Preparing For The Future

Sixth Form

As a vibrant community at the heart of the school, the Sixth Form offers excellent academic development coupled with a range of rewarding enrichment activities.

It is the ideal friendly and supportive environment in which students currently in Year 11 at Derby High School and those joining us from other schools can thrive.

We believe in keeping our classes small so students really get to know their teachers and in turn they can stretch or provide extra help if needed. Students have their own personal tutor who will support them throughout their time in the Sixth Form and guide them through the higher education application process.

Our “Truly Educated” programme and opportunities for co-curricular activities equip students with skills and experiences to enter the world as confident young people.

The great thing about Derby High is that teachers recognise learning is more than getting a qualification.



Our Students

Derby High School prides itself on the level of pastoral care offered to our students, who are encouraged to seek the advice and help of their teachers if they are experiencing difficulties. 

Our overall aim is to interact with our sixth formers as young adults to foster an atmosphere of maturity and mutual respect. We also encourage parents to inform the school if there is anything happening outside school which might have an impact on the well-being of their children. 

Additional responsibilities come with greater freedom to manage their own time effectively. Sixth formers are allowed out of school at lunchtime and during free periods for work experience and driving lessons. They are also permitted to use their own laptops and mobile devices within the Sixth Form area. Our navy suit allows a greater degree of personal choice whilst ensuring that a smart, business like, uniform look is easily achieved when required.

In common with the rest of the school, parents are informed in a clear and timely manner about key events, initiatives and dates via the school’s HighPost system.

Whilst we increasingly treat our young people as young adults and speak to them directly about any issues, the channels of communication through Tutors and the Head of Sixth Form are always open for parents. There are nine formal points of contact with parents about student progress throughout Sixth Form, however, parents are also encouraged to be in contact with any queries or concerns at any time.

Additional information evenings for parents at key points throughout the Sixth Form also help to keep parents informed.

We aim to ensure that each student will leave us as a confident young adult who will step out ready to meet the challenges of the world today.



The courses offered in our Sixth Form offer a strong foundation and range that will allow progression to the majority of degree courses. In the Sixth Form students are encouraged to take greater responsibility for extending their own learning as well as receiving an excellent and thorough preparation for examinations by experienced specialist staff. Classes are much smaller, allowing more time for individual attention and students are encouraged to collaborate and communicate with teachers in a more mature way.

All GCSE subjects are offered to A Level with the addition of Business, Economics, Further Mathematics, Politics and Psychology. The Sixth Form timetable is not fixed and is written each year to provide as many of the students with as many of their individual choice combinations as possible.

STEM subjects are always popular amongst Derby High students and we are proud to be STEM Ambassadors.

We encourage most of our students to take three subjects at A level, this being the standard required for entry to most university courses. We also provide an enrichment curriculum which includes PE, Careers and a varied programme of visiting speakers to broaden students’ outlook and interview potential. Sixth Formers at Derby High are also given the opportunity to work towards an EPQ (Extended Project Qualification – much valued by universities), take part in schemes such as Young Enterprise and the Engineering Education Scheme and to work towards their Duke of Edinburgh Silver and Gold Awards.

Whilst in the Sixth Form, our students are offered many opportunities to develop the personal skills which will stand them in good stead in their future careers.

In tandem with our Truly Educated programme they can take part in the nationally recognised Engineering Education, Articulation and Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Schemes as well as other competitions such as Business Enterprise. Students in our Sixth Form also have the opportunity to work towards an EPQ (Extended Project Qualification – much valued by universities) and complete a Level 3 Diploma in Food and Nutrition.

Equally important are the opportunities for service to the school community. The Head and Deputy Head Prefects as well as the House and Deputy House Captains have responsibilities for organising sport, music, drama and other events in the school. With the other school prefects they also learn leadership skills and play a significant part not only in the day-to-day running of the school but also in the pastoral structure of the school, guiding, advising and helping younger students.

Alongside your A Level courses it is possible to enrol on the following Enrichment Courses which will offer additional UCAS points:

EPQ (Extended Project Qualification) – runs from November of L6 to October of U6; This qualification is equivalent to half an A level but at the A2 academic level, thereby having the possibility of an A* grade. It requires the student’s genuine interest in, and strong commitment to a topic of their choice, perhaps developing from one or more of their study areas or a personal interest. The critical factors of motivation, time and project management, and independent research and evaluation are highly attractive to universities and employers, in applications and at interviews. The project may take the form of an extended essay of 5000 words, or the creation of an artefact, or an exhibition, performance or event. Receiving a number of hours of taught skills is a compulsory element. From the start, a teacher will be designated as the student’s supervisor and will confirm the suitability of the topic and its form, title and aims. With support, the student will plan, research, carry out and evaluate the project, keeping a log throughout as evidence of all development stages. On its completion, the student must deliver a presentation to a suitable audience. The supervisor will assess all aspects of the project and the marks will be moderated internally and externally.

Further Maths A level – This is taken as a combined course with Maths so you complete 2 A levels across 12 periods a week; and,

Music Theory – Associated Board Grades 5 and above taught over a 2 year period.

