Hills Road Sixth Form College

The College

The College operates on an attractive site just over a mile south of the centre of the historic city of Cambridge. The site has been occupied from 1903 when it was originally home to the Cambridge and County School for Boys. Since its inception in 1974, succeeding the former boys’ grammar school, the College has concentrated mainly on providing Advanced level courses to students in the Cambridge area. Having responded to strong and sustained demand for places over a number of years, we now have nearly 2,700 full-time 16-19 students for whom we provide a choice of 35 A level subjects plus the Extended Project Qualification, an extensive programme of enrichment and extra-curricular activities and responsive individual support and guidance.  The breadth, depth and challenge of this curriculum are at the heart of our long-standing educational vision.

The College is a member of the Cambridge Area 14-19 Partnership: there are ten other centres for post-16 education: Cambridge Regional College, Long Road Sixth Form College, The College of West Anglia, The Cambridge Academy of Science and Technology, (formerly the UTC Cambridge), and six school sixth forms.  The Cambridge Area 14-19 Partnership provides a common application procedure for post-16 courses and co-ordinates the information and guidance services for student transfer at 16+.  The great majority of our full-time sixth form students are recruited from 18 maintained secondary comprehensive schools in the Cambridge area, 12 of which do not have their own sixth form.

College Performance

Hills Road Sixth Form College enjoys a national reputation for excellence and, in its last two Ofsted inspections, was rated outstanding in all graded areas.

  • In the Government’s examination performance table for ‘points per examination entry’, the College has consistently posted the highest score of any sixth form college in the country.
  • The College’s in-year learner level retention rate on study programmes, as used for funding purposes, has averaged 99.4% over the past six years. In last year’s first set of retention figures to feature in performance tables, both our 97% retention rate from Year 12 to Year 13 and our 98.7% retention rate in Year 13 were the second-highest for a sixth form college.
  • A level pass rates have remained close to 99.5% for five years.
  • Value-added has tended to be positive overall indicating that, on average, Hills Road students achieve better results than might have been expected based on their prior GCSE outcomes.
  • Often after a gap year, around 90% of our leavers progress to Higher Education; two-thirds go to the most sought-after Russell Group universities.
  • Hills Road students consistently thrive in higher education with 46% earning first-class honours degrees in 2018 according to the latest Sixth Form College Association report which is based on HESA data.
  • Hills Road was shortlisted in 2017, 2018 and 2019 as a finalist in the TES ‘Sixth Form College of the Year’ award.

College Ethos

At Hills Road, we are strongly committed to providing our students with a broad sixth form education characterised by academic excellence, high-quality learning experiences and extensive enrichment opportunities.  Students are encouraged to achieve the highest standards not only in the classroom but also in a range of extra-curricular activities which help them to develop new skills, think independently and exercise their responsibilities as global citizens. We seek to promote a caring and supportive atmosphere with a strong sense of community in which all students are valued equally as individuals and treated as young adults.

From teaching and tutorial departments to administrative and support functions, Hills Road staff are deployed within specialist teams where their expertise, knowledge and skills may be used to best effect: each student has a specialist tutor with whom s/he meets regularly; subject departments offer lunchtime workshops where students can receive one-to-one support with homework queries or extension work; help with all aspects of learning, from essay writing to time management, is available from the specialist team in the Study Skills Department; and the Careers Department advises students on the world outside and beyond Hills Road, from work experience to UCAS applications.  The Student Services Team respond to all manner of student need and ensures a qualified staff member is available throughout the College day to respond to student concerns in respect of wellbeing and mental health.

Specialisation brings considerable benefits to staff as well as to students: not only does it have a significant impact on the quality of teaching, support and guidance, but it also helps to enrich working relationships and to promote a culture of learning and continuous improvement.  Teams are encouraged to work in creative and collaborative ways and to reflect on their own and each other’s performance.