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Abbey College: in a different class

This city centre college believes in offering A-level and GCSE students a different approach to learning

Published on April 12th 2006.


Abbey College: in a different class

Trying to choose a school or college for your child can be a frustrating business. For one, most teenagers don't see it as your choice anyway – they'll decide where they want to study. And if they do have a strong favourite, it may not be somewhere you're happy with. The ideal outcome is to find a school or college that impresses you both. At Abbey College Manchester, they think they are that place.

It's the more subtle differences, such as the way the students are treated, that attract many young people and help them succeed.

This independent, city centre college does things slightly differently to your average school or college. Entry levels are Year 10, Year 11, lower sixth and upper sixth, so young people who are looking to come to Abbey College from another school mid-GCSE or mid-A Level can. They offer traditional two year GCSE and A Level programmes like all schools and colleges. And more intensive one-year GCSEs and A-levels are offered for those doing resits or for those who are starting the subject from scratch. Students can also join the college at any point during the academic year, not just in September.

These factors make Abbey College unique. However, it's the more subtle differences, such as the way the students are treated, that attract many young people and help them succeed.

Aisha, who is doing A-levels in Maths and sciences at Abbey College, explains. “We're called students not pupils and we're treated as young adults by the teachers. The aim is to give us a stepping stone to university and to make the transition to university life as smooth as possible.”

The college expects students to adopt a mature and responsible approach to their studies, but they still give them plenty of support. With small class sizes (there's an average of only seven students in each) teachers can give individual attention and encourage each student to discuss, observe, present, question, experiment and think. It means students make excellent progress.

“My confidence and academic results have flourished since joining the college,” says Gemma, an A-level student aiming to do an Art and Design degree at university. “As the classes are so small, it means the teachers can give you lots of personal support and really get to know you as individuals.

“UCAS application preparation is done on a one-to-one basis with my tutor and is extremely thorough. There are even practice interview sessions arranged with universities.”

The college has strong relationships with top universities including Cambridge, Oxford, Manchester, London, Edinburgh and Durham. And with 70 per cent of students achieving A or B grades at A-level last year, and over 99 per cent achieving passes, they get the grades needed to get into the university and onto the degree course of their choice.

The college believes that the city centre location contributes to this success. Arts, business, heritage, sports, science and music facilities are all on offer and within easy reach. Students are encouraged to make the most of these opportunities to aid the academic and personal development of students.

Abbey College aims to give students a vibrant, academically challenging environment in which they can raise their expectations and realise their potential. With more and more young people enrolling from all over Greater Manchester every year, their approach seems to be working.

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