School Life

“The opportunities are there for you to grasp, but Berkhamsted Sixth is what you, as an individual, make of it.”

Jemima, Berkhamsted Head Girl, 2018-19

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Dynamic and diverse, Berkhamsted Sixth offers our pupils a stimulating and supportive transition from senior school to the next step in their lives – whether university or an apprenticeship.

At Berkhamsted, we support and encourage our students to become fully-rounded people who appreciate the opportunities that they enjoy and the chances that they have to help others and make positive contributions to their communities. We believe that it is important to help students to follow their passions, to develop their intrinsic motivation, and to do their best in all that they do, whether it is in examinations, on the extra-curricular front or in serving other people.

We create an environment that encourages our Sixth students to be intellectually inquisitive, helping them to develop into young adults who enjoy learning, relish a challenge, can overcome a setback and look forward to the future with optimism.

We expect our students to be active and reflective, to be able to study effectively as an individual or to work collaboratively with others, to be able to complete research independently, to develop the ability to think critically, to read increasingly ambitiously, to be confident in giving presentations and to engage with enthusiasm in stimulating conversations about the rapidly changing world.

We understand that this will not always be easy. Our staff give our students opportunities, responsibilities and challenges. We hold them accountable for how they respond and ask them to have high expectations of themselves in their daily actions to match their admirably ambitious goals.

We listen to our students and empower them to be able to manage their emotions, relationships and difficulties. We never withhold opportunities to learn, which are often found through their own problems and struggles. We encourage our students to discover that it is equally as important to learn to fail, as it is to succeed. They learn to handle disappointments, to enjoy success and to show empathy to others within the community.

We are here to support and challenge our students, helping them grow into adventurous, motivated individuals with the purpose, drive and determination to succeed and the compassion and social skills required to be part of an effective team. They learn to appreciate and notice their own strengths and to value the qualities of others so that all students feel valued and appreciated as individuals and there is a friendly and mutually supportive community.

At Berkhamsted, we believe that our students develop by taking responsibility for their actions. It is normal for teenagers to make mistakes and they can be wonderful learning opportunities. We like to work with parents to ensure that students will learn that choices have consequences and that something positive can come out of problems and difficulties.

We strive to ensure that our students leave Berkhamsted Sixth with resilience, ambition and motivation and the courage to be the best people that they can be and the self-compassion to accept themselves as they are. They are independent, confident and resourceful, equipped with the skills and strategies they will need to enter the next stage of their lives as leaders.

Pastoral Care

Our aim at Berkhamsted Sixth is to instill our students with a strong sense of discipline and accountability within a relaxed and friendly atmosphere.

We recognise that every student is an individual with differing needs, worries, motivations and aspirations. It is only by listening and getting to know our students that we can help them realise their dreams and be the person they want to be.

We encourage our students to take responsibility for their self-discipline, adhering to our school rules and Code of Conduct. We believe our pupils develop by taking responsibility for their mistakes as and when they make them, rather than adopting a culture of blaming others or seeking excuses. We do not expect them to be perfect, but we do expect them to be willing to acknowledge when they have made poor choices and to be prepared to learn from them for the future.

Everyday discipline at Berkhamsted falls within the remit of our school staff, supported by the Heads of Houses. Any serious breaches of discipline are dealt with by the Deputy Heads or Heads in consultation with the Heads of Houses. We work with parents and reply on their support in guiding students through their Sixth Form years.

Wellbeing

The wellbeing of our pupils is of the utmost importance to us at Berkhamsted. We provide a safe, confidential and supportive environment in which our students can feel secure, enabling them to grow to achieve their full potential.

Our proactive wellbeing strategy helps keep our pupils well, detects early signs of potential problems and supports any student who is experiencing pastoral difficulties.

We believe that collaboration between our students, parents and staff is crucial for our pupils to flourish. We will always speak the truth kindly to parents and to listen to parents in return.

We are here to help our pupils work through the difficulties of teenage life and develop coping strategies to prepare them for their future, developing into resilient, independent, young adults who have a sense of purpose and compassion.

Our dedicated Wellbeing team is led by our Deputy Head of Pupil Wellbeing. The team includes nurses, counsellors and coaches as well as chaplaincy staff, who support our teaching staff in their pastoral roles.

Our medical centre is accessible during the school day and our medical officer has a special responsibility for our boarders. Our qualified counsellors are available for confidential counselling six days per week.

Insights into Sixth

Berkhamsted Sixth is an environment that encourages our students to develop into intellectually inquisitive, motivated and ambitious young adults who aim to challenge themselves academically and also beyond the classroom.

Jemima – Berkhamsted Head Girl (2018-19)

“I am proud to be a student at Berkhamsted Sixth. Staff and students alike aspire to treat each other with the utmost consideration.  It is this friendly and warm community that allows us to achieve our goals with a positive attitude. We strongly believe in the value of serving each other and the wider community and this shows itself in charity work, goodwill, encouragement and day-to-day politeness – all of which have enriched my experience at Berkhamsted.

Being surrounded by driven and ambitious individuals has encouraged me to pursue my own interests to a high level. There is great diversity in the range of aspirations and talents.  I have found that watching my peers present on topics unrelated to my personal academic focus, for example, within our Crawford Society, which has been thought-provoking.

This environment of aspiration and ambition motivates students to work hard in the classroom and also play hard in other areas of the school.  My time at Berkhamsted has led me to take part in school music, Duke of Edinburgh awards, art and hockey. Having joined the school in Year 9, throwing myself into these extra-curricular activities helped me to settle in, make friends and relax from school work. To anyone joining our Sixth Form, I would thoroughly recommend seizing these opportunities.

