Bath Academy, Bath
Muddy says: An independent Sixth Form college offering a truly personalised education – at GCSE, A Level and more – whether that's first-time, for re-takes or holiday revision
Bath Academy is a co-ed independent Sixth Form college for 14–18 year olds, housed in a Grade 1 listed Georgian townhouse on one side of Bath’s beautiful yet bustling Queen Square, and in another period building opposite.
Founded in 1997, the college is part of the Council for Independent Further Education (CIFE), the professional association of independent Sixth Form colleges in the UK and the only CIFE college in the south west.
The Academy offers a wide range of academic subjects at GCSE and A Level (both full-time and re-sits – the only place in Bath to focus on the latter) and revision courses over the holidays. Also available, a University Foundation Programme for international students and preparation courses for the UCAT test for those aspiring to medical school.
There are currently 102 students on the roll; 35% are international.
No 27 Queen Square is the main college building, a classic Georgian townhouse built from golden Bath Stone, filled with a warren of teaching/study rooms and staircases that go up and up – and up.
Chapel Row, another period property on the other side of the square, has been recently refurbed and has more teaching/study rooms as well as a little cafe and courtyard for students.
No glitzy science labs (they use those at nearby Hayesfield School); school theatre or extensive playing fields; the emphasis here is on expert tuition with a team of experienced teachers – many of whom are senior examiners – who know how to bring out the best in their students to help them get where they want to be.
The approach here is highly personal and flexible, with individualised programmes of study, which (according to the Principal), can make timetabling a nightmare at times but it works.
Classes are taught in small tutorial groups (could be three–four, but no more than eight students) with regular assessments and weekly mock exams, which builds confidence and exam technique as well as combating exam anxiety. Lots of support from teachers who get to know their pupils extremely well (no hiding at the back of the class here) for students who may have dyslexia or similar learning issues.
Help with with UCAS applications and career guidance.
Holiday revision courses in any subject in small groups or one-to-one, tailored to the individual.
Bath Academy also operates as a small English language school. Courses throughout the year and summer schools for international students aged 12–16 years in Bath and 9–16 years in Milton Abbey in Dorset.
Let’s start with A Levels: 2-year, 1-year intensive and 18-month A Level courses in 23 subjects, including trads like English, maths and the three sciences as well as psychology, law and media studies. 2017–18 results: 25.3% A*/A; 56.3% A*–B (above national average).
Want to improve existing A Levels ? Both full and short re-take courses available and if your subject’s not on the list, they’ll be able to sort out that (they just saw a student through A Level Japanese). Average grade improvement for A Level resits: 2 grades (one student achieved a mind-boggling 8 grade improvement with AAA). The college has a reputation for Value Added (progress made).
For international students, those who missed out on GCSEs or who want to improve their grades to do A Levels: 2-year GCSE courses for 14+ in eight subjects; 1-year intensive courses for 15+ in 12 and IGCSEs, the international qualification.
Hero subjects: science, maths, English, business and accounting, psychology and sociology.
Other courses: University Foundation Programmes, an A Level/International Baccalaureate equivalent for overseas students (63.6% A*–B in 2017–18); 1-year International Medical Foundation Programme and UCAT aptitude test for medical and dental schools.
Destination universities: mostly Russell Group including Oxford, University College London, King’s College London, Sheffield, Manchester and Cardiff.
Tim Naylor, BA (Hons), MSc, PGCE used to be a Trappist monk (yes, really). Educated at Ampleforth College and Bristol University with further post-grad studies at Royal Holloway and the Institute of Education, University of London amongst others, Tim’s taught in both the state and independent sectors. Vice Principal at Mander Portman Woodward (another CIFE college), he became Principal of Bath Academy in 2011 and is the chair of CIFE.
His aim is to provide an encouraging environment, where those who are strong have something to aim for and those who are not, have nothing to run from. He’s very approachable, down-to-earth and seems to know his students pretty well – vital when you’re offering a personalised experience, where students can re-evaluate what they want to do, change direction if they want, and be helped to achieve their aims.
Several options. A boarding house for around 20 students aged 14–18 in the Grade I listed Oxford House, Georgian townhouse (nice) about 10 minutes’ walk from Queen Square. Single and shared bedrooms, matron, house parents and private chef who cooks up three meals a day (full English on weekends); eating together creates a family atmos (don’t you have a private chef?).
Older students (18+) have the option of single en suite rooms at the purpose-built Fresh Student Living (Avon Studios), about 15 minutes’ walk away. The college also arranges home stays with Bath families and even serviced apartments.
Pastoral care is good. Each student meets with their personal tutor one-to-one once a fortnight and at UCAS time, two or three times a week. As the numbers of students are small, they’re able to tailor activities to the students but currently includes chess, Dungeons and Dragons, social evenings, trips out locally and further afield in conjunction with Viva Trips, and an Annual Ball.
All full-time academic courses – GCSE, A Levels, University and Medical Foundation Programmes – are £5,632/term. Part time academic courses range from £1,600/term for a 1-year intensive GCSE (one subject) though £2,467/term for 1-year intensive A Level (one subject) to intensive Jan– June A Level re-sits (three papers) £4,950. Scholarships are available on a case-by-case basis.
WORD ON THE GROUND
Parents appreciate the small classes and one-to-one attention from teachers/tutors who understand that everybody learns differently, and the freedom for students to structure their own education. Another highlighted the supportive yet relaxed environment, the flexibility of fitting in with kids’ previous studies and the fact that students are treated as adults not children. Also singled out was the advice for university applications and the general buzz.
Good for: Students who’ve outgrown or don’t suit a conventional school environment, or who’ve missed out on school through illness or other reason. Anyone wanting help with revision or re-sits to get the grades to get into the university of their choice. Aspiring medics.
Not for: Young people who would prefer a school rather than college setting.
Want to see for yourself? Contact them to find out more, firstname.lastname@example.org
Bath Academy, 27 Queen Square, Bath BA1 2HX. Tel 01225 334577. bathacademy.co.uk