Preparing For Year 12
For those of you looking to get a head start on your studies in September, we thought it would be useful to provide some advice as to what you can do to prepare for your A-levels.
In general, of course, any reading around your subject will be beneficial, but there should also be some extra ideas here to keep you busy. Many subjects will also send out reading lists and summer work later in the school year. We would also suggest continuing to revise and embed your GCSE knowledge, particularly for subjects that rely on the foundations built in Year 11.
Also, for those of you who have an eye on Medicine, Law or Oxbridge after your A-level studies, there is a section at the bottom with some general reading advice as well.
We hope this is helpful, and look forward to welcoming you to Idsall Sixth Form in September.
The summer work set in preparation for September is also available on a different page - click here.
Art and Design
Anyone wishing to continue with Art could take the time to complete a collection of drawings of natural forms in a variety of media: take photographs of natural forms and research artists that appeal to you – look for those whose work relates to natural forms.
We would recommend the following books from CGP. Essentially, they look at providing a guide to the key topics that bridge across from GCSE to A Level.
In addition to these (however, we would certainly make these my starting point), the following books are useful in terms of the mathematical aspects of the course. Of course, these will go into content that is clearly not covered until the course itself and even then, sometimes in year 13.
Business Studies/Economics (and Government & Politics for the economics)
For a look at the syllabus:
A Level Business Studies Specification:
Useful websites/apps- register now:
Register with http://www.tutor2u.net, a Business Studies blog especially written for students. A daily blog will be sent to you with interesting news articles that tie into the syllabus, comments from examiners and (later) tips and support for exam modules
For (business) news stories use the BBC website http://news.bbc.co.uk
Documentaries - The Nine to Five with Stacey Dooley (BBC iPlayer); Fyre (Netflix)
What is a business – 1.1.1 – The Market Inside Iceland: Britain’s Budget Supermarket (Channel 5 on demand)
Operational performance – 3.4.4 Amazon: What they know about us (BBC iPlayer) ; Dirty Money (Netflix) ; Rotten (Netflix)
Read the Financial Times to keep up to date, or at least the business pages of reputable newspapers. www.politicsinspires.com ; ‘Freakonomics’ is a classic book on Economics. www.economist.com ; www.CNNMoney.com ; www.econtalk.com ; ‘The Very Short introduction to Marx’ is apparently very good for leading thinkers in Economics. Any programmes with Robert Peston or Stephanie Flanders are good, too.
Unit 1: Computer Systems (40%).
This unit is assessed via written examination. Topics include: the characteristics of contemporary processors, input, output and storage devices; software and software development; exchanging data; data types, data structures and algorithms; legal, moral, cultural and ethical issues.
Unit 2: Algorithms and Programming (40%).
This unit is assessed via written examination. Topics include: elements of computational thinking; programming and problem solving; pattern recognition, abstraction and decomposition; algorithm design and efficiency.
Unit 3 – Programming Project (20%). Completed in Year 13.
All theory for Papers 1 and 2 is available in video format here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC0HzEBLlJxlrwBAHJ5S9JQg/playlists?view=50&sort=dd&shelf_id=17
SLRS 1-17 cover Paper 1 material. SLRs 18-26 cover Paper 2 material
If you would like to buy a course textbook (not essential), we recommend this: https://www.amazon.co.uk/OCR-AS-Level-Computer-Science/dp/1910523054
Our key texts in Year 12 are ‘The Great Gatsby’ by F. Scott Fitzgerald and ‘Othello’ by William Shakespeare. We would like all students to have read these by September where possible.
Any free lectures from Universities, on the BBC or on Podcasts are always useful – search for literary movements like Romanticism to start.
Some useful reading:
- ‘A Little Book of Language’ by David Crystal - also available on Audible
- ‘Mother Tongue’ by Bill Bryson
- ‘Rediscover Grammar’ by David Crystal
- Any other book by David Crystal
Also, regularly read a broadsheet newspaper (The Times, The Telegraph, The Guardian – The Guardian is free online)
To prepare for Year 12 Geography;
Follow the news, websites and articles recording the spread of coronavirus, and the connectivity of the world brought about by globalisation. Danny Dorling’s (the Mackinder Professor of Geog at Oxford – whilst you are there look into Mackinder himself and his heartland theory – underpins much of Year 13 geopolitics) website and twitter account have lots of good links, maps, articles with regards to this.