While my personal interests are not all curriculum-related, I have enjoyed partaking in subject-based clubs too. Often student-led, these are as intellectually stimulating as you want them to be.  Whether you have an interest in engineering, psychology, classics, languages or art (to mention but a few of our societies!) there is something for everyone to take part in, if they wish.

The thing I will take away at the end of my time at Berkhamsted is this sense of independence. I have enjoyed the opportunity to explore academic pathways through engaging lessons, lectures and clubs, which have sparked new areas of curiosity.  However, what I will appreciate and look back on most are the skills for independent learning I have developed in my time at the school.

What I think is special about our Sixth Form is the freedom students have to participate in as much or as little as they choose. The opportunities are there for you to grasp, but Sixth Form is what you, as an individual, make of it.”

Joe – Berkhamsted Head Boy (2018-19)

“With the support and opportunities on offer here, your time at Berkhamsted isn’t whatever you might think of it now – it’s what you’re going to make of it.

Studying the subjects that fascinate and inspire you, Berkhamsted Sixth nurtures not only students’ independent thinking and academic curiosity, but also friendships and memories that you will keep for a lifetime. We pride ourselves in being an international, diverse school, which interacts with the wider community, particularly in our student-led charity initiatives.

My advice for prospective students is to choose the subjects you love the most – as you will be dedicating lots of time to them! – and to not only expect, but look forward to a real challenge. Embracing and learning from the challenges you will encounter at Berkhamsted will give you a true sense of achievement. Be brave, throw yourself into the deep end, try new things and make the most of this incredible opportunity.

At Berkhamsted, there is so much on offer beyond the academic. I have greatly enjoyed immersing myself in the school’s dynamic performing arts scene – some of the opportunities Berkhamsted has given me include performing a duet to HM The Queen; music tours to Austria, Czech Republic and Italy and senior drama productions, including composing the live score to Molière’s ‘The Miser’ at the Edinburgh Fringe (2018).

Whatever they may be, you can explore your passions here and you will get out what you put in, whilst being integrated into a supportive and inclusive student body.

You will be challenged here, but, if you make the most of the opportunities, you will feel so proud to belong to this vibrant school community and its values of being adventurous, aiming high with integrity, and serving others.

I, for one, wouldn’t change my time here for the world.”

Chaplaincy

Our Christian foundation was established when our School was founded in 1541 and the foundation remains as much a part of school life and tradition as it was 477 years ago.

We have two school chapels and two full-time chaplaincy staff who provide pastoral care and support to our students through lunchtime drop-in clubs, extra-curricular Christian Unions and the opportunity to take Confirmation classes.

All Berkhamsted students attend one chapel service each week, which are Christian in their focus but still accessible to those of other faiths and none.

Christmas, Easter and Remembrance Day are marked with special services and there is a half termly after-school communion service, which is open to anyone in the school community.

We believe that social action and spiritual development are vital to the development of our students, enabling them to become well-rounded individuals with a strong community focus and sense of compassion.

We aim to raise questions, stimulate our students with debate and provide them with opportunities to contribute and reflect.

Our Facilities

Facilities

Berkhamsted Sixth students have full access to a multitude of fully-equipped facilities including libraries, science labs, drama and music facilities and extensive art and Design Technology areas.

Our Sixth Form students also have access to their House rooms, Sixth Form café and dining halls, plus the the use of extensive sporting facilities and 40 acres of playing fields.

Our main Sixth Form centre is based on our Castle campus in our original school buildings established around our historic Old Hall, which was completed in 1544.

Our Sixth Form students attend both our Kings and Castle campuses, benefiting from our excellent facilities at both sites. They often enjoy the walk between the sites and the feeling of independence it affords them.

The main Sixth Form centre at Castle includes ten House rooms, a recently refurbished café and our careers library. Other features of Castle include the School Chapel which dates back to the late 19th century and Deans’ Hall, which was built in the early 20th century.

Juxtaposed alongside our historic buildings on Castle campus is The Chadwick Centre, our spectacular art and design centre which also incorporates spacious, modern dining facilities for our Sixth Form students’ use.

Kings campus is the home of our 500-seat Centenary Theatre which hosts our weekly assembly, as well as professional music and drama productions throughout the school year.

The Knox-Johnston sports centre – which including facilities such as as a 25m heated swimming pool, sports hall and fitness suite – is located adjacent to Kings. There are first-class sports pitches and facilities to cater for a wide range of sporting interests. The 1st and 2nd team football and rugby pitches were re-laid in 2018 and a new 3G all-weather lacrosse and netball pitch was opened in 2019.

Our most recent addition to Kings is the Nash-Harris building, which benefits from a spacious dining hall, fully-equipped modern classrooms and laboratories and a second floor ‘floating’ chapel with a stained glass window that forms the focal point of the building.

Boarding – flexi, weekly and termly options available

At Berkhamsted we place great value on the benefits that our students gain from their experience of living in a community. Developing resilience and independence, boarding is the ideal way to prepare our students for the next stage of their life at university and beyond.

Although the majority of our pupils are day pupils, we also offer various flexible boarding options for our pupils aged 11-18, with full-time termly and weekly boarding options available to pupils in Year 9 onwards.

Full-time boarding allows our senior students to focus on their academic studies while still participating fully in all that Berkhamsted Sixth has to offer.

We also offer a number of boarding places to Sixth Form students from overseas.

We aim to create a boarding environment in which the happiness and wellbeing of our students is paramount, with our pastoral care, chaplaincy and medical staff available to guide and support every pupil.

Learn more

My Journey

Jennie secured a grant from the Old Berkhamstedian’s travel fund. She trekked the Himalayas on a five week expedition.  Jennie reflects upon the year long process which started with fundraising and planning.

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