Information on Subject choice and A levels

What are ‘new’ A levels?

Sixth Form Students working on a laptop at Hackney New Sixth Form
Learning through modern state-of-the-art ICT facilities.

‘New’ A level specifications are complete and have been taught since September 2015 in the following subjects on offer at Hackney New Sixth Form: English Literature, Economics, History, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Art & Design and Psychology.

Other subjects on the course offer at Hackney New Sixth Form will have new specifications by the time the Sixth Form opens in September 2018 in the following subjects: Government & Politics, Geography, Music, and Modern Foreign Languages. Mathematics and Further Mathematics will have new specifications for teaching in 2019. We also envisage expanding our curriculum offer to include more subjects and greater choice for students. However, there is real growth in ‘facilitating’ subjects as Russell Group universities increasingly seek high grades in the more traditional academic subjects an entry requirement.

What are ‘facilitating’ subjects?

The following subjects are termed as facilitating’ in a guidance booklet called Informed Choices. It was written in collaboration with the Russell Group of 24 leading universities in the United Kingdom. The facilitating subjects are those subjects required more often than others for university courses. It was suggested that studying two (or more!) of these subjects would open more doors when applying for different courses. This is most relevant for students who do not know what subject they wish to do at university – as many 16 year old students do not, in fact know this, at this stage. The best source of guidance is to check the websites for universities and their courses for the exact entry requirements, including GCSEs. Furthermore, students will gain additional understanding by going to and other useful sites such as Which? Uni and the Unistats websites.

The facilitating subjects are: Mathematics (and Further Mathematics), Chemistry, Physics, Biology, English Literature, History, Geography, Modern Foreign Languages, and Classical Languages. Subjects such as Economics, Government & Politics and Psychology are also highly regarded.

6th form teacher with a student

What grades are needed at GCSE level in both English Language and Mathematics?

This will depend, but the leading universities generally require a grade B in English and at least a grade C (if not higher) in Mathematics. For students applying with the new style GCSE results, a grade of 5 or 6 is required for English and Mathematics. The vast majority of Business and Economics-related courses at Russell Group universities require a Grade 5 or 6 or higher in Mathematics. Students should go to the websites indicated above.

How do I choose the right subjects for my A level Study Programme?

These are the questions you need to consider:

  • What is your career plan (if you have one)?
  • Which subjects might you want to take further?
  • What subjects are you good at?
  • Which subjects do you enjoy or have an interest in, if you have not studied them at GCSE level?
  • What are your best skills?
  • What GCSE grades are you likely to get?
  • Have you studied these subjects before? (E.g. Economics/Government & Politics?)
  • What is the subject like at Advanced level?
  • Do you have a balance of subjects that reflect the above?

The right Study Programme depends on your needs. It will be aimed at preparing you for your next steps and chosen career, although we envisage the vast majority of Hackney New Sixth Form students wanting to apply to Higher Education. However, we will facilitate access to post-18 employment, apprenticeships and degree apprenticeships. Study Programme will be one where you will be successful – based on your skills and interests and with subjects that work well with each other.