What are the roles of organisations (World Bank, International Monetary Fund, World Trade Organisations) and governments (through trade blocs such as EU, NAFTA, ASEAN) in promoting free trade and neo-liberal economic policies? Who controls these institutions? Does this matter? Does it influence their policies and what effect have they had on the world? What does neo-liberalism mean in the first place?
Research Birmingham City Council’s “Big Plan” – how they are regenerating and rebranding Birmingham beyond the Bull Ring and other flagship projects such as the Central Library and Grand Central Train Station.
If you have not studied tectonics for a while, re-familiarise yourself with plate tectonic theories, the causes and impacts of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions as well as how we can reduce the risks these hazards pose.
- Research and answer the question: Why would the Philippines and California be called multiple-hazard zones? Does this fact increase risk? Why?
What are the trends relating to tectonic hazards – explore the International Disaster Database ( www.emdat.be ) for data on trends relating to frequency, number affected, cost of tectonic events etc
Again, if you have not studied coasts before or for a while – review the specification below to identify areas to begin to read and research prior to September.
If you want to get ahead for Year 13! Try these two issues:
- Investigate the reasons for and against fracking for gas in the UK. Why has the Preston New Road site in Lancashire, operated by Caudrilla, been in a state of start/stop/start/stop again over the last three years…?
- How is Brexit changing UK migration policy? What was the policy before? How was it linked across Europe? What issues did the Syrian refugee crisis bring to Europe in 2015?
Further specific, preparatory research can be guided from the specification (Edexcel A Level - 9GEO). If there are concepts or features you have not come across before, start investigating them and reading up on the web. There are few specialist sites that cover everything. You are best served looking up specific elements as required.
Topics covered in Year 12 are Topic 1: Tectonic Hazards (p10), Topic 2B: Coastal Landscapes (p19), Topic 3: Globalisation (p24), Topic 4A Regenerating Places (p29)
Topics covered in Year 13 are Topic 5: Water Insecurity (p41), Topic 6: Carbon and Energy Security (p46), Topic 7: Superpowers (p51), Topic 8B: Migration, Identity & Sovereignty (p61)
Unit 1 Title: Paper 1H Tsarist and Communist Russia, 1855–1917
N.B. There will be a Summer Homework Booklet sent later in the school year.
Enrichment films to watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zXHybEb4b_o&has_verified=1
Netflix also has some excellent programmes such as ‘The Russian Revolution’, ‘The Death of Stalin’ and ‘The Last Czars’
Unit 2 Title: Paper 2S The Making of Modern Britain, 1951–1979
N.B. As for Russia, there will be a Summer Homework booklet.
Enrichment films to watch:
On Netflix – ‘Darkest Hour’ and possibly ‘The Crown’ (as long as you realise it is not very accurate!).
The level 3 BTEC builds on the level 1/2 course but can be entered with no previous experience. The course is split into two exams and two coursework units. You will start by researching social media and creating a social media campaign. It is good practice to start looking at how businesses present themselves on social media. Start gathering evidence of good and bad use and how communication will have improved since the introduction of sites like Facebook. You should only be looking at business posts, not personal. There is a database exam but we'll focus on that in school.
The theory exam is based on how computer systems work. We suggest looking at this website:
https://www.knowitallninja.com/courses/information-technology-systems/ which we will sign you up to nearer the time but there are some free topics to browse through.
The official book can be found here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Nationals-Information-Technology-Student-Activebook/dp/1292140410/ref=sr_1_5?keywords=btec+ict&qid=1585218749&sr=8-5
And the specification can be seen here: https://qualifications.pearson.com/en/qualifications/btec-nationals/information-technology-2016.html
Mathematics / Further Mathematics
Some websites that might be of interest:
- www.nrich.maths.org/public ;
- undergroundmathematics.org ;
- www.mathsnetalevel.com ;
In preparation for the A level Psychology course, we will be posting home a workbook to complete before the start of year 12, which will allow all students to have an overall understanding of the different approaches in Psychology. ‘Approaches’ will be the first topic of study in year 12. Within the workbook, there is a suggested textbook that can be used to complete the tasks instead of/or as well as the Internet.
