Firstly, this is not a suitable or recommended option for most A Level students as the course can be hugely demanding. Students will be covering two years of content in a single year, which requires huge commitment to an increased workload and study time as well as academic ability. However, there are various reasons why students may want to do one or more A Levels in just 12 months. This could be to retake their A Levels; improve on their existing A Level grades; add a new A Level to fulfil university entrance requirements; or to get a head-start in university life.
WhichSchoolAdvisor.com rounds up the leading independent schools and colleges in the UK that offer fast-track, one year A Level courses.
Brampton College is an academically-driven sixth form college in North London offering A Levels and GCSEs, which is ranked among the top schools in the UK for value-add and offers excellent support for university applications. Brampton will appeal to those students looking for a small, standalone sixth form (there are just 220 students and it is focused on Years 11-13 only), and it is popular with international students for good reason.
It offers a range of one or two year A Level courses, as well as one-year GCSE courses. One of its strengths is its wide choice of A Level options, and its “extensive programme of individual support, mentoring and enrichment activities”.
What we think: There’s certainly the expectation that all students will apply themselves, and Brampton College is most suited for students with high academic achievement and a ‘study hard’ ethic. Students are fortunate to have a huge choice of A Level subjects, so it has a broad appeal for students, whether they want to pursue medicine, the arts or psychology. And with its less than traditional approach to education (no uniform and students are on first name terms), the school will appeal to those who prefer a more liberal schooling.
Read our full review of Brampton College here.
Founded in 2015, this is a family-run independent Sixth Form College offering one-year retake and two-year A-Level Courses to a small community of students in the West Midlands. Most students follow the two-year A Level Programme, but the college also offers a five-term A Level programme and a one-year intensive retake programme; students study three A Level subjects and there are five-six hours per A Level subject each week.
Students here focus mainly on traditional, academic subjects; most popular are mathematics, chemistry, biology, history, and economics.
What we think: Edgbaston has year-round admissions and is small enough to offer flexible start dates. Students at Edgbaston come with a work hard ethic, and the college’s challenging, hothouse style of education will not suit every child. However, the focus here is very much on results and progress and there are some excellent pathway programmes for Oxbridge, medicine and dentistry, and banking, consulting and law.
Read our full review of Edgbaston College here.
Located in central London, MPW has a reputation for its exam-focused GCSE and A Level programmes, a broad and flexible curriculum and small class sizes – all within a relaxed, informal setting. MPW is focused on GCSE and A Levels, and it offers flexible programmes that can be taken over one term, two terms, one year, 18-months or two years. It’s a key reason why international students enrol here – there’s the option of starting courses in January or September, and the opportunity for students to transfer onto A Levels from other programmes such as the International Baccalaureate.
What we think: With a reputation for being very exam-focused, this non-selective school is guiding mixed ability students towards high academic success. And with its less than traditional approach to education (no uniform, tutors and students are on first name terms), the school will appeal to those who prefer a more liberal schooling. There is also a wide and broad choice of subjects to meet the many different needs of the many different students who enol here. Students can choose from a vast list of more than 35 different A Levels subjects, including the core subjects, some less traditional options, the arts and eight different modern and classical languages.
Read our full review of Mander Portman Woodward (London) here.
Ashbourne College is a selective college in Central London for high-achieving students studying GCSEs and A Levels. Located just off Kensington High Street, Ashbourne takes a “grown-up approach to education” that is well-matched to students with plenty of independence and self-discipline and academic focus.
There’s nothing relaxed about Ashbourne’s expectations of its students though. To keep students on track towards achieving the highest grades possible, there are mock exams every half term and timetabled meetings with subject teachers outside class. There’s also an emphasis on teaching exam technique, which the college says is “critical to achieving the best A Level results”.
What we think: Sixth Form students have more flexibility and choice than some other schools can offer. They can choose from more than 25 A Level subjects in any combination and course length (ranging from revision courses and retakes to one-year, 18-month, and two-year programmes). With its internationally diverse student body of around 300, (around 40% of students here were born outside the UK) it’s a popular choice of students coming from overseas. And with its more relaxed university-style approach to learning, students will need to come here with a high level of commitment and self-motivation.
Read our full review of Ashbourne College here.