What are AS, A2 and A Levels?

A Levels are academic courses designed to increase your knowledge and develop your intellect. A Levels don't train you for work, but they do give you important skills that any employer will be interested in, such as the ability to analyse and solve complex problems, how to research and evaluate information, and how to present a well argued case.

A Levels are made up of 4 units: 2 taken in the first year for the AS qualification, and 2 taken in the second year for the A2 qualification - together they make a full A Level.


What are Diploma Courses?

Diplomas are an exciting alternative to more traditional GCSE and A level courses. Diplomas will give you a fully rounded qualification, which combines theoretical and practical learning, including functional English, Maths and ICT, to equip you with the skills, knowledge and understanding you need for university and long-term employability.

The Hillsyde Federation are part of a national pilot for these exciting new qualifications. As two of our three schools are Performing Arts specialist schools, the first diploma that we will offer, starting September 2009, will be the Creative and Media Higher Diploma (level 2). We will offer the Advanced Diploma (level 3) from September 2010.

The Higher Diploma (level 2) is equivalent to seven GCSEs at grade C or above.


What are Vocational Courses?

Vocational Qualifications are concerned with the world of work and offer the opportunity to concentrate vocational areas such as Information Technology, Business, Health & Social Care, Media, Science and Art & Design. Hillsyde offers vocational subjects at 3 levels:

Level 1:
A year long course assessed mainly by coursework and some external tests with the possibility of gaining a Pass, Merit or Distinction. This level is roughly equivalent to five GCSEs at grades D, E or F. Progression is to Level 2 courses.

Level 2:
A year long course assessed by coursework and external tests with the possibility of gaining a Pass, Merit or Distinction. This level is roughly equivalent to four GCSEs at grades A, B or C. Progression is typically to Vocational A-Level at Level 3.

Level 3 - Applied A Levels or BTEC Nationals
The Single Award is equivalent to one A Level with the possibility of gaining a grade A, B, C, D or E, just as at A Level. The Double Award is equivalent to two A-Levels with the possibility of gaining AA, AB, BB, BC, CC, CD, DD, DE and EE. BTEC National students obtain Distinctions (A grade) Merit (C grade) or Pass (E grade). The courses assessed by coursework and external tests. Progression is to Higher Education or to the world of work.


GCSE Courses

GCSE Mathematics & English
There is an opportunity to re-sit these subjects if you have gained at D at GCSE. Maths is offered to students who attained a grade D at Intermediate Level and who produced 2 pieces of coursework.