Shebbear College’s small size comes with big perks. The biggest? A distinctively tailored education.
At this day and boarding school for girls and boys aged three to 18, every teacher knows every child. They explore their deep youthful curiosities. Authentic interests are engaged. Dedicated staff provide specific and structured support, especially for students with low-level additional learning needs, such as dyslexia.
They see it — the individuality, spirit and promise from each pupil. What follows is more than just individualised learning — it becomes a meaningful journey from pupil to adult.
“We are small enough to be able to focus on each individual child, meaning that we can teach our pupils in different ways according to how they learn,” explains Caroline Kirby, Head of Shebbear College. “This creates a positive learning environment for our pupils, and inspires all of them to discover their strengths and passions.”
In Shebbear College’s small classes — sometimes as small as one to one — pupils get a “different way of teaching,” according to student Poppy Daniel. “It’s more encouraging and guiding and showing, instead of telling people what to do.”
This is an approach that lets pupils from all backgrounds thrive. “I could not speak a word of English when I joined. Now that my English has improved so much, I can’t believe it!” shares Year Five student Aimee Tong from Hong Kong.
Tong wasn’t the only one. When Eden Tse first joined from Hong Kong, he couldn’t speak English very well too — and he missed home terribly. This didn’t last very long. “I had so much support from the teachers that I soon settled in,” he shares. “My English has improved tremendously. I attained good scores in IELTS. When I first joined, I could hardly string a sentence together in English.”
These benefits extend beyond the classroom. “Shebbear is not a big school and this brings many advantages. In boarding, we are always socialisin
g and doing things together,” shares student Simon Kuhn from Germany.
A tight-knit community made the ideal antidote for lockdowns that occurred at the height of the pandemic last year. At Shebbear College, sixth formers like Kuhn are based in their own building, replete with everything they need for their studies and social life. “Covid meant that in boarding we couldn’t go out at the weekends as much but it has meant that we have done more outdoor activities, cycling, walking and outdoor education, which I really like,” he enthuses.
Tranquil location, dynamic activities
Founded in 1841, Shebbear College is based in an 85-acre campus located between the treasured Dartmoor and Exmoor National Parks in North Devon. “The campus is extraordinarily beautiful and it is such a stunning environment in which to live,” shares Kuhn.
Tong welcomes the plush change in scenery from her home country Hong Kong. “There is so much wide, open space and it is so green,” she enthuses.
With close proximity to the stunning South West beaches and just a short drive from the historic towns of Bideford and Barnstaple and the University City of Exeter, Shebbear College makes the perfect base for excursions. “We have been out on a lot of days including outdoor adventures where I went on a zip wire and assault course, horse riding (which I really loved), a golf day at a local golf course, shopping in Barnstaple and going to the beach,” she adds. “Despite COVID-19 restrictions since I have been here, we have visited many places in Devon and Cornwall when we have been allowed to — the beach for surfing and water sports, the Tarka trail for cycling, Dartmoor and Exmoor and the local towns.”
The same tailored experience applies to Shebbear College’s co-curricular programme. Over 70 different clubs are offered over the year. This includes sports teams to music ensembles, Eco warriors, surfing, drama clubs, film-making, cookery, pottery, Ten Tors, Duke of Edinburgh, coding and a long list of others. There’s always something to suit every pupil.
Playing sports at Shebbear College taught Tse the valuable skill of teamwork. “Shebbear is a very inclusive school and we all work as a team to encourage each other and finally have courage.” Add a warm and friendly boarding life and students like Tse stand to gain even more: confidence, friendships and independence. “Being in the boarding house really gives a sense of family and I have learned to be a part of this environment which has developed my empathy, kindness and compassion for others.”
Shebbear leavers are globally-minded, academically rigorous, and their university destinations reflect both their abilities and the quality of the education provided at the school. “I would like to go on to study Psychology at a UK University. I like the look of Bristol, Bath, Nottingham and UCL. Shebbear has definitely helped me to be able to do this,” Tse shares.