Pathways to University: Schools that provide a wholesome learning environment

School education is not just about securing the necessary grades to reach the university or career of your choice.  School should be an environment where a child becomes an adult, developing creative thoughts and unique ideas to show off to the world once their studies have finished.

It is important that students are taught valuable lessons about life and humanity, learning to interact and co-operate with their peers in a harmonious but stimulating manner. Students should be provided with the necessary tools to become proactive and inquisitive individuals, developing into active global citizens who are engaged in 21st Century issues and activities.

A safe, secure environment in which pupils can develop desirable skills and achieve their full potential is of paramount importance for many schools today. Self-understanding and development forms many curriculums across the world, where students are encouraged to take control of their learning and forge a path that suits their specific needs and skillset.

A wholesome environment for learning provides the necessary platform for students to achieve their intellectual, physical and artistic potential. School faculty must genuinely care about their students, and act as pillars of support that students can approach with any queries or problems they may be facing.

Below are six schools that are providing their students with such an experience:


Championing a student-first approach, Tilton School recognises the importance of a modern educational experience for today’s teenagers. Teachers work tirelessly with students, challenging them to reach their full potential and grow into passionate, well-rounded adults.

The school has developed the Tilton Experience (TEx), an education initiative for the 21st century, which strives to support the individual needs of each student by providing authentic assessments of their aptitudes, skills, interests and learning preferences. On top of this, students are encouraged to select courses and opportunities that suit their unique personalities and strengths – from academics, athletics and arts, to dorm life and community service.

Communication, critical thinking and decision making, creative engagement, innovation and design thinking, and mindfulness are the five Essential Skills that form the basis of the Tilton Experience curriculum at Tilton School. Developing these skills is the key to achieving success at university level and beyond.

Tilton students are given opportunities throughout their Tilton Experience to grow into global citizens who possess a healthy awareness of self, their community, and international issues and affairs, including social, political, economic and environmental topics. Through this educational approach, Tilton graduates are better prepared for university and the world.


Western Reserve Academy (WRA) calls itself an “independent school, a boarding school, a coed school, a melting pot, a family”. Diversity is of paramount importance at WRA, with a student body representative of the world coming together as individuals to create a buzzing and friendly community.

Western Reserve Academy is ranked among the top boarding schools across the United States and top private schools in the state of Ohio. Its curriculum is anchored in values of excellence, integrity and compassion, with students taught to work hard, support one another and live with heart.

The school guides students down a path of self-expression and discovery through sport and the arts. Whether on stage, on the field, or behind a microphone in front of an audience, students are presented with opportunities at every corner to explore and showcase their creative abilities.

WRA’s beautiful 190-acre campus is situated in the historic Hudson, where students will find themselves in the birthplace of American pioneering, perseverance and the pursuit of excellence. Impressive redbrick buildings are surrounded by perfect green lawns, sprawling athletic fields, a picturesque cross country course and a serene pond.

Students are also in walking distance of downtown Hudson and close to the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, opening an opportunity to grow and learn in a diverse environment that boasts a small-town feel with big city amenities.


Uppingham School is renowned for its strength in music and the performing arts, as well as its strong sporting tradition. Attendees at Uppingham collaborate with one another, respecting and enjoying each other’s achievements and supporting one another in their individual endeavours.

With 650 weekly instrumental lessons across 60 practice rooms, Uppingham prides itself on its musical excellence, with pupils frequently going on to gain Oxbridge Scholarships and such like. Theatre and the Dramatic Arts flourish at the school – Uppingham Theatre is a fully-equipped, 300-seat theatre which is home to regular school productions ranging from big musicals like Calamity Jane and Miss Saigon, to classic productions such as Pygmalion. 

House tutors work around-the-clock to ensure that the needs and demands of boarders are appreciated and understood, while a wide range of academic disciplines helps nurture a mindset of intellectual curiosity and critical thought.

Richard Maloney, Headmaster at Uppingham School, said: “Uppingham values people. Ours is a warm, compassionate community where pupils explore their creativity and discover their passions. Above all, Uppinghamians are appreciated for who they are. Here, kindness and respect matter. Personal happiness and building affirming relationships are fundamental within the Uppingham community. Our staff care and they are wholeheartedly dedicated to the well-being of each girl and boy.”


As a first-class independent boarding school, Cheltenham College inspires young people to become confident and inquisitive adults, who are keen to learn and get involved with the wider school community. The campus is a truly supportive learning environment, enabling students to excel in academic and extracurricular activities, ensuring students gain the necessary qualifications and personal expertise needed to thrive in life after school.

Cheltenham College harbours a mantra of tolerance, respect and discipline among students to promote a positive lifestyle of support and success. Students leave Cheltenham with exciting futures.

Life at the College is constantly stimulating for students, with a vast array of extra and co-curricular programmes for the students to get involved with. There is also the nearby internationally-renowned Cheltenham Literature, Science, Music and Jazz Festivals to peak students’ interest in a particular hobby or activity. Both team games and individual sports flourish, nurturing individual ability and team work.


King’s Ely helps pupils discover and build on their strengths, showing them how to use their talents to help shape their identity. Students are taught to take risks in their learning, accommodating both success and failure in a climate of reassurance. Challenged daily to step out their comfort zone, King’s Ely students quickly learn how to cope and manage difficult situations they could one day find themselves in, preparing them for the inevitable challenges of adulthood.

Passive learning falls by the wayside at King’s Ely. The responsibility for learning is placed squarely with the students, who must be proactive in the studies, taking responsibility for their work and the resulting success.

Tranquil surroundings including the River Ouse and the King’s Ely Boathouse act as the perfect environment for focused learning. A short distance from the Cambridge University grounds, students also have an insight into university life at one of the greatest institutions in the world.


Ontario’s Ridley College is home to a unique way of learning – with students from Grade 9 to 12 empowered to guide their own academic experience. They are helped to recognise and develop personal passions, while being challenged to push themselves to become the leaders of tomorrow.

The school leverages evidence-based research in positive psychology and the principles of the PERMA-V model of well-being and happiness:

P: Positive emotion, E: Engagement, R: Relationships, M: Meaning, A: Accomplishments, V: Vitality

Here, pupils are surrounded by committed and world-class faculty, who are dedicated to cultivating the full potential in every student. Students and teachers alike at Ridley believe in the value of hard work, and make use of the school’s fantastic facilities to pursue their dreams.

The boarding houses at Ridley provide students with a safe, supportive, healthy community that serves as a central hub of social, service, athletic and enrichment activities. Students learn to live independently, while instilled beliefs, values and character traits help them live a life of integrity, independence and empathy.

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

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