Study with us

Study with us

RIC Fast Facts

  • A level results 2018: 62% A*-B. Top results from a mixed ability intake
  • Average Class Size 8
  • Consistently ranked as a top UK boarding school and a top UK sixth form College
  • 320 students. 220 in Sixth Form, 100 in Years 7-11. 90 boarders. 100 staff
  • Transfer for Year 13 or restart Year 12 as well as two year A level courses
  • September, January and April start dates. Entry into any school year possible 
  • Intensive short and A level and GCSE retake course specialists
  • Outstanding Mathematics and Science teaching
  • Superb creative, film, music technology and performing arts teaching.
  • No uniform
  • 20% International, 80% UK students
  • Full campus boarding
  • Single room accommodation, some ensuite
  • Flexible one year and two year A level and GCSE
  • Pre A level and short courses for international students
  • Specialist English language and IELTS tuition
  • Private exam candidate centre for all boards
  • Flexible timetabling. No subject combination restrictions
  • Daily minibus services from Sevenoaks, Maidstone, Kings Hill, Tonbridge and Tunbridge Wells
  • Good Schools Guide Award Winner for Maths, Chemistry, Film Studies, Sociology and English Literature
  • Featured in the Good Schools Guide
  • Top 10 University placements including Cambridge, Leeds, Nottingham, Exeter and Imperial
  • Top Art School Placements include direct entry to degree courses at UCL’s The Slade, UAL’s Central Saint Martins and London College of Fashion, Falmouth, University of the Creative Arts, Edinburgh and the Istituto Marangoni
  • 37 minutes from central London by high speed rail link from St Pancras. 30 minutes from Stratford, 40 minutes from Victoria
  • Medical School Admissions Programmes with Dukes Medical Applications
  • RIC is a part of the Dukes Education Group

Switching Schools FAQs

Why would you switch your school half way through the course?  What are the benefits/reasons

Schools are under increasing pressure to ‘perform’ and often this means that students who under-perform in the first year of sixth form at some of the UK’s leading schools find themselves unable to continue with the subjects of their choice, or, at some schools, actually asked to leave. Others simply lose confidence and want a fresh start in a new environment. Rochester specializes in helping students in this position go on to achieve top results and university places. 

It is important for HK students to know that it is possible for international students to change their Tier 4 sponsor for the second year of their A levels or even to switch to one year A levels after spending the first year of sixth form following the IB Diploma programme. 

The advantage of transferring directly into our year 13 is that it allows them to play catch up, revise the first year of A level comprehensively alongside the second year material and still complete their sixth form within the standard two year period and aim for a good university.

What kinds of students generally switch courses?

Transferring mid A levels is an option, particularly if disappointing results have knocked your confidence or you want to change direction and not lose a year. 

Previous students perhaps sum it up best. One said: “Studying at RIC raised my confidence and ambition – my previous school told me I would never get into a Russell Group university.” Jessica Learmont joined in Year 13 from a traditional private school to take History of Art, Film from scratch in a year and continue with her English Literature, ditching the Science A levels she took in Year 12 elsewhere. Securing three top grades she won a place at Exeter to study English.  

At what point in the cycle do they switch?

Every September up to 60 students join RIC directly into Year 13 for their final year of sixth form. 

What happens if you have to change exam boards?

RIC is able to offer teaching on all exam boards for most subjects so switching schools can be done with ease. Sometimes students switch boards but with the new linear A levels this is straightforward. 

Do you have to take the same subjects – how many could you switch?

Transferring to RIC means that you will be able to take a fresh look at your subjects and maybe switch one or two, taking our successful one-year A level courses.

How does this affect those wanting to do high level ie Oxbridge/medical who have to apply by 15 October?How do you support those who switch with UCAS?

Our tutors and UCAS advisors are often able to quickly make credible grade predictions based on assessment of potential over the year here rather than prior achievement elsewhere. Students who transfer into Year 13 are often doing so to help ensure they have the best chance of securing the top grades they need for medicine and related subjects within the normal two years of sixth form. The UCAS support given is carefully tailored to students aiming for these courses.

How do you integrate those who have switched?

As so many students join us just for Year 13 integrating is easy as there are lots of people in a similar situation. 

Tuition methods at RIC are aimed at helping each student to understand and realise their own potential. Small classes, with an average of eight in a group, and the easy accessibility of staff ensure that students receive a great deal of individual help and attention. Regular tests under examination conditions are designed to help those who suffer from ‘examination nerves’ and prepare them for public examinations.

Where do people move from – is it from more traditional school to college style environment and if so what do you offer differently?

Students often look at moving from state or traditional private schools to independent sixth form colleges, attracted by smaller class sizes, university admissions expertise and a wider range of subjects with fewer option block restrictions

Year 13 entry at RIC means an intensive year- no bank holidays, no study leave and often teaching over half terms and Easter.

The Independent Schools Inspectorate judged that the personal development and behaviour of RIC students was “excellent,” saying: “The use of first names and informal attire generate a relaxed environment. Sanctions are few in an atmosphere which values respect highly, and rudeness is not tolerated.”

What have the results been like for those who have switched?

A more individualised approach means that disappointing results in Year 12 can be dealt with without university plans being wrecked. A change of environment at this stage of a two year A level course is a highly successful way of ensuring good results without the need for a retake year.

