Writing: Henry Anning (Year 12)
Photography: Toby Pickard (Year 12) and Jonny Carr (Year 9)
With so many incredible opportunities at Challoner's, there isn't really such a thing as a 'typical' Sixth Form student - but here's a snapshot of a day.
Most Sixth Form students will start their morning finding their way into the Sixth Form centre, home to Café Africa, the Learning Level and the Milton Library. Café Africa has proved a lifesaver to most of us, with a coffee in hand making it easier to focus on discussions of thermodynamics or the ethics of Fair Trade. School starts formally at 8:45 when we break off into our various divs (divisions) for tutor time. The divs are usually in areas of the school that reflect our subject choices, grouping us with other students who have selected similar or identical subjects to do at A Level. At this time we will have either an assembly, in which various speakers from within and outside the school come and talk about anything from current affairs, to extra-curricular opportunities, to a particularly large vegetable that they grew; or we will use the time with our tutors and friends to develop personal statements, work on our Extended Projects, or pick apart a particularly tricky calculus problem.
My first period on this day is Physics, in which we are learning about quantum phenomena, which sounded complicated until our teacher carefully broke the concept down so that it was straightforward to master. In today's lesson we learn about how light can create a current, in a process known as the 'photoelectric effect' and then proceed to test our knowledge with some exam-style questions.
Period 2 for me is a study period, so I head back to the Sixth Form centre. Each floor of the building offers a different environment, each being suitable for different students depending on how much they want or need to accomplish in that hour. Cafe Africa is always open to socialise with peers and recharge for later lessons. For those looking to learn in paired or group discussion the Learning Level is the best option - and if you need to work with others but the main floor of the Learning Level is too noisy, there are break-out rooms for quieter study. Otherwise for those seeking silence and an extensive collection of books purposefully selected to complement our courses, the Milton Library is the place to go. The array of facilities make it straightforward to keep on top of homework and coursework.
The support staff in and around the Sixth Form centre are really helpful as well, whether you need to discuss UCAS applications or module choices, or even for Languages students, visiting a Languages assistant to just have a conversation in French, German or Spanish, gaining further familiarity in the tongue.
At break time Cafe Africa becomes invariably crowded, and some Sixth Form students head outside to enjoy the fresh air and landscaped view across New Court. Occasionally at this point younger student will brave the suits and ask us for guidance - and in classic Dr Challoner's spirit they leave with far, far more information than they originally needed.
Following break, in period 3 I have Mathematics, located in the imposing tower block, and with a suitably imposing teacher. We work in quiet focus and the lesson passes at a rapid pace, with each of us feeling more and more confidence in our mathematical skill. Period 4 brings with it Chemistry, and this lesson is instead filled with discussion - learning new concepts and exploring their use and meaning together. As the lesson draws to a close, homework is set - a staple of Sixth Form life, it is expected that even if you aren't formally given homework you will read around the subject, or be looking into such things as your future career and university options.
I finish the day with Biology. We learn about circulatory systems, first in fish, then in more complex creatures, such as human beings. Our teacher describes the two main arteries running to the brain, and shows how to use this knowledge to incapacitate someone. As a final treat before school ends we look at the circulatory system of a frog, which is very, very different to anything else we had seen.
The school day doesn't end with the last bell, though, and many Sixth Form students will be on site on various evenings engaged in this club or that society. There's Medics Society, Kinetic for engineers and Kendo training. A wealth of sports are on offer in the sports hall or out on the field, or there's Culture Club if you fancy fine dining and some light opera. A 'typical' day at Challoner's is just the start - there's so much more than just lessons, you can get pretty well anywhere you want to go.