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International schools in the UK: Building character through education

Boarding schools in the UK
Source: Downside School

All parents want to give their children the best opportunities in life. With the right education, they just might succeed in this task. More private or international schools opening around the world means they not only have more options to choose from, but better quality too. UK institutions have another added perk: prestige.

British education is held in high regard worldwide. This is partly due to the increased recognition of the biggest universities and schools within the UK’s education system — many consistently perform well on global league tables. What’s more, the British system is also known to provide a broad, balanced curriculum complemented by a wide range of extra-curricular activities –– both of which contribute to the development of well-rounded students. Then, there are the indirect benefits of studying and living in the UK itself: exposure to one of the world’s oldest democracies, juxtaposed by innovative technology and vibrant creative scenes. Together, these create an academic journey that not just equips students with 21st century skills, but also character and heart. Here are four international schools in the UK that exemplify this best: 

Downside School

Downside School, one of England’s oldest and most distinguished Catholic schools, is also one of its most diverse and inclusive. Founded in 1606, it is currently home to 340 boarders and day pupils between the ages of eleven and 18, situated across six houses – four for boys and two for girls. One out of five are international students. They represent 34 nationalities.

Boarding Schools in the UK

Source: Downside School

“Our Catholic and Benedictine values provide support and challenge in equal measure for children of any faith or none,” says Headmaster Andrew Hobbs. “The strength and confidence which our pupils and staff draw from belonging to a community, in which kindness and looking to the needs of others is the currency, encourages them to strive to make the most of their unique gifts and to support others to do the same.”

It’s an environment that builds character. Pupils can take part in over 100 co-curricular activities, clubs and societies. From adventures and sports to creative arts and service — there truly is something for every interest. A pupil-led International Committee runs a variety of events including Oktoberfest, Chinese New Year and the Mid-Autumn Festival. Not only do these provide vital knowledge and opportunities, it also introduces them to new experiences and life skills. The best part? They forge lifelong connections that cut across nationalities, age groups and ideologies.

What sets its curriculum apart is its commitment to encouraging every pupil to aspire beyond their academic expectations. Each pupil gets a dedicated tutor. Studies here cover the  humanities, languages, English, mathematics, theology, the sciences and the creative arts, among others. Progress stays steady and sustainable. Paired with valuable co-curricular activities and peer support, it’s a strategy that works. According to ISI Report, “Pupils support and encourage each other in their learning at a notably high level, enjoying contributing to group discussion and seeking to solve problems collaboratively.”

Scholarships are available for those in need of financial assistance and for students with exceptional ability. To learn more about Downside School, click here.

Brooke House College

Family owned and run, a caring ethos, multinational, athletic success, a designated summer school, excellent relationships with families and no compulsory exits – these features explain why many pupils call Brooke House College (BHC) their home from home.

Boarding Schools in the UK

Source: Brooke House College

The college is located in the small, typically English town of Market Harborough, only 55 minutes away from London by train. Over 50 nationalities are represented in its cohort of 270 students — 97% are boarders. “Our school community is lively, diverse and caring,” says Principal Mike Oliver. “It is a happy place with a strong family atmosphere, where friendship matters and where the courteous informality between staff and pupils is highly valued. Our pastoral framework is simple yet strong.”

The international independent college offers general secondary education within the British system, which includes Key Stage 3, GCSE, A Level or University Foundation Programme. A wide range of subject choices are available, as are English language and IELTS support. Students can choose when they start a programme or which components to focus on.

Here, small classes allow educators to focus on the individual learning styles of each and every student, making preparation for higher education easy. This preparation is top priority at BHC, and its students are nurtured to excel in world-renowned universities not just in the UK, but across the globe. Young football enthusiasts can also combine academic study with highly professional football development. Its Football Academy has over 150 players, and to date, 35 players have progressed to professional football careers upon graduating.

For over 40 years, the school has successfully run its residential Summer School, attracting boys and girls from all over the world between the ages of ten and 17. These students spend anywhere from two to nine weeks improving their English in interesting and fun ways, as well as participating in a wide range of sporting and social activities. On weekends, they get to go on full day trips.

Another perk for international students? At BHC, people come first. Faculty members care for and collaborate with students, ensuring they achieve their full potential, work towards their desired goals and gain entry to top institutions. To learn more about Brooke House College, click here.

Mayfield Girls School 

Located in the Sussex countryside of Mayfield, England, Mayfield Girls School is a leading Catholic independent boarding and day school for girls between the ages of eleven and 18. It’s ideal for those looking for an inclusive environment — Mayfield’s mission is to provide just that with its vibrant Catholic traditions. Here, worship is integral to the life of the school and pupils are encouraged to serve firstly God, and secondly others.

Boarding Schools in the UK

Source: Mayfield School

The school achieves its mission by offering a wide range of opportunities to encourage the spiritual, intellectual, creative, physical and emotional development of each and every student. A factor that facilitates this is its stimulating and creative academic curriculum that fosters excellence. For over 150 years, Mayfield has provided its girls with intellectual challenge, no matter their age, encouraging a love for learning. Young learners are always encouraged to develop their existing talents and discover new ones in the process. 

Mathematics, chemistry, biology and psychology are often combined with creative arts or social sciences to create a well-rounded education early on. What sets Mayfield apart is that students are given the freedom to combine an eclectic set of subjects, designing their own paths as they prepare for their A Levels. This method equips the girls of Mayfield with the qualifications they will need to successfully open a variety of doors in their future.

St. David’s College, Llandudno

Established in 1965, St. David’s College in Llandudno, North Wales, aims to develop “the whole person” through a broad education founded on Christian principles, a wide range of activities and an achievable personal programme designed for each pupil. This was the school’s goal decades ago when opening its doors initially as an all-boys institution, and today, its goal remains the same as a co-educational boarding and day school.

Boarding schools in the UK

Source: Boarding schools in the UK

St. David’s College provides a full mainstream education that prepares learners for GCSEs, A Levels and BTECs. A uniquely tailored curriculum enables students to excel, reaching their full potential by mixing and matching. This method enables pupils to learn in a way that is most appropriate for them as they prepare for university life, educational courses, apprenticeships or direct entry into the workforce.  

Outside of the classroom, a wide array of activities are held throughout the school week — 25 to be exact. Saturday mornings typically comprise of an extensive programme which includes specialised courses that lead to qualification. Alongside this practice, the Outdoor Education Department also fills up the weekend schedules of young learners. For those interested in sports, students here are encouraged to pursue their athletic talents by playing at regional and national levels. 

 *Some of the schools featured in this article are commercial partners of Study International

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