ONE of Oxford’s biggest state schools has restructured its sixth form to cope with funding pressures.

Cheney School, which had 725 students in its last year, is set to offer three A-Levels, instead of four, to the majority of its pupils ,offering the Duke of Edinburgh Gold award as an alternative.

The school in Cheney Lane could lose up to £100,000 of funding this year compared to last year and staff said the new model would be more cost efficient.

Fresh from its best A-Level results, the school’s head of sixth form Heather Doherty said they had made some “bold choices” following a re-think about what to offer its pupils.

She said: “We have made some bold curriculum choices in light of changes ahead. No universities ask for a fourth A-Level and employers such as BMW have said they accept the Duke of Edinburgh gold award.

“The brightest students will still be doing four A-Levels but for those who don’t, DofE Gold award, core Maths or Classical Civilisation will be on offer.”

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Headteacher Jolie Kirby said the school would offer the most DofE Gold places – 90 – in the country to give its pupils “something extra” in the battle for university places and jobs.

She said: “We want to make sure our students secure three really good grades at A-Level.

“Sometimes when there are financial constraints it makes you rethink the areas you need to keep.

“We have thought about what employers and universities want to see and used that to restructure our sixth form provision.”

She added: “All of our seven successful Oxbridge candidates have done something extra that has made them more marketable.

“We want to create a different profile for our students and we are very confident it will be a success.”

The headteacher said the move would protect small classes of important subjects like music and art.

With just one hour of teaching dedicated to DofE Gold students Mrs Kirby said the model would be more “cost efficient.” in the face of up to £100,000 cuts.

Although DofE Gold does not earn students any UCAS points, most universities ask for three grades rather than the old points system.

Paul James, headteacher of The Cherwell School, said it was offering four A-Levels for this coming academic year but that a review was taking place.

He said: “Looking further forward we are undertaking a curriculum review next term and we may change what we offer for 2016, but that is yet to be discussed.

“We are looking to develop and offer extended projects which is where student have opportunities to study a particular area of academic interest and really get an in depth knowledge of that subject, which is good for university.

“We do not know what changes will happen yet, but changing the current curriculum will be something we discuss.

“Over the past few years there has been hundreds of pounds worth of cuts to the sixth form but we have still managed to provide quality education.”

Sondos Mahdy, from Headington, received her results last week and got into university of the Arts London to study sculpture.

The 18-year-old former Cheney student got A*BBB but also has a D in Psychology, a subject she dropped after AS level.

One of her Bs came in Arabic, a subject she was fluent in and had sat early.

She said: “I think it’s a good move.

“You are doing a subject that you know you are going to drop.”

Cheney student Daniel Alvarez opened his GCSE envelope to 5A*s and 3As last week to add to two 2As in previous years.

The Barton teenager will continue for sixth form and favoured the move.

The 16-year-old said: “If you do four A-Levels your time is more spread out across them all.

“I might do Classics as the centre here is very good or I might even do Duke of Edinburgh.”

Kate Williamson, from Headington, also picked up an impressive set of results with a total of 8A*s and 2As.

The 16-year-old will also stay on at Cheney sixth form as was looking forward to taking on three A-Levels.

She said: “I want to do Maths, Chemistry and Geography.

“I will be able to be more focussed on the three now.”

Oxford Spires Academy head Sue Croft said funding pressures could throw up some opportunities.

She said: “We have to be able to offer any subject that students want to do whatever the numbers and make sure we have the funding for it.

“It could be an opportunity to streamline and improve but it is vital to invest in education as the children are the future of this country.”