There is no such thing as the “best” education or a one-size fits all approach. Every child can thrive and become successful in their own right, if they are matched with an academic curriculum that is best suited for them. This could mean holistic, teacher-centred, student-centred, or even an activity-centred curriculum.
However, it cannot be denied that outstanding education is what makes a good school. No matter what academic curriculum it offers, a good school is one that nurtures its students, and fosters them into becoming leaders of tomorrow. While exceptional grades are a good marker of success, it is far more important for a school to prepare students for life outside of academia.
We know that it can be quite taxing to find the perfect school for your child. Making a choice is hard when there are thousands of schools to choose from – especially when you take post-secondary education into consideration. If you would like to entrust them to an institution that will prepare them for university as well as foster in them a sense of responsibility, you may want to consider these four UK schools:
Nestled amongst the rolling green hills of Dorset, Shaftesbury School is one of the very few state boarding schools in the UK where families only pay for the boarding element – educational costs are all covered by the state. Shaftesbury School is where you’ll get a quintessentially English boarding experience but also an excellent education. The wide-ranging curriculum paired with superb exam results lead to many of its students graduating and then attending Russell Group and other top universities.
Located less than an hour from the world-famous Jurassic Coast, Shaftesbury School’s boarding house – Barton Hill House – is a home away from home for many students as they strive to be the best they can be. What makes this boarding school unique is that children are not forced to start their boarding journey early, they can begin whenever they feel comfortable. Whether the child decides to stay for the whole seven years or only for a part of it, they make friends for life at Shaftesbury School.
But there is more to Shaftesbury School than meets the eye – it is one of only 10 schools in the country to house a Future Classroom. The school, in its goal to develop each child’s individuality, has partnered with leading technology companies in order to deliver an innovative and inspiring approach to learning. Imagine this: no rows of desks and 10 large writable surfaces – inspired by revolutionary working spaces like Google and Lush cosmetics. This one-of-a-kind space encourages students to unleash their creativity by merging technology with education.
At Westholme School, education is a lifelong journey. Its approach towards teaching is distinctive and holistic – outdoor education, clubs, and co-curricular activities reinforce Westholme’s core values of character, teamwork, problem-solving, leadership, and resilience. Experience is the forefront of Westholme’s ethos. The school believes that the only way for students to be whole is when they are allowed to find their talents, and explore their passions alongside achieving academic success.
At the Junior School, a broad but balanced curriculum challenges Westholme’s students. Although it closely follows the National Curriculum, Westholme tailors its curriculum to every child’s needs in a stimulating yet friendly environment. The learning doesn’t stop in the classroom for Junior School students – depending on the age of the child, they must complete their homework within 20 to 40 minutes every night. During such times, students read, learn spellings and tables.
Responsibility starts early at Westholme. Clubs are run not by staff members alone, but also by students themselves. Activities occur every week and range from Drama to Maths, Music to Engineering, Art to Sport and of course, The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. Westholme pupils are encouraged to think beyond their boundaries and take pleasure in challenging themselves as well as working as a team.
The King’s School, Canterbury
When it comes to an institution for history buffs, there is no school better than The King’s School, Canterbury. The school – often described as the “oldest” in England – is situated within the precincts of Canterbury Cathedral in Kent, a World Heritage Site, and all buildings are a mixture of the old (14th century) and the new. Such a setting naturally creates a close-knit and warm community for students to become spiritually aware, historically-informed and appreciative of aesthetic beauty.
If traditional education is what works best, consider The King’s School, Canterbury instead. Its curriculum is based upon strong academic roots as much emphasis is placed upon what is best in traditional independent school education such as scholarly excellence. However, the school’s curriculum is made even better by a caring pastoral team, a tutorial system, and various co-curricular programmes. Expect not to stick to tradition, however, as new subjects are constantly added alongside new teaching techniques.
All students receive formal and structured educational support, a well-stocked library, and ICT facilities to supplement their learning outside the classroom. Pupils are also offered extensive career advice throughout their time at The King’s School, Canterbury, and almost all go to university – immediately or after a gap year.
Marymount International School
What sets the students of Marymount International School London apart from others? In this Catholic all-girls school, that also welcomes students of all religions and none, there are no limits to what students can achieve. Marymount London girls are bold, independent-thinking leaders and innovators, thanks to the school’s holistic International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum.
Marymount London’s distinctive character lies in the fusion of its RSHM (Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary) heritage and the IB philosophy, allowing girls to grow intellectually, spiritually, emotionally, and physically. This IB-RSHM alchemy — resonant in its classrooms and boarding life — is powerful. It transforms girls into agents of their own formation, as seen in its alumni list of inquirers, communicators, risk takers and principled learners who possess a strong sense of self.
Thoughtful inquisitiveness about the world underpins the school’s academics and co-curricular activities. Both the IB Middle Years and Diploma programmes require students to put their gifts and talents at the service of others, which resonates with the school’s own mission to develop students who are firm in faith, vibrant in hope, rooted in love and one in service’.
The IB’s emphasis on reflective and self-regulated practice, combined with a boarding school environment that promotes the development of courage, resourcefulness and resilience, enables Marymount girls to become principled changemakers in our world.
In an increasingly polarised world, Marymount girls are equipped for and committed to building respectful intercultural connections. No single nationality is dominant at Marymount London. The girls thrive in a strong tight-knit community of 250 students between the ages of 11 to 18 coming from over 40 countries.
Each girl is encouraged to embrace her own culture and is heard for exactly who she is, which nurtures empathetic communication between different linguistic and cultural traditions. To learn more about Marymount London’s holistic approach, click here.
*Some of the institutions featured in this article are commercial partners of Study International