, we will find out what makes each student ‘tick’. Teachers and Teaching Assistants work together closely, reviewing each student’s progress on a weekly basis during a lengthy induction period throughout the first term. In line with Ifield School’s curriculum policy, we ensure each student is valued, supported, challenged and successful.
Each student is assigned a Personal Tutor. We will provide pastoral support, Information, Advice and Guidance and access to a range of services to remove barriers to learning and support progression. As part of Ifield School, our Sixth Form provision enjoys a continuation of specialist advice and regular support by a range of therapists.
A range of informal assessments will help towards finalising the Individual Learning Plan and a support plan, both subject to ongoing review. A set of long-term individual targets are drawn up as part of the Annual Review process. Three times a year the student selects a subset of short or medium targets and is then supported to assess own progress.
The students enjoy preparatory Functional Skills workshops in English, maths and ICT – we try to make these fun and relevant. As part of their Personal and Social Development the students attend lessons in a diverse range of subjects such as Community Action, Environmental Awareness, Leisure Time, Healthy Living, Work Preparation and Personal Safety. Other programme elements include Music and Art, Cultural Studies, Independent Living Skills and Sports, ICT and Games.
A full day is set aside for enterprise activities, largely based on the Ifield Woodlands, a coppiced magical retreat near Cobham. Students learn about making simple but environmentally sustainable products in production teams, selling their hand-crafted gifts, cards and decorations and practising their customer care skills at a range of outlets.
In addition to the enterprise sessions, students have the opportunity to engage in a work or life skills experience, overseen by North West Kent College’s Work Experience team. Final year students in particular will be expected to improve their ‘employability’ skills. A small number of students are able to work with our staff in Ifield School, e.g. Facilities and in the classrooms.
We will use the flexibility of the Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF) to recognise small steps of Foundation Learning at different levels. Depending on the programme, this may result in a Certificate, an Award or Unit accreditation in Personal and Social Development and/or Personal Progress. These can then be used as a basis for further accreditation at a later stage and at another learning provider.
We have a strong whole-organisation approach and commitment to Foundation Learning to ensure that our students move on to a destination that is right for them. We work in close partnership with parents and carers, local learning providers, voluntary organisations and other external agencies so that the students are able to explore many options and make informed decisions about their future.