Study programmes are designed according to individual need and interest. We encourage students to research the courses that make up a study programme carefully and to make full use of the information available at Open Evening, in the prospectus and in course information sheets, as well as at admission interviews. 

In line with the government’s curriculum reform programme, most students will follow 3 A level and/or BTEC courses, or equivalent, over a 2 year period. Maximising academic potential in the courses studied will be essential in ensuring successful progression and strong grades in 3 subjects will be particularly important for university entrance. There is no expectation that students study four courses in year 1, but high performing students will have the opportunity to study four courses (usually A levels) over 2 years. The nature of the study programme will largely depend on GCSE achievement and full guidance will be provided at enrolment interview.

Study programmes will also include a wide range of extension activity and in year 2 this will focus on progression pathways to apprenticeships, employment or higher education. Where further study at university is the goal, many students take up the Extended Project Qualification in year 2, as this is widely recognised as excellent preparation for degree level study. Students will have the opportunity to engage in work-related learning as part of the study programme. Study programmes are also designed to ensure a good chance of success and prior attainment will be important in determining the size and nature of the final programme. The minimum entry requirement for study at Esher College is 5 GCSEs at 9-4 (or A*-C in unreformed subjects). We encourage students to aim significantly higher than this to ensure that study programmes are successfully completed. 

Guidance on the level of GCSE performance expected to access different types of programme is provided in the table below and, for the sake of simplicity, uses the new numerical grading system. Please note that this provides a general guide to expectations and each student’s programme will be discussed and agreed on an individual basis.

3 courses – mainly BTEC

Average of around grade 4 across all GCSE results 

3 courses – mixture A level and BTEC

Average of between grade 4 and grade 5 across all GCSE results

3 courses – A level

Average of between grades 5 and 6 across all GCSE results, depending on the courses to be studied

4 courses – A level and / or BTEC

The requirement for 4 courses is at least 7 GCSE’s at 7 or above and averaging at least grade 7 across all GCSEs

Please note, entry onto some A level courses requires specific GCSE subjects and grades. For example, A Level Mathematics, A Level Biology, A Level Chemistry and A Level Physics all require a least a grade 6 in the relevant GCSEs and ideally an average of grade 6 across all GCSEs. Students also will need to achieve at least a grade 6 in the respective language GCSE to study A Levels in French, German or Spanish. Please see individual course information sheets on the College website for full details. Where a student qualifies for a study programme, but has not achieved a grade 4 (or C) in GCSE English Language or Maths, it is a government requirement that a retake in these subjects forms part of the study programme. The importance of GCSE English Language at grade 4 cannot be overemphasized, as this is a requirement for most courses. It may not be possible to construct an advanced study programme without a grade 4 in this subject.

GCSE qualifications are the most suitable preparation for study at advanced level. Only BTEC First and/or Cambridge National qualifications (with a minimum grade of a Merit) are accepted as equivalent to GCSEs, provided they are in a subject area related to the course which has been applied for. They are particularly relevant for progression onto BTEC National (equivalent to A Level) courses. However, these courses alone are not adequate for entry onto an advanced study programme and would always need to be accompanied by an appropriate range of GCSE qualifications.