Campbell College Belfast: Where young boys thrive in university and beyond
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Campbell College Belfast: Where young boys thrive in university and beyond

When Matthew Wilson was exploring his options of post-primary schools and attending open days — Campbell College Belfast — an all-boys boarding and day school located on the Island of Ireland — was one that stood out.

“My parents and I were very impressed by the students and teachers and how engaging, communicative and enthusiastic they were. We were also struck by the opportunities available,” said Wilson from Northern Ireland.

The school proved to be the right choice for him. From his first day at Campbell, the teachers, staff and senior boys helped him ease into school life seamlessly.

Also echoing his sentiments is Nicholas Skansen from Norway.

“What I found different was how welcoming the older students were. They helped me find my way and ensured that I was on track. This made me feel like I was a part of the Campbell Community as soon as I stepped foot on the grounds,” the 17-year-old recalls.

Indeed, Campbell’s down-to-earth and supportive environment has provided a safe space for 1,200 boys to flourish academically, physically and socially.

“We recognise that in general, boys do learn differently to girls. Our teachers know the principles of how boys learn best, so much of our professional development across the College is with this in mind,” Chris Oswald, Vice Principal (Academic), explains.

“The staff structure is such that each student has a personal tutor, a Head of Key Stage, Heads of Department, Heads of Year along with a boarding tutor, Assistant Heads of Boarding along with the Head of Boarding, the Vice-Principals and the Headmaster, so a very diverse group of staff has one main goal — to ensure our boys thrive,” Oswald adds.

Campbell understands that boys perform better in active learning — that is why it offers a broad UK curriculum, including 28 GCSE, 23 A-Level and five BTEC (vocational) subjects, in addition to many on-site facilities on its 100-acre woodland campus. The boys are also strongly encouraged to participate in the College’s many sports, clubs and societies.

For example, Wilson took up Hospitality — something he greatly enjoys and has continued through GCSE and into A-Level. Wilson has also become Deputy Head Boy, Head of Dobbins House, Pipe Major of the Pipe Band, and holds leadership positions within the Campbell Combined Cadet Force including Head of Navy and Quartermaster. He excelled in sports too — winning the squash team gold and a bronze for hockey.

Skansen revelled in his Maths, Physics and Chemistry classes, thanks to his passionate teachers. He also joined the volleyball club which expanded his social group and his teamwork abilities.

Similarly, American Brennen Vavra found Campbell’s Physics and Maths teaching techniques interesting, challenging and encouraging. He was also delighted to continue his cross-country and rugby training, and even got to be part of a volleyball programme that gave him the chance to train at a national-level.

Besides Campbell’s active learning and extracurricular activities, the school recognises that boarding can also help their boys develop into well-rounded individuals.

“Learning to work and live with others from various cultures and backgrounds is a skill that not only allows a boy to develop academically, but it empowers them to develop socially by providing opportunities to integrate both inside and outside the classroom,” says Bert Robinson, Head of Boarding.

Having joined the boarding community in Year 12, Skansen enjoys sharing his boarding experience with the Year 9 tutor group and helping the Year 10 boarders with homework.

“Boarding in particular evokes a strong sense of competition and comradery that has consistently propelled me to go the ‘extra mile’ in everyday life. It also has given me a plethora of friends who I can rely on,” Vavra enthuses.

“Regular Progress Cards mean that we can track the academic progress of all students and provide additional individual support and guidance,” Sarah Coetzee, Head of Sixth Form and Careers says.

Students also benefit from an induction period at the start of Sixth Form that helps reinforce students with good study skills and the mindset necessary for academic success in Sixth Form. There is also a fortnightly taught pastoral programme, delivered by tutors, that facilitates the discussion of key issues, including wellbeing.

At the same time, Unifrog — the award-winning careers platform — offers comprehensive support to students. They can also participate in the Work Experience week as well as trips, visits and speaking events.

It has proven to be a winning formula — a total of 98% of Campbell’s students continue with tertiary education while 33% enter Russell Group universities. Collectively, the combination of tailored teaching, dedicated boarding care and extensive support have meant that Campbell boys are well-poised to unleash their full potential.

Ollie Webb, due to graduate in 2022, sums up the Campbell education experience best: “Campbell has helped me to develop valuable qualities to have in the future, not only in further education and the workplace, but also in wider life.”

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