Cho Wang (Trevor) had studied at an international school in Hong Kong before coming to the UK. After attending an independent school in Devon he switched to RIC after Year 12 there for its more adult, university style environment. He won a place to study Philosophy at Warwick University.  

One of the top performers, Ellaswitched to RIC after the first year of the IB Diploma. Finding A levels a better route, Ella completed three subjects intensively in only one year, making her grades of AAA in History, English Literature and Film Studies even more impressive. Ella is now studying History at King’s College, London. 

Do you have a few case studies and quotes from those who have done it

Patrick Cooper who joined RIC after year 12 at a grammar school said: “I remember being told by one of my old teachers after receiving my bad AS-level results to just ‘apply to do BTECS or get a job’ because maybe university ‘wasn’t for me’. I was in a hopeless situation (I thought!) and genuinely believed I had insufficient skills to pass my A-levels. But just out of pure luck I found Rochester Independent College on the internet and my mum encouraged me to give A-levels another shot. I am so grateful for everything and want to thank everyone at Rochester for helping me jump back onto the path I was told I shouldn’t take.” His spectacular grade improvements saw him go from UUUD at AS to BBC at A level. 

Chris and Angela whose son Tom joined Rochester for Year 13 from an international school in Muscat said: “Just a brief note to say that we are pleased with Tom’s results and delighted that he has been accepted at Manchester. Clearly the hard work put in by Tom, and the exemplary support given by the academic staff, has paid off and vindicates the decision to change schools for year 13.  We would have no hesitation in recommending RIC to others in a similar position. The experience of being away from home has also been a maturing one for Tom after living in Muscat and a great stepping-stone to university life.” 

A Levels v IB FAQs

What are the advantages of A levels over IB?

With university entry increasingly competitive it is now common for savvy 6th form students to weigh up the benefits of different programmes of study. The real strength of any school is its ability to match the right post 16 course to the right student to help them meet their university aspirations. 

At RIC we find that A levels remain the most consistently reliable route to university entry and that students value and benefit from being able to focuson their strengths rather than being compelled to study subjects they’d rather stop at GCSE. 

What are the advantages of IB over A levels?

A levels continue to be the most popular passport to higher education but thereis now a competing choice including the International Baccalaureate Diploma, The Cambridge Pre U and BTECs. While A level students take three or four subjects, IB students take six which must include maths, a science, and native and foreign language study. They also have to complete an extended essay and a programme of community and service work. The IB suits academic all rounders. 

What kind of students suits A levels?/ What students suit IB?

One student at RIC who switched from the IB to A levels said: “It might have just been my group of friends but for some reason the IB seemed to work better for girls than boys! I was really glad to stop doing Maths! I find the workload more manageable and have more time for outside interests.” Another added: “Once I’d decided I wanted to be a doctor it made more sense to concentrate onthe Maths and Sciences I’d need. I’m also studying Geography to give my A level programme some breadth.”

With an imaginative approach to A level timetabling and subject choice then, a comparable breadth of study to the DP can be achieved, without the compulsion. 

While both routes provide strong foundations for university entry it’s clear that different pathways suit different students. 

What do A Levels give you that IB doesn’t?

Tim who took one year A levels after disappointing results in the IB Diploma says: I completed the Diploma but was very disappointed with my results. RIC was recommended to me by friends whose daughter had had the same experience but came to Rochester, switched to intensive A levels and did really well. It seems to me that the main difference between A levels and IB is that A levels allow me to focus on the subjects I am interested in. Also, it is essential to be well rounded academically to achieve a high score at IB, I’m mainly interested in the sciences so it was harder for me. I wish now that I had taken A levels in the first place as I always knew that I wanted to study Bioscience at university. Tim won a place at Bath University after one year A levels at RIC, an option that would not have been possible after his DP result.

Do A Levels better prepare you for university?

For university courses such as Medicine or Engineering the specialisation of A levels is arguably a better preparation. 

Whatever the educational and cultural benefits of the Diploma it is often the case that universities require higher IB scores than a comparative A level offer for the same course and that offers are therefore harder to meet. 

Are there particular subjects that are much better at A level?

An Ofqual report while praising the Diploma for the range of skills it fosters, concluded that its Standard Level Maths was below A level standard and that its Higher Level Maths less demanding than A level Further Maths. Cambridge’s STEP 3 Maths paper taken by so many RIC students has been described as virtually impossible for an IB mathematician. 

Why do people think the IB is better at encouraging a global outlook?  Also encouraging independent enquiry.  What do you do at Rochester to counter this?

It’s probably fair to say that the IB is more effective at articulating a coherent philosophy of education than A levels which are offered by multiple competing UK exam boards and subject to regular politically motivated reform. 

At Rochester we have introduced the Cambridge A level in Global Perspectives which consider topics as diverse as trans national organisations, development, migration, fake news, ethical foreign policies, genetic engineering and global climate change, or sustainable futures and the religious–secular divide. This A level also develops and enriches skills in thinking and reasoning, analysis, research and communication just as effectively as the IBDP. It is a similarly great preparation for university as students work in collaboration with others and communicate their findings effectively in many formats. Similarly the EPQ which Rochester students are increasingly taking alongside A levels develops independent study and research skills and allows students to focus on a specialist area, often one relevant to their chosen university course.