This textbook is available to buy on Amazon and from most book retailers and would be a good starting point: Complete Companions AQA Level Psychology
The other topics in the textbook make up the rest of the year 12 teaching, so there is plenty of reading to do over the next few months!
Also, there are various psychology YouTube videos online to watch to help give an overview of Psychology, such as: Crash course Psychology: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL8dPuuaLjXtOPRKzVLY0jJY-uHOH9KVU6
Religious Studies - Philosophy and Ethics
The following websites are good for reading around:
- The Reading Lists: Philosophy
- Solipsism Online
- Meta Treks (don’t judge me, I love Star Trek)
- The Many Worlds of Logic
- Stoicism Today
- Sophia Project
Read… ‘Sociology: A Very Short Introduction’ by Steve Bruce
Listen to… ‘Thinking Allowed’ Radio Four discussion programme. https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006qy05 This programme is broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on Wednesday afternoons between 16:00 and 16:30 and focuses on the latest social science research. It is hosted by Laurie Taylor, who was formerly a Professor of Sociology at the University of York.
Go online… ‘ThoughtCo’ A comprehensive reference site with a 20+ year focus on expert-created education content. https://www.thoughtco.com/sociology-4133515 Read content on various areas related to sociology, including fact files on some of the most influential sociological thinkers of all time.
Watch… ‘What is Sociology?’ A lecture from Dr Lori Peek introducing the discipline of sociology (35 minutes) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TryHsjdV6_Y
The 1 or 2 books that we recommend (in order of priority):
- the full student book 1 containing most of your units - ISBN 9781292133973
- the unit 1 and 2 revision guide - ISBN 9781292230535
The full list of resources go to the Pearson Edexcel website: https://qualifications.pearson.com/en/support/published-resources.html?stp1=Pearson-UK:Qualification-Family%2FBTEC-Nationals&stp2=Pearson-UK:Qualification-Subject%2FSport#step1
Unit 1 will be studied in Y12 and U2 in Y13
Revise the element of your GCSE Biology that relate to the body. One way of getting some insight into coaching is to look for specific sports coaches on YouTube relating to the sports of your interest. Some of the best Universities for sport are Loughborough, Exeter and Bath – look at their website for other suggestions.
Advice for other areas of study:
I imagine there’s quite a lot about pandemics to read at the moment. TED Talks are excellent for dealing with the big ethical issues in Medicine, which is a must for prospective medics. You can also join the junior BMA to keep up to date; and read the British Medical Journal. The GMC also publish Tomorrow’s Doctors – check it out. ‘Do No Harm’ by Henry Marsh is also a good book to read. Once the world is back to normal, work shadowing is absolutely key, so any contacts you can gather will be useful. We have a list of NHS providers at Idsall that you can contact in September.
There are many, many books to read! Look at general introductions to different areas of Law – there’s a series of books called ‘Very Short Introduction to…’ and then search for the different areas. ‘The Justice Game’ by Jeffrey Robertson is a good book. TED Talks will also have a variety of subjects to peruse. Also, podcasts on iPlayer: Law in Action, Unreliable Evidence. You could also look at what campaign groups are doing such as Liberty. Websites such aswww.lawstudent.tv ; www.lawcom.gov.uk might be helpful.
Advice for those of you with an eye on Oxford or Cambridge
It is imperative that you read around your subject! Both Universities want students who are willing to go above and beyond their syllabi. For some guidance, go to their websites: The University of Oxford has a fantastic online reading list for almost all of the subjects that it offers, which are applicable for Cambridge also. Website: https://www.ox.ac.uk/admissions/undergraduate/courses/suggested-reading-and-resources?wssl=1
Undertaking a MOOC (online course) is also an excellent and highly valuable way to supplement your reading. Explore respected sites such as FutureLearn, Coursera, EdX, Khan Academy to see what MOOCs are available in the relevant academic areas. BUT DON’T PAY ANYTHING! In September, we will give you access to Unifrog who also have a wealth of MOOCs.
There are many TED Talks and Podcasts out there at the moment – and if you search for free lectures from Oxford and Cambridge, you may find a few that are useful.
Try to keep a reading log and each time you read a book make a note of the author, the title of the book, its main arguments and ideas, how this enriched your understanding of the subject, and a couple of specific quotations. You should do this also for any articles, podcasts or MOOCs you have engaged with. This will be a fantastic resource for when you come to prepare for interview or write your personal statement.