Sixth Form

Private and Directed Study

Below are the guidelines issued to students about use of their Private Study time and, in particular, the Directed Study periods which appear on students’ timetables as subject periods.

For Homework guidelines please click here

Each Lower Sixth teaching set has 11 class periods and one Directed Study period. 

As the Directed Study period replaces effectively the twelfth class period, it is important that the period (or its equivalent in time) is spent working on subject-specific matters.

Work of some kind will therefore need to be set for the students. As most teaching sets are shared by two (or sometimes more) teachers, there will need to be agreement between them as to who is responsible for this on a regular or rotating basis.

The work set need not be a specific piece of work – essay, exercise, artefact, etc. It may be one of these, but it could equally be of a more general nature – reading or research, for example.

The key thing is that should be an outcome and that students understand this. That outcome could be the completion of a particular task, or it could be evidence of greater subject knowledge. How that is measured is a matter for your professional judgement.

It is hoped that, by directly managing a proportion of students’ private study time, they will be helped to make the best use of the rest of their independent study time. They should also be encouraged to make full and proper use of facilities such as the Sixth Form study area and the Library & Resources Centre. They should understand that if they want to make use of other areas, eg Art, DT, Music or IT facilities, they must check with staff that this is appropriate or convenient.

Your Lower Sixth timetable is made up as follows:

11 class periods in each of your 4 A level subjects

4 periods of Games

1 period of Open Forum

2 periods of Foundation Studies

9 periods of Private Study

Five of your Private Study periods appear as blanks on your timetable, four of them have the subject name, your teaching set code and DS1 or DS2 instead of a teacher or room. DS stands for Directed Study.

The aim of Private Study is to provide time for you in School to build on what you do in class in a relatively independent manner – by reading around your subjects, researching topics in depth or preparing written or other assignments. Of course it’s not expected that you will spend every minute of every such period working: you need to take time to have a break and have a coffee, read the paper or talk with friends. But you will be expected to manage your time sensibly and organise your independent work effectively. You will find the Sixth Form study area and the Library & Resources Centre are good places for this kind of study. If you want to make use of other areas, eg Art, DT, Music or IT facilities, make sure you check with staff that this is appropriate or convenient.

The difference between the blank Private Study periods and the subject-designated Directed Study periods is that your teachers will have specific expectations about what you will do with that time. They may set you particular pieces of work to be completed in those periods or expect you to have done some reading or research in them (or in their equivalent in terms of time). The key thing is that they – and you - will expect there to be an outcome, which might be a completed piece of work or evidence that you have increased your knowledge or skills.

The teacher-guided nature of the Directed Study periods will help you manage the rest of your Private Study time independently and effectively. If you are uncertain about how best to manage your Private Study time, you should discuss it with your subject teachers or your tutor.