Flushed faces walking alpacas. Year Three learners demonstrating perfect posture during archery. Tinier tots sat criss-cross applesauce in a lush garden with hands sky high ready to ask questions. Teachers with their sleeves rolled up with an itinerary in hand. This is what a school day is like for one connected community in the UK, where changes are frequently made to ensure every learner ends their day inspired.
“Our dedicated teachers are committed to far more than helping our pupils achieve their academic potential, they are also passionate about their character development, encouraging them to achieve their goals and to grow into confident and accomplished adults,” explains Gareth Pearson.
The character-building education Pearson speaks of can only be obtained at a school bursting at the seams with personality. The school he heads, Christ College Brecon, has a student experience to prove it – the kind you have to see to believe. It occupies a beautiful site on the outskirts of Brecon – a safe, small market town in the Brecon Beacons National Park. Spanning 40 acres, there’s a lot to take in. However, just a glimpse will prove that an adventure of a lifetime awaits.
Christ College Brecon’s weekly timetable was structured to ensure an exploratory journey to 370 learners between the ages of seven and 18. They believe that while academic excellence contributes to successful college and university matriculation, extracurricular activities prepare students to thrive in life. A healthy balance of the two fast-tracks physical, spiritual, social and moral development.
In light of a rapidly evolving world, a signature hallmark, “Adventure Days,” will now cater to every year group, offering all students a mix of outdoor adrenaline activities such as mountaineering, climbing, paddle sports and trail running. Supervised excursions like these often get hearts pumping while creative arts sessions –– such as musical production, cookery, action photography, robotics and video game development –– give learners a glimpse into their potential futures.
These extracurriculars are explored on Saturdays, leaving weekdays primarily focused on academic lessons. Once upon a time, these sessions were reserved for sixth form pupils as part of the school’s Curriculum of Life programme. However, as of the new academic year, the Saturday Programme is now open to the entire community, including parents keen on documenting matches and performances.
Since options for enrichment abound, students are never pressured to pick just one. One student enthuses, “I’m looking forward to seeing how much I progress this term, but I love that I get to try new skills each week. I feel stronger already!”
The structural shift was inspired by the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Several research bodies confirmed that some children had regressed in reading and writing. Others have lost the stamina they once boasted. Most have gotten too attached to their screens. Christ College Brecon is determined to reverse these negative results.
“The past year has not been easy for many school-aged children, but we believe that combining academic lessons and a rich extra-curricular programme with plenty of opportunities to experience the outdoors or try a new hobby or skill is a great way to help develop a young person and give them the best start in life,” says Christ College Brecon Deputy Head (Pastoral), Simon Hill.
Despite centuries of experience, it’s clear changes will always be welcome at Christ College to ensure young learners and young adults build character and confidence. The co-educational day and boarding school was founded by Henry VIII in 1541. Today, the lustre of its methods remain — evident through the accomplishments of its students.
In the last three years, 47% of grades were A* or A for A level students, and nine to seven (A-A*) for 46% of GCSE students — placing Christ College Brecon amongst the highest performing schools in Wales. Ensuring these successes are small classrooms hosted by an expert faculty that cover the basics: creative arts, humanities, maths, computer science, science, English, learning skills and modern languages.
To learn more about how this dynamic school is making full use of its stunning surroundings and endless resources, click here.