Derby High School Music Recording Studio

Our students have the opportunity to take part in nationally recognised Awards Schemes alongside studying for their A Levels.

Each year we enter at least two teams for the Young Enterprise competition, one for the Engineering Education Scheme and many of our students work towards their Silver and Gold Duke of Edinburgh Awards whilst in our Sixth Form.

Young Enterprise

Derby High School is a “Centre of Excellence” for its work in Enterprise Education. The award was made by Young Enterprise and recognises the School’s commitment and success within the company programme that encourages sixth form students to set up and run their own businesses.

Young Enterprise is always popular amongst our Lower Sixth students and many take part in the programme each year. Teams from Derby High have enjoyed tremendous success including two county champion companies and a variety of different awards ranging from Best Business Plan to Best Marketing. 

Engineering Education Scheme

This is an opportunity for a team of Lower Sixth students to carry out a project whilst being mentored by representatives from a company who help them to come up with a solution to a problem of genuine interest. A team from Derby High worked recently with Rolls-Royce and their project outcome had the potential to save a great deal of money.

After a period of preparation, the bulk of the project is carried out during a two-day residential held in Loughborough University in January. The team then submit a detailed project report at the end of the Spring Term. At the beginning of the Summer Term they attend the Celebration and Assessment day, where they are interviewed by a panel of judges and answer questions about their project on their display stand.

Duke of Edinburgh Awards

Derby High is very proud to be a licenced centre for the prestigious Duke of Edinburgh awards scheme.

Students in our Sixth Form can work towards the Silver and Gold Awards and to achieve these they have set objectives in four areas: volunteering, physical, skills and expedition.

Derby High School Duke of Edinburgh Awards Scheme

Every member of our Sixth Form has the opportunity to develop their leadership potential by taking on a position of responsibility in the school.

Roles range from those which are long established, such as Head Prefect and House Captain, to more innovative ones which reflect the skills and qualities of the students in the year group. Students apply for these roles and there is a concerted effort made to match the student with a suitable role.

All sixth formers undertake prefect duties and are role models for the younger students in a host of ways. These opportunities mean that our sixth form students have a wide range of experiences from which to draw when making applications in the future and confidence as they move into the next stage of their lives.

Derby High School Head Prefect Role

Our Sixth Formers play a huge role throughout the school and for performing arts this is equally the case.

There are opportunities to compete either as a soloist or as part of an ensemble in our annual House Music competition. The House Captains and their deputies also plan and co-ordinate their House ensembles and House choir for the event which is a real highlight of the Derby High calendar. Our programme of concerts gives those wishing to perform the opportunity, again either as a soloist, as part of an ensemble or in a larger orchestra or choir.

If drama is your thing then you will find lots of opportunities to perform in the Sixth Form at Derby High. Each year we stage a whole school production (every other year this is a musical production) with members of the upper school taking the key roles. A lower school production is also performed each year, this is directed by our Sixth Form Drama prefects, giving them the opportunity to stage a production which is at the same time a great challenge and a fantastic opportunity for skills development. We also hold an annual House Drama competition which is co-ordinated by the Sixth Form leaders. This gives another opportunity to perform and to direct.

Derby High Senior Drama

We believe that physical activity forms part of a good all-round education and this philosophy extends to our Sixth Form students.

Many of our students enjoy traditional team sports such as netball, hockey and rounders, which continue to be part of the Sixth Form sports’ programme, including fixtures against other schools. There are opportunities for Sixth Form students to play competitive sport, either in clubs, for their House or the school. Those with outstanding ability are encouraged to attain the highest possible levels through county, regional and even national representation.

Other sports such as badminton, football, volleyball and trampolining are also offered so that students can not only keep physically active but also learn new skills. 

We have a fitness suite in the Sports Hall which the Sixth Form students are encouraged to use, once they have had an induction session.

Derby High Sixth Fromer at Sports Day

The school organises many highly rewarding developmental opportunities in this country and abroad.

In 2024 we are excited to announce we will be taking a group of Sixth Formers to Borneo. We will be travelling with True Adventure, exploring the rainforest and working with the KOPEL community organisation, playing an active role in conservation and reversing rainforest loss.

In previous years our students from the Sixth Form have taken part in a World Challenge Trips, travelling to Malawi in 2018 and in 2016 they visited Myanmar. Our students trekked along the Silk Route in 2014, taking in Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan and in 2012 they climbed volcanoes in Nicaragua. Previous World Challenge teams from Derby High have also visited Mongolia, Argentina and Mexico.

Our students also have the opportunity to join sport tours, which have included trips to Greece, Malta and Gibraltar. We also host a watersports trip in the UK in the summer. 

As well as the usual regular geography field trips in the UK, a further flung expedition considers the geothermal wonders of Iceland. We have also had visits to CERN in Switzerland, a fantastic opportunity for our A Level Chemists and Physicists.

There is also an expanding programme of visits to support learning in Religious Studies, Languages and History, such as recent visits exploring language, culture and architecture in Rome and Berlin.

