Independent Learning

Successful Revision is an integral part of learning, retaining and being able to recall information.  Revision isn't something that happens just during the time period before exams and tests but can be happening each day through a range of simple, small activities.  Re-reading notes taken in a lesson, underlining and/or defining key terms and organising notes into topic order as a daily routine can help you to embed your learning and improve your recall when you need it.  The guide below provides a range of ideas and options to help you to undertake effective revision.

Sixth Form Revision and Study Guide 2020

In Sixth Form, students are provided with up to 20 hours of private study time in each cycle of the two week timetable.  Private study is time set aside to complete additional learning tasks associated with each chosen course as well as time to keep notes organised, conduct wider research and to engage with wider learning activities, enrichment opportunities or work experience.  Students who schedule their private study time always do better in their studies than those who do not use it effectively.  It is really important to get into good routines regarding private study time early on in Year 12.  One of the most effective ways to address this is to timetable study periods on a weekly basis, sharing them out between subjects, wider work and enrichment activities.  By knowing what you are going to do in a study period, you will be able to maximise the time you have and get the most out of it.  The guide below offers some suggestions of how you might use your study time.

Independent Study Time booklet 2020-2021

Wider reading is a really important feature of Sixth Form studies.  The majority of our students aspire to continue their studies beyond Sixth Form at university as undergraduate students.  The requirement to engage fully in independent study and research is a fundamental part of a degree course and so students can help to build good habits by developing their skills and focus in Sixth Form.

Wider reading can take a variety of forms ranging from text books, research papers, newspaper articles, books and web based information.  Students should be looking to spend at least 45 minutes each day engaging with wider reading and research.  In many cases, this will be connected to a particular area of focus or study but it could also be reading for pleasure or around a particular topic of interest.

When preparing a university application, students need to be able to refer to their wider reading and research in their personal statement.  Being able to comment on a research article, a podcast or an author's work, explaining its impact on your views and opinions can be a powerful way of demonstrating your suitability for study at degree level as well as your willingness to engage with your work and to go the extra mile in developing your interest and understanding.

It is no surprise that students who read actively have a good grasp of language and a wide vocabulary that they can call upon and use both verbally and in a written format.  It is also the case, that students who use reading time to have an awareness of the events in the world around them, are better informed in their understanding of the wider world and can form mature and well-supported judgements and opinions, expressing them with confidence and fluency.

  • Set aside at least 45 minutes each day to devote to wider reading.
  • Explore a range of media and topics in this time
  • Consider reading news articles regularly to keep abreast of current affairs
  • Think about maintaining a list of topical articles or books you have read so you can refer back to them when preparing your personal statement.
  • Think about sharing reading material in a small group so that you can discuss, debate and review the selected text together.

All students are encouraged to engage in independent, wider learning during their time in the Sixth Form.  At Boston Grammar School, we currently offer two additional courses which demand independent study from our students.

The Certificate of Financial Capability is a course that is delivered by teachers but in which, the learning is student led.  Students commit to formal, structured lessons delivered by staff but are then expected to continue the learning required by themselves.  The course leads to a formal qualification which is graded and therefore produces UCAS points, which might be used to achieve a university offer.

Students also have the option to study for the Extended Project Qualification, EPQ.  This research based qualification allows students to choose the focus of their research and outcome.  EPQ students may choose to write a research paper (extended essay) or research and produce an artefact.  Students must conduct and record their own research and are assigned time with a tutor to discuss their work and progress over the course.  At the end of the course, students submit their finished paper or artefact but also their research log.  They will also be required to deliver a presentation of their learning journey and answer any questions posed by those who are assessing the outcomes.  Again, like the financial course, this leads to a formal qualification that converts to UCAS points.

Universities are very interested in students who successfully complete the EPQ as it demonstrates strong skills in independent learning and research, both of which are valuable assets to any undergraduate on a degree course.  More information about the EPQ is avaliable on the EPQ page of the website under the Sixth Form heading.

MOOCS - Massive Open Online Courses - we encourage students to choose to undertake at least one MOOC each term during their time in the Sixth Form.  MOOCs are provided by a wide range of universities and other learning establishments and are on the most part, free to enrol with.  MOOCs cover a vast range of activities and interests from car maintenance through to British Sign Language.  There are a range of MOOCs which support A level studies in particular subject areas as well.

MOOCs are an excellent way to enrich learning and to develop skills and understanding in areas which may not normally be accessible in school.  By completing at least one MOOC each term, students are strengthening their skills in independent learning but are also maintaining their interest and enthusiasm for learning and exploring concepts, ideas and skills.