Parrs Wood Sixth Form College

Gap Years

Gap Year Support

  • Alumni returning to speak to students about their experience of their gap year
  • Opportunities for work-based gap years advertised to students including being an au pair and community work with NCS.



I chose to come to Parrs Wood Sixth Form College because it was supportive and friendly and from the open day I knew it was the kind of environment that suited me. Also, for me it was also only a 30 minute walk from my house, meaning I didn’t have to waste time or money on travelling. Personally, I didn’t find the transition to college that difficult. I really enjoyed that extra freedom and responsibility; it forces you to grow up but I think I was ready for that. I loved Year 12, the workload was obviously much larger than previously but I really loved all the subjects I chose and enjoyed getting to go into more detail than at GCSE and having more control over when, where and how I studied, it motivated me to put the work in. 


The staff at Parrs Wood are incredibly supportive! As a student at the high school it never felt as if there was a divide between yourself and the staff. They spoke to you like equals, ate lunch at the table next to you and there was always someone who you felt you could talk to if you needed to. Even when you weren’t at college, you felt comfortable emailing them and that doesn’t stop when you leave! My subject teachers were always there to answer questions or sometimes just to listen if that’s what I needed and my form tutor and acted as a shoulder to cry on on more than one occasion! Dr Kunawicz was an amazing person to have around when having to make decisions about the future, she made sure I explored all university options and gave me so much support when it came to writing my personal statement (both years!). Smaller class sizes was a big part of why I loved Parrs Wood so much. It wasn’t just that having half the class size of high school means having extra support and attention during lessons but it also allows you build a better bond with your teachers and when your teachers know you well, it’s easier for them to support you both academically and emotionally. 


As soon as my A-Levels were over I knew I had not done my best, I was thankful to have made it through them without burning out but I was always aware that those grades would not represent my best work and there was the possibility that I wouldn’t achieve the grades for my preferred university. During the weeks leading up to results day, I considered my options and decided that I only wanted to go to university if the course and university suited me. I didn’t want to make a rash decision through clearing and if I was going to rack up student debt I wanted it to feel worth it. I’d also always planned to spend 6 months or so in Adelboden, Switzerland, ever since I’d visited at the age of 15, although I had originally thought I might do this after university so it seemed like an obvious decision to apply for a chalet assistant position at a centre called Our Chalet for the first half of the year, leaving time from March until June to concentrate on improving my A-Levels. So when the day came and I found out that I hadn’t achieved a place at either of my choices I didn’t have to think about it, I was ready to take a gap year and resit and confident I had made the right choice. I submitted the application to Our Chalet the next day. 


I knew what I wanted to do for my first 6 months of my gap year but was aware this was going to take up a lot of my time and leave me with only 4 months to revise for and resit my A-Levels. This prospect could have been incredibly daunting however straight away from results day, when I informed the Parrs Wood staff of my plan to resit, I was offered support and resources. They kept in contact all year and by March I felt confident that I was ready to tackle my exams this time round and prove what I was able to get.


I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Parrs Wood. I was able to experience loads of new things, learn loads of new skills and make loads of new friends. It wasn’t just A-Levels I gained from Parrs Wood. I grew up so much in those two years and left far more confident and ready to face the world. 


I am going to university this year to do Biosciences. During my time in Switzerland, I was given the opportunity to spend three months as a Marketing and Communications Intern, which I absolutely loved. I’m still interested in biochemistry however looking to the future, I’d be interested in exploring career opportunities that combine it with communications. Whatever happens, I’m going continue to develop new skills, learn as much as possible and take every opportunity I get!