Derby High School Rome Trip

Students in our Sixth Form receive extremely high levels of support at every stage.

From careers guidance to applications for university, apprenticeships or employment our small tutor groups and experienced Sixth Form tutors are able to offer tailored advice for every one of their students.

Speakers visit school to give talks on the world beyond Sixth Form and our broad network of contacts (including parents, alumni and local professionals) is tapped into on a regular basis to assist with finding work experience, shadowing or volunteering placements.

Our unique Truly Educated programme is designed to equip our Upper Sixth Leavers with essential life skills which will ease the transition to life beyond Derby High – cooking on a budget, managing finances, networking,basic car maintenance and even bricklaying is covered!

It is never too soon to start making plans for university study but the formal UCAS process starts after Christmas in Year 12.

We begin by researching universities and making initial plans about possible courses and alternative pathways (including apprenticeships and employment).

The key elements of the UCAS process are described below, we offer high levels of support through our Sixth Form Tutors and small tutor groups to guide our students along every step of the way.

· A visit to a local partner Russell Group University;

· Information meeting for parents about the university application process;

· Registration on UCAS Apply when it comes online in June (L6);

· Guidance sessions on writing personal statements;

· Clear advice and information about the submission of applications – Oxbridge and highly competitive (such as Medicine) course applications submitted by 15th October (U6) & all other applications submitted by 15th January (U6);

· Mock interviews for all students who need them (not all courses interview);

· Support on Results Day as required.

Derby High has an excellent track record of assisting students with successful applications to all courses including those which are incredibly competitive to get onto (such as Medicine, Dentistry, Veterinary Science and Law etc) at a wide range of institutions (including Oxbridge). Every student is unique and will be given the support that they require to help them to achieve their aims.

Derby High Sixth Form Support With UCAS

Whilst still in the minority, more students than ever are pursuing alternatives to university, this usually means Higher Apprenticeships, additional training or employment.

Students considering these pathways receive as much input and guidance as those applying to university. Preparing a personal statement, alongside evidence of skills valued by employers and a CV, is important for these students.

We have a large and increasing network of contacts in the local area who are keen to engage with our students and to offer guidance.

Derby High Sixth Form

Careers information and advice is an integral part of our Truly Educated programme and is delivered in accordance with the Gatsby Benchmarks.

The Careers programme for Year 12 begins in earnest in the Spring Term. Time is taken to independently research different careers which are of interest to students and to explore potential degree courses and apprenticeships. The whole year group also visit a university, such as the University of Nottingham.

To allow the successful delivery of a comprehensive careers programme, students are provided with an account with Unifrog, an online platform, which allows students to research, collate and store information about specific career pathways which interest them. Furthermore, they are able to build a portfolio of professional documents including a personal statement and a CV, and maintain an up-to-date record of all academic and extracurricular achievements; resources which will assist students with both university and job applications.

Unifrog also provides personality profiling, as well as access to a vast range of webinars, which offer independent advice on careers choices. Parents are also provided with a login to the platform, so that they, too, can research the wealth of careers resources it has to offer.

In the Autumn Term of Year 13 the focus is on UCAS or Apprenticeship applications and interviews. We run mock interviews for all UCAS and Apprenticeship candidates who are to be called for interview and for those applying to study Medicine, we provide mock MMI circuits.

Throughout the Sixth Form all students are encouraged to attend talks led by visiting speakers on a range of topics including apprenticeships, Oxbridge applications and specific career choices.

Derby High Sixth Form Support with UCAS

What is Truly Educated?

Truly Educated is a programme that we run through Sixth Form to provide our students with an all-round education so as to prepare them for life in the wider world. It features three core strands:

  • UCAS/Careers advice
  • KS5 PSHE education (dovetailed with areas of PSHE that we cover as part of the Tutor Programme)
  • Teambuilding activities

For Truly Educated sessions, all students in a year group are off-timetable for the same periods. These are usually on a Thursday for Year 12 and Friday for Year 13.

Derby High Sixth Form Truly Educated

Derby High School Duke of Edinburgh Gold
At Derby High we are extremely proud of our excellent exam results and are again this year the top performing school in Derby and the surrounding area.

50% of our 2022 A level grades were awarded A* or A. 78% of the year group achieved grades between A* and B. High grades have secured students places on a diverse range of highly competitive courses, with the majority at Russell Group universities including Oxbridge, ranging from medicine, law, architecture, languages, engineering, maths, chemistry and psychology.

In addition to their A levels, many students completed an Extended Project Qualification, which universities value highly for the independent skills developed in the process.



We hope that you will visit our friendly and successful school for a tour with our Head, so that you can discover more about all we have to offer and the reasons we are the top performing school in Derbyshire.

This can be done by contacting our Registrar by phone: 01332 514267 or by email: Academic, Music, Art & Design, Drama and Sports Scholarships are available for Year 12 entry. In addition, a Head’s Scholarship is awarded to any student who has demonstrated outstanding all-round ability.

Thank you for your interest in Derby High School. We are very proud of the educational opportunities we offer and we look forward to welcoming you in the near future on a visit to our school.