I left Sacred Heart in 2016 and I’m now reading for a degree in European and Middle Eastern Languages, more specifically German and Arabic, at the University of Oxford.
I always loved languages at school and studied German from Year 7 until Sixth Form, where I realised I loved it so much I simply had to take it further. The staff at Sacred Heart were incredibly supportive of me in this decision, and were always on hand to stretch and challenge me however they best saw fit.
This enthusiasm and dedication, alongside the small sixth form classes, fostered in me a confidence and curiosity I would not otherwise have had, invaluable not only in my studies at Oxford but also in greater life. When applying for German, I decided I also wanted something a little bit different which would provide me with a challenge - Arabic seemed perfect for this! Although it has seemed impossible at times, my time in sixth form gave me a sense of independence and resilience which encouraged me to push through. I’m now a fairly competent speaker of Arabic and moving to Jordan (in the Middle East) next week! Who knows where you’ll end up if you try hard and follow things through - the world really is full of exciting opportunities. All in all, my year since leaving Sacred Heart has been fabulous, but I wouldn't be here without their support and guidance.
Of course the jump from lower school to Sixth Form can be a challenge, but with the right attitude its nothing to worry about. The new found independence is both a blessing and a curse. On one hand, you've got that added bit of freedom and there’s no one watching your every move, but with that comes the responsibility of managing your own study time. There’ll be times when you’ve only got one hour of contact time in a day and you need to productively fill the rest yourself, something I found particularly difficult. Surrounded by your friends, its easy to get distracted, but try to not let this happen. Have time to hang out with your friends, but also set a routine and be strict with yourself from early on. There’s nothing worse than getting to the end of the day and realising you’ve done nothing. Yes, there is also a much greater workload and it can seem incredibly daunting to begin with, but you’ll be doing subjects you love, so if you try hard and listen to your teachers its definitely manageable. Most of all, make the most of your time in Sixth Form. I found it to be a great environment, and if you do the work and give it your all, your teachers will be more relaxed and lessons will become something you even look forward to.
My top tips would be:
Know your limits and listen to your body- If you know you can get that piece of work done today, do it, but if you're not going to be productive for some *important* reason, leave it for later - you'll only get frustrated with it otherwise.
Ask for help if you need it - teachers would much rather you talked to them than struggle in silence. It makes it easier for yourself as well.
Choose subjects you love - You’ll be studying them every day for at least two years, make sure you like them!
My time at Sacred Heart didn’t just focus on the academic side of things, but I also had access to a whole range of extra curricular activities. This allowed me to balance my studies with fun activities I enjoyed, developing myself as a person and also giving back to the local community. There are many opportunities for volunteering and charity work, and I chose to volunteer weekly at the local food bank, talking with clients and distributing food packets. This really opened my eyes and helped to increase my awareness of the world around me, invaluable before starting university or finding a job and entering the wider world. I also took part in an exchange to Germany, which helped to form my love of the German culture alongside the language and gave me a friend for life, who I have since visited several times. There are also trips further afield organised every few years, for example to Kenya and Morocco. At the end of my time in Sixth Form, I went to Kenya, visiting a Sacred Heart Primary School out there, finally enabling me to experience the worldwide community of Sacred Heart in person. I also took part in several activities within the school, and there are countless opportunities to support the lower years, for example paired reading and craft club, which should not be ignored. Sixth Form isn't just about academic learning, but also a chance to develop yourself further as a person, something encouraged quite uniquely by Sacred Heart.
To finish, it seems only right to use something Mrs Bath said to me just before I left for Oxford, which can also be applied to the wider world: There’ll be people who will try to make you feel like they're better than you, but stick your ground, because you’re just as good as them, if not better, a philosophy of self-confidence which I believe sums up my time at Sacred Heart perfectly.